Monday, November 28, 2011


Last Sunday, the First Sunday of Advent, the Church, in her liturgy invited us to “be vigilant, be alert.” Today, second Sunday of Advent, the invitation is “prepare the way.” Only the one who is alert is able to prepare the way on time.  

Ø  This Reading is taken from the beginning of the book of the Second or Deutero-Isaiah. Prophet who had the mission to tell the Israelites exiled in Babylon that they would  soon return to their beloved country. 
Ø  The reading  offers us several images of great beauty, images of peace and consolation. 
o   First image verses 1 and 2  
§  Her service is at an end. These words bring to our imagination the military man
or woman who is allowed to return to his or her home after serving his or her country.   
§  Her guilt is expiated, makes us think of the prisoner who is set free after serving the time assigned to be  in prison. 
o   Second image, verses 3-5
§  A voice cries out, what does it cry?  PREPARE THE WAY.   How?   Make a straight a highway for the Lord.  This image brings to our mind the preparations that took place in ancient times, when a king, an emperor or a victorious commander was coming.
§  What is high must be lowered and what is low must be filled, so that the path is smooth and secure. 
§  Thus the Lord will be able to “come” “to reveal Himself to us” and everyone will see his glory. 
§  This text brings also to our memory the crossing of the sea, by the Hebrew slaves in Egypt, they walked  through the waters on a smooth and straight path. 
§  And also the way these same slaves, now transformed in the people of God, walked through the desert. With them Yahweh, the Lord of Hosts, as the Old Testament likes to call Him, walked with them, led  them.   
o   Third Image, verses 9 and 10
§  The Messenger who brings good tidings. In ancient times the news were brought by messengers. 
§  This Messenger is asked to go to a high mountain and cry out  in a loud voice  
§  What does he has to cry out? That God is here. 
§  God comes with power and brings with himself the salary, but before him goes the recompense.    The real salary will be earned by Christ on the cross, and will be given to us a free gift from God in Christ, a free recompense earned by the Lord Jesus. 
o   Fourth Image verse 10
§  The shepherd feeds his sheep with tenderness, this is an idyllic image.
§  The shepherd who takes care of the flock, he carries in his arms the little ones and takes good care of the pregnant mothers. 
This is a very rich Reading with many themes for our meditation, for our personal reflection over our own life. Let us prepare in the desert of our heart a smooth path for the Lord, a smooth path for our brothers and sisters so that they do not find obstacles in their relationship with us. And thus we will be able to proclaim to everyone that the Lord is near, that the Lord comes, or still better,  that the Lord is already here among us. He takes care with love and tenderness of each one of us, according to our own nature and needs, as the shepherd of Isaiah. 
RESPONSORIAL PSALM  – PSALM  85: 9-10, 11-12, 13-14.
*      This psalm is a supplication of the community. It has three different parts:
o   The actions of God   verses 2-4
o   A supplication  verses 5-8
o   A divine oracle   verses 9-14
*      The responsorial psalm is taken from the third part.  
*      Let us reflect on the  meaning of the Hebrew word SHALOM  mentioned in this psalm:
o   Shalom means more than our word peace. 
o   Very often in our Western culture, peace means absence of war, of conflict, of confrontations, of differences.  
o   But shalom goes beyond that, maybe we could translate it as harmony. 
o   According to the dictionary harmony means a combination of parts into a pleasing or orderly whole. These parts can be words, sounds, colors…. 
o   Shalom  speaks to us of peace and harmony in the relationship between creation and its Creator.  
§  The relationship between the human being and his or her Creator. Relationship of harmony in which we are filled with the joy of knowing that we are taken care of, loved and cherished by our God who is Father.   
§  Relationships between human beings. This harmony is translated into justice. Relationships in which we recognized that we are brothers and sisters created by the same God who is Father and Mother of all. 
§  The relationship between the human beings and the rest of creation. Relations of justice as the psalm says: justice and peace shall kiss.  Relations in which we acknowledge ourselves as part of the same created world, together with the rest of creation.  
§  This letter has the characteristics of what has been called “Last will Letters” written by someone who is very close to death.  
§  The author writes to strengthen the faith of the readers, defending it from those who preach a superior knowledge “gnosis.” 
§  It is an exhortation to be prepared for the second coming of the Lord.
§  From the early times of the Church this letter was not considered to have been written by Peter, but by someone who used the name of Peter as a pseudonym. 
§  The reasons are: 
o   A great difference in literary style between this second letter and the first letter written by Peter.  
o   The Hellenistic influence.
o   He speaks of the apostles as persons who are not present anymore. 
o   The mention  of the letters of Paul. This happened in the Church after Paul’s death, which was also the time of the death of Peter.  
o   The disappointment for the delay of the second coming, which in the first letter was imminent. 

