Today the liturgy invites us to rejoice because the Lord is near.
FIRST READING - Is 35:1-6a, 10
v We hear again the prophet Isaiah who comes with a message of hope and joy.
v The text has three different parts, but all of them invite us to rejoice.
v Verses 1 and 2 give a description of how nature will show this joy, it will flourish, its beauty will be like the Carmel, they will see the beauty of our God.
v Verses 3 and 4 are an invitation to all those who feel themselves humiliated, oppressed, cowards in front of suffering, those who are afraid, who doubt, to get back their strength, because God himself comes to set them free.
v Verses 5 and 6a describe what will happen to all of them when the presence of God will be a reality: the blind shall see, the ears that are close will be open, the tongue that does not know how to speak, will sing.
v Verse 10 is like the finale of a great opera, when all the characters come together, the prophet Isaiah repeats his theme about joy, which has become an exuberant joy, because those that have been ransomed come back singing, dancing, then suffering and evil will be no more.
v The Gospel will tell us that this presence of God among us is Jesus.
v Each one of us may enter in his or her own heart and remember the joy when our life changed. Peace and joy came when we welcomed the Lord and allowed him to be part of our personal history.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM : Psalm 146
LORD, COME AND SAVE US
The Lord God keeps faith forever
secures justice for the oppressed,
gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets captives free.
The Lord gives sight to the blind
the Lord raises up those who were bowed down
the Lord loves the just.
the Lord protects strangers
The fatherless and the widow he sustains
but the way of the wicked he thwarts.
The Lord shall reign forever;
your God, O Zion, through all generations.
This psalm sings the tender love of God and the care he takes of all of us his children of all times.
The Lord loves the just, the just who is like Him, and the Lord thwarts the way of the wicked. We know looking at Jesus that this sentence of the psalm does not mean that God takes revenge or to destroy, on the contrary, like a good father God looks for ways to have his children come back to the father's home, even if these may cause suffering.
The Lord reigns loving all of us.
GOSPEL Mt 11:2-11
Ø We see again John the Baptist.
Ø John is no more at the Jordan baptizing.
Ø It is the sunset of this prophet of fire, he cannot go from one place to another, but his tongue continues to challenge Herod and all of us as well.
Ø In prison he hears about Jesus, and he is confused, he does not understand, this is not what he understood God had communicated to him. This is not what Isaiah had foretold about the coming of the Lord among us.
Ø When God would come he would destroy the designs and the ways of the wicked.
Ø But on the contrary he hears that Jesus is different, this young prophet sits at table with sinners, allows prostitutes to get close to him, he allows also sick women to touch him to be cured, he hugs the children... John does not understand Jesus' behavior.
Ø At the beginning when he baptized Jesus, John was happy because the one who had to come was already present, but now he is not sure about that.
Ø He sends some of his disciples to Jesus to ask him "Are you the one who has to come o should we look for another?
Ø Jesus does not give a direct answer, but he tells them to report to John what they have seen, so that may understand that what Isaiah had prophesized is taking place already.
Ø The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are made clean, the deaf hear, the dead come back to life, the good news is preached to the poor.
Ø And happy those who take no offense at him., but are able to discover en him the presence of the God who saves loving.
Ø When the messengers left Jesus speaks about John:
v He is not a reed that moves according to the direction of the wind, John does not change his message or his life, even faced with death.
v He does not dress in fine clothes, those who do so live in palaces, but John lives in the desert.
v John is more than a prophet, he is the prophet foretold in the Old Testament, the one who was going to prepare the way of the Lord.
v he is the greatest of those born of woman, but the least in the kingdom is greater than John.
Ø When we allow the Lord to be our king, to be the Lord of our life, to lead our life, what the Lord told the disciples of John take place in us.
v We begin to look at reality, the human beings, at ourselves in a different way, we see our truth and thus we begin a journey of conversion.
v We journey seeking justice and truth.
v We come to the Lord to be cleaned from our leprosy.
v And even more, we have ears to listen to the cry of our brothers and sisters who are suffering in any way.
v We accept our poverty and seek to live in poverty, with what is necessary, so that we may listen to the Gospel message of salvation.
v Blessed are we if Jesus can say of us that we are not a reed that moves according to the wind, and also blessed are we if what Jesus preaches does not cause us offense at him
SECOND READING Jas 5,7-10
Before we look at the reading itself, let us say a few words about this letter
Due to his name the author could be any of the three men with this name in the New Testament. James the brother of John, James the son of Alpheus. It is not probable that they could be the authors. There is the third one called the brother of the Lord.
For a certain time the theory of his authorship of the letter was accepted, however after much research this theory does not seem to be possible. Why?
The Hellenistic language and the literary style used in the letter, the Bible quotations taken from the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. Being a Jew, even being a follower of Jesus, he would not have used this Greek translation of the Bible.
It is believed to be a letter written by someone who use the name of James as a pseudonym
The addressees are probably the communities or churches from Asia and Europe.
The literary style, although this work is called a letter, is more like one of the wisdom books of the Old Testament.
The content is a series of instructions on the Christian life and behavior.
Let us see what the passage for this Sunday tells us:
ü The author invites the community to be patient, and gives the comparison of the farmer's patience, waiting for the appropriate time to get the fruit of his labor.
ü He invites them also to strengthen their heart, to be firm, why? Because the LORD IS NEAR.
ü Do not complain about one another, because the Judge of all is at the door.
ü He ends with an invitation to look at the hardships endured by the prophets from the past, who spoke in the name of the Lord.
ü All these advices will help us to make real what the prophet Isaiah announced and Jesus accomplished.
I chose a room totally separated from the family, in the most hidden part of the house. It cost me a little to get it because they said it was very uncomfortable, too warm during summer and very cold in winter, and so it was: but as I desired so much quietness and I had already left the space and comfort of the convent, I did not mind the room to be wide or narrow: what I desire then, was to be far from dealing and communicating with people, and I succeeded so perfectly that I lived with my companion all that time a life more of angels than of human creatures. María Antonia París, Foundress of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, Autobiography 115.
In all of the towns I mentioned in the last chapter, and in others I have not mentioned, I preached various services under different titles. Although they weren't called "missions," because we weren't allowed to call them that, nevertheless the subjects I preached on were really mission topics. The services were labeled, variously, Lent, Month of Mary; Fortnight of the Rosary; Novena for All Souls; Octave of the Blessed Sacrament; Septenary of the Seven Sorrows; etc. Such were the titles we usually gave these services, and although they were nominally a "novena," we lengthened the number of days if we needed to. St. Anthony Mary Claret, Founder of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, Autobiography 468.
CLARET, Antonio María , Autobiografía.
NOLAN, Albert, Jesus Before Christianity, 1976.
PARIS, María Antonia, Autobiografía
PAGOLA, José Antonio. El Camino abierto por JESUS. 2012.
SCHÖKEL, Luis Alonso, Comentarios en la Biblia de Nuestro Pueblo. 2010.