Sunday December 10, 2017
Second Sunday of Advent (B)
Gospel Mk 1: 1-8
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way. A voice of one crying out in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.” John the Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. People of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins. John was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He fed on locusts and wild honey. And this is what he proclaimed: “One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Ebanjelioa Markos 1: 1-8
1 Hona hemen nola hasi zen Mesias eta Jainkoaren Seme den Jesusen berri ona. 2 Isaias profetak idatzia zuen: Begira, neure mezularia bidaltzen dut zure aurretik zuri bidea moldatzera. 3 Ahots bat oihuka ari da basamortuan: Prestatu bidea Jaunari, zuzendu bidexkak hari. 4 Honela, bada, agertu zen Joan Bataiatzailea basamortuan. Bihozberritzeko eta bataiatzeko hots egiten zuen, bekatuen barkamenerako. 5 Judea herrialde osoa eta jerusalemdar guztiak harengana zihoazen eta, beren bekatuak aitortzen zituztela, Joanek bataiatu egiten zituen Jordan ibaian. 6 Joanek gamelu-ilezko jantzia zuen soineko eta larruzko uhala gerriko; matxinsaltoak eta basaeztia jaten zituen. 7 Honela hots egiten zuen: «Nire ondoren dator ni baino ahaltsuago dena, eta ni ez naiz inor makurtu eta haren oinetakoen lokarriak askatzeko ere. 8 Nik urez bataiatu zaituztet; hark, ordea, Espiritu Santuaz bataiatuko zaituzte».
Convert to encounter Jesus
“Beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God.” This is the solemn and joyful beginning of Mark’s Gospel. Then, abruptly and without any warning, he starts talking about the urgent need of conversion of all the people preparing to welcome their Messiah and Lord.
In the desert yet another different prophet appears. He comes to “prepare the way of the Lord.” This is precisely his great service to Jesus. His prophetic call is directed not only to the individual consciences. John looks beyond the individual moral conversion. It is about “preparing the way of the Lord,” a specific and well-defined path, the path that Jesus will continue building and by so doing, he is to radically move away from the conventional expectations of many. Many expected a liturgical reformer or a political leader.
People react by coming out from their lethargy. According to Mark, many decide to leave Judea and Jerusalem and enter back into the “desert” to hear the voice of the One calling them to become a new converted people. The desert reminded them of their former allegiance to God, as their Friend and Ally. The desert was always the best place to hear the call to conversion. It was in the desert where God would seduce His bride, the people of Israel. It was in the desert where the people became aware of the situation in which they lived: a life in sin, selfishness and lack of solidarity. It was in the desert where people experienced the need to change themselves and to transform the society; it was in the desert where people recognized their sins without bursting blame on each other; it was in the dryness of the desert where people really felt the need of God’s salvation. According to Mark, the people “confessed their sins” and John “baptized them.”
The conversion, which requires our way of living our Christianity, cannot be improvised. It requires a long time of meditation and inner work. We need a long period of time in order to make Jesus become the center of our lives. We need to be aware of the radical personal transformation Jesus demands from each one of us. Then, we will be able to transform also our society: in order to make of it to become the Kingdom of God.
One of our biggest temptations, as it was also in the times of Jesus, may be to refuse to enter into the “desert” and to circumvent the need for conversion. We resist listening to any voice, which invite us to change, or to renounce our big Ego, and to live in solidarity with the needy. We prefer praying rosaries rather than having to give up our personal comfort so others may have better lives.
To avoid being challenged by Jesus’ radical call, we allow ourselves to be distracted by anything. We lack the courage to embrace Jesus and let ourselves be transformed by Him.
The image of the Jewish people “confessing their sins” is admirable. May be, we Christians today need to make a collective examination of conscience, at all levels, (social, political, financial-economic, ecclesiastical) to recognize our past and present mistakes and sins. Without this recognition (personal and communitarian) of sin, it does not seem possible to “prepare the way of the Lord.”
