Friday, November 6, 2015

Today in the Gospel Jesus tells us that the poor widow put more money in the Temple’s treasury than anybody else.    
FIRST READING: I Re 17:10-16 
Ø  The two books of King are the continuation of the two books of Samuel.  
Ø  In the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, called the Septuaginta, and in the Latin translation called Vulgata, the books of Kings are called III and IV of Kings, because the books of Samuel are called I and II Kings.  
Ø  These books are part of what is called the Deuteronomist history, which goes from the entrance into the promised land to the Babylonian exile (587 BC) 
Ø  The Jews called these books “The former prophets” 
Ø  The author of these books writes them after the return from the exile.  
Ø  They have the same theology as the rest of the Deuteronomist books: 
o   Monotheism. The God of Israel is the only God. Israel acknowledges that its God is the only God because he is different, but the other peoples have their own gods.  
o   The messianic hope,  for the Southern Kingdom we have the promises of the Emmanuel, which fulfills the promise made to David that his dynasty will remain on the throne of Israel.   
o   On the other hand the Northern Kingdom establishes its legitimacy in their condition as heirs of Jacob and Joseph.   
o   The exile is seen as a punishment for their infidelity to the Covenant with Yahweh. 
In this Sunday’s reading we encounter the prophet Elijah, in what it is called the Cycle of Elijah   (cc. 17-19 of  I Kings). Elijah does his prophetic ministry in the Northern Kingdom, he denounces the unfaithfulness of the kings and of the people.      
«  The country suffers a strong drought and in the book of Kings it is attributed to the words of Elijah who asked God to stop the rain until Elijah will ask him the contrary. 
«  Elijah has asked this as a punishment for the unfaithfulness of the Kingdom of Israel or the Northern Kingdom.   
«  After Solomon’s death his kingdom was divided in two Kingdoms: Northern-Israel, Southern- Judah.   
«  The culture of those people attributed all the natural phenomena to God, they are his weapons.   
«  The scene of this Sunday first reading is situated in the context of the great drought and the poverty which comes from it.  
«  Elijah arrives to Zarephath  of Phoenicia as God had told him.     
«  Elijah talks with a widow. He asks her for food and drink, the woman has only a small amount of food for her and her son, afterwards she will wait for death to come.   
«  Elijah asks her to give him food, and assures her that the little provisions she has will last until the drought comes to an end.   
«  The woman believes in the word of the man of God, and the promise becomes a reality. 
R.  Praise the Lord, my soul!
The LORD keeps faith forever,
secures justice for the oppressed,
gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets captives free
R. Praise the Lord, my soul!
 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.

R. R.
Praise the Lord, my soul!
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. Alleluia.

R. Praise the Lord, my soul!
ü   This psalm is a hymn to God,  the creator of the universe and defender of the poor.  God  
o   makes justice to the poor
o   gives food to the hungry
o   gives freedom to the captive
o   gives sight to the blind
o   raises those who are bowed down
o   loves the just and protects the foreigner    
o   upholds the widow and the orphan   
o   destroys the plans of the wicked.   
o   God reigns, this is his way to reign.  
ü  We may say that God reigns by protecting and caring, that is serving his creature with love and tenderness.     
GOSPEL  Mk 12:38-44
«  Jesus begins saying that we need to be careful and  do not trust those who seek honors and  distinctions, making us believe that they are superior and different from us.  
«  These who ask us to honor them, instead of all of us honoring God, devour the little that the poor have, for their own benefit.   
«  And Jesus, who is observing the people who give their donation for the Temple, sees a poor widow who comes also and deposits two coins, because she has nothing else   to give. Nobody pays attention to her donation which is so insignificant.
«  But Jesus sees more, he sees the heart, our truth or our lie. He sees the truth of the poor woman, her full trust in her God.   
«  And Jesus considers this situation so important that he calls his disciples around him, in the same way he did when he wanted to teach them about service. Now the lesson will be about complete trust in God, which is the true poverty mentioned in the first beatitude.  
o   Look, he said, this widow has given more than anyone else. We can imagine the surprise in the face of the disciples, really our Teacher says sometimes estrange things.   
o   She has given more than anyone else because she has given the little she had for her sustenance, while the others have given the leftovers.   
«  How happy we would be if we could open up ourselves to Jesus. He invites us to be free from how little or how much we have, and to have the freedom to share it with others.  
«  Happy are we if we learn the lesson on poverty, how free we will be!  
SECOND READING : Heb 9:24-28
ü  We read again from this beautiful letter on the priesthood of  Christ.  
ü  Christ has entered not into a copy of the true sanctuary, like the sacred temple of Jerusalem, but he has entered into God’s abode in heaven.    
ü  To be in the presence of God to intercede for us, He is our mediator, our redeemer.    
ü  He does not have to offer sacrifices over and over again. He came at the end of time, and he offers the sacrifice once and for all for all of us, the people from the past, present and future.   
ü  The reading ends with these words: in the same way that we die once and afterwards comes the judgement 
ü  In the same way Christ offered his life only once to take away the sins of many=all  
ü  And he will appear a second time to bring salvation to those who anxiously await for him 
ü  In the Eucharistic Celebration we proclaim his death and we await his second coming. 

