Tuesday, April 30, 2013


*      The readings of the sixth Sunday of Easter prepare us for the return of Jesus to his Father. The Church will have to  discover the presence of the Lord among us in a different way, through the Sacraments. From the document Lumen Gentium of the  II Vatican Council we learn that Jesus is the sacrament of God, and that we are the sacrament of Jesus.  
*      From the day of the ascension we, the followers of Jesus, will make him visible among our brothers and sisters who journey with us through the roads of history.   

FIRST READING ACTS  15:1-2,22-29
Ø  The Church, the first communities of believers, is faced with its first problem. From its solution depends the future of the Church, her fidelity to the Project of Jesus. 
Ø  Some brethren had come from the community of Jerusalem, and were saying to the community of Antioch that, to belong to the people of God in order to be saved, they had to be circumcised, baptism was not enough. 
Ø  They had not yet understood the newness of the teaching of Jesus who had come to reveal to us the    
full meaning of the covenant made with Abraham and his descendants.      
Ø  The faithful of Antioch went to the Apostles for an answer.  The Apostles were the leaders of the community, they were the witnesses of the resurrection and, thus the foundation of the Church.   
Ø  The Apostles had a meeting to discuss the matter. They invoked the Holy Spirit, they fasted and they reached the conclusion that to be part of the community of Jesus it is enough with baptism and they did not have to be circumcised.   
Ø  They put only some conditions (not to eat meat sacrificed to the idols, abstain from blood and meat of strangled animals, and unlawful marital unions.)    Paul explained in one his letters about the meals, he said that the follower of Jesus may eat anything, because we do not believe in idols, but if my eating the meat sacrificed to an idol  may cause my brother or sister to sin, then I will abstain from it.  What continues to be forbidden are the illicit marital unions, since this is the will of God expressed in the 6th commandment.   

«  Psalm 67 has three stanza separated by a refrain which is found in verses 4 and 6. This refrain is used as the response of the responsorial psalm.   
«   Every good thing, every gift comes from the goodness of God, and this is the cause of our joyful thanksgiving.   
«  The blessing that God grants to us and which the psalm repeats several times, takes us to Ef 1:3.   

May God have pity on us and bless us;
May he let his face shine upon us
So may your ways be known upon earth;
Among all nations, your salvation.

May the nations be glad and exult
Because you rule the peoples in equity
The nations on the earth you guide.

May the peoples praise you, O God
May all the peoples praise you!
May God bless us
And may all the ends of the earth fear him!

 SECOND READING  Rev  21:10-14, 22-23
ü  Today instead of reflecting on the meaning of the Second Reading, we will talk about some clues to help us to understand this wonderful book which is full of words and images  of hope.   
ü  We know that to be able to understand a message we need to know what led the author write the book and what message did he want to convey to the reader.   
ü  There are two authors of this book: the human author who writes in a given time and place, in a concrete moment of history, with a given psychology and spirituality, in a language different from ours. We need someone to explain the meaning of all of this to us, if we want to enjoy the message.  
ü  But there is another author whom we may call the main author, the Holy Spirit, and the only way we will be able to understand the message, besides being aware of what we have already said, is in prayer. Through prayer we listen to the words the Spirits says to the Church, and which one of the words of Jesus he wants to remind to the Church. (Jn 14,26)
ü  I list below four different ways to look at the contents of this book:
1.      History. This book is about “the theology of history”. In reality the whole Bible is understood as a reading of history through the eyes of God. The apocalyptic literature opens a door to hope: history has a meaning, evil does not have the last word, the victory belongs to Christ, the lamb that has been slain.
2.      Symbolism.  The apocalyptic literature uses symbols: colors, numbers, animals, plants, natural phenomena to describe an experience which goes beyond the limits of our senses, beyond  what is controllable.   
It is not enough to understand the meaning of the symbols, we need to submerge ourselves into its meaning and allow the symbol to impress us.  
3.      Crisis.   The book of Revelation  has been written in times of crisis for the first community. The community was been persecuted by Romans and by Jews. The book is not about the end of the world, but about moments in history like those of the first community, when we think that everything is lost. It is the book of the just who entrust their cause to God.  
4.     Christology. The Word apocalypse means revelation. The book is the revelation of the Risen a Glorious Lord Jesus Christ.  He died but now he is alive.  He is before the throne of God and  on opening the book of the seven seals he reveals to us the   will of God, and the meaning of history. He, the Lord Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end of history.  

