Sunday May 5, 2019
Third Sunday of Easter (C)
Gospel John 21: 1-19
At that time, Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. He revealed himself in this way. Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We also will come with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” They answered him, “No.” So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.” So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish. So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards, dragging the net with the fish. When they climbed out on shore, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.” So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore full of one hundred fifty-three large fish. Even though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.” And none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they realized it was the Lord. Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them, and in like manner the fish. This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples after being raised from the dead. When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He then said to Simon Peter a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” Jesus said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that Jesus had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”
Ebanjelioa Joan 21: 1-19
1 Geroxeago, berriro agertu zitzaien Jesus bere ikasleei Tiberiades aintzira-ertzean. Honela gertatu zen agerpena: 2 Elkarrekin zeuden Simon Pedro, Tomas –Bikia zeritzana–, Natanael –Galileako Kanakoa–, Zebedeoren semeak eta beste bi ikasle. 3 Hortan, Simon Pedrok esan zien: –Arrantzura noa. Besteek erantzun zioten: –Zurekin goaz gu ere. Irten eta ontziratu egin ziren. Baina gau hartan ez zuten ezer harrapatu. 4 Eguna argitu zuenean, aintzira-ertzean agertu zen Jesus; baina ikasleak ez ziren konturatu Jesus zela. 5 Jesusek esan zien: –Mutilok, baduzue jatekorik? Haiek erantzun: –Ez. 6 Jesusek esan zien: –Bota sarea txaluparen eskuinera eta aurkituko duzue. Hala egin zuten. Eta hainbeste arrain harrapatu zutenez, ez ziren sarea ateratzeko gauza. 7 Orduan, Jesusek maite zuen ikasle hark esan zion Pedrori: «Jauna da». Simon Pedrok, Jauna zela entzun bezain laster, soinekoa jantzi (erantzia baitzuen) eta salto egin zuen uretara. 8 Gainerako ikasleak txalupaz joan ziren, sarea arrainekin tiraka zekartela, lehorretik hurbil baitziren, ehunen bat metrora. 9 Lehorreratzean, su-txingarrak ikusi zituzten, gainean arrain bat zela, eta ogia. 10 Jesusek esan zien: «Ekarri harrapatu berri dituzuen arrainetariko batzuk». 11 Igo zen ontzira Simon Pedro eta lehorrera atera zuen sarea, ehun eta berrogeita hamahiru arrain handiz betea. Eta, hainbeste izanik ere, ez zen sarea apurtu. 12 Jesusek esan zien: «Etorri gosaltzera». Ikasleetako inor ez zen ausartzen nor zen galdetzera, ongi baitzekiten Jauna zena. 13 Orduan, Jesusek, hurbildurik, ogia hartu eta eman egin zien, baita arraina ere. 14 Hirugarren aldia zen hau, Jesus, hildakoen artetik piztu ondoren, bere ikasleei agertzen zitzaiena. 15 Gosaldu zutenean, Jesusek esan zion Simon Pedrori: –Simon, Joanen semea, maiteago al nauzu hauek baino? Hark esan zion: –Bai, Jauna, badakizu maite zaitudana. Orduan, Jesusek: –Larra itzazu nire bildotsak. 16 Bigarrenez galdetu zion Jesusek: –Simon, Joanen semea, maite al nauzu? Pedrok, berriro: –Bai, Jauna, badakizu maite zaitudana. Jesusek, orduan: –Zaindu nire ardiak. 17 Hirugarrenez galdetu zion Jesusek: –Simon, Joanen semea, maite al nauzu? Pedro goibeldu egin zen maite al zuen hirugarrenez galdetu ziolako, eta erantzun zion: –Jauna, zuk dena dakizu, zuk badakizu maite zaitudana. Orduan, esan zion Jesusek: –Larra itzazu nire ardiak. 18 Bene-benetan diotsut: Gazteago zinenean, zeuk lotzen zenuen gerrikoa eta nora joan erabakitzen; zahartzean, ordea, zuk besoak luzatu eta beste batek lotuko dizu gerrikoa eta nahi izango ez duzun lekura eramango zaitu. 19 Horrela, Jainkoari aintza zer-nolako heriotzaz emango zion adierazi zuen Jesusek. Ondoren, esan zion: –Jarraitu niri.
Jesus Christ is the Center
The encounter of the risen Jesus with his disciples by the Lake of Galilee is described with a clear catechetical intention. The story underlies the central symbolism of fishing in the middle of the sea. The message could not be more real and pressing for us Christians today: only the presence of the risen Jesus can render effective the missionary endeavor of his disciples.
The story describes on purpose, first, the work the disciples carry out during the dark hours of the night. It all begins, as many other times, with a firm decision of Simon Peter, “I am going fishing.” The other disciples follow him, “we too will go with you.” After the death of Jesus, the team is back together. It seems business as usual, as it was before Jesus appeared in the horizon of their lives. They are sad. Jesus is not with them. They go fishing, following the leadership of Simon Peter. Something is missing. The evangelist notes, in purpose, that this work is done at night and that was fruitless, “that night they caught nothing.” The “night” means, in the language of the evangelist, the absence of Jesus who is the Light. Without the presence of the Risen Jesus, without his Spirit and encouraging Word and guidance, there cannot be a fruitful evangelization.
At the dawn, Jesus makes Himself present. From the shore, he communicates with his friends through His Word. The disciples cannot recognize him yet. They will only be capable of recognizing Him when, following his directions, got an amazing catch. That miraculous catch could only be possible with Jesus, the Prophet, who, one day called them to be “fishers of men.”
Let us try to apply this story to our own situation in our Christian communities. The situation of not few parishes and Christian communities is critical today. Many good Christians languish and feel tired and disheartened. The few committed Christians see themselves multiplied to cover all kinds of tasks: always the same people to carry out same tasks. May be it is the time for us to ask the following question: do we need to multiply ourselves to carry on with the same tasks and activities which have been done always at all cost, or maybe we need to stop with many activities in order to experience the loving presence of the Risen Lord among us?
To carry out the mission of Jesus and to effectively cooperate in His evangelizing project, the most important is not “to do many things,” but to better care the human and evangelical quality of what we do. To direct all our efforts toward experiencing the living encounter with the Risen Lord. The decisive factor is not activism but the witness of love that, we Christians, can radiate around our communities. Do you love me?
We cannot remain in a superficial and formalistic faith. We live in a historical conjunction in which the experience of Christ is basic. Often our Christian communities suffer from excess of words, texts and writings, programs and strategic actions, but what matters is that we listen to Jesus. Do you love me?
Sunday April 28, 2019
Second Sunday of Easter (C) (or Sunday of Divine Mercy)
Gospel John 20: 19-31
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.
Ebanjelioa Joan 20: 19-31
19 Asteko lehen egun hartan bertan, arratsean, ikasleak etxe batean bildurik zeuden; judu-agintarien beldurrez, ateak itxirik zeuzkaten. Sartu zen Jesus eta, erdian jarririk, agurtu zituen esanez: «Bakea zuei». 20 Gero, eskuak eta saihetsa erakutsi zizkien. Pozez bete ziren ikasleak Jauna ikustean. 21 Jesusek berriro esan zien: «Bakea zuei. Aitak ni bidali nauen bezala, nik zuek bidaltzen zaituztet». 22 Eta haien gainera arnasa botaz, esan zien: «Hartzazue Espiritu Santua. 23 Zuek bekatuak barkatzen dizkiezuenei barkatu egingo dizkie Jainkoak ere; zuek barkamena ukatzen diezuenei, ukatu egingo die». 24 Tomas, Hamabietako bat, Bikia zeritzana, ez zegoen haiekin Jesus etorri zenean. 25 Elkartu zirenean, beste ikasleek esan zioten: –Jauna ikusi dugu. Tomasek erantzun zien: –Haren eskuetan iltzeen seinalea ikusten ez badut, eta nire atzamarra iltze-zuloetan eta nire eskua haren saihets-zuloan sartzen ez badut, ez dut inola ere sinetsiko. 26 Zortzi egunen buruan, etxean zeuden berriro ikasleak, eta Tomas ere bertan zen. Ateak itxirik zeuden arren, sartu zen Jesus eta, erdian jarririk, agurtu zituen esanez: «Bakea zuei». 27 Gero, esan zion Tomasi: –Ekarri atzamarra eta aztertu nire eskuak; ekarri eskua eta sartu nire saihets-zuloan. Eta ez izan sinesgogor, sinestedun baizik. 28 Tomasek erantzun zion: –Ene Jauna eta ene Jainkoa! 29 Jesusek esan zion: –Ikusi nauzulako sinetsi al duzu? Zorionekoak ikusi gabe sinesten dutenak. 30 Mirarizko beste seinale asko egin zituen Jesusek bere ikasleen aurrean, liburu honetan idatzirik ez daudenak. 31 Hemen kontatuak Jesus Mesias eta Jainkoaren Semea dela sinets dezazuen idatzi dira eta, sinetsiz, betiko bizia izan dezazuen hari esker.
Recognizing Jesus in His Wounds
The figure of Thomas as a disciple who refuses to believe has been very popular among Christians. However, the Gospel account tells much more about this skeptic disciple. The resurrected Jesus addresses him with words, which have an urgent call, but also a loving invitation: “Do not be unbelieving but believe.” Thomas, who spent a full week refusing to believe, responds to Jesus with the most solemn confession of faith that we can read in the Gospels: “My Lord and my God.”
What did this disciple experience in the encounter with the Risen Jesus? What was that which transformed the hitherto hesitant and vacillating man? What inner journey did he go through, which led him to go from skepticism to faith? What is surprising is that, according to the story, Thomas renounces to personally verify the truth of the resurrection by touching the wounds of Jesus. That which made Thomas to believe was Jesus’ personal invitation to believe in Him.
Throughout these years, we all have changed much inside. We have become more skeptical, but also more fragile. We have become more critical, but also more insecure. Each one of us must decide how we wish to live and how we want to die. Each one of us will have to answer, sooner or later, that call, which unexpectedly or as the result of an internal process, Jesus will address to me: “Do not be unbelieving but believe.”
Perhaps, we need to wake up more our desire to know the truth. We may experience an interior urge to develop that inner sensitivity, which we all carry in our hearts, to perceive, beyond the visible and tangible, the presence of the Mystery of God, which sustains our lives.
It is no longer possible to live as people who know everything. Because that is not true. All of us, believers and nonbelievers, atheists and agnostics, walk through life surrounded by darkness. As Paul of Tarsus says, we seek God as by “groping.” In the meantime, we shall be able to recognize the Risen Jesus in his wounds, there where He suffers most: the victims of violence, the poor and the like who have been thrown away from the main stream of our society, the discarded people.
Why not to try to face the mystery of our own life and death trusting in Love as the ultimate reality of everything? This is the decisive invitation of Jesus. More than one believer feels today that his/her faith has grown into something more and more unreal and less grounded. Perhaps, now that we can no longer base our faith in false assurances, we are learning to seek God with humble and sincere hearts.
We must not forget that anyone who seeks and sincerely desires to believe, that person is, for God, already a believer. Many times, it is not possible to do much more. And God, who understands our frailty and weakness, has His own ways to meet each one of us and offer salvation.
Sunday April 21, 2019
Easter Sunday, the Resurrection of the Lord (C)
Gospel John 20: 1-9
On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.” So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.
Ebanjelioa Joan 20: 1-9
1 Asteko lehen egunean Magdalako Maria hilobira joan zen goizean goiz, artean ilun zegoela, eta harria hilobitik kendua ikusi zuen. 2 Orduan, Simon Pedrorengana eta Jesusek maite zuen beste ikasleagana itzuli zen lasterka, eta esan zien: «Eraman egin dute Jauna hilobitik, eta ez dakigu non ipini duten». 3 Irten ziren, orduan, Pedro eta beste ikaslea eta hilobirantz jo zuten. 4 Biak batera zihoazen korrika, baina beste ikaslea Pedro baino arinago zihoan, eta lehenago iritsi zen hilobira. 5 Barrura begiratzeko makurturik, oihal-zerrendak lurrean zeudela ikusi zuen, baina ez zen sartu. 6 Iritsi zen haren atzetik Simon Pedro eta sartu zen hilobira. Oihal-zerrendak lurrean ikusi zituen, 7 baita Jesusen burua biltzen egoniko zapia ere; baina hau ez zegoen oihal-zerrendekin batera jarria, beste toki batean aparte bildua baizik. 8Orduan, sartu zen beste ikaslea ere, hilobira lehenengo iritsi zena. Ikusi eta sinetsi egin zuen. 9 Izan ere, ordu arte ez zuten ikasleek ulertu Liburu Santuak dioena, Jesusek hildakoen artetik piztu behar zuela, alegia.
