Wednesday, October 26, 2011


The Lord continues to teach us on the love of God and neighbor, but he takes us one step higher.  

In the letter to the Thessalonians we continue to read Paul, who is very proud of the church he established in Thessalonica during the first period of his ministry. The tone of the letter is full of tenderness and love for this community.   

FIRST READING – Malachi  1:14-2,2. 8-10
Ø  According to 1:1 the book is the “word of God to Israel through Malachi

Ø  In the common opinion today, Malachi was not originally the proper name of the author, but the appellative “my messenger”.

Ø  Therefore we have here an anonymous prophet. Some scholars have thought that his name might be the abbreviation of a Hebrew word whose meaning is “God is my messenger”. Others, like St. Jerome think that Malachi could be Esdras because both were reformers, but this thesis is not accepted.

Ø  We know nothing about the author’s life, but from this small book we learn something of the kind of person he was.

Ø  Despite his attack on priests 1:6-2:4

o   he was favorable to the levitical priesthood 2:4-7

o   he insisted on the people’s obligation to contribute to the expenses of the Temple, and support the personnel.

o   He had a humane concern for the wife who suffers rejection, for the poor of Judah who wonder about God’s love for them.

o   He would tell the people to remember what God has done for them along the history of their people Israel. He insists on the truth of God’s love.

o   He did his ministry probably between 480 and 450 B.C. 

Ø  The book presents the message in 6 oracles:

o   God’s preferencial love for Israel

o   Cultic offenses

o   Mixed marriages and divorces

o   God will purify and justly judge

o   Tithes for God, blessing for the people

o   Those who fear God will come out ahead.  


o   The name of God is great   

o   The prophet, as the voice of God, rebukes the people for their  worship  

o   Among the prophets of the preceding centuries, the accusations because of Israel’s worship was more aggressive. 

o   Malachi does it in a different way, he reminds the people of the intimate relationship that has to exist between the People and God in their worship.   

o   The reason to change the way to address the people, is because he has in front of him a people poor and humble, whose only identity is its loving relationship to God

o   The question at the end of this reading is why are we divided, and thus violating  the covenant of our fathers?    

o   This Reading demands more of us than last Sunday’s Reading: first and second commandments: love of God and love of neighbor.    

o   Today we are told that to violate the commandment to love our neighbor is to violate the covenant  with God, and even more, to violate, to make void our worship.   
RESPONSORIAL PSALM  – Psalm  131: 1.2.3
*      This is the psalm of trust   most beautiful of the whole psalter.

o   The author uses the image of a baby in his or her mother’s arms, to explain his religious experience.  It is a portrait of God as a mother,  in other places we find the image of God as a father. In reality we find in God both, the love of a father and the love of a mother, because he is LOVE, and our love is only the image of his.

o   This being secure in the arms of Yahweh makes the psalmist simple and humble, without fear, full of calm, close to the Lord as a baby in his mother’s arms.  

o   The psalmist ends this psalm with an invitation to  Israel  to trust in the Lord. 
SECOND READING  – Thessalonians  2:7-9, 13
«  Paul reminds the community of Thessalonica his tender love while he was among them

«  He shared with them not only the good news, but also his own life, so much he loved them! 

«  He reminds them also how he worked with his own hands to provide for his needs in order not to be a burden for the community. 

«  He repeats how joyful he is that they received the message not as the word of man, but as the word of God that it is. 
§  We have here a very powerful gospel message: the accusation that those who preach the word(teachers of the law, priests, levites) do not live according to it. 

§  Jesus tells his disciples to do what the teachers of the Law teach them, but  not follow their example, since they do not live according to the law they preach.   

§  He says that they bind up heavy loads,  hard to carry, to lay on other men’s shoulders, while they themselves will not lift a finger to carry them.    

§  They have transformed their service into a sign of honor. They  have places of honor at the banquets.  They have people called them  Rabbi.   

§  Jesus tells the disciples:

You shall not do these things, do not look for titles (teacher, father, leader) since  all those titles belong only to God

o    The greatest among you shall be the servant of all


§  Our teacher Jesus has done that during his life, he has humbled himself and thus God has exalted him and given to him a name above every other name, so that at Jesus’ name every knee shall bend in the heavens and on the earth

§  This is a powerful lesson which questions us about the way we live our faith, in relation with the worship and liturgy which we offer to our Father;  it questions us also about our relationships with our brothers and sisters.  Since we have only one Father,   no one should be above any one, all equals around the family table, with the only distinction that comes from our ministries or services in the community.   