GOSPEL Jn 14:23-29
Jesus speaks with his disciples after the last supper, before his death. Last week he talked to us about the new commandment: to love as he has loved us. This week we will hear again what he wants to tell us about this commandment.    
«  He who loves me will keep my Word. This is something easy to understand, since we also keep and remember the words of those we love.   
«  The Father will love those who keep the word of Jesus.   
«  And what follows is unexpected: We will come to him and make our dwelling in him. Who are they, from the text we understand it is the Father and Jesus, but as we continue the reading we realize it is also the Holy Spirit. So the Three divine Persons will come to dwell in us.  
«  The word of Jesus is the Father’s who has sent him to say to us this word. There is only One Word, the Creating Word incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth, sent by the Father to tell this Word which is himself.   
«  Jesus has already said this Word to us, now the Holy Spirit will remind us all the words of Jesus, and he will teach us how to live this word in our human history.   
«  Jesus leaves us his peace, invites us not to be afraid, and even to be joyful that he leaves us, because this is what is convenient for us, and because the Father is greater than him.     

                CLARETIAN CORNER

I was at this time with some anxieties pressuring my soul, not knowing how to get free from them, because the Archbishop wanted to make the foundation requesting dowries, and the Lord had already told me not to accept this unless he commanded it in virtue of holy obedience, to tell my prelate that the cost of the house, plus the dowry I had of about 15.000 pesos, that all this would be spent in the constriction of the convent , and that under that condition and no other,  I could accept the condition  and make the profession. That this was the divine will, and that this was more than sufficient to fulfill the sacred letters. The Archbishop accepted this but the procurator said that in no way could it be done, and the bishop desisted as soon as he heard the procurator. All was to search in books and to make plans, sending them to me to know if I liked them. But I was pleased with nothing except with what  God had told me and I always answered the same: not to consult  with me anything, what did I understand  of those business ? (And, truly, all their ideas were confusion for me). That they may act according to their opinion, that I would agree in all that the prelate would command but I was very sure of what God our Lord had said and his Majesty would not permit anything against his will. And so it was done with the grace of God and the zeal and activity of this servant of God untiring in talking with some and persuading others.   Venerable María Antonia París, Foundress of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, Autobiography 77.

Jesus, my Life, I know and fully realize that suffering, sorrow, and work are the badge of the apostolate. With the help of your grace, my Lord and Father, I will embrace them and declare that I am ready to drink the cup of inner torment and the baptism of outer pain. And so I say, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross on which you were nailed for me and on which I, too, would be nailed for you.''[1] So be it.  Saint  Anthony Mary  Claret,  Founder of the Claretian Misionary Sisters, Autobiography 427. 

[1]  1 Claret accommodates the text of St. Paul (Gal. 6:14) to express his own love for and conformity with Christ. Here mortification is more than just a virtue that makes one a good apostle; it is the culmination of the apostolate through incorporation into the Lord's own sacrifice.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


*       The new heavens and the new earth will become a reality through  the Apostles (Church)  preaching.  
*      And they will be the mature fruit of the commandment given by Jesus, as the fullness of the Law given at Mount Sinai.    

Ø  At the beginning of the Easter season I said that I would give more information about the book of the Acts.     
Ø  The last weeks we have been reflecting on the meaning of the book of Revelation, which we use for the second reading.    
Ø  Today we will go back to the book of the Acts.    
Ø  With chapter 13, in which we read that the community of Antioch sends Paul and Barnabas in a mission, we start the third and last part of this book.  
Ø  The Acts describe for us different communities or local churches with different organization and different names for the leadership or servants. That means that we learn about different models of the Church.   
o   The church of Antioch is presided over by 5 leaders of whom Luke gives the names in chapter 13,1.   
o   This list begins with the name of Barnabas and ends with the name of Paul.  Luke calls them prophets and teachers.   
o   Luis Alonso Schökel in his commentary on the Biblia de nuestro Pueblo says:
§  Luke helps us to see how the movement of the Spirit fashions the different churches,   
§  Calling their members to be leaders, facilitators, responsible of the community with different functions and different titles according to the needs of each community   
§  With a great participation  in decision making.     
o   The Apostles are the leaders in the community of Jerusalem, besides them we hear that some men are called deacons and others elders or presbyters. 
o   Luke does not tell us how the five leaders of Antioch planned the first mission of Paul and Barnabas, but   
o   What they say is that  
§  The initiative comes from the Holy Spirit  
§  The preparation was done through fasting and prayer.

