Tuesday, August 28, 2012


The theme for this Sunday is the Law given by God our Father, law of life and freedom, which requires from us to live it in freedom and in love.    
The three readings speak to us about this theme. And all three say to us that it is not enough to hear and to know intellectually the law, what is needed is to live bent toward the vulnerability of our sisters and brothers.   

Ø  This book is called in the Hebrew Bible  דְּבָרִים  These are the words” and in the Greek translation it has been given the name of Deuteronomy: deuteros (second) nomos (law).

Ø  These words are the words of Moses addressed to his people before entering the Promised land.   

Ø  The book is composed of 4 sermons  that the authors put in the mouth of Moses, who is portrayed as a leader, a prophet and a legislator.   

Ø  In  the Biblical tradition the authors of some books like to attribute to important characters the teachings which the authors want to transmit. These words have not been necessarily pronounced by the person to whom they are attributed, but to the authors themselves. 

Ø  The renewal or reformation which is found in the Deuteronomy is as follows:  
o   The centralization of worship which leads to
o   The centralization of justice and  
o   To other religious and social measures. 

FIRST READING: Dt 4:1-2.6-8
«  In the first chapters of the book “Moses” does a synthesis of the history up to that moment 

«  In reality it is not Moses who makes it or who pronounces the speech or the exhortation, but the authors of the Deuteronomy. 

«  Israel is asked to listen to the commandments and decrees which Moses is teaching them in the name of God.  

«  If they are faithful to the precepts and decrees they will live in the land that God promised to their fathers. 

«  Israel cannot remove from or add anything to the law that God is given to them through Moses. 
o   Nothing can be removed from the law, because it is God who is the LAW Himself, who has given it for the good of the people. 

o   Nothing can be added because whatever is added to the law comes from the pride of men and women  who think that they are “gods themselves”.  

o   The law belongs to God not to us. We are not allowed to make is easier or harder.  

«  Our wisdom and prudence is to put the law, God’s commandments, into practice.   

«  The author asks, what people is there that has gods so close to it as the Lord, our God is to us?   Yes, anyone who follows the law that God has put in the heart of every human being, discovers that he or she is very close to God who leads and protects him or her. 

*      The psalmist asks himself: Lord who may abide in your tent? 

*      And he answers THE ONE WHO DOES JUSTICE WILL LIVE IN THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD. What kind of justice?
o   That is the one who does not harm his or her neighbor,
o   who lends not money at usury,
o   who does not accept any bribe….
      will live with the Lord.    

GOSPEL Mark  7:1-8.14-15.21-23
ü  Mark presents to us a discussion between Jesus and the Teachers of the Law. 

ü  The Teachers are upset, are scandalized, angry, worried because the disciples eat without washing their hands, indirectly they are questioning an attitude of Jesus, but they only mentioned the disciples.  

ü  Jesus answers with vehemence quoting Isaiah  29:13.

ü  Jesus says words against the cult that man and woman have invented.  

ü  In the Old Testament we find in Is 1:10-20 the same passion against the cult invented to make us feel good about ourselves, not for worshiping  the Lord.   

ü  We follow the liturgical rules which we have made; but at the same time we forget  
o   the laws about fraternal love or our neighbor, about justice and respect for all who suffer, are exploited and humiliated.
o   The laws about the respect for the dignity of every human being included ourselves.    

ü  We say prayers, and this is good, but at the same time we do not question ourselves about the many discriminations which we make in our heart, the pride and the self satisfaction about ourselves feeling that we are better than the rest, the lack of forgiveness of those who have offended or hurt us.   

ü  And Jesus invites us every day to be like Him, to act like Him who gave his life for his friends and for his enemies, for all. Jesus who loves us all, those I like and those I do not like.

To live in this way we need to allow Him to liberate us, in order to be really free. Only then we will be able to live according to his commandments.    

§  Since the end of the II century the letters not written by Paul are called Catholic Letters: James,  1 and 2 Peter, 1,2 and 3 John, Jude.

§  They are addressed to the universal Church.  .

§  In the New Testament we find several men called James:  
o   James the son of Zebedee and brother of John (Mk 1:17; 3,17; Acts 1:22)
o   James the son of Alpheus  (Mc 3,18; Hch 1,13)
o   James the brother of the Lord  (Gal 1,19; 2,9)

This letter can be attributed only to “the brother of the Lord”, called also James the Less. He was the leader and bishop of the community of Jerusalem.   