Para encontrarse con Jesús hay que convertirse
“Principio del evangelio de Jesucristo, el Hijo de Dios.” Este es el comienzo solemne y gozoso del Evangelio de Marcos. Luego, abruptamente y sin previo aviso, comienza a hablar de la urgente necesidad de la conversión de todas las personas que se preparan para recibir a su Mesías y al Señor.
En el desierto aparece otro profeta diferente. Él viene a “preparar el camino del Señor.” Éste es precisamente su gran servicio a Jesús. Su llamado profético está dirigido no solo a las conciencias individuales. Juan mira más allá de la conversión moral individual. Se trata de “preparar el camino del Señor,” un camino específico y bien definido, el camino que Jesús seguirá construyendo y, al hacerlo, se alejará radicalmente de las expectativas convencionales de muchos. Muchos esperaban un reformador litúrgico o un moralista o un líder político. Nada más lejano del pensamiento de Jesús.
La gente reacciona saliendo de su letargo. Según Mark, muchos deciden abandonar Judea y Jerusalén y volver al “desierto” para escuchar la voz de Aquel que los llama a convertirse en un pueblo nuevo convertido. El desierto les recordó su antigua lealtad a Dios, como su Amigo y Aliado. El desierto siempre fue el mejor lugar para escuchar la llamada a la conversión. Fue en el desierto donde Dios seduciría a su novia, el pueblo de Israel. Fue en el desierto donde la gente se dio cuenta de la situación en la que vivían: una vida en pecado, egoísmo y falta de solidaridad. Fue en el desierto donde la gente experimentó la necesidad de cambiarse a sí mismos y transformar la sociedad; Fue en el desierto donde las personas reconocieron sus pecados sin estallar en echarse la culpa mutuamente; fue en la sequedad del desierto donde la gente realmente sintió la necesidad de la salvación de Dios. Según Marcos, la gente “confesó sus pecados” y Juan “los bautizó.”
La conversión, que requiere nuestra manera de vivir nuestro cristianismo, no puede ser improvisada. Requiere un largo tiempo de meditación y trabajo interno. Necesitamos un largo período de tiempo para hacer que Jesús se convierta en el centro de nuestras vidas. Debemos ser conscientes de la radical transformación personal que Jesús exige de cada uno de nosotros. Entonces, podremos transformar también nuestra sociedad: para hacer que se convierta en el Reino de Dios.
Una de nuestras mayores tentaciones, como lo fue también en los tiempos de Jesús, puede ser negarse a entrar en el “desierto” y eludir la necesidad de conversión. Nos resistimos a escuchar cualquier voz, que nos invite a cambiar, o renunciar a nuestro gran Ego, y vivir en solidaridad con los necesitados. Preferimos rezar rosarios en lugar de tener que renunciar a nuestra comodidad personal para que otros puedan tener una vida mejor.
Para evitar ser cuestionados por la llamada de Jesús de vivir nuestra vida en su seguimiento radical, nos dejamos distraer por cualquier cosa. Nos falta el coraje para abrazar a Jesús y dejarnos ser transformados por él. La imagen del pueblo judío “confesando sus pecados” es admirable. Puede ser, que los cristianos de hoy necesitemos hacer un examen colectivo de conciencia, a todos los niveles (social, político, económico-financiero, eclesiástico, familiar) para reconocer nuestros errores y pecados pasados y presentes. Sin este reconocimiento (personal y comunitario) del pecado, no parece posible “preparar el camino del Señor.”
Sunday December 3, 2017
First Sunday of Advent (B)
Gospel Mk 13: 33-37
Jesus said to his disciples: “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. It is like a man traveling abroad. He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his own work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch. Watch, therefore; you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’
Ebanjelioa Marko 13: 33-333 «Kontuz, bada! Egon erne! Ez baitakizue ordua noiz den. 34 Gizon bat urrutira doanean bezala da: morroien gain uzten du bere etxea, bakoitzari bere lana emanez, eta zain egoteko agintzen dio atezainari. 35 «Egon zain, beraz, ez baitakizue etxeko jauna noiz etorriko den: arratsean, gauerdian, oilarrak jotzean ala goizean. 36 Ez zaitzatela ustekabean etorri eta lotan aurki. 37 Zuei esaten dizuedan hau, denentzat esaten dut: Egon Zain!
