Sunday, December 30, 2012



Liturgical evolution of this solemnity.  

«  The solemnity of Mary Mother of God was celebrated in the Eastern Church before the Roman Church. 

«  In the V century France and Spain began to  celebrate  it on the Sunday before Christmas.   

«  In Rome before the VII century it was celebrated on January 1st.   

«  In the XIII and XIV centuries the solemnity of the Circumcision of the Lord replaced on January 1st the celebration of the Motherhood of Mary. 

«  In the XX century the celebration of the Motherhood of Mary was transferred to November 11. 

«  In the renewal of the liturgy promoted by Council Vatican II in 1974, Paul VI removed the celebration of the circumcision of the Lord on January 1st, and put again the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God on that day, and the circumcision of the Lord on January 2nd.   

«  The title Mother of God given to Mary in Greek is   “Theotokos”= bearer of God, title given in the First Council of Ephesus in 431.    

Eight days after the Solemnity of Christmas, the liturgy invites us to celebrate the Motherhood of Mary.   

*      There are several different themes in this liturgy:   

o   The blessings     

o   The Spirit who makes us children of God   

o   Mary who kept all those things in her heart  

o   And holding together all these themes, PEACE. Since 1968 the Pope sends a Message of Peace to the Church and to the whole world. Pope Paul VI established the tradition.    


The book of Numbers is the fourth book of the 5 books of the Pentateuch or Torah or Law. 

Ø  It comes after the Leviticus. 

Ø  It continues to narrate the story begun in the book of Exodus. Israel continues its journey toward the promised land. At the end of the book Israel sees the promised land in front of its eyes.  

Ø  There is a message of hope in this book:  

o   The punishment for the people’s sins is not the last word from God.

o   Punishment follows sin  

o   Repentance follows the punishment  

o   And pardon and peace, and new life follows the punishment. It is manifested in the many different intervention of God in the life of his people. 

Book of Numbers  6:22-27

We begin the civil year with a blessing, which according to the book of Numbers has been given to Aaron by God to bless the children of Israel. 

§  Let us see the elements of this blessing:  

o   May the Lord bless you, may he pronounce good words upon you. God always blesses us, he always says good things upon us. He gives us  his love, his favor and his gifts.  

o   May he keep you, may he count you among his possessions, may he protect you and put you in a secure place. 

o   May he show you his face. To see the face of God is the longing manifested in different places and in different ways in the Old Testament.    

o   His radiant face, gives joy, peace and everything that is good, beautiful and able to fulfill the longing of our heart. 

o   May he have pity or compassion of you. Compassion is the love of God who bends over our lowliness. So many times we manifest this our lowliness by pride, desire of material goods, abuse of power….   

o   Again the author repeats “may God show you his face, and this will bring peace to you.  Peace is the sum of all good things  given by God.  

§  The Church puts this beautiful blessing in the liturgy of the first day of the civil year, in the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God.    



o   Psalm 67 is a psalm of praise and  petition of God’s mercy upon us. 

o   This psalm has a theme very much alike the message of the first Reading. 


An author says that the letter to the Galatians is one of the most strong and polemic documents among Paul’s writings.   

It is a letter addressed to the communities of Galatia in Asia Minor.  

Ø  Paul writes it to confront the statements made by some of the community who wanted to conform to Jewish teachings, who put first the Sinai Law to the Law of Jesus.  .

Ø  Paul says in this letter that the works of the Law will not save us, that we are justified only  by faith in Jesus.   

Ø  But this does not excuse us to live according to the Law of Christ, that impels us to fight against evil in all its manifestations. 

Ø  Paul will take again many of these ideas about law, salvation, freedom in his letter to the Romans, but in a more systematic and less polemic way. 

Letter to the Galatians  4:4-7

ü  The fullness of time announced by the prophets, the time of the Messiah has come.

ü  The Messiah came born of a woman  

o   This is the only time that Paul mentions Jesus’ mother, he does not say her name, but he says that he was born of a woman. 

o   This is another way to say what John writes in the prologue “the Word was made flesh…”  

ü  Born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the Law   

ü  So that we might receive adoption as children, and be no longer slaves under the Law of Mount Sinai. 

