Friday, September 28, 2012


Jesus continues to teach his disciples practical lessons on discipleship
1.      Accept the good works of others who do not belong to your group
2.      Avoid giving scandal 

v  The Book of Numbers is the 4th book of the Pentateuch, it comes after the Leviticus.
v  In the books of Exodus and Leviticus we have left the people in the Sinai Desert where it has received the Law, Aaron has been anointed priest, the sanctuary has been built and the worship has been inaugurated.
v  Now the people is ready to continue its journey towards the land promised to the Fathers.
v  This book is called ριθμοί, Arithmoi = Numbers in the Greek translation, and  במדבר, Bəmidbar   in the Hebrew  Bible  which means “in the desert¨  
v  The text is complex, it shows the intervention of several authors from different times.  Its composition took several centuries.
v  The title ¨numbers¨   is appropriate for this book since we find in it many census reports.
v  This book has still a message for us today.
v  The leading thread is the land promised to the patriarchs, this is the reason why the people cannot stay at the foot of Sinai, it has to continue its itinerary toward the land. The people receives the rules on how to distribute the land and how to establish the borders of the land.   
v  In the same way as the people of Israel had to continue their journey, we cannot stop in the  journey that the Lord has fixed  for each one of us when He has called us, we need to continue until we reach the goal He wants us to reach.             

*      The text describes God taking the spirit he has given to Moses and distributing it among  the seventy elders.   
*      When the spirit rested upon them they prophesied.
*      Two of them remained in the camp, but they also received the same spirit, and began to prophesy.
*      A young man, Joshua, becomes indignant and comes to Moses reporting what the two men are doing,  and asking him to stop them.
*      Moses with a generous heart says how much he would like that all could prophesy. 

«  It is the longest psalm. It has 22 stanzas  as many as the characters of the Hebrew alphabet.
«  The author praises God for giving such splendid laws and instructions for the people to live by.
«  He glorifies God for the Torah, the Law
«  The whole psalm is a song of loving praise to the Law of God, and to the God of the Law.   

GOSPEL Mk 9:38-43.45.47-48
Ø  This Gospel is the continuation of the reading from last Sunday. 
Ø  Jesus teaches two lessons on discipleship. 
o   The first lesson, not to be jealous of the good deeds of others:
§  John comes to Jesus, like Joshua came to Moses, telling him that there is someone expelling demons in Jesus’ name, but he does not belong to their group.
§  Jesus tells John that no one can do a good work in the name of Jesus and at the same time be against Him
§  Any good work comes from God, even if the person does not know God, or is far from God. When any one of us does a good deed it means that he or she has opened him or herself to God.
§  In the parable on  the Las Judgment which we read in the Gospel of Matthew those who had helped others did not even know the Lord. “When Lord? Whenever you did it for one of my brothers….”
o   The second lesson is about scandal , anything that may cause others to sin
§  The examples given by Jesus  and his words  are disturbing
§  Jesus sometimes speaks in such a way to help us to realize the seriousness of what he is teaching
§  Jesus is telling us to avoid  what can scandalize our brother or our sister
§  To scandalize is worst  than to lose a hand, a foot or an eye. 

Ø  The strong words that James speaks to his community help us to understand the magnitude of the social evils which come from our selfishness.  
Ø  On reading his words we realize that the first communities did also the same or similar injustices as we do in the XXI century. 
Ø  Our social behavior has to be a consequence of the commandment of the Lord “love one another.”  
Ø  The riches are not evil in themselves, since they are a gift from creation, and creation comes from God, but what is evil is the way in which they are used. 
Ø  James reminds to those who have workers and have become rich abusing them, that the salary they have not paid on time and have kept overnight is a voice that cries aloud to God.
Ø  In the book of Exodus we read that the Lord says to Moses “I have heard the cry of the people, I have seen their sufferings,” Our God hears the cry of the poor and of the oppressed, and He will come to deliver them from the hands of their oppressors.  
Ø  These are very strong words which make us tremble on seeing the suffering of God in the face of our evil and selfishness, because it leads us to our own destruction. 