Only the one, who knows the mutual sympathy of two hearts united by God for himself in the same spirit, can understand the pain that filled my soul in this most sad occasion. My suffering was equal to the love I had for her, because it was no less than a love fashioned by God, and I loved her as a part of my soul. So, I felt such pain with this separation as if my soul would be separated from my body. How many things afflicted my soul at the same time. Her irremediable loss! In an unknown country! My loneliness was complete!!! (María Antonia París, Foundress of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, Autobiography 180.)
Besides the visitations and confirmations, I preached on all Sundays and holy days of obligation. I never failed to preach, no matter what part of the diocese I happened to be in at the time. Toward the beginning of June I left the city and went to Caney, to conclude the mission that Father Stephen and Father Currius had started and were very successfully carrying on. After confirming everyone, I preached the closing service of the mission.
(St. Anthony Mary Claret, Founder of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, Autobiography  516.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


 The first Reading from the Book of Exodus and the Gospel from St. Matthew remind us of our human relationships. 
The second Reading taken from the First letter of Paul to the Thessalonians. Last week he greeted them and helped them to remember how they accepted the faith. This coming Sunday Paul will praise  the community for their faith known in the whole region.


Ø  The book of Exodus is the second book of the Old Testament. It narrates the liberation of the Hebrew slaves and other slaves, from Egypt.  It explains also how this group of slaves becomes a nation when they enter into a  covenant with God on Mount Sinai or Horeb as it is sometimes called.   

Ø  In this covenant God puts some conditions which are his Ten Words of Love, as one moral theologian calls the Ten Commandments. Making these words real in their daily life, the people of will become  the true image of God.  

Ø  And God said to them, I will be your God and you will be my people. 

Ø  We find these Ten Words of God for the first time in the book of Exodus, chapter 20. 

Ø  The chapters that follow chapter 20 explains the commandments and give some directions to implement them in their daily life.    

Ø  On this XXX Sunday in Ordinary time, le liturgy of the Church presents to us some verses of chapter 22. 

Ø  These verses tell us about the love and mercy toward our neighbor, love that  goes beyond the mere ethical imperative to fulfill the commandments. It is an invitation to go beyond our own interests,  to reach out to our brothers and sisters.   

Ø  As we read the chapter that follow chapter 20 of the book of Exodus, it seems that the people is still on Mount Sinai, but the truth is that these chapters are the result of a long period of reflection, meditation and prayer to understand appropriately the Words pronounced by God on Mount Sinai. On this process they discover that to fulfill the law is to have a loving relationship with our God and Lord.  

Ø  Some of the laws show a great sensitiveness with the will of God, as we know it after Jesus has come to live with us.   Others, on the contrary, seem unjust or harsh, but they show a process of growth of the people, which at the beginning thinks that God does everything, the good and the bad things that happen to us.   

Ø  Little by little the people of Israel  will realize that they were  the ones that did the things and that God as a good parent accompanied them and taught them until they were  able to discover his will completely.  This process continues to take  place  the Church in each one of us. This is also true in some way for every human being. God works inside our hearts.

Ø  The verses we will read this coming Sunday, show to us the heart of God. 

God asks Israel not to mistreat the foreigner, the immigrant who lives among them; because they themselves had been foreigners in Egypt. 

Ø  They will not wrong the poor and abandoned, represented in the two great categories of poor in Israel:

o   The widows who do not have a husband or a father or an adult son to take care of them. The orphans who do not have anyone to protect them.  

Ø  When we forget them, and we abandoned them, we hurt ourselves also. Israel expresses this saying that the wrath of God comes upon us.    


Ø  The two last verses that we will read are about relationships in financial and economic situations.   
I am  asked to treat the other persons as I treat myself.