Where to Find the Risen Lord?
Faith in Jesus, the One raised from the dead by the Father, did not flow naturally and spontaneously in the hearts of the disciples. It was not the result of a magic intervention. Before they encountered (=experienced) him, full of life, the Gospels speak about their disorientation, about their search around the tomb, and about their questions and uncertainties.
Mary of Magdala is the best prototype of what probably happens in all of us. According to John’s account, she looks for the crucified one, in the middle of darkness. It was “when it was still dark.” Logically, she looks for Him “in the tomb.” She is not yet aware of the fact that death has been conquered. Therefore, the empty tomb leaves her puzzled. Without Jesus, she feels at lost.
The other Gospels refer to yet another early tradition, which describes a whole group of women in search of Jesus. They cannot forget the Master who welcomed them as His disciples: their love for Him leads them to the tomb. They did not find Jesus there, but heard the message, which tells them where they must guide their search: “Why do you search among the dead the One who is alive? He is not here. He has risen.”
Faith in the risen Christ does not come in us, even today, spontaneously, just because we have heard about it since childhood to our parents, catechists, and preachers. To open ourselves to faith in the resurrection of Jesus, we must walk our own way. It is crucial not to forget Jesus, to love him passionately, to believe with words and actions in his very same dream, and seek him with all our energies, but not in the world of the dead. Jesus is to be found where there is life, and life abundantly.
If we wish to encounter the risen Christ, full of life and creative energy, then we must seek him, not in a dead religion, reduced to the external and formalistic compliance of laws and regulations, and the intellectual adherence to certain cold dogmas and doctrines, but there where people live according to the Spirit of Jesus, received with faith, love and responsibility.
We are to seek Him, not among divided Christians struggling for sterile discussions and theological arguments, empty of love for Jesus and passion for the Gospel, but there where communities are formed where Christ is placed at the center because they know that “where two or three are gathered in his name, He is there in the middle.”
The living One is not to be found in a worn-out faith supported only by all sorts of platitudes and empty formulas. The Risen One is to be found in the process of forging a new relationship with him, and in our capacity to fully identify ourselves with His great project of the building of the Kingdom of God in the world.
A dull and lifeless Jesus, who does not make us fall in love nor seduces, who does not touch our hearts and does not create the freedom of the children of God, is a “dead Jesus.” He is not the living Christ, resurrected by the Father.
Sunday April 14, 2019
Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion (Lent VI C)
Gospel Luke 22:14-23:56
When the hour came, Jesus took his place at table with the apostles. He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer, for, I tell you, I shall not eat it again until there is fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and said, “Take this and share it among yourselves; for I tell you that from this time on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you. “And yet behold, the hand of the one who is to betray me is with me on the table; for the Son of Man indeed goes as it has been determined; but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed.” And they began to debate among themselves who among them would do such a deed. Then an argument broke out among them about which of them should be regarded as the greatest. He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them and those in authority over them are addressed as ‘Benefactors’; but among you it shall not be so. Rather, let the greatest among you be as the youngest, and the leader as the servant. For who is greater: the one seated at table or the one who serves? Is it not the one seated at table? I am among you as the one who serves. It is you who have stood by me in my trials; and I confer a kingdom on you, just as my Father has conferred one on me, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom; and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. “Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed that your own faith may not fail; and once you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers.” He said to him, “Lord, I am prepared to go to prison and to die with you.” But he replied, “I tell you, Peter, before the cock crows this day, you will deny three times that you know me.” He said to them, “When I sent you forth without a money bag or a sack or sandals, were you in need of anything?” “No, nothing, “they replied. He said to them, “But now one who has a money bag should take it, and likewise a sack, and one who does not have a sword should sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me, namely, He was counted among the wicked; and indeed what is written about me is coming to fulfillment.” Then they said, “Lord, look, there are two swords here.” But he replied, “It is enough!” Then going out, he went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. When he arrived at the place he said to them, “Pray that you may not undergo the test.” After withdrawing about a stone’s throw from them and kneeling, he prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.” And to strengthen him an angel from heaven appeared to him. He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground. When he rose from prayer and returned to his disciples, he found them sleeping from grief. He said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not undergo the test.” While he was still speaking, a crowd approached and in front was one of the Twelve, a man named Judas. He went up to Jesus to kiss him. Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” His disciples realized what was about to happen, and they asked, “Lord, shall we strike with a sword? “And one of them struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said in reply, “Stop, no more of this!” Then he touched the servant’s ear and healed him. And Jesus said to the chief priests and temple guards and elders who had come for him, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? Day after day I was with you in the temple area, and you did not seize me; but this is your hour, the time for the power of darkness.”
After arresting him they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest; Peter was following at a distance. They lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat around it,
and Peter sat down with them. When a maid saw him seated in the light, she looked intently at him and said, “This man too was with him.” But he denied it saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” A short while later someone else saw him and said, “You too are one of them”; but Peter answered, “My friend, I am not.” About an hour later, still another insisted, “Assuredly, this man too was with him, for he also is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “My friend, I do not know what you are talking about.” Just as he was saying this, the cock crowed, and the Lord turned and looked at Peter; and Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.” He went out and began to weep bitterly. The men who held Jesus in custody were ridiculing and beating him. They blindfolded him and questioned him, saying, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?” And they reviled him in saying many other things against him.
When day came the council of elders of the people met, both chief priests and scribes, and they brought him before their Sanhedrin. They said, “If you are the Christ, tell us, “but he replied to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I question, you will not respond. But from this time on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?” He replied to them, “You say that I am.” Then they said, “What further need have we for testimony? We have heard it from his own mouth.” Then the whole assembly of them arose and brought him before Pilate. They brought charges against him, saying, “We found this man misleading our people; he opposes the payment of taxes to Caesar
and maintains that he is the Christ, a king.” Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
He said to him in reply, “You say so.” Pilate then addressed the chief priests and the crowds,
“I find this man not guilty.” But they were adamant and said, “He is inciting the people with his teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee where he began even to here.” On hearing this Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean; and upon learning that he was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod who was in Jerusalem at that time. Herod was very glad to see Jesus; he had been wanting to see him for a long time, for he had heard about him and had been hoping to see him perform some sign. He questioned him at length, but he gave him no answer. The chief priests and scribes, meanwhile, stood by accusing him harshly. Herod and his soldiers treated him contemptuously and mocked him, and after clothing him in resplendent garb, he sent him back to Pilate. Herod and Pilate became friends that very day, even though they had been enemies formerly. Pilate then summoned the chief priests, the rulers, and the people and said to them, “You brought this man to me and accused him of inciting the people to revolt. I have conducted my investigation in your presence and have not found this man guilty of the charges you have brought against him, nor did Herod, for he sent him back to us. So no capital crime has been committed by him. Therefore, I shall have him flogged and then release him.” But all together they shouted out, “Away with this man!
Release Barabbas to us.” — Now Barabbas had been imprisoned for a rebellion that had taken place in the city and for murder. —Again Pilate addressed them, still wishing to release Jesus, but they continued their shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Pilate addressed them a third time, “What evil has this man done? I found him guilty of no capital crime. Therefore, I shall have him flogged and then release him.” With loud shouts, however, they persisted in calling for his crucifixion, and their voices prevailed. The verdict of Pilate was that their demand should be granted. So he released the man who had been imprisoned for rebellion and murder, for whom they asked, and he handed Jesus over to them to deal with as they wished. As they led him away they took hold of a certain Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country; and after laying the cross on him, they made him carry it behind Jesus. A large crowd of people followed Jesus, including many women who mourned and lamented him. Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children for indeed, the days are coming when people will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.’ At that time people will say to the mountains, ‘Fall upon us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ for if these things are done when the wood is green what will happen when it is dry?” Now two others, both criminals, were led away with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him and the criminals there, one on his right, the other on his left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” They divided his garments by casting lots. The people stood by and watched; the rulers, meanwhile, sneered at him and said, “He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God.” Even the soldiers jeered at him. As they approached to offer him wine they called out, “If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.” Above him there was an inscription that read, “This is the King of the Jews.” Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us.” The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon because of an eclipse of the sun. Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle. Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”; and when he had said this he breathed his last.
The centurion who witnessed what had happened glorified God and said, “This man was innocent beyond doubt. “When all the people who had gathered for this spectacle saw what had happened, they returned home beating their breasts; but all his acquaintances stood at a distance, including the women who had followed him from Galilee and saw these events.
Now there was a virtuous and righteous man named Joseph who, though he was a member of the council, had not consented to their plan of action. He came from the Jewish town of Arimathea and was awaiting the kingdom of God. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. After he had taken the body down, he wrapped it in a linen cloth and laid him in a rock-hewn tomb in which no one had yet been buried. It was the day of preparation, and the sabbath was about to begin. The women who had come from Galilee with him followed behind, and when they had seen the tomb and the way in which his body was laid in it, they returned and prepared spices and perfumed oils. Then they rested on the sabbath according to the commandment.
Ebanjelioa Lukas 22:14-23:56
14 Ordua etorri zenean, Jesus mahaian jarri zen apostoluekin. 15 Eta esan zien: «Banuen gogoa sufritu aurretik Pazko-afari hau zuekin egiteko! 16 Zeren, egia esan, ez baitut Pazkorik gehiago ospatuko Jainkoaren erreinuan bere betera iritsi arte». 17 Eta, kopa harturik, esker oneko otoitza egin eta esan zuen: «Hartzazue eta eman elkarri. 18 Zeren, egia esan, ez baitut gaurdanik gehiago ardorik edango Jainkoa errege izaten hasi arte».
19 Gero, ogia hartu zuen eta, esker oneko otoitza egin ondoren, zatitu eta ikasleei eman zien, esanez: «Hau nire gorputza da, zuentzat ematen dena. Egizue hau nire oroigarri».