In this situation, being – as I said- anxious and full of fears for the excessive care of my body, His majesty was pleased to console me making me understand that it was his will for my life to be of some utility in these times for the glory of His Divine Majesty. This advice of the Lord that gave me some consolation, made me very confused because I was so far from thinking that my life could be useful that I was even considering myself unworthy of life itself. And this was not because of humility, like St. Catherine of Siena and others, but because of the multitude of my sins. And on the other hand, since what the Lord was telling me was a thing of less mortification, it made me suspect that it comes from the bad spirit. Thus, I immediately consulted my confessor, and he told me that his opinion was the same, and not to doubt that it was what our Lord had told me.  Venerable Maria Antonia Paris, Foundress of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, Aut. 87 

Meekness is one sign of a vocation to be an apostolic missionary. When God sent Moses, he gave him the grace and virtue of meekness. Jesus Christ was meekness itself, and because of this virtue He is called the Lamb. The prophets foretold that He would be so mild that He would neither break the bruised reed nor quench the smoking flax; that he would be persecuted, calumniated, and covered with reproaches and yet remain as one without a tongue and say nothing.  What patience and meekness! Yes, by his labors, his suffering, his silence and death on the Cross, He redeemed us and taught us how we must act to save the souls He has entrusted to us.  Saint Anthony Mary Claret, Founder of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, Autobiografía 374
CLARET, Antonio María. Autobiografía.
PARIS, María Antonia. Autobiografía  en Escritos.
PAGOLA, José A. Following in the Footsteps of Jesus – Meditations on the Gospel for Year B.
RAVASI, GIANFRANCO. Según las Escrituras – Año B. Traducido por Justiniano Beltrán. Bogotá 2005.
SAGRADA BIBLIA. Versión oficial de la Conferencia Episcopal Española.
SCHÖKEL, Luis Alonso. LA BIBLIA DE NUESTRO PUEBLO. Misioneros Claretianos. China 2008.


Sunday, September 16, 2012


In the Gospel of Mark for the XXV Sunday in Ordinary time, Jesus is teaching again his disciples the hard and difficult lesson about loving service for the sake of those who need us.  

The Messiah we meet this week is the Messiah who is solidary with those who suffer, are oppressed, and persecuted by the political dominant system.   

FIRST READING : Wis 2:12.17-20
Ø  In the Septuagint, Greek translation of  the Hebrew Bible,  this book is called Wisdom of Solomon, while in the Latin edition of the Vulgata it is called Wisdom. 
Ø  We do not know the author, to introduce him as Solomon is a fiction, based on the Jewish biblical tradition that attributes to Solomon a superior wisdom, considering him the prototype of the wise person. 

Ø  Although we ignore the identity of the author, we may deduce from the book itself that he was a profoundly religious Jew who was living in Alexandria.      

Ø  We perceive in the book the author’s fidelity to his Jewish culture and at the same time his openness to the dialogue with the surrounding culture.    

Ø  The impious talk and say that they want to eliminate the just man, because he reproaches them their behavior. He is a reproach for them not by his words but by his life, he is a continuous accusation of their evil action, which are in contradiction with what they have been taught by their elders.  

Ø  They want to see if what the just man says about being son of God is true. If God is his father he will deliver him from their hands.  

Ø  Thus they will mistreat him, torture him, and put him to a shameful death to destroy his trust in God.   

Ø  These words are like an echo of the Reading about the suffering Servant in the book of Isaiah, which we read last Sunday. But the Servant continues to trust in God and he summons his torturers to come forward and confront each other, because the Just man knows that God is with him, even if it seems that he is alone in his suffering.  

Ø  What a beautiful image of faith! What appropriate! it is for our preparation before beginning the Year of Faith which Benedict XVI invites us to celebrate.   