ü  In so doing he will give us the possibility to speak to God in the same way Jesus does, calling him “Abba” Father.  

ü  Paul continues saying, if we are children we are also heirs, because God has wanted it so. It does not depend on our will, it is gift.  Our only answer to the gift is to accept it with love and to try to respond to this surprising love of our God, which has been manifested to us in the Word made man.    

GOSPEL – Luke  2:16-21

In this gospel we have several scenes: 

«  The shepherds

o   Who go in haste because they are happy, they want to see what has been told to them 

o   They found the Holy Family   

o   And they tell Mary and Joseph what the Angels had told them about the baby   

o   Afterwards they returned filled with joy, glorifying God and telling everyone what they had seen and heard.   

«  Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.   

o   She has many things to remember and to meditate in her heart   

§  Things about the baby  

§  Things about herself, about  God, the annunciation with her joys and her fears.  

§  Things about Joseph, his doubts about her, his decision to leave her, his willingness to take her into his home.   

§  Her conversations with Elizabeth about the blessings that each one had received from God.

§  Her conversations with Joseph about the child, and how to fulfill the mission that God had given them and communicated through the Angel. 

«  The Circumcision of Jesus 

o   The rite prescribed to Abraham (Gn 17)

o   Through this rite Jesus was officially incorporated into the people of Israel, the people of the promises, the people of God. 

o   And he is given the name of Jesus as the Angel had told them.  

o   This rite is another way to say what Paul says in the letter to the Galatians “born of a woman”, member of the human family. 
 I imagine that I see in that church (community of Reus-Spain) the Most Blessed Sacrament, Mary and Joseph… Yes I see the grotto of Bethlehem; you have to be the donkey by your humility (…) the community has to imitate the ox by its patience, constancy and love for work; it has to warm the baby with its love(…) Certainly you will laugh at my simplicity. It does not matter because I am happy, and like King David who danced in front of the Ark, I too say these silly things in front of the Most Holy Sacrament that is in that little grotto. St. Anthony Mary Claret, Founder of the Claretian Missionary Sisters. Letter to Maria Antonia 7/21/1867.
This virtue (poverty) should be so precious that it was the first one that the Most Holy Humanity of Our Lord Jesus Christ practiced, being born in a shoddy manger, poorer than all the poor in the world.  Oh poverty of my God, who could inherit your riches!  Christ Our Lord taught us all the virtues in a heroic degree because it was God’s own virtue, but it seems that he wanted to inculcate Holy Poverty in a particular way (because she was his inseparable companion.  He is born very poor, lives in utmost poverty and dies in extreme necessity), as the foundation of evangelical life. María Antonia París, Foundress of the Claretian Missionary Sistrers. Plan for the Renewal of the Church  48.








Today we want to read in silent prayer and contemplation the Gospels of the birth of Jesus which are read at Christmas.   

Christmas invites us to let the mystery of God, made vulnerable, surprise us. 

Christmas invites us to be silent and to allow the Presence of our Creator and Redeemer fill us.    