20 Berdin egin zuen koparekin afalondoan, esanez: «Kopa hau itun berria da, zuentzat isurtzen den nire odolaz Jainkoak ezarria. 21 «Baina begira, nirekin mahaian dago salduko nauena. 22 Gizonaren Semea badoa, erabakia dagoenez; baina dohakabea salduko duena!» 23 Orduan, ikasleak elkarren artean galdezka hasi ziren, nork egin ote zezakeen horrelakorik. 24 Ikasleak eztabaidan hasi ziren beren artean, beraietan zein ote zen handiena. 25 Jesusek esan zien: «Herrietako erregeek menpean hartzen dituzte herriak, eta agintedunek “Ongile” izena nahi izaten dute berentzat. 26 Zuek ez jokatu horrela. Zuen artean nagusiena izan bedi gazteenaren pareko, eta agintaria zerbitzariaren pareko. 27 Zein ote da handiago, mahaian dagoena ala zerbitzatzen ari dena? Ez ote mahaian dagoena? Bada, ni zerbitzari bezala nago zuen artean. 28 «Zuek sendo iraun duzue nirekin nire probaldietan. 29 Eta nik erregetza ematen dizuet, Aitak neuri eman zidan bezala: 30 ni errege izango naizenean, nire mahaian jan eta edango duzue, eta tronuetan eseriko zarete, Israel herriko hamabi leinuak epaitzeko. 31 «Simon, Simon! Satanasek beretzat nahi zaituzte, garia galbahean bezala zuek astintzeko. 32 Baina nik otoitz egin dut zure alde, sinesmena gal ez dezazun. Eta zuk, niregana bihurtzean, sendo itzazu senideak». 33 Pedrok esan zion: –Jauna, prest nago zurekin kartzelara eta heriotzara ere joateko. 34 Jesusek, orduan: –Egia esan, Pedro, gaur oilarrak jotzerako, hiru aldiz ukatuko duzu ni ezagutzen nauzula. 35 Ondoren, ikasleei esan zien: –Falta izan al zenuten ezer, poltsarik eta zakutorik eta oinetakorik gabe bidali zintuztedanean? Haiek erantzun: –Ezer ere ez. 36 Jesusek, berriro: –Orain, bada, poltsa duenak har dezala eta berdin zakutoa duenak; eta ezpatarik ez duenak sal dezala soingainekoa, hura erosteko. 37 Zeren, egia esan, niregan bete beharra baita Liburu Santuak dioena: Bekatarien kidekotzat jo zuten. Izan ere, nireak laster egingo du. 38 Haiek esan zioten: –Jauna, baditugu hemen bi ezpata. Baina Jesusek erantzun: –Aski da! 39 Ondoren, Jesus atera eta Oliamendirantz abiatu zen, ohi zuenez, eta ikasleak ere bai haren ondoren. 40 Hara iristean, Jesusek esan zien: «Egizue otoitz, tentaldian ez erortzeko». 41 Eta, haiengandik harrikada bat bide aldendurik, belauniko honela egiten zuen otoitz: 42 «Aita, nahi baduzu, urrun ezazu niregandik edari samin hau. Hala ere, egin bedi zure nahia, ez nirea». 43 Zeruko aingeru bat agertu zitzaion, kemen emanez. 44 Eta, larriak harturik, oraindik lehiatsuago egiten zuen otoitz. Izerdia tantaka zerion lurrera, odola bezain lodi. 45 Otoitzetik jaikirik, ikasleengana joan zen; nahigabearen nahigabez lokarturik aurkitu zituen, 46 eta esan zien: «Nola zaudete lo? Jaiki eta egin otoitz, tentaldian ez erortzeko». 47 Jesus hizketan ari zela, jende-multzo bat azaldu zen; Hamabietako bat, Judas zeritzana, zetorren haien buru, eta Jesusengana hurbildu zen musu ematera. 48 Jesusek esan zion: «Judas, musu batez saltzen al duzu Gizonaren Semea?» 49 Gertatzera zihoanaz oharturik, Jesusen inguruan zeudenek esan zioten: «Jauna, erasoko al diegu ezpataz?» 50 Eta haietako batek apaiz nagusiaren morroia jo eta eskuineko belarria moztu zion. 51 Baina Jesusek esan zuen: «Utzi! Aski da!» Eta, belarria ukiturik, sendatu egin zion. 52 Orduan, haren aurka etorriak ziren apaizburu, tenpluko guardiaburu eta zaharrei esan zien: «Ezpataz eta makilaz etorri zarete lapur baten bila bezala. 53 Egunero tenpluan zuekin nintzen, eta ez zenidaten eskurik bota. Baina oraintxe da zuen ordua, ilunpearen nagusialdia». 54 Jesus preso hartu eta apaiz nagusiaren etxera eraman zuten. Pedrok urrutitik jarraitzen zion. 55 Batzuk patio erdian sua piztu eta haren inguruan eseri ziren, eta haien artean eseri zen Pedro ere. 56 Neskame batek, Pedro sutondoan eseria ikustean, begira jarri eta esan zuen: –Hau ere Jesusekin zebilen. 57 Baina hark ukatu, esanez: –Emakume, ez dinat ezagutzen hori. 58 Handik berehala, beste batek ikusi eta esan zion Pedrori: –Hi ere haietakoa haiz. Pedrok, orduan: –Ez, mutil! 59 Handik ordubete ingurura, beste batek berriro esan zuen: –Bai, hau ere Jesusekin bizi huen, galilearra duk eta. 60 Pedrok erantzun zuen: –Ez zekiat zertaz ari haizen, mutil! Eta une berean, oraindik hizketan ari zela, oilarrak jo zuen. 61 Itzuli zen Jauna eta Pedrori begiratu zion. Gogoratu zitzaion Pedrori Jaunak esandakoa: «Gaur oilarrak jo baino lehen, hiru aldiz ukatuko nauzu», 62 eta, kanpora irtenik, negarrari eman zion saminki. 63 Jesus preso zeukatenak isekaz ari zitzaizkion eta joka. 64 Begiak estalirik, honela galdetzen zioten: «Asma ezak, profeta, nork jo hau?» 65 Eta beste hitz iraingarri asko esaten zioten. 66 Eguna zabaldu zuenean, herriko zaharren kontseilua, apaizburuak eta lege-maisuak bildu ziren, eta Jesus Biltzar Nagusira eraman zuten. 67 Honela esan zioten: –Mesias baldin bazara, esaguzu. Hark erantzun: –Baietz esaten badizuet, ez didazue sinetsiko 68 eta, galdetzen badizuet, ez didazue erantzungo. 69 Baina hemendik aurrera Gizonaren Semea Jainko ahalguztidunaren eskuinean eserita egongo da. 70 Orduan, denek esan zuten: –Zu zara, beraz, Jainkoaren Semea? Hark erantzun zien: –Zeuek diozue, neu naiz. 71 Haiek, orduan: –Ba ote dugu lekuko beharrik? Geuk entzun diogu bere ahotik.
23, 1 Altxatu ziren denak eta Pilatogana eraman zuten Jesus. 2 Han, salatzen hasi zitzaizkion: «Gure nazioa nahaspilatzen harrapatu dugu gizon hau; enperadoreari zergak ordaintzea galarazten du eta bera Mesias, erregea, dela esaten». 3 Pilatok galdetu zion: –Zu al zara juduen erregea? Jesusek erantzun zion: –Zeuk diozu. 4 Pilatok apaizburu eta jende-taldeari esan zien: –Nik ez dut gizon hau kondenatzeko batere arrazoirik aurkitzen. 5 Baina haiek, behin eta berriro: «Judea osoan barrena herria asaldatzen ari da bere irakaspenez; Galilean hasi zen eta honaino iritsi da». 6 Hori entzutean, gizon hura galilearra al zen galdetu zuen Pilatok. 7 Eta, Herodesen eskumenekoa zela jakinik, hari bidali zion, Jerusalemen baitzen egun haietan. 8 Biziki poztu zen Herodes Jesus ikusteaz, aspaldian baitzuen hura ezagutzeko gogoa, hartaz entzuten zituenengatik; mirariren bat egiten ikusiko zuela ere espero zuen. 9 Herodesek galdera asko egin zion, baina Jesusek ez zion hitzik erantzun. 10 Bitartean, han ari ziren apaizburu eta lege-maisuak salatu eta salatu. 11 Herodesek, bere soldaduekin batera, mespretxu eta isekaz erabili zuen Jesus eta, jantzi distiratsu bat soinean jarririk, berriro Pilatogana bidali zuen. 12 Egun hartan, adiskidetu egin ziren Herodes eta Pilato, etsai baitziren lehen. 13 Pilatok, apaizburu, agintari eta herria berriro bildurik, 14 honela esan zien: «Gizon hau herria nahaspilatzen ari dela-eta ekarri didazue; baina zuen aurrean galderak egin dizkiot eta ez diot aurkitu zuek egozten diozuen errurik batere; 15 ezta Herodesek ere, guri bidali baitigu ostera. Honek ez du, beraz, heriotza merezi duenik ezer egin. 16 Zigorraldi bat eman eta askatu egingo dut». (17). 18 Baina denek aho batez oihuka esan zioten: –Kendu hori eta aska iezaguzu Barrabas! 19 Barrabas hau, hirian gertaturiko matxinada eta giza hilketa batengatik kartzelan sartua zuten. 20 Jesus askatu nahian Pilato berriro mintzatu zitzaien; 21 baina haiek oihuka: –Gurutzera hori! Gurutzera! 22 Hark hirugarren aldiz esan zien: –Zer oker egin du, bada, honek? Nik ez dut hau kondenatzeko arrazoirik aurkitzen. Beraz, zigorraldi bat eman eta askatu egingo dut. 23 Haiek oihu eta oihu ari ziren gurutzera zezala eskatuz, eta gero eta handiagoak ziren oihuak. 24 Orduan, Pilatok haien eskabideari men egitea erabaki zuen: 25 haiek eskatzen zutena –matxinada eta giza hilketagatik kartzelan zegoena– askatu eta Jesus beren esku utzi zien. 26 Jesus gurutziltzatzera zeramatela, sorotik etxera zihoan bat, Simon Zirenekoa, hartu zuten eta gurutzea leporatu zioten, Jesusen ondotik eraman zezan. 27 Herriko jende-talde handia zihoan Jesusen ondoren, baita emakume asko ere bular-joka eta harengatik aieneka. 28 Itzuli zen Jesus haiengana eta esan zien: «Jerusalemgo emakumeok, ez egin negarrik niregatik; egizue negar zeuengatik eta zeuen seme-alabengatik. 29 Hara, badatoz honako hau esango den egunak: “Zorionekoak agorrak, haurrik sortu ez duten sabelak eta titirik eman ez duten bularrak”. 30 Orduan, honela esango diete mendiei: “Eror zaitezte gure gainera”, eta muinoei: “Ezkuta gaitzazue”. 31 Izan ere, egur hezeari hau egiten badiote, zer ez ote iharrari?» 32 Jesusekin batera bi gaizkile ere eraman zituzten hiltzera. 33 «Burezur» zeritzan tokira iritsirik, bertan gurutziltzatu zuten Jesus, baita bi gaizkileak ere, bata Jesusen eskuinean eta bestea ezkerrean. 34 Jesusek honela zioen: «Aita, barka iezaiezu, ez baitakite zer ari diren». Soldaduek Jesusen jantziak banatu zituzten, zotz eginez. 35 Herria begira zegoen. Agintariek, berriz, Jesusi burla egiten zioten, esanez: «Besteak salbatu ditik; salba dezala bere burua, Jainkoaren Mesias, hautatua, baldin bada». 36 Soldaduek ere irri egiten zioten; ondoraturik, ozpina eskaini zioten eta esan: 37 «Juduen errege baldin bahaiz, salba ezak heure burua». 38 Honako idazkun hau zuen buruaren gainaldean: «Hau juduen erregea da». 39 Zintzilik zeuden gaizkileetako bat Jesusi irainka ari zitzaion, esanez: –Ez al haiz, bada, hi Mesias? Salba ezak heure burua eta salbatu gu ere! 40 Baina besteak errieta egin zion hori zioenari: –Ez al duk Jainkoaren beldurrik, zigorra jasaten hagoela ere? 41 Gurea legezkoa duk, geure egintzengatik merezia baitugu; baina honek ez dik okerrik egin. 42 Gero, gaineratu zuen: –Jesus, oroit zaitez nitaz errege izatera iritsiko zarenean. 43 Jesusek erantzun zion: –Benetan diotsut: Gaur nirekin izango zara paradisuan. 44 Eguerdi aldea zen, eta ilundu egin zuen lurbira guztian hirurak arte. 45 Eguzkia ezkutatu egin zen, eta santutegiko oihala erdiz erdi urratu zen. 46 Jesusek, oihu handia eginez, esan zuen: «Aita, zure eskuetan jartzen dut bizia». Hau esanik, azken arnasa eman zuen. 47 Erromatar ehuntariak, gertatua ikusirik, Jainkoa goretsi zuen, esanez: «Benetan gizon hau zintzoa zen!» 48 Ikuskizunera joandako jende guztia, gertatua ikusirik, bular-joka itzuli zen hirira. 49 Jesusen ezagun guztiak, baita Galileatik jarraitu zioten emakumeak ere, urrutixeago zeuden begira. 50 Orduan, kontseiluko kide bat etorri zen, Jose zeritzana, gizon on eta zintzoa; 51 honek ez zituen ontzat eman Biltzar Nagusiaren erabakia eta jokabidea. Judeako Arimatea herrikoa zen izatez, eta Jainkoaren erregetza noiz iritsiko zain zegoen. 52 Josek, beraz, Pilatogana aurkeztu eta Jesusen gorpua eskatu zion. 53 Jesus gurutzetik eraitsirik, izara batean bildu zuen eta haitzean zulaturiko eta oraindik beste inor ehortzi gabeko hilobi batean ezarri. 54 Festarako prestaketak egiteko eguna zen eta larunbata hastera zihoan. 55 Galileatik Jesusekin etorritako emakumeek, Joseren atzetik joanik, hilobia ikusi zuten eta Jesusen gorpua nola ezartzen zuten begiratu. 56 Gero, itzuli eta usain gozoko ukenduak prestatu zituzten.
Reflections in front of the One Crucified
Arrested by the security forces of the Temple, Jesus has no longer any doubt: The Father does not seem to have heard his desire to continue living; His disciples flee away looking for their own safety. He is alone. His project about establishing the Kingdom of God fade. Execution awaits him. Jesus is in crisis.