SECOND READING 1:17-18;21-27
o   James reminds those who have been baptized   that,  all that we have ,has been given by God the giver of all that is good. 

o   God who has chosen us as firstfruits of his creatures. 

o   He invites us also to accept them with humility, that is  with a thankful heart, the word which God himself has sowed in us. The Word which is the Gospel of Jesus. 

o   The word is not only to be listen to, but for acting according to it: caring  for orphans and widows in their affliction. We can make a list of all those who are in need of our love, today:  in our society, in our faith community, in our family, in our workplace…  

o   God does not need our plans, our programs, our courses, our prayer groups, our movements, our documents  etc… we are the ones who need all of these. What God needs from me is that I love as He loves every human being, and this will lead me to do good to all, according to what each one needs from me.  



At sea as well as in land, in the cities as well as in the desert the missionary of Christ must not be careless of self. If he cannot do all his readings, at least he should read two chapters of “The Imitation  of Christ”, one in the morning and one in the evening, don’t ever abandon this faithful friend and always he be his adviser. Do not kill the spirit of the holy prayer no matter the many things he has to do. Jesus Christ our Lord and most perfect Master during the day did mission work and at night he prayed. María Antonia París, Foundress of the Claretian Missionary Sisters. The Apostolic Missionary  2:18-20
I had observed that the holy virtue of poverty not only edified people and upset the idol of mammon but also helped me greatly to grow in humility and advance in perfection. I can sum up what I learned by experience in the following comparison: The virtues are like the strings on a harp. Poverty is the shortest and thinnest chord and hence gives the highest sound. The shorter we are in life's conveniences, the higher we reach on the scale of perfection. Thus we see that Jesus spent 40 days and nights without anything to eat. He and his Apostles ate barley loaves, and they even ran out of these at times. Once the Apostles were so short of food that they took ears of grain and rubbed them in their hands to kill their hunger with the grains. They were even criticized for this by the Pharisees because they did it on a sabbath. Saint Anthony Mary Claret, Founder of the Claretian Missionary Sisters. Autobiography 370.   

CLARET, Antonio María . Autobiography.
DESCLÉES DE BROUWER. Jerusalem Bible, new Spanish edition.
PARIS, María Antonia. “The Apostolic Missionary”.
RAVASSI, Gianfranco. Según las Escrituras. Año B (According to the Scriptures. Year B.) Bogotá Colombia 2005
SAGRADA BIBLIA, official translation of the Conference of Bishops of Spain. Madrid 2011 .    

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


*      The readings of this Sunday’s liturgy are an invitation to choose between God and the idols, the false gods:  
o   Joshua asks the Israelites whether they really want to follow God who delivered them from the slavery of Egypt, or they rather prefer to return to the slavery in Egypt.
o   Jesus asks his disciples if they also want to leave him, because his words are difficult to accept. 
o   And what about us, whom are we going to choose and to follow?  

«  This book narrates the conquest of the promised land by the Israelites, and its distribution among the tribes. 

«  The conquest is presented 
o   In a very synthetic and simplified way 
o   Probably it was more difficult, and surely it was not homogeneous 
o   The tribes would enter and conquer different places of the land of Canaan over a long period of time, sometimes even without any war at all.
o   Some people would enter as workers, others as nomad shepherds, others as immigrants…  

«  The book of Joshua is indispensable to know the fulfillment of the promises made to the Fathers, about the promised land.

«  The Biblical scholars see this book in different ways: 
o   Some consider it to be so close to the themes of the Pentateuch that they think it should be part of it. We would have an Hexateuch (six books) instead of a Pentateuch (five books)   
o   Others see it together with the Deuteronomy so different from the rest of the 4 books that they should not be included and therefore become a Tetrateuch (4 books). 