Ø  Paul and Barnabas continue their mission which they began from Antioch, as we read on the Fourth Sunday of Easter.   
Ø  We learned that they had difficulties with the Jews and they decided to go to the Gentiles to announce them the Good News of Jesus. We learned also that the Gentiles were happy about that decision.  
Ø  Today we find them visiting several towns, establishing in them new communities (churches) and appointing elders to lead the community. To select them again they fast and pray, afterwards they command them to the grace of God, and leave to another town.       
Ø  They continue their way back to Antioch from where they left sent by the community. 
Ø  On their arrival they reported to the community how the Lord had opened the doors of faith to the Gentiles.   
Ø  To us, the descendants of those first Gentiles, the doors of faith were opened to us through the sacrament of Baptism
Ø  This year the universal Church celebrates this gift of faith, received when the doors of faith were opened to us.   


The Lord is gracious and merciful
Slow to anger and of great kindness
The Lord is good to all
And compassionate toward all his works.   

Let all your Works give you thanks, O Lord,
And let your faithful ones bless you
Let them discourse of the glory of your kingdom
And speak of your might.    

Let them make known your might to the children of Adam,
And the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is a kingdom for all ages
And your dominion endures through all generations.   .

«   Many of the psalms are hymns to God who makes himsef known through creation and through history.  
«  They are psalms of praise used usually for worship  
«  They may be organized as follows  
o   Hymns to God the Creator and the Lord of the Covenant, the God of history.   
o   Hymns to God as King.    
o   Royal psalms   (about the King )
o   Canticles to Zion.    
«  Psalm 145 which we will pray on Sunday belongs to the group of  Hymns to the Creator and Lord.  

SECOND READING   Rev 21:1-5a   
ü  Last Sunday we left John contemplating a huge multitude of men and women….  
ü  Today almost at the end of the Book of Revelation John sees again something he describes to us. He says that he sees the new heavens and the new earth, and that the sea is no more.   
o   New heavens and new earth, new creation made through the redemption of Christ, where sin is eliminated, and death as well.    
o   This is the fruit of Christ’s death on the cross. This fruit will reach its fullness when all of us, men and women, open up ourselves to the gift  of redemption which Christ wants to give to us. When all of us will be ready to walk together through the way that leads to the Father, led by the hand of Christ the Lord.      
o   The former earth, where sin abides, does not exist anymore, not because God will destroy his wonderful creation, but because he will destroy our sin, to allow the new earth, the new society to develop, where love, peace, justice, brotherhood … will reign.   
o   The sea does not exist anymore, because in the Scriptures the sea is the symbol of sin, and it will not have a place in the new earth, it has already been destroyed by Christ.    
o   John sees also the New Jerusalem coming down from heaven, the city becomes the bride adorned for her husband. She is the new creation, the new earth and the new heavens  
o   From the throne a voice is heard, remember that the Father and also the Lamb are on the throne, the voice invites us to look at, what?  
§  The dwelling of God among men and women  
§  He will dwell with them and  
§  They will be his people     
§  The New Covenant prophesized by Jeremiah becomes a reality (Jer 31,33.)    
§  He will wipe every tear from their eyes, there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain.  

o   The One who seats on the throne says: BEHOLD I MAKE ALL THINGS NEW.    

GOSPEL Jn 13:31-33a, 34-35
*      The liturgy takes us back to the conversation of Jesus with his Apostles, after the meal at his Last Supper,  before going to the cross. During the meal he gives to us the Sacrament of his Body and blood. He  also gives to his own the most beautiful and sacred teaching from among all his teachings.  
*      We call this commandment the “new commandment”, as a matter of fact Jesus calls it so 
o   But it is really the fullness of the Law proclaimed by God and given  to Moses on Mount Sinai  
o   And before that He had carved this law in the heart of every man and every woman who comes to this world.
o    If those of us, followers of Jesus, who have been baptized into  his death and resurrection   
§  Live this commandment, that is we make it a reality in our daily life  
§  And we proclaim it with our words as Paul and Barnabas did  
§  The new earth and the new heaven will be a reality, which we do not have to wait after our death to enjoy it, because it is already among us from the moment that Jesus nailed all our sins on his cross.    
§  Now we have to play our part, we need to open up to his gift, and get ready to work so that others may be able to enjoy what we already enjoy.   