Ø  Peter says that the Lord does not delay his coming, for him one day and one year are the same. 
Ø  What happens is that he was to give us time to change whatever is wrong in our life. 
Ø  The day of the Lord will come as a thief, and the author  describes it in  apocalyptic terms. 
Ø  What we await after that are new heavens and new earth, which according to Paul have already began in Christ Jesus. 
Ø  The author  asks us, what kind of person do we have to be if we await the Lord who will come as a thief? How are we going to prepare ourselves? 
Ø  They say that one day Saint Aloysius Gonzaga was playing during recreation time with other novices. They asked him, brother Aloysius, if you were told that God will come to take you with Him, what would you do?  He answered I will keep playing.   
Ø  In the same way we must conduct our life in such a way that we do not fear the coming of the Lord.   

*      The Gospel of Mark begins telling us that he is going to tell us the Good News of Jesus, the Son of God.  It is like an overture as in the operas. 
*      Good News because Jesus is always Good News. Also because we begin a new period in Salvation History. 
*      The person of Jesus will be revealed before our eyes. The revelation of Jesus de Son of God will go in crescendo until the cross, when a pagan, a Roman soldier will recognize Him as the Son of God.
*      The biblical quote which follows the prologue, and that Mark says is from Isaiah, is in reality a mixture of several quotes taken from  the book of Exodus  23:20; the book of the Second Isaiah 40:3  and   the book of the prophet Malachi  3:1,  
*       Mark puts before our eyes John the Baptist, the Herald of good tidings, the prophet who can point to us the Lord already present among us. 
*      After explaining to us  the mission of John on verses 2 and 3; his preaching on verse 4; his success on verse 5 and his living style on verses 7 and 8, John himself will present to us the Lord.   
*      He says, that he baptizes with water (from the outside) but Jesus will baptize in the Holy Spirit (from the inside)  


 But God, who had given the idea for everything, disposed that the procurator came that morning to celebrate the mass. I saw clearly in this the Divine disposition, and was encouraged to speak to him after mass (after the time of the mass I had been praying to God- if He was pleased – to prepare the procurator to accept it well and that everything could be done without any disappointment. This would be the most painful for me.)    Everything came out as prepared by the hand of God. Because, after the mass, I explain to Him the motives and inconveniences I had for not leaving the house. And how the Lord had enlighten me that night in that same way, that it was alright and that he would take care to send a message not to go on with the other house. I gave thanks to the Lord who, as a good father, remedies the necessities of his children and provides for their economy. María Antonia París, Foundress of the Claretian Missionary Sisters , Autobiography 187)
 Moreover, everyone feels--and sees the same in everyone else--as if he were at the scene of an explosion. The air is filled with terrifying cries of "Mercy!" and, driven by their instinct for self-preservation, people start running for the nearest square, patio, or street, for nobody feels safe in his own home. Then, after running a while, they stop and suddenly grow silent. They look at each other foolishly and tears come to their eyes. What is happening is beyond explanation. In the midst of all these terrors, one touch of incongruous humor stands out: all the sick in private homes and in civilian and military hospitals--all of them wrapped in their bedsheets --arise and leave their sickbeds. Not one of them but says that he is quite well and that nothing could induce him to return to bed. (St. Anthony Mary Claret, Founder of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, Autobiography 532)



Tuesday, November 22, 2011


We begin a new liturgical year, the year of Mark.  The Church in the liturgy invites us every year to contemplate Jesus with the eyes and the perspective of one of the evangelists.  Let us be guided by Mark during this liturgical year in order to discover Jesus as Mark wants to present him to us.

Let us not make a synthesis of the four gospels to have a biography of Jesus. The gospels are not partial biographies of Jesus, so that we may put them together to have a complete biography of the Lord.