«  The composition of this book:
o   Most of the chapters are written by a deuteronomistic author or authors. 
o   Later on an author o several authors from the priestly tradition introduced the texts about:
§  The distribution of the land 
§  The cities of asylum
§  The levitical cities  

o   The land is a gift from Yahweh to Israel, his chosen people, it is the land promised to the fathers.  
o   This gift comes with a condition: faithfulness  
o   When Israel forgets about its faithfulness it loses the land. 
o   This is the way they could explain the meaning of the Babylonian exile: they had been unfaithful to Yahweh.   
o   If they dream to go back to the land they will have to be faithful and not contaminate themselves with the pagan nations.    

o   We find in the theology of the book of Joshua a dark side which is difficult for us  to explain and to understand.
o   The institution of the Jerem or  God’s ban.   
o   They could not take anything and not spare the life of anyone of the inhabitants of the places they conquered.  
o   This was a common practice of the peoples of the ancient Middle East that were neighbors of Israel, all of them offered the goods and the persons of the conquered places to their divinities. 
o   The scholars say that probably they did always apply this law, and even when it was applied they did not kill more people than in a regular war.    

«  This is the way Israel explains 
o   The events of history to understand them. For all those peoples, including Israel everything that happens is because God wants it, and if it is something that God does not want, punishment will follow, and destruction.  
o   But we have learned something more from Jesus, who is the full and final revelation of God:  
§  He has told us that the Father loves us all
§  And that we should love one another, even the enemies.    

FIRST READING   Joshua 24:1-2ª,15-17,18b
Ø  Joshua is the successor of Moses who has led the people into the promised land. Now when he is near to his death he summons the tribes at Shechem, the heart of the promised land which they have conquered. He asks them:  whom do they want to serve?  

Ø  The word “to serve” does not have a servile meaning in the Old Testament.  It means the joyful and free acceptance of God’s project.   

Ø  Joshua reminds the people what God has done for them since the call of Abraham, and how he has fulfilled the promises, and Joshua says AS FOR ME AND MY HOUSEHOLD, WE WILL SERVE THE LORD.   

Ø   The people answered “we will serve the Lord, He is our God!  

Ø  This passages is written in the form of a covenant similar to the covenants between the masters and the vassal among the Hitites:
o   First a reminder of what the lord had done for the vassals
o   The covenant clauses
o   The witnesses     

Ø  This covenant had two directions:
o   One vertical between the tribes and Yahweh
o   Another horizontal among the people, this covenant with Yahweh helps them to become a people,   

We continue to read  psalm 34 like in the previous Sundays and the response is the same TASTE AND SEE THE GOODNESS OF THE LORD.   

GOSPEL Jn 6: 60-69
ü  We have reached the end of chapter 6 of  John’s Gospel. Jesus has fed the crowd, He has declared that He is the bread that has come down from heaven, He has said that we have to eat his flesh and drink his blood to have eternal life, those who heard him could not accept these words and left.   

ü  Now Jesus asks his disciples, who also have doubts, the great question, do you want also to leave? 

ü  And Peter, like at  the confession at Caesarea of Philippi which we read in the gospel of Matthew, says to the Lord in the name of the group of apostles: to whom shall we go, you have words of eternal life, you are the Holy One of God.  

ü  In the gospel of John this episode of the life of Jesus has a great importance. It has been called the Galilean crisis. At this point the life of Jesus changes. He  leaves his country Galilee, and starts his journey towards the South, towards Jerusalem where he will end his earthly life.   

ü  The disciples have to choose like the people of Israel had to choose at Shechem. 

ü  The liturgy of this coming Sunday asks us to face the key question of our life, whom do we want to follow? Christ, who gives us life, but whose following is difficult and many times incomprehensible? Or do we prefer the comfort which our society offers to us, road that will lead us to death.        

ü  The choice is ours, each one of us will find at the end of his or her journey what he or she has chosen during his or her life.   

ü  May the Lord grant us that our response be like Joshua’s response “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Or like the words of Peter “to whom shall we go, you have the words of eternal life, you are the Holy One of God.”   

SECOND READING Ephesians 5: 21-32
«  The author of the letter has spoken about the need of unity and harmony among the members of the community, the Church. 

«  Now he turns his eyes towards the family, the domestic church, to remind also the need for unity and harmony among its members and with Christ.  

«  He uses the vocabulary of his times, which he does not want to make them the word of God, becvause what is the word of God is the meaning of the words he uses. By sure that today he would not use the word “subordinate” when he speaks to the wives.