And so it has happened in this foundation, that though the Archbishop was unwilling to be concerned for this or that,  he has been, by Divine impulse, concerned for everything, because I have never expressed a desire of mine except when I have been asked. I think that my silence itself gave place to them to ask me, and God put in them more desire to advance the work, more than what I manifested, because this is the way of God in this work. I say this for the new ones coming to us, to learn how to hope in God against all hope.  Venerable Maria Antonia París, Foundress of the Claretian Missionary Sisters,  Autobiography 218.  
I sometimes ask myself, "What cause have you to be so upset? Everyone in the palace respects you; the whole royal family appreciates you and values your presence; Her Majesty the Queen loves you and dotes on you. Well, then, what makes you have such violent feelings on the subject?" In truth, I have none. I can't come up with any good reason for it. My only answer to the enigma is that the repugnance I feel is a grace God has sent me to prevent me from becoming attached to the prestige, honors, and riches of this world. For I can see clearly that this constant feeling of disgust for the court and my desire to escape from it have kept me from envy and from setting my heart on the things the world holds dear. Saint Anthony Mary Claret, Founder of the Claretian  Missionary Sisters. Autobiography 622.
CLARET, Antonio María. Autobiografía.
PARIS, María Antonia. Autobiografía  en Escritos.  
Schökel, Luis Alonso, La Biblia de nuestro Pueblo.
Sagrada Biblia. Versión oficial de la Conferencia episcopal española.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Ø  Next Sunday is the XXXI Sunday in ordinary time. The central theme is the love of God and neighbor. 
Ø  But this year  the liturgical calendar has the Solemnity of All the Saints instead of the XXXI Sunday. 
Ø  This is a nice coincidence since the saints are our brothers and sisters who made of the love of God and neighbor the guide of their lives.  

FIRST READING  Rev 7:2-4,  9-14.
The book of Revelation, also called Apocalypse, offers in this reading a very attractive vision of heaven.   
Ø  John, sees some angels who are responsible to strike and punish the earth

Ø  But another angel stops them until all the servants of God will be sealed. 

Ø  When John says that these servants are innumerable 144,000  (12x12x1000)  the 12 tribes of Israel, the 12 apostles and   1,000 which is the number of  the history of salvation.    

Ø  Besides them, he sees also a huge crowd of people from other races, tongues, countries, who are in front of the throne like the 144,000.  

Ø  These are the members of the New Israel, the new people of God, who come from all the races and corners of the earth.  

Ø  From the description the authors makes of them we deduce that they have given their life for their faith, the martyrs.  

Ø  They sing and praise God for his greatness, he is seated on the throne, and they also sing to the lamb.   

Ø  This lamb which is described in some other place to be standing and being slain at the same time is the risen Jesus.  

Ø  The angels, the heavenly beings who are around the altar, the servants of God sing also his praises  

Ø  One of the elders asks John, who are these clothed in white… where do they come from? 

Ø  These are those who have survived the great tribulation and have washed their garments in the blood of the lamb…  

Ø  What a paradox, to wash in blood. Yes, all of us have washed and are washed continually in the blood of our Brother and Savior Jesus.  

Ø  All are standing, as a sign of victory, like the Lamb who is standing; they partake in the resurrection of Jesus.      
Responsorial Psalm: PS 24:1bc-2, 3-4ab, 5-6
R.  Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
The LORD’s are the earth and its fullness;
the world and those who dwell in it.
For he founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.
Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.

Who can ascend the mountain of the LORD?
or who may stand in his holy place?
One whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean,
who desires not what is vain.
Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.

He shall receive a blessing from the LORD,
a reward from God his savior.
Such is the race that seeks him,
that seeks the face of the God of Jacob.
Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.