Christmas invites us to discover His presence in each human face, especially in the children and in the most vulnerable. 
Gospel of the Midnight Mass – Luke 2:1-14
This Gospel has two different scenes. Let us contemplate each one of them:  
The first scene is the birth of Jesus:  
v  Luke puts the birth of Jesus in the context of the history of his time. He gives names and events which we can find in any historical book. Luke wants to tell us that Jesus is a real human being, not a figment of our imagination.  
v  There is a census, something that all of us are familiar with, because every some years we have a census taken in our country.  Census is always about counting people. How interesting it is to realize that behind the data of the census there are realities that we do not know, joys and sufferings in the lives of those counted, as it happened with the census of Quirinius. 
v  Joseph belongs to David’s family. According to the way the census were conducted, everyone had to go back to their place of origin to be counted.  Therefore Joseph had to go to Bethlehem the city of David. He goes there with his wife who is with child, at a very late stage of her pregnancy.  
v  The time to give birth came as they arrived in Bethlehem. I leave it to each one’s imagination, especially of the women who have given birth, what this moments means for a woman. Then we may look to Mary and try to discover her feelings.   
v  There is no place for them at the inn. This can be understood in several different ways:
o   There is no place because they are poor  
o   There is no place because the inn is full. 
o   There is no place because they do not want to be disturbed by a woman in labor.  
o   There is no place because the inn is full of people and this is not an adequate setting for a woman to give birth. To give birth requires privacy, intimacy, sacredness.  
o   And the innkeeper, that I am inclined to look at as good man, offers them the cave where the animals take refuge at night. There they will be able to be by themselves.
v  And Luke says very briefly “”the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn  son. She wrapped him in sawddling clothes.”
o   An the time came for her, the hour that every pregnant woman expects with joy because she is going to see for the first time the face of her baby. But at the same time she is overcome by anxiety, she does not know what will happen to her, especially when it is the first child, as in the case of Mary.  
o   Joseph helped Mary to give birth to her son. I like to imagine Joseph, the just man, the good man, with tears in his eyes as the mystery was enfolding in front of him. Tears of thanksgiving and emotion on seeing the face of the Son of God made the Son of man. He would have to be the father of the son of God, his God who had asked him to change the plans he had for his own life, and thus cooperate in the work of the salvation of the human race.  
o   Mary sees,  kisses,  and feeds for the first time her baby, who is the Son of the Eternal Father. 
o   I believe that it is impossible for us to understand the fullness of this mystery, so full of joy and suffering at the same time.  Let us contemplate in silence, admiration and unconditional love this mystery. 
Let us contemplate the second scene of this same gospel: There are some shepherds watching their flock during the night.  
v  They live in the fields, they do not live in houses, not even in stables.  They take turns in keeping their flocks.   
v  Shepherds were considered to be people of not good standing in society: they were poor but they were seen as liars, as thieves, people who had to do many things in order to survive.  
v  To them the angel of the Lord is sent to announce the good news of the birth of the Son of God among us. An angel was also sent to Mary to Zechariah, to Joseph.   Let us analyze the message, because it contains several of the themes so dear to Luke:
o   Be not  afraid.  Fear is the natural reaction of the human being in the presence of the Mystery, of God or of his messengers. Jesus will repeat these same words to his apostles on Easter Sunday  evening.    
o   I have good news to proclaim to you, which will be the cause of great joy.   The joy of the presence of God in our life, in our society, in our history. God is always a cause of joy. In the Old Testament Zion was invited many times to rejoice because “your King comes to you.”
o   Today, it is the “now” of salvation. Luke uses several titles to describe the child who has been born and who is the cause of joy: Savior, Messiah, and Lord. Jesus is all of that and more, but this is the paradox of God’s work, so different from our works and our parameters, our King comes as a poor and vulnerable baby.  
o   Poverty, although Luke does not mention the word poverty, he says that the baby was wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lay in a manger. These are signs of poverty.  God could only be born in poverty, because riches many times are void of meaning, and of truth. Real poverty is the truth.  

o   The praise,   many more angels join the first angel and they sing “GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST AND ON EARTH PEACE… to men and women of good will.   Praise and peace, two words that we find more than once in the Gospel of Luke. After the annunciation Mary sings, in the evening of Easter Sunday Jesus greets his own saying: PEACE.  
Let us continue now with the Gospel of the Sunrise Mass.
Gospel of Luke 2:15-20
It has been said that Luke was a painte, and that he painted the portrait of Mary; but some commentators say that the best paintings of Luke were painted with his words, not with brushes.
The gospel of the Midnight Mass  had two scenes. The gospel for the Sunrise Mass has also two different scenes: the shepherds, and Mary. 
v  The shepherds decide to do something about the good news they have received, they go to see the truth of what has been told to them. 
v  And because they go they see. But, what do they see? A new born baby in a manger, Joseph and Mary.  We have here another of the themes cherished by Luke, faith.   He does not mention the word, but the scene speaks more eloquently than words. They see a baby and they recognized in that vulnerable baby, as vulnerable as any other baby, the Messiah and  Lord.   
v  And the shepherds made know the message that had been told about the baby.
v  The first scene ends here.   
The second  scene is about Mary.   