«  The union between husband and wife is called to be the image of the union of Christ and the Church. This union between man and woman bound in matrimony has to be the image of the relation which exists between Christ and the Church: a union of love and of reciprocal self-giving.  

PARIS, MARÍA ANTONIA, Autobiography.
RAVASSI, GIANFRANCO, Según las Escrituras Año B. San Pablo Bogotá Colombia 2005.  
SAGRADA BIBLIA. Versión oficial de la Conferencia Episcopal Española. Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos, Madrid 2011. (Conference of Bishops of Spain, oficial translation of the Bible.)
SCHOKEL, LUIS ALONSO, La Biblia de nuestro pueblo (The Bible of our People)  Misioneros Claretianos, Ediciones Mensajero, China 2010.  


The good missionary must adjust himself to the disposition of the persons with whom he relates and be all for everybody in order to gain them all. Never speak ill of the country God will send him; nor tolerate that his brothers or companions speak ill of those poor people that God has entrusted them. The whole world must be country for the missionary of Christ, because our Divine Redeemer came to redeem all, sending to preach the same Gospel all over the world. The missionary crying before God of the bad customs of the country will obtain more than speaking with his brothers of the poor sinners. María Antonia París, Foundress of the Claretian Missionary Sisters,  The Apostolic Missionary,  2:8-11

While I was traveling I would strike up a conversation with those who chanced to join me about the various things we saw. If I happened to see some flowers, I would point to them and remark that, as these plants produced beautiful and fragrant flowers, we should produce virtues. The rose, for example, teaches us love, the lily symbolizes purity, the violet, humility, etc. We must, as the Apostle says, be "the good odor of Christ in every place.'' If I saw a tree laden with fruit, I would remark that we, too, should bear the fruit of good works, so not to end up like the two fig trees in the Gospel.  If we passed by a river, I would say that the running water reminds us that we are passing on toward eternity. If we heard birds singing or music being played, I would refer to the new and everlasting song of heaven, etc. I have personally witnessed the great value of conversations like these; their effect was like that of the conversation Christ held with the two travelers on the road to Emmaus. I also found that they had the further advantage of avoiding useless talk and grumbling Saint Anthony Mary Claret, Founder of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, Autobiography 336.    

Monday, August 13, 2012


«  The first reading is taken from the book of Proverbs.  

«  When we read this book we are surprised to see how fragmented it is, it is like a mosaic of different literary form, thoughts, sayings…   

«  In most of this book the theological thought of the O.T. seems to be absent. 

«  It is part of the Wisdom Books:  Job, Ecclesiastes, Sirach,  Song of Songs.

«  These books want to give an answer to very common and vital questions that men and women of all times have had,  about life and death, suffering, love and hate, etc…      

«  It is the most secular of the Wisdom books. We might say that it is like a handbook about moral behavior, a teaching on how to be part of the human community.  

«  Israel used this kind of literature after the return from the Babylonian exile. It is not a literary genre that has its origin in Israel, but in the peoples that surrounded the people of God.    

«  Due to the fragmentation of the book we may deduce that it has had several different authors who lived in different times.  It seems though that the book, as we know it now, was part of what Israel called the Writings, in 200 BC. 

«  To give to Solomon the authorship over this book is a device very much used in the Ancient World. A given author would use the name of a famous person instead of the proper name so his book would be accepted.   So in Israel

o   Solomon, the wise king, was considered to be the author of the Wisdom books; but he cannot be the author of Proverbs, since the book was written over the span of centuries.
o   David, the singer and musician,  of the poetry and of the psalms
o   Moses, the law giver, of the Law. .

Let us reflect on the   

First Reading: Proverbs 9:1-6

I give here a very personal reflection on this text, with the intention to help us in our prayer life. The more systematic explanation about the book has already been given above.    