The just man prays to God in his suffering: 
§  He asks to be heard and helped 
§  Because:

o   Men without God have risen against him  

o   O God! You are my helper, repay them according to their deeds.

o   O God! I thank you because you are good; you have heard me and have delivered me.  

He began his prayer asking for help, at the end of his prayer he gives thanks to God for the help he has received.   

GOSPEL Mk  9:30-37
«  Last week we began the second part of Mark’s Gospel.  Jesus accepts Peter’s confession about him being the Christ, the Messiah.  After that confession Jesus starts to teach his disciples about discipleship, and what does it mean that He, Jesus, is the Messiah.  To this end he announces to them his death and his resurrection.   

«  Today Jesus teaches his second lesson on discipleship, announcing again his death and resurrection. 

«  They do not understand the meaning of Jesus’ words, but they do not ask, instead they talk among them without reaching the right answer.  

«  Jesus hears them, he knows what they are discussing about. Since he wants to teach them a very important lesson, he first asks them about their conversation on the way, so they will be  part of the teaching Jesus wants to give to them.  

«  They remain silent because they  know that  the Teacher  does not want honors either for him or for them  

«  They were discussing to find our WHO WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT AMONG THEM? 

*      Jesus is going to teach a lesson that will puzzle them again. 

*      This lesson is going to be practical. Jesus calls a child, puts him at the center of the circle of the apostles. To call a child and pay attention to him is already a surprising action. A child in the Jewish world as well as in the rest of the ancient cultures, was nobody, he was not even considered to be a real person.   

*      With kindness but firmly Jesus tells them that in order to be the first one must make himself the last, and the servant of all. 

*      Afterwards putting his arms around the child Jesus tells them that whoever receives someone like this child receives him. Who is the one like the child? The poor, the beggar, the widow, the orphan, the marginalized. These words remind us about the Gospel of Matthew: I was hungry, thirsty; naked… you did it to me.  

*      The last part of this lesson is awesome, who welcomes Jesus, welcomes not Jesus but the Father. 

*      Thank you Lord for this lesson. It will take a while until we can understand and accept it, but we will try.   

*      James continues teaching the Christian values to his community. 

*      Where there is envy there is also disorder and malice, sin. 

o   True wisdom is:  pure, peaceable, gentle

o   Leading to a true friendship with God and with all humankind.    

*      The person who sows peace, harvests justice.  

*      James continues saying that the violence which is found in the community comes from their evil desires. 

*      The conclusion is that they ask but they do not receive, because they ask for the wrong things, and thus with this frustration violence increases.



On a feast day of St. Peter and St. Paul, after holy communion I went to the gallery, so as to be able to talk alone with my God about the work He has entrusted me and the great difficulties I saw in its execution. I did not dare to tell our Lord that it was impossible for me, because I always had firm, by the grace of God, the certitude of the power of God in his creatures. Venerable María Antonia París, Foundress of the Claretian Missionary Sisters. Autobiography 35a 

Meekness is one sign of a vocation to be an apostolic missionary. When God sent Moses, he gave him the grace and virtue of meekness. Jesus Christ was meekness itself, and because of this virtue He is called the Lamb. The prophets foretold that He would be so mild that He would neither break the bruised reed nor quench the smoking flax;  that he would be persecuted, calumniated, and covered with reproaches and yet remain as one without a tongue and say nothing.  What patience and meekness! Yes, by his labors, his suffering, his silence and death on the Cross, He redeemed us and taught us how we must act to save the souls He has entrusted to us. Saint Anthony Mary Claret, Founder of the Claretian Missionary Sisters.  Autobiography 373.  