 I wrote it to him but he would not come because what I said since he is very obedient to the prelate and this one wrote to him to continue with the construction. But our Lord knew how to provide that the prelate himself wrote him to come – I do not remember for what convenient matter, far different from what God our Lord wanted to entrust to him. So, he arrived days after the Bull arrived from Rome. Here I saw clearly that it was true what His Majesty had told me:  that it was necessary for him to come from Puerto Principe. Oh how I admire the providence of God for his creatures, and how great is the one he has had for this sinner!  Venerable María Antonia París, Foundress of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, Autobiography 76.
The greater the sacrifice involved, the more meritorious, splendid, winsome, and overwhelming is any act of virtue.
A man who is base, vile, stingy, and cowardly never sacrifices--nor can he because he never resists the slightest whim or urging of his concupiscence. All that his concupiscence asks for--if it is within his power to grant or refuse it—he grants, refusing nothing to his passion. Because he is a cringing coward, he lets himself be overcome and gives in to it. In a fight between a brave man and a coward, the brave man wins. In a fight between vice and a man of vice, vice wins and pins the man down. This is why continence and chastity are praised so highly: because they enable a man to abstain from the pleasures and delights that nature and passion offer him.  Saint Anthony Mary Claret, Founder of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, Autobiography 416-417.

CLARET, Antonio María , Autobiography.
FLOR SERRANO, Gonzalo, “Introduction and Commentary to the Psalms” en Comentario al Antiguo Testamento II     La Casa de la Biblia, 1997, 3ª. Edición.  
PARIS, María Antonia, Autobiography.  
RAVASI, Gianfranco, Según Las Escrituras, Año C, 2006
SCHÖKEL, Luis Alonso, commentary to the  Biblia de Nuestro Pueblo, 2010

Saturday, April 20, 2013


*      The liturgy offers for our meditation Jesus as the Good Shepherd     

*      And also the Universal Church dedicates this Sunday to pray for vocations, especially to the religious life, diaconate, and priesthood.   
FIRST READING – ACTS   13:14; 43-52
Ø  Paul and Barnabas who had been sent by the Church of Antioch continue their mission to preach Jesus in  the cities they visit (Hechos 13,4)  

Ø  Each Saturday they go to the Synagogue of the town and announce the good news to the people. By that time the groups of Jesus’ followers were still united to the Jewish faith and practices. 

Ø  Many Jews accept Jesus and become followers of this new Way, but there are also others who oppose them and do not want to listen to them.    

Ø  The disciples tell them (Hechos 1,8) :

o   That they had to announce Jesus first to them the Jewish people, the chosen people of God.    

o   And afterwards to all the other peoples (see Psalm 87) 

Ø  But since they do not consider themselves worthy of it, they will from now on preach to the gentiles.    

o   The Jews become indignant, but the gentiles are joyful on hearing  that. 

o   The Jews begin a persecution against the apostles who shake the dust from their feet, as Jesus had told them when he sent them to announce the good news (Mt 10:14)

o   The Jews, as they had done with Jesus, convince others to go against the apostles.   

o   And the reading today ends with the same sentence as last week’s reading: They are full of joy to be persecuted because they follow  Jesus and preach about Him.  


Shout joyfully to the Lord, all you lands 
Worship the Lord with cries of gladness
Come before him with joyful song.  

Know that the Lord is God
Our maker to whom we belong 
We are his people, the sheep of his flock    

 Good indeed is the Lord!  
His love endures forever 
And his faithfulness lasts through every age  

«  This psalm is an invitation to rejoice and to enter into the presence of God.  

«  And why?    

«  Because the Lord our God, is our maker, we belong to him, his love and his faithfulness endures forever.   

SECOND READING   Rev   7:9; 14b-17   
ü  We continue to read  the book of Revelation, which is a book to give comfort and hope to a people suffering persecution.  This book speaks to us about Jesus risen and glorified at the right hand of the Father. Jesus who is now Lord of Lords and King of Kings.  He is Jesus of Nazareth whom the Gospel speaks about, who is now powerful, but a power which is love.   

ü  The vision today is awesome; there is a great crowd of people from all nations, colors, languages, races who are before the throne (God the Father) and the Lamb (the Risen Jesus.)   

ü  They all wear white tunics, white is the symbol of everything related to the   life of God, the grace of God.    

ü  They have palms in their hands, palms are the symbol of martyrdom, of having given the life for the love of God and the love and sake of their brothers and sisters, their fellow human beings.   

