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.