v  Mary kept all those things, reflecting on them in her heart. 
o   She kept them, these are her memories. The memories of everything that had to do with the baby:

§  at the annunciation, the reaction of her parents, of Joseph and  the people of Nazareth. 
§   The journey to Bethlehem, during which both Joseph and Mary could share their experience about the baby that was in Mary’s womb. The birth, the shepherds… All of these are her memories.
o   She cherishes them in her heart, meditates on them. Luke does not say that Mary understands, she cannot understand them, they go beyond our human understanding. But she cherishes them, and believes because she trusts in the God who has made the promises to her. Faith is to trust he who has called us to life and has given us his salvation. 
Mass of the Day – Gospel of John 1:1-14
Ø  The Gospel for this Mass is taken from the Prologue of John’s Gospel.  Luke has painted, described for us four different scenes related to the birth of Jesus. 
Ø  John leads us into the mystery, he removes the curtain, this is the meaning of revelation, to see what is behind the curtain. He helps us to discover the mystery hidden behind the events and the different characters. 
Ø  In the two former Masses Luke has narrated the birth of Jesus, called Messiah and Lord.  
Ø  The Church, the community of the believers and followers, led by the Spirit sent by Jesus to her, has deepened into the theological meaning of the events related to the birth of Jesus.  Let us hear what John has to say
o   In the beginning  was the Word… and the Word was God.   If we go to the first book of the Bible, the Book of Genesis the first words are “In the beginning…God created… and God said … God says his Word and the abyss becomes a wonderful and beautiful creation.  
o   John continues his theological reflection and says that the Word existed from the beginning, that without him nothing came to be.  But the darkness did not acknowledge it. Our darkness, our own and the that of our society, and  of our world  cannot understand and accept his light.
o   John proceeds and says that the light, the Word was in the world, but the world did not acknowledge the Word. 
o   He came to his own and they did not welcome him. Sometimes we think that these words are said of the people of Bethlehem; but I believe that we need to enter into our heart, and to discover in how many ways we do not welcome him into ourselves. Only in this way we will be able to understand the dreadful mystery of the human heart that can refuse to recognize his or her Creator.  
o   To those who did accept him…   According to some commentators  verses 12 and 13 refer to the virginal birth of Jesus, and also to our baptism.
o   And we reach now the climax of the prologue AND THE WORD BECAME FLESH  
§  The creating Word, the Word who is the Eternal Father’s Son 
§  Became flesh. Flesh means the condition of the sinful and vulnerable human being. Without having any sin, because God cannot sin, he becomes like us, to be able to nail to the cross, as Paul says, our flesh and in so doing to give us his life, the life of the Father’s Son.   
§  He made his dwelling among us, in some translations he “put his tent among.” This sentence makes us think of the nomads, the pilgrims who do not stay in a same place forever.  We are all pilgrims in this world. He puts his tent and lives like anyone of us.     John Paul II in the document for the preparation of the Third Millennium wrote:  he loved with a human heart, he worked with hands of a man, talked… he was and is one of us. 
§  This gospel ends with the words that John will repeat in his I Letter. He is fascinated in awe by the truth of what they had experienced living with Jesus “and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.”   






Thursday, December 6, 2012


«  In our journey preparing for the celebration of the Incarnation of the Son of God and his birth in Bethlehem, we meet John the Baptist. 

«  He invites the people to be prepared for the coming of God (first coming)in the midst of his people in fulfillment of the promises.   

«  Paul in the second reading asks his community to be prepared for the second coming of the Lord.   

«  The readings for this second Sunday of Advent are an invitation to rejoice because God walks with his people, with us. (third coming) 

*      This book is presented as the work of the Scribe we find in the book of Jeremiah  (32:12-16)

*      We do not have the original text in Hebrew, only the Greek text. The Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church accept this book as canonical, but the Protestant churches and the Jewish people do not accept it, they consider it to be a deutero-canonical book.  