CLARET, Antonio María. Autobiography.
PARIS, María Antonia. Autobiography.  
RAVASI, GIANFRANCO. Según las Escrituras – Año B. Traducido por Justiniano Beltrán. Bogotá 2005.
SAGRADA BIBLIA. Versión oficial de la Conferencia Episcopal Española.
SCHÖKEL, Luis Alonso. LA BIBLIA DE NUESTRO PUEBLO. Misioneros Claretianos. China 2008.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012


The last two weeks the readings invited us to listen to the Law and to practice it in our daily life. Thus the Lord said to the deaf and mute man “BE OPENED”.   

This week we are going to hear Jesus saying that whoever wants to follow him has to take up his or her own cross and follow him.  It is the only way to be servants as he is.  

*      This Reading is taken from the second part of the Book of Isaiah, called the Second Isaiah or the Deutero-Isaiah. The author may be an Israelite who had returned from exile or an Israelite who never left his country.

*      He is a anonymous poet who sings the wonders of the return from the exile, using images and words that remind us about the first exodus from Egypt. God repeats now the marvelous things he did for his people, the Lord who walks in front of his people in this happy and wonderful return.  

*      In the book of the Second Isaiah we find four poems dedicated to a mysterious figure the Servant of Yahweh.   

*      The servant may be the people of Israel, it may also be a faithful Israelite.   

*      These texts open, in the Old Testament, a new perspective on human suffering:  

o   The suffering is a way that may lead us  to God   

o   It is not only a reality that we want to avoid and be freed from, as we read in the psalms.  

o   This suffering may be useful not only for the person who suffers, but also to help other people. 

o   The Church teaches that in these poems we may find a prophesy  of the sufferings of Jesus the suffering servant who offers his life for his people and for the glory of God.    

Let us reflect on this first Reading:  

*      The Lord has opened my ear so that I may be able to hear, and I have not turned back   

*      As we continue to read, we realize that the words that are pronounced over the Servant will bring on to him insults, persecutions, tortures, but he does not offer resistance to it. 

*      The Servant says that the Lord is his help and thus he will not be destroyed.   

*      Meanwhile the only thing he can do is to accept the word and also the mistreatments, because he knows that he will not be disgraced.   

*      He is so confident in his Lord that he provokes his opponents, because he knows that God is with him.  

*      And if God is with him, who can hurt him?  

*      These words are said for us, if God is with us, who will be against us? 

*      During this week it might be good to ask ourselves, this same question, if God is for me, who will be against me? And let us try to examine ourselves and discover whether these are simple words without any meaning, or these are words which respond to the reality of our faith in our God. 

Psalm 116 is a psalm of trust and thanksgiving. 

*      This response is used very frequently in the funeral liturgies. We understand the land of the living, as the “dwelling place” of those who are already in the eternal embrace of God.   

*      The psalmist loves the Lord because the Lord has listened to him in his distress.  

*      He does not explain what kind of distress, but it is something that made him suffer, and God bent over to him and helped him. 

*      God takes care of the lowly.  

GOSPEL  Mc 8:27-35
ü  Last Sunday Jesus was in the region of the Decapolis, this week we find him in the region of Caesarea of Philippi.  
ü  This region is at the northeastern border of Galilee, so Jesus is again outside his native country. The region was governed by Philip the son of Herod the Great.   

ü  Jesus walks with his disciples. He knows that people say many things about him; they are puzzled by his words, his actions. But Jesus is interested in knowing what the disciples think about him.

They have been with him for almost 3 years; it is time for them to take a stand and answered the question. Why do they follow Jesus? They need to answer the question, because they are the ones who will have to continue Jesus’ mission.    

ü  Peter, as usual, is the one who answers and he says YOU ARE THE CHRIST. 

ü  Does Peter know the meaning of his answer, does he know what CHRIST means? The life of the disciple may be changed according to the answer given to this question.  