Dare to Dream
The first Christian generations lived obsessed by the imminent coming of Jesus. The Risen Lord could not be far from them. They were so caught up by the fresh memories of Jesus that the community only wished to be with him as soon as possible. As the time passed by and the Lord´s coming delayed, the communities were disheartened and in liturgy and other areas of community life, canonical order replaced lively and creative improvisations. Even the leading role of women was put in the back burner. With time, the small communities slowly felt into indifference and amnesia. They were worried about one thing: “What if the coming of Christ would find us asleep”.
Being “awake” became the catch phrase. The Gospels repeat it constantly with different wording: “Keep watch” “Be ready” “Stay awake.” In addition, the following catchphrase could be added “dare to dream!” Mark tells us that Jesus´ command is not just for the disciples who are listening to him. “What I´m saying to you I say to all: Stay awake”. It´s not a new calling. It´s a commandment for all his followers for all times. Indeed, for all peoples at all times.
Twenty centuries of Christianity have passed. What has become of Jesus´ commandment? How are we living it today? Are we staying awake? Are we keeping our faith alive or has it not burnt out through indifference and mediocrity?
As we look at the world around us: violence, war, forced immigration, political dishonesty, economic and financial chaos… haven’t we stop dreaming that with Jesus we can built up the Kingdom of God? We are tired and sleepy. Also, the Church needs a new heart. We all need to shake ourselves out of apathy and self-deception. We need to awaken and revive that small faith and trust in Jesus who comes to, together with us, build that dream of the creation of a new earth and new heaven.
We need to fall in love again with Jesus and let him transform us by giving us a new heart. We need to realize that if we slumber we will lose the power of seduction and attraction. Therefore, we will become a Community of Jesus without future, one which goes on burning out and growing old because of lack of faith. We need to wake up and intensify our relationship with Jesus. Only Jesus can free our Christianity from its paralysis, its inertia, the weight of the past, and lack of creativity.
Let us dare to dream the big dream of Jesus.
Atreverse a soñar
Las primeras generaciones cristianas vivieron obsesionadas por la venida inminente de Jesús. El Señor Resucitado no podría estar lejos de ellos. Estaban tan atrapados por los recuerdos frescos de Jesús que la comunidad solo deseaba estar con él lo antes posible. A medida que el tiempo pasaba y la venida del Señor se retrasaba, las comunidades se desanimaban y en la liturgia y en otras áreas de la vida comunitaria, el orden canónico reemplazaba las improvisaciones animadas y creativas de los primeros tiempos. Incluso el papel principal de las mujeres, tan activo en los primeros años de la comunidad, fue postergado a un segundo plano. Con el tiempo, las pequeñas comunidades lentamente se sintieron indiferentes y amnésicas. Estaban preocupados por una cosa: “¿Qué pasaría si la venida de Cristo nos encontrara dormidos?”.
Estar “despierto” se convirtió en la frase clave. Los Evangelios lo repiten constantemente con diferentes palabras: “Estén vigilantes,” “Prepárense,” “Permanezcan despiertos.” Además, se podría agregar la siguiente frase: “¡atrévete a soñar!” Marcos nos dice que el mandato de Jesús no es solo para los discípulos, quienes lo están escuchando ahora, sino para todos “Lo que estoy diciendo lo digo para todos: manténganse despiertos.” No es una vocación nueva. Es un mandamiento para todos sus seguidores y para todos los tiempos. De hecho, para todos los pueblos en todo tiempo.
Veinte siglos de cristianismo han pasado ya. ¿Qué ha sido del mandamiento de Jesús? ¿Cómo lo estamos viviendo hoy? ¿Nos mantenemos despiertos? ¿Estamos manteniendo viva nuestra fe o no se ha ido extinguiendo por nuestra indiferencia y la mediocridad?