REPONSORIAL PSALM   18:2-3,3-4,47.51*     
                        This psalm is a beautiful example of Hebrew poetry and of biblical religiosity. 
*      A biblical commentator  says that it is no more and no less than a declaration of love. 
*      He gives different names to God praising him and calling him “my God.”   
*      We can perceive that the psalmist  experiences the loving protection of God in his life.
I love You, Lord, my strength  
O Lord, my rock, my fortress, my deliver.   
My God, my rock of refuge 
My shield, the horn of my salvation, my stronghold! 
I love You, Lord, my strength 

 Praise be the Lord, I exclaim,
And I am safe from  my enemies, 
I love You, Lord, my strength 

Blessed be my Rock!  
Extolled be God my savior! 
You who gave great victories to your King
And showed kindness to your anointed. 
I love You, Lord, my strength 

SECOND READING - 1 Thessalonians 1:5-10

«  Paul arrived to the city of Thessalonica accompanied by Timothy and Sylvanus after they had been expelled from the city of Philippi   (Acts 16:16-40).

«  The community they established in Thessalonica, according to what we read in this letter, was a community of great faith 


ü  Last Sunday we read the conversation of the Pharisees and Herodians with Jesus. How they wanted to put him to the test. Is it lawful for us people of God to pay taxes to Ceasar? 

ü  In the Gospel of Matthew this passage is followed by one in which the Sadducees put a question to Jesus: does the resurrection of the dead really exist?  

ü  Today the Pharisees take their turn in asking Jesus, it is about the greatest commandment. They ask Jesus although they already know the answer which is found in the Law     

ü  Which is the greatest commandment?

ü  Why do they ask this question? Does not the Law already say: listen Israel, the Lord alone is God, you shall love him….  

ü  Probably they had seen the loving relationship of Jesus with sinners and with people of bad reputation, and how he made them feel that they were worthy. They had probably even heard the parable that Jesus told   about the last judgment and on what are we going to be judged.    

ü  Jesus, as a good Israelite as he was,  answered them: The first is to love the Lord your God with all your mind, heart, strength….  

ü  Jesus says this is the greatest commandment,   but there is another equally important: You shall love your neighbor…   

ü  Jesus continues to say, on these two commandments the whole law is based and the prophets as well.  We may say: the law tells how to live as a good Israelite,  and the prophets will interpret and explain the law for the people.

ü  Albert Nolan in his book  Jesus Today. A Spirituality of Radical Freedom gives a very interesting reflection on what Jesus said about the love of God and the love of neighbor.  

ü  He says:

o   Jesus explains  in Matthew 25:  when you did it to the least of these…. You did it to me.   

o   To love each other is the result of the realization that all of us are one.  This is the solidarity which exists among the members of a family or a nation.

o   This bond of solidarity is in the Hebrew Scriptures the origin of the love of our neighbor. (Lv 19,18).

o   Each one of us loves his or her own as we love ourselves. 

o   According to the law of Israel this love could be extended to the foreigner who lived among the people of Israel (Lv 19,34; Dt 10,18-19).

o   But to nobody else and by sure not to the enemies.  

ü  What Jesus does

o   Is to enlarge this bond of solidarity among the members of the same family to the whole human race. 

o   You were told: love your neighbor and hate your enemy. 

o   But I say to you: love your enemies…( Mt 5,43-44)

o   Jesus looked at every human being as his family: his brother, sister, mother, uncle, cousin…. 

o   He identified himself with them no matter what kind of life did they have, and even if they hated him, He kept saying: whatever you do to one of these you do it to me…  

o   And the greatest novelty about the teaching of Jesus is that when I love my neighbor I am loving God “whenever you did it… you did it to me.   


Tuesday, October 11, 2011



OCTOBER 16, 2011

The first Reading taken from the book of the Second Isaiah, and the Gospel of Matthew invite us to reflect about the relation between the governance of the peoples with all its duties, rights and consequences, and with our life of faith and relationship with God.   

In the second reading we will begin the First letter of St. Paul to the community of Thessalonica.    

FIRST READING – Is 45: 1, 4-6

The book of the Deutero-Isaiah or Second Isaiah is the second part of the Book of Isaiah and it goes from chapter 40 to chapter 55. In some Bibles the title of this part is Book of Consolation, since the prophet does his ministry  during the Babylonian exile,  and he needs to console the people and build up their faith. This prophet is also a theologian and a poet, he writes long poems to convey his message.   