The silence of Jesus during his last hours is overwhelming. However, the evangelists have collected some of his words on the cross. These are very short, but they helped the first Christian generations to remember them with love and gratitude to Jesus crucified.
Luke gathered a few which Jesus utters while being crucified. Among shudders and cries of pain, Jesus manages to say a few words, which show what was in his heart, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
So is Jesus.
He is asking his disciples to “love your enemies” and “pray for those who persecute you.” And now it is he himself who dies forgiving. He turns his crucifixion into forgiveness. This request to the Father for those who are crucifying him is, above all, a sublime gesture of compassion and trust in the unfathomable forgiveness of God. This is the great legacy of Jesus to humanity: Do not ever doubt God. His mercy is endless.
Mark picks up another dramatic cry of the crucified: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me.!?” These words uttered in the midst of total loneliness and abandonment, are of overwhelming sincerity. Jesus feels his beloved Father has abandoned him. Why? Jesus complains about the Father’s silence. Where is He? Why does He keep silent? Jesus’ cry of anguish, identified with that of all the victims in history, asking God for an explanation to such injustice, neglect and suffering, is now on the lips of the Crucified One who demands an answer from God beyond death: O God my God, why have you abandoned me? Are You not going to ever respond to the cries and moans of the innocent?
Luke records Jesus’ last word. Despite his mortal anguish, Jesus maintained until the end his trust and confidence in the Father. His words are now almost a whisper: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Nothing and no one have been able to separate him from his Father. The Father has been animating with his Spirit all the life and activity of Jesus. Completed his mission, Jesus leaves everything in the hands of the Father. The Father will break his silence and will rise him.
During this Holy Week we need to enter the real experience of the passion and death of Jesus, and through Him, experience and empathy with the passion and death of so many victims. Father, into your hands we commend all our worries.
Sunday April 7, 2019
Fifth Sunday of Lent (C)
Gospel John 8: 1-11
Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. But early in the morning he arrived again in the temple area, and all the people started coming to him, and he sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and made her stand in the middle. They said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” They said this to test him, so that they could have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger. But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he bent down and wrote on the ground. And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. So he was left alone with the woman before him. Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.”
Ebanjelioa Joan 8: 1-11
1 Jesus Oliamendira joan zen. 2 Biharamunean, egunsentian, tenplura itzuli zen, eta herri guztia etorri zitzaion. Jesus, eseririk, irakasten hasi zen. 3 Orduan, lege-maisu eta fariseuek emakume bat, adulterioan harrapatua, ekarri zioten. Erdi-erdian ipiniz, 4 esan zioten Jesusi: –Maisu, emakume hau adulterioan ari zela harrapatu dute. 5 Moisesek legean honelakoak harrika hiltzeko agindu zigun; zuk zer diozu? 6 Galdera azpikeriaz egin zioten, hura salatzeko aitzakiaren baten bila baitzebiltzan. Jesus, alabaina, makurturik, atzamarrez lurrean idazten hasi zen. 7 Haiek, ordea, galde eta galde ari baitzitzaizkion, zutitu zen Jesus eta esan zien: –Zuetan bekaturik gabe dagoenak jaurti diezaiola lehen harria. 8 Eta berriro makurturik, lurrean idazten jarraitu zuen. 9 Haiek, ordea, hori entzutean, banan-banan alde egiten hasi ziren, zaharrenetatik hasita. Jesus bakarrik gelditu zen, emakumea aurrean zuela. 10 Jesusek zutitu eta esan zion: –Emakume, non dira salatzaileak? Ez al zaitu inork ere gaitzetsi? 11 Hark erantzun: –Inork ere ez, Jauna. Orduan, Jesusek: –Nik ere ez zaitut gaitzesten; zoaz, eta ez egin berriro bekaturik.)
“Do not Condemn and you will not be Condemned”
People presented to Jesus a woman caught in the very act of adultery. Everyone knew her destiny would be death by stoning as that was established in the law of Moses. No one says anything of the adulterer. He is not to be seen anywhere. As always in a patriarchal society, women are condemned, and men dispensed. Jesus’ challenge of that rule has no palliatives: “The law of Moses commands us to stone adulterers. What do you say?” Jesus could not take any longer that social hypocrisy fueled by the arrogance of men. That death sentence did not come from God!
With admirable simplicity and audacity, and introducing at the same time truth, justice and compassion in the trial of the adulteress, Jesus asks: “He who is without sin let cast the first stone.” The accusers left the place ashamed. They knew in their hearts that men are the most responsible for the adulteries committed in that society.
Then Jesus addresses to the woman who just escaped execution and, with great tenderness and respect utters: “Neither do I condemn you.” Then Jesus encourages her to seize this opportunity of forgiveness to become the starting point of a new life: “Go, and sin no more.”
That is the way Jesus is.
At last, there exists on earth someone who does not let be conditioned or influenced by any law or oppressive power; someone free and magnanimous who never hated or condemned anyone, someone who never returned evil for evil. In Jesus’ defense and forgiveness of this woman there is more Truth and Justice than in our demands, complains, and resentful condemnations.
We Christians have not yet been able to draw all the consequences, which are enclosed in the liberating actions of Jesus against the oppression of women. Directed and inspired by almost all male-dominated Church, we fail to be aware of all the injustices that women continue to suffer in all areas of life. Some theologians speak about the “ignored and dormant revolution” of Christian communities yet to arrive.
The truth is that, twenty centuries later, in the countries of supposedly Christian roots, we still live in a society where women often cannot move freely without fear of man. The rape, abuse and humiliation are not imaginary events. On the contrary, they constitute one of the most deeply rooted forms of violence, which generate much suffering.
Why is it that the suffering of women does not take a more vivid and concrete form in our celebrations, and even a more important cry in our efforts to awaken a more social justice awareness? But above all, should not we be closer to all oppressed women and report all types of abuse, and provide quick defense and effective protection?
Sunday March 31, 2019
Fourth Sunday of Lent (C)
Gospel Lk 15: 1-3; 11-32
Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So to them Jesus addressed this parable:
“A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father, ‘Father give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’ So the father divided the property between them. After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.
When he had freely spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he found himself in dire need. So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens who sent him to his farm to tend the swine. And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed, but nobody gave him any. Coming to his senses he thought, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger. I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”’ So he got up and went back to his father. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.’ But his father ordered his servants, ‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Take the fattened calf and slaughter it. Then let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.’ Then the celebration began. Now the older son had been out in the field and, on his way back, as he neared the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing. He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean. The servant said to him, ‘Your brother has returned and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ He became angry, and when he refused to enter the house, his father came out and pleaded with him. He said to his father in reply, ‘Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends. But when your son returns who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’ He said to him, ‘My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’”
Ebanjelioa Lukas 15: 1-3; 11-32
1 Zergalari eta bekatari guztiak Jesusengana bildu ohi ziren hari entzutera, 2 eta fariseuak eta lege-maisuak marmarrean ari ziren esanez: «Horrek harrera ona egiten die bekatariei, baita beraiekin jan ere!» 3 Jesusek parabola hau esan zien: 11 «Gizon batek bi seme zituen. 12 Gazteenak esan zion aitari: “Aita, emadazu dagokidan senipartea”. Eta aitak ondasunak banatu zizkien. 13 «Handik egun gutxira, seme gazteenak, zituen guztiak bildurik, urrutiko herrialde batera alde egin zuen eta han, galdukerian biziz, ondasun guztiak jan. 14 Dena xahutu zuenean, gosete ikaragarria gertatu zen inguru hartan eta estu aurkitzen hasi zen. 15 Orduan, herrialde hartako gizon batengana joan zen morroi, eta hark bere sailetara bidali zuen txerrizain. 16 Txerriek jaten zuten ezkurrez asetzeko gogoa ematen zion, ez baitzion inork jaten ematen. 17 Orduan, pentsatzen jarririk, bere baitan esan zuen: “Zenbat langile gure aitarenean nahi adina ogi eta gehiago dutela, eta ni hemen goseak hiltzen! 18 Jaiki, aitarengana joan eta esango diot: Aita, bekatu egin dut Jainkoaren eta zure kontra. 19 Ez dut gehiago seme-izenik merezi. Har nazazu zeure langileetako bat bezala”. 20 «Jaiki eta aitaren etxera abiatu zen. Oraindik urruti zegoela, ikusi zuen aitak eta errukitu egin zen; eta, lasterka joanik, besarkatu eta musuka hasi zitzaion. 21 Semeak esan zion: “Aita, bekatu egin dut Jainkoaren eta zure kontra. Ez dut gehiago zure seme-izenik merezi…”. 22 Aitak, ordea, esan zien morroiei: “Ekarri bizkor jantzirik onena eta jantziozue, ipiniozue eraztuna eta jantzi oinetakoak; 23 ekarri zekor gizendua eta hil; egin dezagun festa-otordua; 24 zeren seme hau hilda bainuen eta piztu egin zait, galdua nuen eta aurkitu egin dut”. Eta festa hasi zuten. 25 «Seme zaharrena soroan zen. Etxerakoan, hurbildu ahala, soinua eta dantzak sumatu zituen. 26 Eta, morroi bati deiturik, zer gertatzen zen galdetu zion. 27 Hark erantzun: “Zure anaia etorri da eta zekor gizendua hiltzeko agindu du zuen aitak, semea onik bereganatu duelako”. 28 Biziki haserretu zen anaia eta ez zuen sartu nahi. Atera zen aita eta erreguka hasi zitzaion. 29 Baina hark erantzun zion aitari: “Hainbeste urte da zure agindu bat ere sekula huts egin gabe zerbitzatzen zaitudala, eta ez didazu egundaino antxume bat ere eman, lagunekin festa egiteko; 30 eta, horko zure seme hori, zure ondasunak emagalduekin jan dituen hori, etorri dela eta, zekor gizendua hil duzu”. 31 Aitak erantzun zion: “Seme, zu beti nirekin zaude, eta nire guztia zeurea duzu! 32 Baina egoki zen poztu eta festa egitea, zure anaia hau hilda baikenuen eta piztu egin zaigu, galdua genuen eta aurkitu egin dugu!”»
The Sin of Self-righteousness
Undoubtedly, this is the most captivating parable of Jesus, the parable of the “Good Father” often misinterpreted as the “parable of the prodigal son.” Precisely this “youngest son” has always attracted the attention of the majority of commentators and Gospel preachers. His return home and the amazing reception the father prepared for him, have moved to tears many Christians of all generations.
However, the parable also speaks of the “eldest son,” a man who always remained with his father, without imitating the disordered life of his younger brother, away from home. When the servants reported him about the lavish party organized by his father to welcome the lost son, he is baffled. The return of the brother did not produce in him the joy, which did in his father, but rage: “He became angry, and refused to enter the house” to be part of the party. He had never left home, but now feels like a stranger among his own.
The father comes out (just as he came out looking the return of his youngest son) to invite him to the feast with the same affection with which he hosted the return of his younger brother. The father did not shout or give orders, but with humble love “tries to persuade him” to enter into the welcoming party.
That is when the eldest son exploded in anger revealing all his resentment. He has spent his entire life obeying the orders of the father, but he failed to learn to love as the father loves. Now he only wants to demand his rights and denigrates his brother.
This is the tragedy of the eldest son. He never left home, and yet his heart has always been away from the father’s house. He knows to comply commandments but does not know to love. He does not understand how his father can love that lost son. He does not want to welcome nor forgive his little brother. He wants nothing to do with him. Jesus ends his parable without satisfying our curiosity: how did the party end: did the elder brother finally enter the house or stayed away?
Involved in the religious crisis of modern society, we have grown accustomed to speaking in terms of believers and unbelievers, practicing and non-practicing Catholics, marriage in the Church and couples in irregular situation … While we continue categorizing and classifying the children of God, God is waiting everyone to approach Him, because He is not owned by the good or the practitioners only. He is the Father (and Mother) of everyone.
The “eldest son” is a challenging figure especially for us who think live with Him. What are we, who never “abandoned” the church, doing to our “irregular” brothers and sisters? Do we try to assure our own religious survival by observing the rules, prescriptions and doctrines to the letter, or do we really witness, with our actions and words, to the great love of God to all his sons and daughters? Are we building open communities that know how to understand, welcome and accompany those who seek God in the middle of doubts and questions? Do we build barriers and walls or do we build bridges?