Ø    To seek the face of God.  What a beautiful expression which describes the longing of the one who is in love with God, and wishes to enter into the eternal vision of  the God that he or she has been seeking and loving during his or her entire life.  

Ø  These are our brothers and sisters whom we call “saints”  

Ø  It is the love of God which makes us his children.   

Ø  This is why the world does not know us, as it never knew Jesus. 

Ø  Thus the world, in its negative meaning as the place of sin, has persecuted Jesus, and also the followers of Jesus over the centuries.  

Ø  We are already children of God, but we do not know how we will be in the life to come.  

Ø  But we know that we will be like him.  

Ø  What John says is very interesting, he says that we will be like Him because we will see him as he is.    

Ø  It seems to say, that those who are like him it is because they look at him, like we look at a model with the intention to be like him.   

Ø  This hope makes us pure, pure as God is pure, without sin.  
GOSPEL Mt :1-12a.
Ø  I copy here another way to formulate the Beatitudes.  

Ø  They will help us to better understand what Jesus wanted to tell us with this new Law of the Kingdom.    

Blessed “the poor in spirit” those who know how to live with few things, always trusting in God.   Happy, blessed the church with the soul of a poor, she will have less problems, she will be attentive to the needy and will live the gospel with greater freedom. Hers is the kingdom of God.    

Blessed  the long-suffering ones” those who live with benevolent and clement hearts. Happy, blessed the church full of meekness. She will be a gift for the violent world.   She will inherit the promised land.    

Blessed “those who cry”, because they endure unjust sufferings and marginalization. With them a new world better and more dignified can be created. Happy, blessed  the church who suffers because she is faithful to Jesus.  She will be consoled by God.   

Blessed  “those who hunger and thirst for justice”  those who have not lost either the desire to be more just or the zeal to do a worthier world.   Happy, blessed the church who seeks with passion the kingdom of God and its justice. In her the best of the human spirit will be found. Her longing  will be satisfied.  

Blessed “the merciful”   who act, work and live moved by compassion. They are on earth those who are more like the Heavenly Father.  Happy, blessed the church from whom God  takes away the heart of stone and gives her a heart of flesh.  She will reach mercy. 

Blessed “the peacemakers”  who with patience and faith, seek the good of all. Happy, blessed the church which puts into the world peace and not dissent, reconciliation and not confrontations. She will be called “daughter of God”   

Blessed  the persecuted for the sake of justice”, they respond with meekness to the injustices and offenses. They help us to overcome evil with good.  Happy, blessed the church persecuted because she follows Jesus. Hers is the kingdom of God.    

Ø   Happy will we be if we enter through the way of Jesus, and we learn from him  to love the Father in heaven above all and our brothers and sisters as Jesus loves them.    

Ø  This is the blessing, the beatitude, the recompense of all our brothers and sisters who have allowed the Lord to transform them with love.  

1855, All Saints day while I was in prayer, his divine majesty commanded me, to note down some points about the manner He wanted to start the General reform  and told me what I had to write. I was fervently praying when the Lord gave me the command and His Majesty had me as if I was very strongly tied, not able to move, because I wanted to stop praying, since such great things, being what I am frighten me.
             … Then, the Lord told me to recollect and prostate myself with great humility and reverence since it seemed I was face to face with the Majesty of God. I felt as if He let loose all the ties with which he held me bounds as well as a great spiritual submission to obey and to write, which until then I never felt, rather a very great repugnance. María Antonia París, Foundress of the Claretian Missionary Sisters. Autobiography 51-52 

Last Friday, October 24,  we have celebrated the Feast of St. Anthony Mary Claret.  These are the words that  Pope Pius XII said to the Claretians in the audience of May 8, 1950  the day after the canonization of Claret.   

Great soul born to embrace contrasts
Humble of origin and glorious at the eyes of the world  
Small in his body, but with the spirit of a giant   
Modest in his appearance, but capable to impose respect even to the great men of the world 
Strong in character, but with the kindness of he who knows austerity and penance 
Always in the presence of God even in the midst of his extraordinary external activity 
Slandered and admired, celebrated and persecuted.
And in the midst of so many wonders, like a gentle light which illumines everything, his devotion to the Mother of God.  
CLARET, Antonio María. Autobiografía y Escritos complementarios. Buenos Aires 2008
PARIS, María Antonia. Autobiografía. Barcelona 1985.
SHOEKEL, Luis Alonso, Comentarios en La BJiblia de Nuestro Pueblo. Macau China 2010