Al mirar el mundo que nos rodea: violencia, guerra, inmigración forzada, deshonestidad política, caos económico y financiero … ¿no hemos dejado de soñar que con Jesús podemos construir el Reino de Dios? Estamos cansados y somnolientos. Además, la Iglesia necesita un corazón nuevo. Todos debemos sacudirnos de la apatía y el autoengaño. Necesitamos despertar y revivir esa pequeña fe y confianza en Jesús que viene, junto con nosotros, a construir ese sueño de la creación de una nueva tierra y un cielo nuevo.
Necesitamos enamorarnos nuevamente de Jesús y dejar que él nos transforme, dándonos un nuevo corazón. Necesitamos darnos cuenta de que, si dormimos, perderemos el poder de la seducción y la atracción que Jesús posee. Por lo tanto, nos convertiríamos en una Comunidad de Jesús sin futuro, que se va quemando y envejeciendo por falta de fe. Necesitamos despertar e intensificar nuestra relación con Jesús. Solo Jesús puede liberar a nuestro cristianismo de su parálisis, su inercia, sus celos, el peso del pasado y la falta de creatividad.
Atrevámonos a soñar el gran sueño de Jesús!
Sunday November 26, 2017
The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe (A)
Gospel Mt 25: 31-46
Jesus said to his disciples: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’
Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
Ebanjelioa Mateo 25: 31-46
31 «Gizonaren Semea, aingeru guztiak lagun dituela, aintzaz beterik etortzean, bere errege-aulkian eseriko da. 32 Herriak oro haren aurrean bilduko dituzte. Hark batzuk besteengandik bereizi egingo ditu, artzainak ardiak akerretatik bereizten dituen bezala, 33 eta ardiak bere eskuinean eta akerrak ezkerrean ezarriko ditu. 34 Orduan, erregeak eskuinekoei esango die: “Zatozte, nire Aitaren bedeinkatuok; hartzazue munduaren sortzetik zuentzat prestatua dagoen erreinua. 35 Gose bainintzen eta jaten eman zenidaten; egarri, eta edaten eman; arrotz, eta etxean hartu ninduzuen; 36 biluzik nengoen, eta jantzi egin ninduzuen; gaixo, eta bisitatu; kartzelan, eta ikustera etorri”.
37 Orduan, zintzoek esango diote: “Jauna, baina noiz aurkitu zintugun goseak eta jaten eman genizun, edo egarriak eta edaten eman? 38 Noiz aurkitu zintugun arrotz eta etxean hartu, edo larrugorri aurkitu eta jantzi? 39 Noiz aurkitu zintugun gaixo edo kartzelan eta ikustera joan?” 40 Eta erregeak erantzungo die: “Benetan diotsuet: Nire seniderik txikien hauetako edozeini egin zeniotena, neuri egin zenidaten”. 41 «Gero, ezkerrekoei esango die: “Alde niregandik urruti, madarikatuok, deabruarentzat eta haren lagunentzat prestatua dagoen betiko sutara. 42 Gose bainintzen eta ez zenidaten jaten eman; egarri, eta edaten eman ez; 43 arrotz, eta ez ninduzuen etxean hartu; biluzik, eta ez ninduzuen jantzi; gaixo eta kartzelan, eta ez zineten ikustera etorri”. 44 Orduan, haiek ere esango diote: “Jauna, baina noiz aurkitu zintugun gose edo egarri, arrotz edo larrugorri, gaixo edo kartzelan, eta guk lagundu ez?” 45 Hark erantzungo die: “Benetan diotsuet: Txikien hauetako edozeini egin ez zeniotena, neuri ez zenidaten egin”. 46 Eta hauek betiko zigorretara joango dira; zintzoak, berriz, betiko bizitzara».