Sunday March 24, 2019
Third Sunday of Lent (C)
Gospel Luke 13: 1-9
Some people told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. Jesus said to them in reply, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did! Or those eighteen people who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on them— do you think they were more guilty than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!” And he told them this parable: “There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard, and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none, he said to the gardener, ‘For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none. So cut it down. Why should it exhaust the soil?’ He said to him in reply, ‘Sir, leave it for this year also,
and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down.’”
Ebanjelioa Lukas 13: 1-9
1 Une hartan, batzuek Jesusengana joan eta zenbait galilearri gertatua kontatu zioten: nola Pilatok hil zituen, eskaintzen ari ziren abereen odolarekin beraien odola nahastuz. 2 Jesusek erantzun zien: «Galilear horiek gainerakoak baino bekatariago zirela uste al duzue, heriotza hori izan zutelako? 3 Ez horixe! Eta zuek ere, bihozberritzen ez bazarete, berdin hilko zarete denok. 4 «Eta Siloeko dorreak azpian harrapaturik hil ziren hemezortzi haiek, gainerako jerusalemdarrak baino bekatariago zirela uste al duzue? 5 Ez horixe! Eta zuek ere, bihozberritzen ez bazarete, denok hilko zarete». 6 Gero, parabola hau esan zien Jesusek: «Gizon batek pikondo bat zuen bere mahastian aldatua. Joan zen piku bila eta ez zuen aurkitu. 7 Orduan, mahastizainari esan zion: “Begira, badira hiru urte pikondo honetara piku bila natorrela, eta ez dut aurkitzen. Moztu ezazu. Zertarako egongo da hor lurra alferrik jaten?” 8 Baina mahastizainak erantzun zion: “Jauna, utz ezazu aurtengoz; bitartean, ondoa aitzurtu eta ongarria botako diot, 9 ea aurrerakoan fruiturik ematen duen; eta bestela, moztu”».
God abhors a fruitless Life
A few years ago, Johann Baptist Metz (1928–) published a small book, which caused real impact among German Catholics. According to the renowned theologian, in today’s Europe religion is not any longer the force, which transforms a very largely bourgeoisie society. It is, rather, the bourgeoisie mentality of the society, which has reduced and distorted the best values of the Christian religion (“Beyond the bourgeois religion” 1982). Bourgeoise has made Christianity irrelevant, by making it only a devotional tool to satisfy the religious feelings and emotions of the people.
He was right. Every day we internalize bourgeois attitudes such as personal security, welfare society, autonomy, personal fulfilment, performance or success, which darken and dissolve the genuine Christian attitudes such as conversion to God, compassion, defending the poor, selfless love or willingness to suffer for others.
How easy it is to live a religion, which does not challenge to change the hearts, a cult without conversion, a religious practice, which gives us self-satisfaction and confirms us in our little club, as we continue ignoring God’s call for a more detached and radical lifestyle!
How is my Christianity? Have I really converted to Christ, or am I happy intellectually believing that I am a Christian because I practice a few rules and rites? Do I sympathize and feel empathy with those who suffer, or do I passively believe that there is such thing as compassion? De I love others selflessly, or do I limit myself to live a private and exclusive love in the middle of my circle of friends, far from the cry of the poor, which challenge me to come out from my little, hedonistic and personal world?
How does God look upon a “fruitless and sterile Christianity?”
Jesus’ parable tells of a man who vainly went seeking the fruits of a fig tree, which did not bear fruit. The tree was barren. “Why should it exhaust the soil?” The Lord, however, did not wish to cut or destroy it. On the contrary, it took even better care of it, still hoping that maybe one day it will bear fruit. So is with God’s patience toward us too.
After twenty centuries of history, God still waits for a more vigorous and fruitful Christian witness.
Three attitudes, I believe, can help us to let go to our being “captive of bourgeois religion.”
First, a gaze to the social reality around us, with the eyes of God, without prejudices or personal interests; normally injustices feed themselves up by way of lies or half-truths. Secondly, a compassionate empathy towards others, which will lead us to defend the victims and prompt to show solidarity with their suffering. And, finally, a frugal and simple life-style, capable of creating an alternative way of living, which resists the proposals of a bourgeois society based upon excessive consumerism.
Sunday March 17, 2019
Second Sunday of Lent (C)
Gospel Luke 9: 28b-36
Jesus took Peter, John, and James and went up the mountain to pray. While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem. Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep, but becoming fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As they were about to part from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here; let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” But he did not know what he was saying. While he was still speaking, a cloud came and cast a shadow over them, and they became frightened when they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.” After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. They fell silent and did not at that time tell anyone what they had seen.
Ebanjelioa Lukas 9: 28b-36
28 Jesusek, Pedro, Joan eta Santiago berekin hartu eta mendira igo zen Jesus, otoitzera. 29 Eta, otoitzean ari zela, aurpegiko itxura aldatu egin zitzaion, eta jantziak zuri distiratsu bihurtu. 30-31 Hartan, bi gizon azaldu ziren, aintzaz distiratsu: Moises eta Elias, eta Jesusekin mintzo ziren Jerusalemen gertatzekoa zen honen heriotzaz. 32 Pedro eta lagunak logaleak jota zeuden; baina esnatu ziren eta Jesusen aintza eta harekin zeuden bi gizonak ikusi zituzten. 33 Hauek urruntzean, Pedrok esan zion Jesusi: «Maisu, zein ederki gauden hemen! Zergatik ez egin hiru etxola: bata zuretzat, bestea Moisesentzat eta bestea Eliasentzat?» Ez zekien zer esaten zuen ere. 34 Eta, hori zioela, hodei batek estali zituen, eta beldurtu egin ziren hodeipean sartzean. 35 Mintzo hau izan zen hodeitik: «Hauxe dut neure Semea, nik hautatua. Entzun berari!» 36 Mintzoaren ondoren, Jesus bakarrik ageri zen. Ikasleek isilik gorde zuten eta, ordukoz, ez zioten inori esan ikusitakorik ezer.
Listen Only to Jesus
The scene is traditionally called “the transfiguration of Jesus.” It is not possible today to reconstruct with certainty the original experience of the early Church, which gave birth to this amazing story. We only know that the Gospels give great importance to this narrative because, according to this account in the Gospel of Luke, it is an experience, in which the disciples began to understand to a certain extend the true identity of Jesus.
At first, the story highlights the transformation of HIS face, although Moses and Elijah appear conversing with Jesus, perhaps as representatives of the law and the prophets respectively, in the center of the scene, only the face of Jesus remains transfigured and glowing.
Obviously, once again, the disciples did not grasp the depth of the content of the experience they were living, for Peter, in a rather joking way, said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we stay here; let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” Peter seems to place Jesus in the same footing and level as the two major biblical characters. To each one its due! Jesus does not still occupy the central and absolute place in his heart.
It is only the voice of God that will correct Peter, by revealing them the true identity of Jesus: “This is my chosen Son” the one with the transfigured face. He is not to be confused with the face of Moses and Elijah, which are not glowing faces like Jesus’. “Listen to him.” To no one else. His Word is the only decisive one. The words of other figures, important as they might be, must lead us to Him.
I am persuaded that it is urgent to recover today in the Church the decisive importance it had, in the beginnings of the Christian communities, the experience of listening, in our communities, to the story of Jesus collected in the Gospels. The four Gospels constitute for all Christians a unique collection, which is based upon the unique experience of an encounter with the person of Jesus, without match with the rest of the biblical books.
There is something, which only may be found in the Gospels: such as the impact Jesus caused among the first followers who abandoning their nets (livelihood) and their father (life support) where drawn to him and followed him unreservedly. The Gospels are not didactical or academic writings exhibiting some doctrines about Jesus. Nor biographies written to provide us some details about his history. They are, rather, “conversion stories” which invite each one of us to change, to follow Jesus and identify ourselves with his great project of establishing the Kingdom of God.
For this reason, the Gospels need to be listened to in an attitude of conversion. And with that same attitude we must read, preach, meditate, and keep them in the heart of each one of us in the Christian community. A Christian community that knows how to listen to the Gospel story of Jesus every Sunday with an attitude of conversion, begins to change. The church has no other more vigorous transformation tool than the very Jesus who is contained and experienced in these four little books we call Gospels.
Sunday March 10, 2019
First Sunday of Lent (C)
Gospel Luke 4: 1-13
Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when they were over he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, One does not live on bread alone.” Then he took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant. The devil said to him, “I shall give to you all this power and glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I may give it to whomever I wish. All this will be yours, if you worship me.” Jesus said to him in reply, “It is written: You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve.” Then he led him to Jerusalem, made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written: He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you, and: With their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.” Jesus said to him in reply, “It also says, You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.” When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time.
Ebanjelioa Lukas 4: 1-13
1 Jesus Espiritu Santuaz betea itzuli zen Jordandik. Espirituak eramanik, basamortuan barrena ibili zen 2 berrogei egunez, deabruak tentatzen zuela. Egun haietan ez zuen ezer jan, eta azkenean gosetu egin zen. 3 Deabruak esan zion, orduan: –Jainkoaren Semea zarenez, agindu harri honi ogi bihurtzeko. 4 Jesusek erantzun zion: –Liburu Santuan idatzia dago: Gizakia ez da ogiz bakarrik bizi. 5 Ondoren, deabruak, toki garai batera eramanik, munduko erreinu guztiak erakutsi zizkion une batean 6 eta esan zion: –Hara, neureak ditut erreinu ahaltsu eta aberats guztiok eta nahi dudanari eman diezazkioket. 7 Beraz, adoratzen banauzu, zeuretzat izango dituzu. 8 Jesusek erantzun zion: –Idatzia dago: Adoratu Jauna, zeure Jainkoa, eta bera bakarrik gurtu. 9 Orduan, Jerusalemera eraman zuen deabruak eta, tenpluaren goreneko ertzera jasorik, esan zion: –Jainkoaren Semea zarenez, bota zeure burua hemendik behera, 10 idatzia baitago: Bere aingeruei aginduko die zu zaintzeko. 11 Besoetan eramango zaituzte, harriekin estropezu egin ez dezazun. 12 Baina Jesusek erantzun: –Agindua dago: Ez tentatu Jauna, zeure Jainkoa. 13 Orduan, bere tentazio guztiak agorturik, deabruak alde egin zuen Jesusengandik, hurrengo egokiera arte.
What are my Temptations?
According to the Gospels, the temptations Jesus experienced were not properly of moral type. Rather, they were false (idolatry) approaches of understanding and living his mission. Thus, the way Jesus reacts in front of those false propositions must serve us as a model not only for our moral behavior, but above all, to keep us alert not to deviate from the mission Jesus entrusted us, his followers.
These temptations help us identify with clarity, lucidity, and responsibility the type of temptations we all, and the church at large, endure today. How will we be faithful to Jesus Christ if we are not aware of the most dangerous temptations, which can divert us today away from that very dream and lifestyle of Jesus to establish the Kingdom of God? Let us now reflect on each one of them.
In the first temptation, Jesus renounces to use God to “convert” the stones into bread and thus satisfy his hunger. Jesus is determined not follow that path of self-gratification. He refuses to live seeking his own interest. He will never use the Father in a selfish manner. He is determined to seek nourishment only in the living Word of God, and he shall “multiply” the loaves only to feed the hungry people.
This is probably the most serious temptation of Christians living in affluent countries, like us, who tend to use religion to justify our material comfort, ease our consciences by doing some acts of charity, thus emptying our Christian lives of true compassion, and living deaf to the voice of God that cries out to us, where is your brother?
In the second temptation, Jesus renounces to obtain “power and glory” in exchange of submitting himself to the abuses, lies and injustices in which the powerful build their kingdoms inspired by the “devil.” The kingdom of God does not impose itself upon anyone. Rather, it is offered to all with love. Jesus resolves to only worship the God of the poor, the weak and the defenseless.
In these times when the Church has lost social power in many of the countries where she used to be omnipresent and omnipotent, the temptation is there for her to try to recover the “power and glory” of the past. Even to the point of claiming absolute power over society. We may be losing a historic opportunity for the church to enter a new path of humble service and fraternal accompaniment of the men and woman, so much in need of love and hope.
In the third temptation, Jesus renounces to carry out his mission by resorting to easy success and ostentation. He refuses to become a triumphalist Messiah. He shall never place God at the service of his personal pride. Rather, Jesus will be among his people as one who serves and washes the feet of his disciples.
It is always tempting to use religion in order to seek the increase of personal reputation, popularity and prestige. Even to make money.