«  Today’s Reading speaks of Cyrus.   

o   Cyrus the Great of Persia (today’s Iran) built a huge Empire conquering all the known empires of his time. Empires from the Middle East, Southern  Asia and Eastern part of Europe.     

o   Cyrus lived in the VI century B.C. He implemented a kind of centralized government with satraps or governors responsible of the  different conquered regions. He promoted the human rights, politics and military strategies.    

o   He left a legacy to his own country Persia, and among the Jews he is remembered as a messiah, as the anointed by God, who with his Restoration Edict, gave to the exiled Jews in Babylon the authorization to go back to their country and rebuild it. 

«  God speaks to Cyrus by means of the prophet   

o   He is the anointed one whose hand God has grasped    

o   The sentences that  followed  are intended to make Cyrus understand that his greatness is not his own doing, but it has been given to him by God. The gifts he has have also been given by God to accomplish a very special mission for the People of God, Israel, his chosen people   

o   I have called you by your name. This sentence reminds us of the words we read in the    first chapter of the book of Jeremiah “before you were conceived I knew you…”   

o   I have given you a title although you knew me  not

o   I am the Lord there is no other

o   I am he who gives you strength and power although you do not know me.

o   And all of this so that from the rising of the sun to its setting men may know that there is none besides me.   

o   I am the Lord there is no other

o   There is something very beautiful in these words of God. He makes us understand that, even if we do not know him, or do not realize that it is He who gives us what we have, we are called to be his collaborators  in his work

§  And the  work, we are called to do, is that all, men and women alike, through our actions make God be known.       

§  God calls us, he has the initiative, as we have seen in the gospels of the  last three Sundays. 

§  Cyrus responds to what he feels in his heart in regards to the Jews 

·         We do not know whether it is out of respect for them   

·         We do not know if this was his own idea or of some of his counselors 

·         We do not know if it was for the sake of the Jews or this was a political strategy.   

·         We do not know any and we probably will never know, but we know that Israel considered him a liberator sent by God, some one remembered with gratitude and love

·         What does the Lord suggest me to do in favor of my brother or sister? What  is my response?  

·         Let the peace that come from knowing that we are called by the Lord to be his co-workers in   creation and in  salvation, fill us completely.  


RESPONSORIAL PSALM   96:1,3,4-5,7-8,9-10

Ø  Psalm 96 is a hymn, a song  to the kingship of God    

Ø  It is a joyful song in honor of Yahweh, King.   

Ø  God is praised for his Salvation made of successive concrete historical salvations.   

Ø  God is the only God, he is the creator and the savior. 

Ø  If God is like the psalmist describes him, it is not surprising to see the   joy and overwhelming enthusiasm that invades the psalmist. 

Ø  The good news that the author proclaims and invites us to announce is: that when God reigns everything goes well.  This psalm confirms what we just read from the prophet Isaiah in the first reading.   


Sing to the Lord a new song;

Sing to the Lord, all you lands.

Tell his glory among the nations;

Among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.


For great is the Lord and highly to be praised;

Awesome is he, beyond all gods.

For all the gods of the nations are things of nought

But the Lord made the heavens.


Give to the Lord, you families of nations,

Give to the Lord, glory and praise;

Give to the Lord the glory due his name!

Bring gifts, and enter his courts.


Worship the Lord in holy attire

Tremble before him, all the earth;

Say among the nations: The Lord is king,

He governs the peoples with equity.


  SECOND READING  – 1 Thessalonians  1:1-5

We begin the Reading of the letter of Paul to the community of Thessalonica.  

*       This letter is the first written document of the New Testament. It was composed around the year 50 A.C.   

*       The fragment we are going to read this Sunday has two parts:  

First Part  

*      Paul, Sylvanus and Timothy greet the community of Thessalonica  

*      Which belongs to God the Father, and to Jesus Christ  

*      May peace be with all of you    

Second Part

*      They give thanks to God for all of them, and they also pray for them  

*      And they remember how this community prove its faith through actions of love, constancy and hope in the Lord Jesus Christ 

*      Paul remembers and reminds them how  they were chosen    

*      Because they did not receive the preaching of Paul as mere human words, but as what they are: power and strength  

*      As they put it into practice with the strength of the Spirit. 