Compassion: It is Now or Never
The Gospel sources are unambiguous. Jesus lived totally committed to those he saw helpless. He was incapable to pass by them without touching their lives. No suffering was alien to him. He identified himself with the little ones and tried to do for them what he could. For him, compassion came first. Showing compassion was the only way we can show our similarity with God: “Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate.”
No wonder, then, that Jesus, when speaking of the Last Judgment, will make compassion and our ability to identify ourselves with him, be the final and most decisive criteria to judge our lives. No wonder also to witness Jesus fully identified with all the poor and wretched in human history.
According to Matthew’s account, there stand before the Son of Man, i.e., before Jesus the compassionate, “all nations.” There are no differences made between “chosen people” or “pagan people.” Nothing is said about different religions and cults. It speaks rather of something very human, which everyone understands: What have we done for all those who have lived in suffering?
It is not the intention of the evangelist to describe the details of a trial. What stands out is a double dialogue that sheds a great light upon our present life, and challenges us to open our eyes to see, ultimately, that there are only two uncompromising ways to react in front of suffering: either we show compassion and help them or we shirk our duty and abandon them.
The One sitting on the throne is a judge who is totally identified with all the poor and needy “‘Amen,’ I say to you, whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.” Those who have helped the needy are the ones who approached Jesus. Thus, they deserve to be with him in the kingdom, “‘Come,’ you who are blessed by my Father.”
Then he will also address those who lived without compassion: “‘Amen,’ I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.” Those who turned away from the suffering people, have also turned away from Jesus. It makes sense that he now tells them, “‘Depart from me…’ Go your way” …
It is in the here and now, in our concrete historical circumstances, that we are deciding our future and eternal life. Do not expect any trial. It is now and here that we are getting closer or moving away from the suffering, and thus, from Jesus. It is now and here that we are getting closer or moving away from Christ. It is here and now that are deciding.
Sunday November 19, 2017
Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
Gospel Mt 25: 14-30
Jesus told his disciples this parable: “A man going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one– to each according to his ability. Then he went away. Immediately the one who received five talents went and traded with them, and made another five. Likewise, the one who received two made another two. But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground and buried his master’s money. After a long time the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them. The one who had received five talents came forward bringing the additional five. He said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents. See, I have made five more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’ Then the one who had received two talents also came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two talents. See, I have made two more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’ Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter; so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground. Here it is back.’ His master said to him in reply, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant and gather where I did not scatter? Should you not then have put my money in the bank so that I could have got it back with interest on my return? Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten. For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.'”
Ebanjelioa Mateo 25: 14-30