The gospels narrate to us real events of the life of Jesus, but the authors of the gospels are not interested in giving only events, but they want  us to discover  the real  meaning of these events through faith. Thus they are a theological reflection. For this reason an evangelist uses parables that another does not use. The same may be said about the miracles, the sayings…, and  the passion, death and resurrection of the Lord.
Let us submerge ourselves into the gospel of Mark, and let him lead us.  
*      This reading is taken from the third part of the book of Isaiah, called the Third Isaiah.
*      The prophet has the difficult mission to keep the hope of the people that have come back from exile, and are disappointed because the promises are not fulfilled in the way they expected and understood.
*      When we read the book we realize that there is a tension between the present worries versus the future hope; the accusation for the crimes versus the messages of hope; the disillusion of the present versus the messianic expectations; the welcoming of the foreigner versus the condemnation of the foreigner. At the end of the book the theme of the exodus takes a second place while the first interest is in the future Jerusalem, the transfigured city where the promises will be fulfilled.
*      THE READING FOR THE FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT  IS 63:16-17, 19; 64:2-7
o   In the Jewish liturgy as well as in the Christian liturgy we remember, we make present the things God has done in the past, the events of the history of salvation.
o   In the beautiful reading of this Sunday, the author and also ourselves we say to God, as if we wanted to make him remember who He is for us, what has been our experience of Him in the past
§  You are our Father and our Redeemer, this is  God your name forever (63:16)
§  Eyes have not seen, ears have not heard that there is a God who does the marvels you have done for us, for those who hope in you (64:3). Paul will say also eyes have not seen, ears have not heard ….
§  At the end of this reading   the prophet says to God, You, o Lord are our father; we are the clay and you are the potter; we are the work of your hands.
§  What a trust and security in his hands that are shaping, cherishing  and protecting us, sometimes even without realizing it ourselves, even in spite of our sins and imperfections. His love does not have either boundaries or conditions.
o   The prophet also remembers the marvels God did for his people in the past, this is another way to make God remember who He has been for us
§  Remembering and hoping that God will be  present again among us
§  We ask Him to protect us again so that we may be able to convert from our crooket ways
§  The prophet  mentions what are these crooket ways, and he ends up saying to God, that in spite of everything he is our Redeemer and Creator. 
*      RESPONSORIAL PSALM: Psalm 80: 2-3, 15-16, 18-19

This psalm is a lamentation and a supplication. It has three parts:  

Invocation vv. 2-4

Lamentation vv. 5-8

Supplication  (vv. 6.9-20)
The responsorial psalm is taken from the first and third parts.
  • We invoke God as shepherd, Lord of Hosts, vine dresser, creator
  • We tell him that if He helps us and if He is with us, we will never depart from Him again, the final supplication will be “Give us new life and we will call upon your name”.
  • We have received this new life in our baptism, we are able to call upon his name with complete trust, but also with responsibility, being aware of what we have said, and thus live according to the words we have pronounced.
*      We will read the beginning of the letter of Paul to the community of Corinth.
*      In the two first verses which we will not read on Sunday, Paul introduces himself as well as his companion Sosthenes.
o   Sosthenes was well known in Corinth. He had been the chief ruler of the Synagogue in the city of Corinth. Maybe Sosthenes was also a good preacher. Paul chose him as his collaborator. The fact to mention him in the introduction of his letter to the Corinthians might have helped Paul  in his difficult  relationship with that community.
*      The reading begins with a greeting in which Paul wishes the grace and peace of God for the community.
*      He continues giving thanks to God for the community
*      The witnessing to Christ that Paul has given to them is the reason that the community knows the Lord and does not lack any gift.
*      The Lord will strengthen them until the day of the Lord Jesus. The communities of the early Church called this day “parousia”
o   This word was used in the Hellenistic world  to designate the coming of some one. Later on it was used when an Emperor or Princess was coming to a town.
o   The word means “coming”
o   But Paul does not use this Greek term in this passage about the Day of the Lord Jesus, he uses instead the word “apocalypse” which means “revelation”
o   The use of apocalypse instead of parousia to speak about the Day of the Lord, helps us to understand the second coming of the Lord as a revelation, manifestation of the Lord at the end of human history.
*      Even if Paul does not mention here anything about our feelings on the second coming of the Lord, from the context we may deduce that he wants to say to the community that there is no room for fear, because the one who comes is the Son of God, our Lord, in Him the Father has called us, to be like the only begotten Son.
GOSPEL: MARK 13:33-37
During the year B we are going to read from the Gospel of Mark.
Ø  It is the shortest one of the four Gospels. It has 16 chapters,
Ø  Biblical scholars from the XIX and XX centuries have been able to discover that this Gospel was the first to be written. The date was probably between the years 65 to 70.
Ø  The Gospel of Mark is called also the Gospel of the Disciple.
Ø  A way to explain this definition of the Gospel is by means of a comparison. When we do a weekend retreat in any of the Apostolic Movements of the Church, at the end,  before we leave,  we are given a handbook to help us to live according to the Movement we have been admitted to.
Ø  Thus the Gospel of Mark tells us in a very simple and direct way how to be and become more and more a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Ø  We do not begin the reading of this Gospel from the first chapter because in Advent the church chooses what fragment will fit the message she wants to give us.
Ø  The theme of this First Sunday of Advent is “Be on guard.”
Ø  The verse of the Alleluia before the Gospel Reading will be LORD LET US SEE YOUR KINDNESS AND GRANT US YOUR SALVATION.
Ø  This means, be on guard but without fear, with hope and eagerness because the one who comes is the Beloved  of each one of us and of the community.
Ø  The one we await with anticipation and loving eagerness, to become one with him, is the Lord Jesus. We await the total fulfillment of the promises of a new heaven and a new earth where there will be no more fear, no more doubts, no more tears, no more suffering; where everything will be peace and harmony.