*      It seems to be a recompilation of different texts. 

*      The place  is the Babylonian exile.   

FIRST READING  Baruch 5:1-9
«  The entire text transpires optimism, light, joy, peace.  

«  Jerusalem is invited to put on her festal dress.   

«  Because God will show to the entire earth, to all, the splendor of Jerusalem. 

«  The city where peace, justice and the glory of the adoration of God, rule.  

«  Jerusalem is invited to look and see her children coming from the East and the West. 

«  The words evoke the exile, when they left in tears and shame. 

«  God himself is preparing the way through which the exiles will come  back to Jerusalem. 

«  This road has trees on each side offering their shade to the people.   

«  God will lead them in joy, light, mercy and justice.    


Ø  Psalm 126 is a thanksgiving psalm and also a psalm of trust. 

Ø  This psalm describes for us the return of the exiles. 

Ø  The return is described with words that evoke an exuberant joy, security, gladness because God himself is leading them.   

Ø  Even the nations praise and sing because God has done great things for the exiles. 

The last verse shows the contrast between the tears when they left and the joy at their return. The psalmist uses images taken from the agricultural world: Sowing and harvesting.  

SECOND READING Letter to the Philippians 1:4-6. 8-11    
ü  Paul is glad because the members of the community have cooperated with him in the proclamation of the Gospel.   

ü  He is confident that He who has begun in them the good work will complete it. 

ü  Paul wishes to go and be with his community of Philippi, but until he will be able to go he prays :    
o   That their love may increase more and more   

o   That their knowledge may increase also     

o   That they may discern what is valuable according to their faith.  

o   So that they may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ (Second coming) 

o   For the glory and praise of God the Father.     

GOSPEL Luke  3:1-6
*      In the introduction of his gospel Luke has described some events  of the childhood of Jesus.   

*      Now in chapter 3 we meet the person of John the Baptist. He is performing his ministry, his mission of preparing the way.   

*      Luke gives a lot of details about the leaders of that time, to help us understand that John as well as Jesus are real human beings who have lived in a real historical time.   

*      We may find all of those leaders in any historical book of the time.   

*      John proclaims a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins

*      Luke tells us that the activity of John fulfils what Isaiah had prophesized  40,3-5

I was not contented at all with this response, rather I complained to my confessor for not having forced him to answer if I would profess or not because only with that, would I be tranquil since I was not eager to go or to remain, even though not to make my profession was tearing my soul because I had been ardently desiring it not only from my ten years of novitiate but since I had the use of reason. But, as soon as this saint would have said that to leave the convent could be for the glory of God (which was to divide my soul) I would have conformed myself to God’s will for, since God our Lord made me understand the holiness of that soul and the gifts of grace entrusted to him by his divine majesty, my confidence in him was so great that I seemed to hear God’s voice through his. But our Lord was not pleased to give this consolation: he preferred me to drink the chalice up to the last drop.  Venerable María Antonia París, Foundress of the Claretian Missionary Sisters,    Autobiography 97. 

God's grace has greatly helped me in practicing mortification. I now know that mortification has been an essential need for me in working effectively for souls and in praying as I ought.

I have received special encouragement in practicing mortification from considering the example set by Jesus, Mary, and the Saints. I have read their lives carefully, with an eye to how they practiced mortification, and I have taken many notes from some of them such as St. Bernard and St. Peter of Alcantara. I read of St. Philip Neri that after 30 years of hearing the confession of one of Rome's most famous beauties he had no idea what she looked like.. Saint Anthony Mary Claret, Founder of the Claretian Missionary Sisters , Autobiography 392-93
CLARET, Antonio María. Autobiography.
PARIS, María Antonia. Autobiography.   
RAVASI, Gianfranco. Según las Escrituras-Año B. San Pablo 2005.
SCHÖKEL , Luis Alonso, La Biblia de nuestro Pueblo.
SAGRADA BIBLIA, Versión Oficial de la Conferencia Episcopal Española.