14 «Jainkoaren erregetzarekin, atzerrira irten behar zuen gizonarekin bezala gertatzen da. Bere morroiei dei egin eta ondasunak utzi zizkien: 15 bati bost talentu, beste bati bi eta besteari bat, bakoitzari bere trebetasunaren arabera. Gero, alde egin zuen. 16 Bost talentu hartu zituenak inbertitu egin zituen berehala eta beste bost irabazi. 17 Orobat bi talentu hartu zituenak: inbertitu eta beste bi irabazi zituen. 18 Bat bakarra hartu zuenak, aldiz, lurrean zuloa egin eta bertan gorde zuen nagusiaren dirua. 19 «Handik denbora askora, etorri zen nagusia eta morroiei kontuak hartzen hasi zitzaien. 20 Aurreratu zen bost talentu hartu zituena eta beste bost aurkeztu zizkion, esanez: “Jauna, bost talentu utzi zenizkidan; hona beste bost nik irabaziak”. 21 Nagusiak esan zion: “Ederki, morroi on eta leiala! Gauza gutxian leial izan zara, askoren buru ipiniko zaitut; sartu zeure jaunaren festa ospatzera”. 22 Aurreratu zen, gero, bi talentuduna eta esan zion: “Jauna, bi talentu utzi zenizkidan; hona beste bi nik irabaziak”. 23 Nagusiak esan zion: “Ederki, morroi on eta leiala! Gauza gutxian leial izan zara, askoren buru ipiniko zaitut; sartu zeure jaunaren festa ospatzera”. 24 Aurreratu zen talentu bakarra hartu zuena eta esan zion: “Banekien gizon zorrotza zarena, erein ez duzun tokian hartzen eta zabaldu ez duzun tokian biltzen duzuna; 25 beldur nintzen, eta zure talentua lurrean ezkutatu nuen. Hona zeure dirua!” 26 Nagusiak erantzun zion: “Ai morroi gaizto eta alferra! Bazenekien erein ez dudan tokian hartzen dudana eta zabaldu ez dudan tokian biltzen. 27 Beraz, bankuan jarri behar zenuen nire dirua, itzultzean bere korrituekin jaso nezan. 28 Ken iezaiozue, bada, talentua eta eman hamar dituenari. 29 Izan ere, fruitua dakarrenari eman egingo zaio, eta gainezka izango du; fruiturik ez dakarrenari, ordea, daukan apurra ere kendu egingo zaio. 30 Eta ezertarako gauza ez den morroi hau jaurti kanpora, ilunpetara. Negarra eta hortz-karraska izango dira han”
Dare to bid for Jesus and the Gospel
Despite its apparent innocence, the parable of the talents contains an explosive message. Surprisingly, the “third servant” is condemned without having committed any wrongdoing. His only mistake is to “do nothing;” he does not risk his talent, it does not bear fruit, it remains intact in a safe place.
The message of Jesus is clear. “No” to conservatism and “yes” to creativity. “No” to a sterile life, and “yes” to an active response to God. “No” to the obsession of searching for security, and “yes” to making risky efforts to transform the world. “No” to a faith buried under conformism and apathy and “yes” to a committed life-style, which dares to open new paths to the work of God’s kingdom, even at the risk of getting dirty on the way.
One of the great sins of the followers of Jesus can be that of not taking risks in order to keep always following Jesus in a creative manner. It is interesting to observe the type of language we Christians have used or heard frequently over the years in order to see in what aspects we have often focused our attention. Expressions such as: “preserve the deposit of faith;” “preserving the tradition;” “preserve decency;” “preserve the grace;” “preserve the vocation,” …
This temptation of conservatism is stronger in times of religious crisis. It is easy then to invoke the need to control orthodoxy, reinforce discipline and norms; ensure at least the present membership of the Church … Everything can be explained, but is it not all of these, often, a way to betray the freshness and radical demands of the gospel and freeze the creativity of the Spirit?
For religious leaders of the Christian communities it may, of course, be more comfortable just to “repeat” monotonically the inherited ways and arguments of the past, and to ignore the questions, contradictions and approaches, with which modern people challenge us. What good is all of these if we are not capable of transmitting Gospel’s light and hope to the sufferings and problems, which trouble men and women of our days?
The attitudes we, maybe, need to cherish today inside the Church are not called “prudence,” “fidelity to the past,” “resignation,” … They may, rather, have to carry other names such as “creative search,” “boldness,” “capacity to take risks,” “attentive listening to the Spirit,” which makes everything new.
The worst thing may be, just as it happened to the third servant in the parable, that we also end up believing (when we don’t live the way we think, we end up thinking the way we live), that we are responding faithfully to God with our conservative approach, when, in fact, we disappoint Him in HIS expectations about us. The primary task of the church today cannot be preserving the past, but to communicate boldly the Good News of Jesus amidst unprecedented sociocultural changes of our society.