ü  An elder explains to John what he sees through the open door through which he is able to contemplate heaven (Rev 4:1.)  The elder explains to him that these people he sees are those who have survived the great tribulation and washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb    

o   What tribulation is this? Persecution, torture, humiliation and death for the sake of Jesus. 

o   Their robes had been washed in the blood of the Lamb. This is an estrange image, to make something white with blood. But this is the blood of Jesus who purifies us and cleanses us from all our impurities.  

o   As Scriptures says, “Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow (Is 1:18.)

ü  In the next paragraph there are many images of the consolation and tender love of our Father God (the One seated on the throne)  

o   He will shelter them   

o   They will not hunger or thirst anymore.  

o   Nor will the sun or any heat strike them    

ü  Because the Lamb who is in the center of the throne, as we see now the one  on the throne is the Lamb   

o   He will shepherd  them

o   He will lead them to springs of living water   

o   And God will wipe every tear from their eyes.   

ü  I invite all of us that during this week before the celebration of Good Shepherd’s Sunday we dedicate sometime if possible every day to recall all the different ways in which the Good Shepherd has consoled, sheltered and led us to the waters of gladness.  

GOSPEL  Jn 10:27-30
*      This is a short reading but with a powerful message  

*      On reading it we realize that there are two sections: one is about the sheep the other about the Shepherd.    

*      We are going to concentrate our attention and meditation on the verbs:   

*      THE SHEEP
o   The sheep listen to    

§  To listen   is not the same thing as hearing       

§  Israel’s profession of faith begins with the word “Shema = Listen” Israel.   

§  To listen is to follow what the voice says to us, it is to obey. 

o   They know the Shepherd   

§  To know   does not mean an intellectual knowledge of something that we get through books or any other kind of information.     

§  To know is a living experience is to know a person from the experience of friendship and love.   

§  This verb is used in Scripture for the relationship of intimate love between a man and a woman.   

§  This means that the sheep know the Shepherd from self experience.    

o   They follow the shepherd     

§  The meaning of this word is not only to walk behind  a person   

§  It means to try to be like that person whom we follow. It is not only to imitate, but to assimilate his own way of life and of being, and to make it our own according to our identity or personality.    

o   They will not perish, they will not be snatched  from the hands of the shepherd    

§  Because the Shepherd gives them his own life, life eternal  

§  And no one can take them out of the shepherd’s hands, because they belong to the Father and the Father has given them to Jesus.   

*      THE SHEPHERD    
o   If the sheep listens is because the shepherd speaks to her   

o   He knows   his sheep  

o   He gives them eternal life, thus they will never perish  

o   If no one can take them out from the shepherd’s hands, it is because the shepherd protects them     

o   The Father is he who has given him the sheep.   

*      The last sentence is a wonderful revelation of the relationship between Jesus and the Father, which we have already heard in the reading from the book of Revelation   


Let Jesus reveal to us the deep and consoling meaning of this sentence.

 CLARETIAN CORNER               

Some months before the Bull of Approval came from Rome, this good servant of God wrote to me from Puerto Principe – he was there at that time to direct the organization of Beneficence by order of his Excellency. He commanded me in this letter to tell him many things about his spirit and mine. I had nothing special to write because I have been always lazy in giving counsels most especially to people who must give them to me, but, as I am afraid to fail in obedience, (because they use it afterwards), before writing I went to the choir for a while to ask our Lord to inspire me what I had to write. The Lord told me; “Tell him to come, that he has worked well there until now, but now I want him to come here for it is more necessary.”Venerable María Antonia París, Foundress of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, Autobiography 75.


             This text is the continuation of the one from last week.  
6. If he does so to receive greater enlightenment in understanding the attributes of God, he performs an act of faith.

7. If he does so to make his salvation more secure, he performs an act of hope.

8. If he does so to help convert sinners or to free the souls in purgatory, he performs an act of fraternal charity.

9. If he does so to have more to give the poor, he performs an act of the virtue of mercy.

10. If he does so to please God more and more, he performs an act of love of God.

            In every act of mortification I can practice all ten of these virtues, depending on the intention I form in doing the action. Saint Anthony Mary Claret, Founder of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, Autobiography 415.  

CLARET, Antonio María , Autobiography.
FRAILE YÉCORA, Pedro I. Shema, Lee-escucha-ama, San Pablo 2011.
PARIS, María Antonia, Autobiography.  
RAVASI, Gianfranco, Según Las Escrituras, Año C, 2006
SCHÖKEL, Luis Alonso, comentario a la Biblia de Nuestro Pueblo, 2010
THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE, second edition, New American Bible.