Few things are more ridiculous in following Jesus than the glitz and the search for honors. They hurt the Church and devoid her capacity to proclaim the truth.
Sunday March 3, 2019
Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)
Gospel Lk 6: 39-45
Jesus told his disciples a parable, “Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? No disciple is superior to the teacher; but when fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,’ when you do not even notice the wooden beam in your own eye? You hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye. “A good tree does not bear rotten fruit, nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For people do not pick figs from thorn bushes, nor do they gather grapes from brambles. A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good, but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil; for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.”
Ebanjelioa Lukas 6: 39-45
39 Eta parabola bat ere esan zien: «Itsua itsuaren gidari izan ote liteke? Ez ote dira biak zulora eroriko? 40 Ikaslea ez da irakaslea baino gehiago, baina ongi eskolaturiko ikaslea irakaslea adina izango da. 41 «Nola ikusten duzu senidearen begiko lasto-izpia eta zeure begiko hagaz ohartzen ez? 42 Nola esan diezaiokezu senideari: “Adiskide, utzi begian duzun lasto-izpia ateratzen”, zuk zeurean duzun haga ikusten ez duzula? Itxurazale hori! Kendu lehenengo zeure begitik haga, eta orduan ikusiko duzu garbi, senidearen begitik lasto-izpia ateratzeko. 43 «Ez dago zuhaitz onik fruitu txarra ematen duenik, ezta zuhaitz txarrik ere fruitu ona ematen duenik. 44 Bere fruituetatik antzematen zaio zuhaitzari; ez da arantzatik pikurik biltzen, ezta sasitik ere mahatsik hartzen. 45 Ona denak ona ateratzen du bere barneko ontasun-altxorretik; eta gaiztoak gaitza bere gaiztakeri altxorretik. Ahoak esan, bihotzari gainezka darionetik esaten baitu.
Can a blind person guide another blind person?
Truthfulness has always been a major concern in education. We know it since childhood. Our parents and educators could “understand” all our pranks, naughtiness and mischievousness, but they always asked us to be honest. They wanted to make us see that “telling the truth” is something very important. A basic value in human relationships.
They were right. Truth is one of the pillars on which moral conscience and social coexistence are based upon. Without truth it is not possible to live with dignity. Without truth, a fair coexistence is not possible, otherwise human being feel betrayed in one of its most fundamental demands.
I always have the feeling that all kinds of abuses and extorsions are easily and strongly condemned by all, but often the lies, which these are masked and covered with are not always denounced with the same energy. Injustices always feed themselves with lies. Only by falsifying the truth is how it is possible to carry out an unjust war like we have seen in recent times. It happens many times. In times of conflict, truth is the first victim. This also happens in our beloved church, when there is lack of transparency and accountability.
The power groups put in place multiple mechanisms to influence public opinion and lead society towards a certain position. The media plays a pivotal role in this effort. Often, they do so by hiding the truth and distorting the data, with half-truths, so that people at large come to accept easily the horrible consequences which the decisions taken upon untruthful premises will carry upon so many innocent victims. We live with a distorted vision of reality.
The consequences are very serious. When truth is hidden, there is a risk that the contours of “good” and “evil” disappear totally. Boundaries between that what is “fair” or “unjust” can no longer be clearly distinguished. Then we become like “blind people” who try to guide other “blind people.”
When I follow the information which is given to us about wars and conflicts in any parts of the world and listen the solemn and powerful declarations of the protagonists involved in them, today’s sharp words of Jesus come to my mind: “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.” (Jn 3, 20).
Faced with so many distortions, there are always people who have a clear discerning look and see reality as it is. They are those who are attentive to the suffering of the innocent. They put truth in the middle and above so much lies. They put light in the middle of so much darkness.
Sunday February 24, 2019
Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)
Gospel Lk 6: 27-38
Jesus said to his disciples: “To you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well, and from the person who takes your cloak, do not withhold even your tunic. Give to everyone who asks of you, and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same. If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners and get back the same amount. But rather, love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. “Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give, and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.”
Ebanjelioa Lukas 6: 27-38
27 «Baina zuei, entzuleoi, hau diotsuet: Maitatu etsaiak, egin ongi gorroto dizuetenei, 28 bedeinkatu madarikatzen zaituztetenak, egin otoitz izen ona kentzen dizuetenen alde. 29 «Masail batean jotzen zaituenari eskaini bestea ere; soingainekoa kentzen dizunari, ez ukatu soinekoa ere. 30 Eskatzen dizun edonori, eman, eta zeurea kentzen dizunari, ez bihurrarazi. 31 Eta besteek zuei egitea nahi duzuena, egin zuek ere besteei. 32 «Maite zaituztetenak bakarrik maite badituzue, zer esker on zor zaizue? Bekatariek ere maite dituzte beren maitaleak. 33 Eta ongi egiten dizuetenei bakarrik egiten badiezue ongi, zer esker on zor zaizue? Bekatariek ere egiten dute beste horrenbeste. 34 Eta ordaina hartzekotan bakarrik ematen baduzue maileguz, zer esker on zor zaizue? Bekatariek ere aurreratu ohi diote elkarri, beste hainbeste hartzekotan. 35 Ez! Zuek maitatu etsaiak, egin ongi eta eman maileguz ordainari begiratu gabe: handia izango da zuen saria eta Goi-goikoaren seme-alaba izango zarete, ona baita bera esker txarreko eta gaiztoentzat. 36 Izan zaitezte errukitsuak, zuen Aita errukitsua den bezala. 37 «Ez gaitzetsi inor eta Jainkoak ere ez zaituzte gaitzetsiko; ez kondenatu inor eta Jainkoak ere ez zaituzte kondenatuko; barkatu, eta Jainkoak ere barkatuko dizue; 38 eman, eta emango dizue: neurri betea, sakatua, estutua eta leporainokoa emango dizue altzora. Izan ere, zuek zein neurriz neurtu, halakoaz neurtuko zaituzte Jainkoak».
Without Expecting Anything in Return
Why do so many people live secretly dissatisfied? Why do so many men and women find life monotonous, trivial, insipid? Why do they get bored in the middle of so much comfort and well-being? Why do so many people find it hard to experience the joy of living? Why so much dissatisfaction?
Perhaps, the life of many would change and acquire another color and another meaning, simply if they learned to love someone for free, without expecting receiving anything in return. Whether we like it or not, we have been designed by the Creator to live loving selflessly and, if we fail to do so, then a deep void, nothingness, opens in our life, which nothing and nobody can fill. Therefore, it is not a naïveté to listen to the words of Jesus: “Do good … without expecting anything in return.” These very words hold the key to open our lives to that horizon for which we have been created. Only participation in the Trinitarian love can give us life and joy.
It is relatively easy to end up our lives without loving anyone in a truly free way. We often may say: I do not hurt anyone; I do not get into trouble for others; I respect the rights of others; I live my life in my own way. But that, is this a true way of living out my life? Unconcerned of all, reduced to my own work, my profession, impervious to the problems of others, oblivious to the sufferings of the people, I shut myself in my “glass bell”. For what? To find my own happiness?
We live in a society where it is difficult to learn to love for free. In almost everything we ask ourselves: What is it for? It is useful? What do I gain with this? How much is it? We calculate everything and want to measure it. We have become accustomed to the idea that everything has a price: food, clothing, housing, transportation, entertainment. And so, we run the risk of converting all our mutual relationships into pure exchange of services or wants.
However, love, friendship, welcome, solidarity, closeness, intimacy, the struggle in favor of the weak, hope, inner joy … are not obtained with money. They are something, which come free and are offered without expecting anything in return. The first Christians, when speaking of love, used the word agape, precisely to emphasize more this dimension of gratuity, in contrast to love understood only as Eros, which implies for many a resonance of interest and selfishness.
There are many men and women among us who can only receive a gratuitous love, because they have hardly anything to be able to return to those who want to approach them. Lonely people, abused by life, misunderstood by almost everyone, impoverished by society, with hardly any success in life.
The famous Brazilian archbishop Helder Camara (1909-1999) reminds us of Jesus’ invitation with these words: “To free yourself from yourself, throw a bridge beyond the abyss of society that your selfishness has created. Try to see beyond yourself. Try to listen to someone else, and above all, try to strive to love instead of seeking to love only yourself.”
Sunday February 17, 2019
Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)
Gospel Lk 6: 17, 20-26
Jesus came down with the twelve and stood on a stretch of level ground with a great crowd of his disciples and a large number of the people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon. And raising his eyes toward his disciples he said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours. Blessed are you who are now hungry, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who are now weeping, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice and leap for joy on that day! Behold, your reward will be great in heaven. For their ancestors treated the prophets in the same way. But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are filled now, for you will be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will grieve and weep. Woe to you when all speak well of you, for their ancestors treated the false prophets in this way.”
Ebanjelioa Lukas 6: 17, 20-26
17 Jesus, ikasleekin menditik jaitsi ondoren, zelaigune batean gelditu zen. Ikasleetariko asko harekin ziren; baita herriko jende-talde handia ere, Judea osotik, Jerusalemdik eta Tiro eta Sidongo itsasaldetik etorriak. 20 Jesusek, ikasleei begira, honela esan zuen: «Zorionekoak behartsuok zuek baituzue Jainkoa errege. 21 «Zorionekoak orain gose zaretenok, aseko baitzaituzte Jainkoak. «Zorionekoak orain negar egiten duzuenok, barre egingo baituzue. 22 «Zorionekoak zuek, Gizonaren Semea dela eta, jendeak gorrotatu, kanpora bota eta madarikatuko zaituztetenean eta izen txarra emango dizuetenean. 23 Alai zaitezte egun horretan eta egin pozez jauzi, handia izango baita zuen saria zeruan; gauza bera egin zieten profetei jende horren gurasoek. 24 «Baina ai zuek, aberatsok, bai baituzue zeuen poza! 25 «Ai zuek, orain aseak zaudetenok, gose izango baitzarete! «Ai zuek, orain barre egiten duzuenok, aiene eta negar egingo baituzue! 26 «Ai zuek, mundu guztiak zuetaz ongi hitz egingo duenean, gauza bera egin baitzieten sasiprofetei jende horren gurasoek!
“Clarius Aqua” = Clearer, Water
“Blessed are the poor because yours is the kingdom of God”
Jesus did not possess political or religious power to transform the unjust situation that was lived in his town. He only had the strength of his word and his lifestyle. The Gospels picked up, one after the other, the cries that Jesus was throwing through the villages of Galilee in various diverse situations. His Beatitudes were recorded forever in his followers’ memories.
Jesus finds himself with impoverished people who cannot defend possession of their lands from the powerful landowners and says to them: “Blessed are those who have nothing because your God is your only king. When he sees the hunger of malnourished women and children and cannot bite his lips and he say: “Blessed are those who are now hungry because you will be satisfied.” He sees the tears of rage and impotence of the impoverished peasants, when tax collectors get the best of their crops and nevertheless encourages them: “Blessed are those who now weep because you will laugh.”
Is not all this a mockery? Is this not pure and simple cynicism? It could be, perhaps, if Jesus were speaking to them from a palace of the riviera of the see of Tiberias or from the imperial palace of Jerusalem, but Jesus puts himself at the same level of the poor. He does not carry money, he walks barefoot and without a spare tunic. He is a homeless man who speaks to them with faith and total conviction. God became a poor beggar in Jesus.
The poor understand him. They were not happy because of their poverty. Far from it. Their miserable life was not an enviable state or an ideal lifestyle. Jesus calls them happy because God is on their side. Their suffering will not last forever. God will do them justice. Jesus is realistic. He knows very well that his words do not mean now the end of the hunger and misery of the poor. But the world must know that these poor are the beloved children of God, and this conviction confers them absolute dignity. Their life is sacred in the eyes of God.
This is the message Jesus wants to make clear in the midst of that unjust world: those that do not draw now the interest of attention of anyone, are the ones God takes most interest in; those we marginalize are those who occupy a privileged place in God’s heart; those who have no one to defend them, have God as their Father, and lawyer (Anewin).
Those of us who live comfortably and well-off in the society of abundance have no right to preach the beatitudes of Jesus to anyone. What we must do is to listen to them and start looking at the poor, the hungry and those who mourn, as God sees them, and learn from them. It is from our relationship with them that we can convert and be born again.