Ø  This passage presents very beautiful images

Ø  Wisdom is presented as a woman:   

o   Who builds her house on seven columns.  Number seven has in the Bible a meaning of fullness. If we look at the New Testament the Holy Spirit is portrayed in the Book of Revelation as the seven spirits of God, which means the fullness of the Spirit of God.  

o   Who prepares her table with rich food and good wine, images which make us think about the joy of eating and drinking at a banquet. The gift of Wisdom which the Holy Spirit gives to us, is not about knowledge but about tasting, about enjoying, about being delighted in the experience of God.       

o   The text says that she sends her maidens, but in the next sentence she is the one who invites, who calls. Would that be that she calls but through her maidens? As God calls all of us through other people?    

o   In this image of the table and the invitation to the banquet we may understand or discover the overabundance of Wisdom, which gives herself out to whoever welcomes her. 

o   She calls the simple, the poor, those who do not have much understanding, those who are ready to accept her, because they lack the understanding that she is willing to give to them; she invites them at her table to enjoy her food and her drink, to allow them to be filled with her wisdom.

o   With her wisdom they will be able to reject sin, reject stupidity, because sin is always nonsense, a stupidity.

o   Thus they will be able to progress on the way of understanding 

o   Those who accept the call of Wisdom will be able to say with the psalmist: 


GOSPEL John 6:51-58 

*      We continue with the speech on the Bread of Life.  

*      John in his gospel does not have the intention to inform us about the events in the life of Jesus,  rather he uses some of the events in the life of Jesus to make a theological reflection on the meaning of those events

*      The event here is that Jesus feeds 5000 men with 5 loaves and 2 fish which a young boy offers to him. 

*      This event offers to John the opportunity to talk about the true bread from heaven, Jesus. 

*      In this Reading: 

o   Jesus proclaims himself bread from heaven. Who eats it will live forever. 

o   The Jews argue among themselves and are angry, because Jesus presents himself as transcendent (coming from heaven), but they know his family. 

o   Jesus repeats the same words: if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and do not drink his blood you will not live. The real translation for the word used for eating is “chewing.” 

o   When we eat his body and drink his blood in the Eucharist, a union similar to that of Jesus with his Father is established between Jesus and his disciple.   

o   The disciple becomes a child of the Father,  because he is united to the Son of the Father who became flesh for the salvation of the world. As a son or a daughter the disciple enters into an intimate relationship with the Father, similar to the intimacy that Jesus has with the Father.   

o   This union through the bread and wine –body and blood of Jesus- is not meant to be still but to give the disciple the strength to go and  share with others this intimacy with the Lord.    

SECOND READING: Ephesians: 5,15-20

In the liturgy of the Sundays in ordinary time, the second reading usually does not have the same theme as the first reading  and the Gospel. Usually we start   a letter and every Sunday we read some fragments of it until it is finished.   

§  However this Sunday the Reading from the letter to the Ephesians has the same theme as Proverbs and the Gospel: wisdom as a light for those who welcome Jesus into their lives.   

§  The author invites the community to live wisely making the best of the present time. 

§  Seeking to know the will of God. 

§  Being prudent in eating and drinking. In the book of Proverbs Wisdom offered the overabundance of her food and drink as a sign of her generosity, this drink and food represent the gift of wisdom.  In the letter the food and the drink in excess are a sign of a life without wisdom.  

§  In place of these excesses the author invites the community to pray, to praise, to give thanks for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

§  What a wonderful plan for the life of those who want to follow the Lord Jesus, our Lord and God.

§  Last Sunday we were invited to make of our life a liturgy to our Lord and God. This week we are invited again to make of our life a praise of thanksgiving to our Lord and God.   


The missionary must be always kind and be all to all but without losing his composure and religious circumspection. Beware that due to his carelessness the veneration and respect ought to be given to the priestly character that he is invested, be lost. Do not familiarize with anybody but be kind to everybody. During his travels he must speak little and meditate very much.  His lodging in the cities be in the hospital. He must be respectful to everybody if he wants to be respected as it is proper to a minister of the Lord; for this, will be good to him not to take liberties with anybody.   Do not argue with anybody, his way of talking be simple, saying: “This is so and so” or “It is not so” and not begin a dispute trying to have his own way, but yield to everybody. María Antonia París, Foundress of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, The Apostolic Missionary 1-5.  

From the very beginning I have been thrilled by the preaching style of Jesus, his likenesses and parables. And how He was persecuted! He was a sign of contradiction, persecuted for his teaching, his works, and his very person. Finally, they took his life amid affronts, torments, and insults, making Him suffer the most shameful and painful death imaginable. St. Anthony Mary Claret, Founder of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, Autobiography 222.