ü  In the Gospel of Matthew we are approaching the time of Jesus’ Passion.  

ü  The evangelist Matthew presents to us more and more the controversies between Jesus and the leaders of his people.   

ü  In the last three Sundays we have heard the parables of Jesus addressed to the religious leaders of Israel   

ü  Today, Matthew begins a series of four controversies on different themes, which were occasions of discussion and division among the Jews. The controversies are with the Pharisees, Herodians, Saducees, who were the diverse members of the religious and political parties.   

ü  Today’s discussion is about  taxes  

o   We know that this is a theme, that no matter what faith do we profess, or we do not profess, is always cause of division and discussion because we do not like, and we do not want to pay taxes.  

o   The Pharisees get together with the Herodians to go against Jesus.

o   These two groups did not get along well, because it is impossible that a Pharisee could see with good eyes the Herodians who were allies of Rome and consider that Israel has to pay taxes to a pagan powe, and this,  only because they want to take advantage of all the benefits of being united to Rome.  

o   But today they get together because they have a common “enemy” whom they want to destroy, Jesus.  

o   Teacher we know you are sincere and you do not allow yourself to be influenced by anyone.  This seems to be a praise, but with these words they want to trip Jesus up. They have put it very difficult for Jesus because the two parties have opposite opinions, no matter what Jesus says he will be in trouble.   

o   They ask Jesus the great question, is it lawful to pay tax to the emperor or not? The Roman empire was for the Jews the  sum  of corruption, evil and pagan believes.

o   Jesus answers  them: hypocrites! Why do you want to trip me up? We admire Jesus, he knows very well that the tension is   increasingly building up in the relationships between himself and the leadership of his own people.  Jesus knows very well that their real intention is to have a reason to eliminate him.

o   Jesus asks them to show to him the coin with which they pay the tribute to Caesar, and he asks them whose head is engraved on the coin.

§  The readiness in handing to him the coin, shows that it was in circulation, and that they used it very comfortably for their transactions. 

§  The head was Caesar’ which means that the coin belonged to him. The logical consequence is to give back the coin to  its owner.  

o   One of the commentaries I have read say that Jesus is not promoting here two parallel societies opposed between themselves, when he says give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s.   

o   Jesus does not make any judgment about the payment of taxes, this is a normal consequence to be a citizen, with the taxes we contribute to pay the expenses of the nation. If the taxes are just or unjust this will have to be dealt with from our faith in God Creator and from our respect for the dignity of every human being.   

o   And Jesus does with them what he always does in the conversations with people, he leads them to a higher level   

§  If it is right to give back to Caesar’ his own coin   

§  We also need to live in such a way that we acknowledge what the first reading repeats I am the Lord there is no other

§  We pay taxes and we take care of all our responsibilities as citizens from this perspective. 

§  Only when the laws are unjust and thus harm the human beings our brothers and sisters, we do not have to obey and we have to oppose these laws.   


May the Virgin Mary ,proclaimed Mother of the Church  by Paul VI and honored by Christians as Mirror of Justice  and Queen of Peace,  protect us and obtain for us, through her heavenly intercession, the strength, hope and joy necessary to continue to dedicate ourselves with generosity to the task of bringing about the “development of the whole man and of all men(Benedict XVI, Encyclical “Love in Truth,   2009)




We landed on this city of Santiago de Cuba on May 26 of the same year 1852. We were greatly welcomed by the whole city, but God our Lord who in everything, makes me taste what is both sweet and bitter, did not give me the pleasure to meet there the Archbishop who was the only person I knew in this world. (María Antonia París. Foundress of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, Autobiography 161).   
On reaching the Gulf of Damas, I began conducting a mission on deck. Everyone on board attended it, passengers and crew, from the captain to cabin boy, and everyone went to confession and received Communion at a general Communion service. We were on friendly terms with the crew, and on every voyage they would make to Cuba they used to come and visit us. We landed on February 6, 1851, in good spirits, and were received with demonstrations of joy and good will. On the day following our arrival, we made our official entry into the capital city, in accordance with the established local custom .(Aut. St. Anthony Mary Claret, Founder of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, Aut. 509)