Sunday February 10, 2019
Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)
Gospel Luke 5: 1-11
While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God, he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret. He saw two boats there alongside the lake; the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” Simon said in reply, “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.” When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come to help them. They came and filled both boats so that the boats were in danger of sinking. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him and all those with him, and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee,
who were partners of Simon. Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him.
Ebanjelioa Lukas 5: 1-11
1 Behin batean, jendea gainera zetorkion Jesusi, Jainkoaren mezua entzuteko; Jesus Genesaret aintzira-ertzean zegoen. 2 Eta bi ontzi ikusi zituen ur-bazterrean: arrantzaleak, ontzitik jaitsita, sareak garbitzen ari ziren. 3 Igo zen bietako batera, Simonenera, eta ontzia lehorretik pixka bat aldentzeko eskatu zion; gero, eseri eta jendeari irakasten ziharduen ontzitik. 4 Hitzaldia amaitu zuenean, Simoni esan zion: –Jo itsas zabalera eta bota sareak arrantzurako. 5 Simonek erantzun zion: –Maisu, gau guztian eginahalak egin eta ez dugu ezer harrapatu; baina, zuk diozunez gero, botako dut sarea. 6 Hala egin zuten eta, hainbesteko arrain-pila harrapatu zutenez, sareak puskatzeko zorian zeuden. 7 Beste ontziko lagunei keinu egin zieten laguntzera etortzeko; hurbildu ziren eta bi ontziak ia-ia hondoratzeraino bete zituzten. 8 Gertatua ikusirik, Jesusen oinetara erori zen Simon Pedro, esanez: –Alde niregandik, Jauna, bekataria naiz eta! 9 Izan ere, zur eta lur zeuden eginiko arrantzuagatik Simon eta beronekin zirenak, 10 baita haren arrantzu-lagun Santiago eta Joan Zebedeoren semeak ere. Baina Jesusek esan zion Simoni: –Ez beldurtu, hemendik aurrera giza arrantzale izango zara. 11 Ontziak lehorrera atera zituzten eta, dena utzirik, jarraitu egin zioten.
The Word of God is Effective
The Evangelist Luke wrote the episode of a surprising and unexpected catch of fish in the lake of Galilee to encourage and give optimism to the small community of believers when they experienced, in a frustrating manner, that all their efforts to announce the Good News seemed to fail. What Luke tries to tell us is very clear: it is not US the protagonists of the mission. Consequently, we must place our trust and hope in the strength and appeal of the Gospel.
The story begins with an unusual scene. Jesus is standing by the lake, and “people gather around Him to listen to the Word of God.” These people did not come out of curiosity. They did not even come to see wonders. They just wanted to hear Jesus speak the Word of God. It was not a Sabbath day. They were not gathered in the nearby synagogue of Capernaum to listen to the biblical readings, which used to be proclaimed to the people throughout the year. The people did not even go up to Jerusalem to listen to the priests of the Temple. What attracts the people is the Good News announced by the Prophet Jesus, rejected, as we saw last Sunday, by his own people in the town of Nazareth.
Also, the scene about the abundant fishing is unusual. When, during the night, which is the most favorable time for fishing, Peter and his companions worked hard by themselves, trusting in their skills and years of experience, did not get any results. But, during the day, when they cast their nets relying only on the word of Jesus that guided their work, an abundant catch occurs, against all expectations.
In the background of the data, which increasingly makes evident the crisis of faith among us, there is an undeniable fact. The Church is losing, in an unstoppable manner, the power of attraction and even the credibility she largely enjoyed just till a few years ago. We experience almost daily that our ability to pass our own faith, convictions and spirituality on to our following generations (our own children) is shrinking. We are not short of new efforts (even especial effects), initiatives, and methods and technics either. Obviously, it is not only or primarily about inventing new strategies or developing new technics.
It is time to remember, and to humbly accept, that in the Gospel of Jesus there is an attraction power, which does not exist in us. This is the most decisive question we need to ask ourselves. Do we continue “doing things” (business as usual) from the perspective of a church, which has lost already her appeal and credibility? Are we truly putting all our energies on letting the Gospel regain its power of attraction capable of seducing today’s men and women to fall in love with Jesus and share in his great dream about the Kingdom of God?
We must place the Gospel in the center of our lives. In these times of crisis, the most important attitude may be not to continue with our “business as usual” of developing more and more elaborate doctrines, which over the past centuries have brought many people out of the church, but to concentrate in imitating the very lifestyle of Jesus. What is decisive is not that many people come to share with us in our “business as usual” activities, but that they may come to experience the encounter with Jesus. The Christian faith is awakened only when people discover the fire of Jesus.
Sunday February 3, 2019
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)
Gospel Luke 4: 21-30
Jesus began speaking in the synagogue, saying: “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” And all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They also asked, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?” He said to them, “Surely you will quote me this proverb, ‘Physician, cure yourself,’ and say, ‘Do here in your native place the things that we heard were done in Capernaum.’” And he said, “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place. Indeed, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah when the sky was closed for three and a half years and a severe famine spread over the entire land. It was to none of these that Elijah was sent, but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon. Again, there were many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha the prophet; yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury. They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. But Jesus passed through the midst of them and went away.
Ebanjelioa Lukas 4: 21-30
21 Eta honela hasi zitzaien: «Gaur bete da profezia hau entzuten didazuenontzat». 22 Denek Jesusen alde hitz egiten zuten eta harriturik zeuden Jainkoaren onginahiaz esaten zituenengatik. Baina zioten: «Ez al da, bada, hau Joseren semea?» 23 Orduan, Jesusek esan zien: «Harako esaera hura oroitaraziko didazue, noski: “Sendagile, sendatu zeure burua”, eta esango: “Egitzazu hemen, zeure herrian ere, Kafarnaumen egin omen dituzun gauzak”». 24 Eta erantsi zuen: «Benetan diotsuet: Ez da profetarik bere herriari mesedegarri zaionik. 25 Egiaz esaten dizuet: Emakume alargun asko zegoen Israelen Eliasen garaian, hiru urte eta erdian euririk egin ez zuelarik, lurralde osoan gosete handia izan zenean; 26 hala ere, Jainkoak ez zuen haietako inorengana bidali Elias, Sidon herrialdeko Sareptako alargun batengana baizik. 27 Eta legendun asko zegoen Israelen Eliseo profetaren garaian; hala ere, ez zuen haietako inor sendatu, Naaman siriarra baizik». 28 Hau entzutean, sinagogako denak amorruz bete ziren. 29 Eta, jaikirik, Jesus herritik kanpora bota eta herria jasoa zegoen mendiko amildegi batera eraman zuten, handik behera jaurtitzeko. 30 Baina Jesus haien artetik igaro eta bere bidetik joan zen.
“A great prophet has arisen among us.” This was the big cry of the people in the villages of Galilee, surprised, as they were, by the words and actions of Jesus. However, this is not the only thing happening in Nazareth when Jesus introduced Himself in front of his neighbors as the anointed and prophet of the poor.
Jesus experienced the admiration first and then the rejection of the people. Jesus was not surprised. He reminds them of a well-known saying: “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place.” Then, when the people threw Jesus away from their village and try to kill him, He leaves them for good. The Gospel recalls that Jesus “passed through the midst of them and went away.” Nazareth was now without the Prophet Jesus.
Jesus is and acts as a prophet. He is not a priest of the temple nor a teacher of the law. His life is part of the prophetic tradition of Israel. Unlike the kings and priests, a prophet is not appointed or anointed by anyone. His authority comes from God, who is determined to encourage and guide his beloved people with His Spirit, when politicians and religious leaders failed to do so.
It is not a coincidence that we Christians confess God to be incarnate in a Prophet.
The traits of the prophet are unmistakable. In the midst of an unjust society, where the powerful seek only their own well-being silencing the suffering of those who cry out their powerlessness, the prophet dares to interpret and experience the reality of the everyday life of the people from the perspective of God’s compassion for the least among us. The Prophet’s whole life becomes an “alternative life-style,” which criticizes the injustices taking place in our midst and calls to conversion and change.
Moreover, when even religion accommodates to an unjust order of things and its interests and priorities no longer respond to God’s demands, the prophet shakes the self-complacency, the indifference and self-deception of Christians who find solace in fulfilling rites, prescriptions, and repeating empty doctrines, and criticizes the illusion of eternity and the notion of the Absolute, which threatens the very essence of religion and reminds all that only God saves. God’s true presence introduces a new hope for the future life and invites each one of us to think from the perspective of the freedom and love of God.
A church that ignores the prophetic dimension of Jesus and his followers, runs the risk of running out of prophets. We are very concerned about the shortage of priests and we pray every day for the increase of vocations to priesthood ministry and consecrated life. Why do we not ask God to raise prophets in our midst? Let’s be prophets!
Sunday January 27, 2019
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)
Gospel Lk 1: 1-4; 4: 14-21
Since many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning and ministers of the word have handed them down to us, I too have decided, after investigating everything accurately anew, to write it down in an orderly sequence for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may realize the certainty of the teachings you have received.
Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news of him spread throughout the whole region. He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all. He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the Sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.
Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Ebanjelioa Lk 1: 1-4; 4: 14-21
1 Teofilo agurgarria, askok ekin diote gure artean izan diren gertakarien historia idazteari, 2 hasieran begizko testigu eta gero berri onaren predikari izandakoek jakinarazi digutenaren arabera. 3 Neuri ere on iruditu zait dena bere harian zuretzat idaztea, hasieratik guztia zehatz-mehatz aztertu ondoren, 4 jaso dituzun irakaspenak zein finkatuak dauden ikus dezazun.
14 Jesus, Espirituaren indarrez, Galileara itzuli zen, eta inguru hartan guztian zabaldu zen haren berri. 15 Hango sinagogetan irakasten zuen, denek goraipatzen zutela. 16 Nazaretera joan zen, bera hazi zen herrira, eta larunbatean sinagogan sartu zen, ohi zuenez, eta irakurgaia egitera zutitu. 17 Isaias profetaren liburua eman zioten eskura eta, irekitzean, pasarte hau aurkitu zuen: 18 Jaunaren espiritua nire gainean dago, berak bainau sagaratu behartsuei berri ona adierazteko; berak nau bidali gatibuei askatasuna
eta itsuei ikusmena hots egitera eta zapalduak askatzera, 19 Jaunak onginahia azalduko duen urtea hots egitera. 20 Liburua itxi, laguntzaileari eman eta eseri egin zen; denak sinagogan begira-begira zeuzkan. 21 Eta honela hasi zitzaien: «Gaur bete da profezia hau entzuten didazuenontzat».
In a remote and unknown village of Galilee called Nazareth, villagers gather in the synagogue on a Saturday morning to hear the Word of God. After a few years in the wilderness in search of God, Jesus returns to the town in which he grew up. This scene is very important in order to know Jesus and understand his mission.
According to Luke’s account, Jesus makes his own official presentation, as a prophet of God, in this almost unknown village, and it is in this village, that he makes known his own program, applying to himself the text of the prophet Isaiah. After reading the text, Jesus comments it with just on single sentence: “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
According to Luke, “the people’s eyes were fixed on him.” Everyone’s attention moves from the read text to the person of Jesus. In today’s situation, in this particular historical moment, what is it that which can make our gaze fix upon Him? Let us fix our eyes on some of the firing elements, which inspired the life of Jesus.
The Spirit of God
The breath, the love, and the power of God guided and inspired the entire life of Jesus. The very life of God. Jesus said, “I do what I see God does.” It is not about the confession of a dogmatic Christological doctrine of Jesus developed by different Councils in the history of the Church. Fain in Jesus is about an existential appropriation and personalization of the tenderness and fire, the words and actions of Jesus, which, we believers call “God.” This God is a mystery of life, which takes the form of a very concrete lifestyle, which each one of us must try to find for ourselves.
Prophet of God
No one anointed Jesus with the holy olive oil, as kings used to be anointed in order to deliver the governing power or the high priests, which symbolized the empowerment of the sacred. Rather, it was the very Spirit of God who “anointed” Jesus. Thus, Jesus was not to come to rule a nation nor the Sacred Temple. Jesus is the prophet of God, and as such, his mission is to heal the sick, restore sight to the blind and to return to life the dead. Only, if we decide to live with his same prophetic spirit, will we be able to follow Him.