I passed that whole night asking our Lord to deign to manifest His will to get out of that problem. But, O, Divine providence! Many times we had looked and measured every step of that house, first with Sr. Florentina and then with the other sisters and even with the confessor. Yet we could never find a place for the enclosure because we did not know how to make there a church nor to have a stay – out and much less intern girls. And that night, so many ideas and means came to my mind that I found a place for everything and it was very easy to arrange all. Now, my problem was how to tell it to the procurator, since the chaplain had already the keys of the other house.   . María Antonia París, Foundress of the Claretian Missionary Sisters , Autobiography 186)
 Toward the end of April I left Santiago and headed for Manzanillo, together with two of my priests, while the rest of my missionary band went off to different locations. At Manzanillo I began preaching for the month of May; I preached several times daily. Without realizing it, I let slip some remarks about great earthquakes that would be coming soon.      From Manzanillo we pushed on to the parish of San Fructuoso, and wherever we went we followed the same routine: hearing confessions, preaching, confirming, and performing marriages. From here we went to Bayamo, where I started the mission and did as elsewhere. I gave the Spiritual Exercises to the clergy, preached every day, and kept on confirming people until August 20, 1852. That day, at ten in the morning, as I was standing in the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament of Our Lady of Sorrows, I felt the first of a series of earthquakes that were to be repeated for several days.  (St. Anthony Mary Claret, Founder of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, Autobiography 528)


Wednesday, November 16, 2011


On the First Sunday in Ordinary time the liturgy of the Church invites us to reflect on the Baptism of the Lord Jesus in the Jordan by John the Baptizer. When Jesus is baptized the voice of the Father is heard saying “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” During the following 32 Sundays in Ordinary time, the liturgy of the Church puts before our eyes Jesus performing his ministry, and today the 34th Sunday the Liturgy presents Jesus, the beloved Son of the Father, as King, because he has accepted to walk the road of humiliation and poverty.

FIRST READING – Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17

«  This reading from the book of Ezekiel presents   God as the shepherd of his people

«  In the reading this idea is explained in two parts:

o   In verses 11-16 of which the liturgy only takes 11-12 and 15 God will change the evil the bad shepherds did to the people

§  God, himself will take care of his people which has been led astray by his kings and teachers.   He will take care of his people which has been taken into exile, far from its homeland

§  He will look for the sheep that have been scattered on cloudy and dark days. He will bring them back from all the countries, and they will return to their homeland. Homeland symbolizes all that is good in life.

§  God himself will take care of them, He will feed and heal them.   He will bring them back and lead them to good pastures; to the knowledge of God, and to the obedience to his voice.

o   On verse 17 another section begins with a different tone:

§  There are good and bad sheep and they have to be separated from each other.

§  Jesus probably inspired himself on this passage from Ezekiel, for the parable  we will read this coming Sunday, on the Last judgment.


The way the psalms present God is not different from the rest of the Old Testament. God is seen as: savior and creator.

*      God is the only savior of Israel, God liberated him from bondage, from the slavery  in Egypt and transformed it into a people. Many psalms sing  to God as Savior and Liberator.

*      Other psalms present God as creator, and many of them emphasize his power and providence.

*      Psalm 23 portrays God as a shepherd, It is a psalm of total trust.

*      God is seen as a shepherd and also as the one who prepares the table for the meal, as savior and as provident creator.

*      The psalmist does not fear the dark valley because the Shepherd goes with him. He knows that he will dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come. 

SECOND READING – 1 Corinthians 15: 20-26, 28

Ø  Beginning on verse 12 of chapter 15 Paul reflects on the meaning of our resurrection based on the resurrection of Jesus.

Ø  The faith in the Risen Lord brings us to the unshakeable hope in our own resurrection.

Ø  If we do not believe and hope in the resurrection of the dead, we will not believe either in the resurrection of Jesus.

Ø  On verse 20 Paul exclaims full of hope: Christ is risen as the first among those who are sleep (dead)!

o   Jesus is risen not as the only one, or as an exception, but as the first one.

o   As the first born, not in a chronological sense, but as the active principle of the resurrection of all.

o   This is so because Jesus has been established by God as the beginning of the new human race. 