ü  This episode marks a turning point in the ministry of Jesus according to the Gospel of Mark. If we look at the book itself we see that it has 16 chapters and we are in the 8th chapter. But there is more than that: 

o   Up to this moment Jesus has called them and has tried to teach them what in turn they will have to teach to us.    

o   Now he is going to teach something else, what does it mean that he is the Christ. 

o   It means that Jesus is the mysterious Servant of Isaiah’s book, the servant who gives his life for the people. 

ü  Peter did not understand what he said to Jesus; Peter still thinks like a human being, he has not yet grasped the mind of God. 

ü  In suffering Peter will learn what it means to follow Jesus,

o   He will hear from Jesus, words which will hurt him, he will be called Satan which means tempter.  

o   And Peter will also be told by the Lord to go behind him, not ahead of him. Who leads the disciple is the Teacher, not the other way around.  

ü  And Jesus says to the crowds, and also to all of us: that we have to take up our cross and follow him wherever he will go. 

ü  Whoever wishes to come after Jesus must deny himself or herself, take his or her cross and follow him.

ü  For whoever wishes to save his or her life will lose it, and whoever loses it for the sake of Jesus and the gospel will save it.   

ü  Like Peter we learn to be disciples in suffering  

o   Because we need to learn to follow the Teacher and not to go in front of him with our plans, dreams, wishes without asking him first.   

o   Our cross is anything which causes us pain of any kind: physical, psychological, spiritual. We are invited to take up our cross with joy and enthusiasm because on the cross we find the Teacher.  

«  James discusses here a problem as old as the church itself.

«  What does it mean that I believe?  

o   Are these only empty words, high concepts that lead to nowhere, that are worth nothing as James says?

o   Because if I say that I believe in the Lord who has commanded me to love as he has loved us, but I do not help my brothers and sisters in need, this faith is worthless.   

«  This has been the discussion between Protestants and Catholics for centuries.

«  But the truth is that faith cannot be faith without love, without a loving relationship between the Lord and each one of us, without taking up our cross everyday and helping our brothers and sisters in need. 

«  It is not enough to say I will pray for you, which is good; but I must be the hands and the heart of the Lord for that person.  This is the way in which God answers our prayer for help, through each one of us.    

«  The Pope has declared a Year of Faith from October 11, 2012 to November 24, 2013. He invites us during this year to question ourselves on our faith, to ask the Lord to transform us. We are invited to live our faith as a loving relationship with the Lord Jesus, with any one of the Three Divine Persons of the Trinity according to our own spirituality.

This relationship will enable us to have eyes, like the Samaritan man, to recognize human suffering as we encounter it on the journey of our life, and it will also give hands   to alleviate human,   and enthusiasm to invite others to do the same.   

 “They (the Junior sisters) shall join action with contemplation, the most necessary point for our Institute.” 
 During this time they should exercise themselves in the practice of prayer, in accepting day by day the vicissitudes of this life, as coming from the hand of God. Thus they will not depend on times and happenings, but they will fix their souls in God, who never changes. María Antonia París, Foundress of the Claretian Missionary Sisters.  Relación a Caixal (Report to Caixal) 20, quoted in n. 97 of our Constitutions.    

I knew that the virtue an apostolic missionary needs most, after humility and poverty, is meekness.  Jesus told his beloved disciples, "Learn of me, for I am meek and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Humility is like the root of the tree, and meekness is its fruit. St. Bernard tells us that we please God by humility and our neighbor by meekness. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, "Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the land" --and not just the promised land of those living in heaven but also the earthly hearts of men. St. Anthony Mary Claret, Founder of the Claretian Missionary Sisters. Autobiography 372. 

CLARET, Antonio María . Autobiografía.
PAGOLA, José A. Following in the Footsteps of Jesus.  Convivium Press 2011.
PARIS, María Antonia. Relación a Caixal.
SAGRADA BIBLIA. Versión oficial de la Conferencia Episcopal Española.
SCHÖKEL, Luis Alonso. LA BIBLIA DE NUESTRO PUEBLO. Misioneros Claretianos. China 2008.