Good news for the poor
This was to be the heart of Jesus’ mission. His work in favor of the marginalized and destitute, of those in the margin of the society, in favor of those discarded by the financial, political and religious powers. To these despised people Jesus had Good News to announce, that they were the beloved children of God! To be like Jesus, means, then, that we must begin to live our lives, showing our love and solidarity with the poorest of the poor. This is not optional. It is a commandment.
Inviting all to Freedom
Jesus invites us all to come out from of all kinds of slavery. Jesus shows us the way to be free from all types of suffering, oppression and abuse. People felt Jesus as someone who could free them from meaninglessness and despair. The blind received new sight; sinners received grace and forgiveness. Restored dignity to all human beings.
Who is Jesus for me?
Sunday January 20, 2019
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)
Gospel Jn 2: 1-11
On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
Ebanjelioa Joan 1: 1-11
1 Hiru egunera, ezteiak izan ziren Galileako Kanan, eta han zen Jesusen ama. 2 Jesus eta beronen ikasleak ere gonbidatu zituzten ezteietara. 3 Eta ardoa amaitu baitzen, esan zion amak Jesusi: –Ez dute ardorik. 4 Jesusek erantzun zion: –Utz nazazu bakean, emakume. Oraino ez da etorri nire ordua. 5 Jesusen amak honela esan zien zerbitzariei: «Egin horrek esango dizuena». 6 Baziren han harrizko sei ur-ontzi, juduek beren garbikuntzetarako erabili ohi zituztenak, ehunen bat litrokoa bakoitza. 7 Jesusek esan zien zerbitzariei: –Bete ontziak urez. Haiek goraino bete zituzten. 8 Orduan, esan zien: –Atera pixka bat eta eraman mahaizainari. Hala egin zuten haiek. 9 Mahaizainak ardo bihurtutako ura dastatu zuen, nongoa zen jakin gabe; zerbitzariek, bai, bazekiten, beraiek atera baitzuten ura. Ardo berria dastatu zueneko, senarrari dei egin 10 eta esan zion: «Jende guztiak ardorik onena atera ohi du lehenik eta, jendea aski edanda dagoenean, arruntagoa; zuk, berriz, orain arte gorde duzu ardorik onena». 11 Bere lehen mirarizko seinale hau Galileako Kanan egin zuen Jesusek; honela, bere Jainko-aintza agertu zuen, eta ikasleek sinetsi egin zuten harengan. 12 Ondoren, Kafarnaumera joan zen bere ama, anai-arreba eta ikasleekin, eta han egon ziren zenbait egunez.
To live life in fulness
“There was a wedding in Cana of Galilee.” Thus, begins this story in which we are told something unexpected and surprising. The first public intervention of Jesus, the Messenger of God, has nothing religious about it. It does not happen in a sacred place. Jesus inaugurates his prophetic activity “saving” a wedding party that could have ended in a disaster. In those poor villages of Galilee, the wedding feast was the most appreciated event by all. For several days, family and friends accompanied the newlywed couple eating and drinking with them, dancing festive dances and singing love songs.
The Gospel of John tells us that it was in the middle of one of these feasts that Jesus made his “first sign”, the sign that offers us the key to understand all his actions and the profound meaning of his saving mission. The evangelist John does not speak of “miracles”. To Jesus’ surprising gestures he always calls them “signs”. He does not want his readers to remain fixed in that what can be prodigious in his performance. He invites us to discover a deeper meaning. For this, the Gospel of John offers us some clues of symbolic nature. Let’s see only one.
The mother of Jesus, attentive to the details of the party, notices that “there is no wine left” and tells her son. Perhaps the bride and groom, of humble condition, have been overwhelmed by the numbers of attending guests. Mary is worried. The party is in danger. How can a wedding end because there was no wine? She trusts in Jesus.
Among the peasants of Galilee wine was a well-known symbol of joy and love. All knew it. If life lacks joy and lacks love, social coexistence can have a dramatic end. Mary is right in trusting Jesus. Jesus intervenes to save the party by providing abundant wine of excellent quality.
This gesture of Jesus helps us grasp what the orientation of Jesus’ whole life and the fundamental content of his project is going to be: the establishment of the kingdom of God. While religious leaders and teachers of the law worry about religion and its practices, Jesus is committed to making people’s lives more humane, joyful and bearable.
The gospels present Jesus focused, not on religion but on life. Quality good life is not something solely for the rich and powerful and privileged and religious and pious people. It is also for everybody who feel the need to live a more dignified and happy way of life. Jesus transmits faith in a God as a foundation for a better personal and social life full of joy because it is permeated with generosity and love. God IS the fountain of that abundant life.
Sunday January 13, 2019
The Baptism of the Lord (First Sunday in Ordinary Time C)
Gospel Luke 3: 15-16; 21-22
The people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Christ. John answered them all, saying, “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
Ebanjelioa Lukas 3: 15-16; 21-22
15 Herria zain-zain zegoen eta denak ari ziren pentsatzen Joan ez ote zen Mesias izango. 16 Joanek, ordea, denen aurrean esan zuen: «Nik urez bataiatzen zaituztet, baina badator ni baino ahaltsuago dena, eta ni ez naiz inor haren oinetakoen lokarriak askatzeko ere; horrek Espiritu Santuaz eta suz bataiatuko zaituzte.
21 Herri guztia bataiatzen ari zela, Jesus ere bataiatu egin zen eta, otoitzean zegoela, zerua zabaldu 22 eta Espiritu Santua jaitsi zitzaion gainera, uso-tankeran agertuz. Eta mintzo hau etorri zen zerutik: «Zu zaitut neure Semea, neure maitea, zu zaitut atsegin».
Reaching Critical Mass
The Baptist does not allow people to confuse him with the Messiah. He is aware of his own limits and accepts them. There is One stronger and more decisive than him: the only One whom people must welcome. The reason is obvious. The Baptist offers the people a baptism of water. Only Jesus, the Messiah, will “baptize them with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”
In opinion of many observers, one of the biggest problems the Church faces today consists of “spiritual mediocrity.” It looks as if the Church lacks the spiritual strength She needs to face the challenges of the present historical moment. This is the reason why we need Jesus to baptize us with His fire and His Spirit.
Lately, distrust in the power of the Spirit, and fear of anything that might lead to a renewal has diminished considerably the ardent faith of many followers of Jesus. Much emphasis is placed on continuity in order to preserve that which belongs to the past, tradition, to what always has been done, and refuse to hear the calls of the Spirit to prepare for the future, new challenges and to trying to find new ways to announce the Good News. We are slow to read the “signs of the times.”
We tend to give preeminence to certainties, beliefs, traditions and doctrines to strengthen faith and greater ecclesial cohesion in front of the modern society’s challenges, but often this way of doing things do not facilitate the real experience of an encounter with the person of Jesus. Indeed, have we forgotten that Jesus is stronger than we are? Religious doctrines, usually expressed in premodern and Greek-European language and categories, do not seem to touch the hearts of people who are encouraged to conversion. We have abandoned the refreshing breath of the Vatican II Council. As a result, many churchgoers abandoned the spirit of joy the Council awoke in the early times and given way to resignation and pessimism. Thus, in a silent but noticeable way, disaffection and mistrust in the church’s institutions grows in not few believers.
It is urgent to create a friendlier and more cordial atmosphere in our communities as soon as possible. A healthy combination of doctrine and tradition together with new inspiring ways are needed in order to awaken in the simple people the lost enthusiasm and joy. We need to return to the roots of our faith: we must get again in touch with the Gospel and the encounter with Jesus whose Words are “spirit and life.” This is indeed what means to be baptized.
Within few years, our Christian communities may be very small. In many parishes, there will be no priests permanently. This is why it is important to create now small cores of believers who gather around the Gospel and the person of Jesus. This “critical mass” will keep alive the spirit of Jesus among us. Certainly, everything will be humbler, but also more evangelical.
The best gift we can leave to future generations is a new love for Jesus based on a lifestyle conformed to the enthusiasm and joy of Jesus. Everything else is secondary. If we live from the Spirit of Jesus, we shall be able to find new paths forward.
Sunday January 6, 2019
The Epiphany of the Lord (C)
Gospel Matthew 2: 1-12
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet: And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel.” Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage.” After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.
Ebanjelioa Mateo 2: 1-12
1 Jesus Judeako Belen herrian jaio zen, Herodes erregearen garaian. Jesus jaio ondoren, sortaldeko jakintsu batzuk azaldu ziren Jerusalemen, 2 galdezka: –Non da juduen errege jaioberria? Haren izarra ikusi dugu sortaldean eta gurtzera gatoz. 3 Berri honekin larritu egin zen Herodes erregea, baita Jerusalem hiri osoa ere. 4 Orduan, herriko apaizburu eta lege-maisu guztiak bildu eta Mesias non jaiotzekoa zen galdetu zien. 5 Haiek erantzun zioten: –Judeako Belenen, honela idatzi baitzuen profetak: 6 Eta zu, Judako Belen, ez zara, ez, Judako hirietan txikiena; zuregandik aterako baita buruzagia, Israel nire herria gobernatuko duena. 7 Orduan, Herodesek, jakintsuak isilean deiturik, izarra noiz agertu zitzaien jakin zuen zehatz. 8 Gero, Belenera bidali zituen, esanez: «Zoazte eta jakin xuxen haurraren berri eta, aurkitu ondoren, adierazi niri, neu ere gurtzera joan nadin». 9-10 Erregearen hitz hauek entzunik, abiatu egin ziren. Bidean, sortaldean ikusitako izarra agertu zitzaien eta biziki poztu ziren. Izarra aurretik joan zitzaien, haurra zegoen toki gainean gelditu arte. 11 Etxean sarturik, haurra ikusi zuten Maria bere amarekin eta, ahuspezturik, gurtu; ondoren, beren kutxatilak zabalduz, esku-erakutsiak eskaini zizkioten: urrea, intsentsua eta mirra. 12 Gero, Herodesengana ez itzultzeko oharra ametsetan harturik, beste bide batetik itzuli ziren beren herrialdera.
Finding God in Small Signs
When confronted by Jesus, very different attitudes can be adopted. The story of the Magi tells of the reaction of three groups of people. A group of pagans who seek Him earnestly, guided by the light of a small star. The representatives of the official religion of the Temple, who remain indifferent. And the powerful King Herod who only sees in Jesus a threat against his paranoiac power.
The magi did not belong to the group of the “officially” chosen people. They did not know the “living God of Israel.” We know nothing about their religion nor their ethnic origin. The Gospel only points out at their attentiveness to the reading of the mysteries hidden in the cosmos. These magi were seeking the truth. At a certain moment, they think they discovered a small light that points to a Savior. They need to know who He is and where He lives. Quickly they set on the road. They do not know the exact route they have to follow, but in their hearts the hope burns to find the Light of the world.
Their arrival in the Holy City of Jerusalem causes a general shock. Convened by Herod, the Great Council of “the chief priests and scribes of the people” gather in solemn reunion. The Gospel seems to take some delight in the disappointing performance of the “guardians of true religion.” They could not care less about Truth. These are the very people who represent the God in the Temple but are completely deaf to HIS call. Their religious superiority and arrogance blinds them from seeing God. They know, theoretically, where the Messiah is to be born, but none of them has even gone near to Bethlehem. They are dedicated to worship God but failed to realize that the mystery of God is larger than all religions of the world, and that He has made His own ways to make all His children arrive to the full knowledge of Truth. However, these self-complacent ministers of the Temple will never be able to recognize Jesus.
King Herod, powerful and brutal, only sees in Jesus a threat to his power and is full of cruelty. He will make every effort to annihilate Him. From his oppressive power, he will be ready to “crucify” anyone attempting to bring liberation and humanizing the world.
Meanwhile, the magi continue their search. They refuse to kneel before Herod because they found nothing in him worthy of worship. They also refused to enter in the grandiose and extravagant Temple of Jerusalem. The little light of the Star guides them to the little town of Bethlehem, far from any center of power, to a stable. Upon arrival, all they see is a “child with Mary his mother and Joseph” sleeping in a manger. Nothing else. A child without any power or splendor. A fragile life that needs the care of a mother and a father. This simplicity and powerlessness of a child and the humble presence of his mother and father was enough of a sign to awaken in them the desire to adore.
The story is puzzling. This God, hidden in human frailty, cannot be found and experienced by people installed in power, in religious securities, and self-complacency. God is only revealed to those who, guided by small lights and signs, tirelessly seek to bring hope for the human being in the tenderness and poverty of everyday life.