*      This parable describes very vividly the judgment of the nations, which the Son of Man, Jesus, will pass on the behavior of all and each one of us.

*      This parable is the culmination of the three preceding parables on the need to be ready for the coming of the Lord.

*      These parables are:

o   The steward who abuses his co-workers while his master is away

o   The five young women who did not take oil with their lamps

o   The servant who did not put the money of his master to produce

*      Matthew puts this parable at the end of Jesus’ ministry before the events of his Paschal mystery.  In this we can see how important is this parable for Matthew.

*       This parable is a discernment = to separate one thing or person from another.

*      During this discernment we will see clearly:

o   The difference between the wheat and the weed (Mt 13:24-30); between the good fish and the bad (Mt 13:47-50); between the faithful and the unfaithful servant (Mt. 24: 45-51); between the wise and foolish young women   (Mt 25:1-13); between the loyal servants  and the unfaithful servant (Mt 25:14-30)

*      The Shepherd is the Lord, who uses a very peculiar and unexpected measurement to discern between the sheep

*      In this judgment the decision will be taken based on the loving attitude toward the least brothers and sisters of Jesus who are in great need: hungry, thirsty, naked….

*      Brothers and sisters may be only the ones from my own faith community and country, or it may mean every human being. The Church teaches this last option.

*      To be vigilant and ready   according to this parable, means to live according to the commandment of love.

*      Jesus in to the gospel of Matthew is the Emmanuel

o   In whom the prophesy of Isaiah is accomplished Mt 1,18-25

o   He is the Emmanuel  because he is the Lord who is in the midst of his community

o   He is the Emmanuel because he is present where two or three gather together to pray

o   He is the Emmanuel who will be with us until the end of time Mt 28,16-20

o   He is the Emmanuel who is with everyone   who needs us.

*      To discover the Lord present in the least of our brothers and sisters moved so many holy men and women to give their lives for the sake of others. I will only mention some who lived in the   last two centuries:

o   Damien of Molokay, or Damien the Leper who from his early years in the religious community went to Molokay to live among the lepers, to be one of them, and at the he died  like them,  a leper.

o   Dorothy Day, the woman who was an atheist when she was young, but always concerned about the poor and about the injustices of society. When she met Christ  she changed  her life, and dedicated herself  to serve the needy during the economic depression of  1930. What moved her were the words of Jesus: “whenever you did it for the least of my brothers…”

o   Martin Luther King, Jr. The black American Baptist Pastor who believed in the equal dignity of every human being no matter what color or race. He worked to obtain this recognition for the people of his own race, and was assassinated  for it.

o   Oscar Romero, Bishop of El Salvador, who denounced the injustices committed against the poor of his country, and in the process he was killed.

o   Ignatius Elacuria, the Jesuit from Spain, who in spite of knowing that his life was in danger he did not stop to promote, in his classes at the University of San Salvador,  the dignity of each human person.   

o   Theresa of Calcutta who decided to dedicate her life to the service of the least, men and women, in Calcutta,  when she heard a man saying “I am thirsty”, words which reminded her of   Jesus’ words on the cross.

There are many more witnesses, as we are told in the Book of Revelation, I have mentioned here   some of them, the ones I know better and maybe also the ones who have inspired me the most.

In this occasion I felt very weight down because when he told me to visit the house to arrange the distribution of the rooms, he was already committed up to the point of having already the keys of the house and the contract signed, as I said before. I had great pity of embarrassing him and, at the same time, I desired to please him, but seeing that it was of no profit for our purpose and that the months fly and it is very hard to earn 80 pesos, I did not know what to do. But God our Lord who, in everything has given me a hand and takes care even of the most tiny and domestic things, as a father of families, provided a very easy way in part to please the procurator but not with much noise as with the transfer to another house. María Antonia París, Foundress of the Claretian Missionary Sisters , Autobiography 185.
 From Puerto Príncipe I pushed on to Nuevitas, where we also gave a mission, and from there we went on to Baga, San Miguel, and San Jerónimo, returning to Puerto Príncipe to celebrate Christmas.  We chanted Matins and celebrated a Solemn High Midnight Mass in the Church of Our Lady of Solitude.  At this time Father Barjau fell ill with yellow fever.  His condition became quite serious, but he recovered perfectly, thank God.  After this we continued giving missions, administering Confirmation, visiting parishes, and working our way, parish after parish, until we reached Santiago for Holy Week.  We performed all the ceremonies of Holy Week with great solemnity because well in advance of this we had instructed all the priests who were to take part in the Mass of Chrism, and other services, in the proper observance of the rubrics.   Anthony Mary Claret, Founder of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, Autobiography 527.