Sunday November 12, 2017
Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
Sunday Mt 25: 1-13
Jesus told his disciples this parable: “The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight, there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise ones replied, ‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’ While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked. Afterwards the other virgins came and said, ‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’ But he said in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
Ebanjelioa Mateo 25: 1-13
1 «Jainkoaren erregetzarekin, kriseiluak hartu eta senar ezkonberriari bidera irten zitzaizkion hamar neskatxekin bezala gertatzen da. 2 Neskatxetako bost zentzugabeak ziren eta bost zentzudunak. 3 Kriseiluak hartzean, zentzugabeek ez zuten oliorik hartu; 4 zentzudunek, ordea, kriseiluekin batera olioa ere hartu zuten ontzietan. 5 Senarrak luzatzen zuenez, logaletu egin ziren denak eta loak hartu zituen. 6 «Gauerdian oihu bat izan zen: “Hemen da senarra! Irten bidera!” 7 Jaiki ziren denak eta beren kriseiluak prestatu zituzten. 8 Orduan, zentzugabeek zentzudunei esan zieten: “Emaguzue olio pixka bat, kriseiluak itzaltzera doazkigu eta”. 9 Zentzudunek erantzun zieten: “Ea ez dugun nahikoa denontzat; hobe duzue badaezpada dendara joan eta erosi”. 10 «Baina, erostera joanak zirelarik, senarra iritsi zen, eta prest zeudenak ezteietara sartu ziren berarekin. Eta atea itxi egin zen. 11 «Iritsi ziren, azkenik, beste neskatxak ere eta dei egin zuten: “Jauna, jauna! Zabaldu!” 12 Baina jaunak erantzun zien: “Benetan diotsuet, ez dakit nor zareten”. 13 «Zain egon, beraz, ez baitakizue, ez egunik, ez ordurik.
How to Ignite a Dull Faith?
The first Christian generation lived convinced that Jesus, the risen Lord, would soon return full of life. It was not so. Little by little, the followers of Jesus had to prepare themselves for a long wait.
It is not difficult to imagine the kind of questions which arose among them as they realized that the return of the risen Lord was prolonging. How to keep alive the spirit of the beginnings of Jesus’ mission in Galilee? How to stay awake while the Lord arrives? How to feed the faith without letting it fade away? An account of Jesus about what happened at a wedding, helped them think about the answer to these questions.
Ten young women, friends of the bride, light their torches and prepare to receive the bridegroom. When, at sun set, he comes to take up his new wife with him, they will accompany them both in procession, which will take them to the husband’s house, where the wedding banquet will be celebrated. It is a ritual procession.
There is, however, a small detail, which the writer of the Gospel wants to emphasize from the outset. Among the young women, there were five “wise” and foresighted, who took oil with them to impregnate their torches as the flame slowly consumed. And five were “foolish” and distracted, who forgot to take oil along, with the obvious risk of having their torches extinguished. What a shame! Soon they will discover their terrible mistake.
The bridegroom’s arrival delays and he will not be coming until midnight. All girls felt asleep. When the arrival, finally, of the bridegroom, is announced, the wise girls fed with their oil the flame of their torches and accompanied the new young couple to their reception place. The foolish girls did not know what to do but to lament: “our torches are extinguishing! What to do!” Busy in getting to acquire more oil, they arrive late at the banquet. The doors were already closed. Too late!
Many commentators try to discover a secret meaning for the symbol of “oil.” Is Jesus speaking about spiritual fervor, or love, or baptismal grace …? Perhaps it is easier to remember here his deepest desire: “I have come to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already burning?” (Lk 12: 49) Is there anything, which can kindle our faith more than the personal living contact with HIM?
Is it not foolish to try to keep a torn-out faith, without making any effort to rekindling it with the fire of Jesus? Is it not a contradiction to call ourselves “Christians” without feeling the passion Jesus had for the poor, the sick, the sinners and tax collectors? Is it not a waste of time and energy to pretend to be followers of Jesus and not to have the same passion He had about the realization of the Kingdom of God in this world? Is Jesus’ dream my own dream also?
We urgently need a quality relationship with Jesus. We need take good care of all opportunities, which may help us focus our life on the person of Jesus. Let us not waste our energies on that which distracts us or diverts us from his Good News. Let us try on each Sunday to revive our faith by ruminating the words of Jesus and, vitally, communicating with him. No one can transform us and our communities like Jesus can.
Sunday November 5, 2017
Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
Gospel Mt 23: 1-12
Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them. All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’ As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’ You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers. Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. Do not be called ‘Master’; you have but one master, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
Ebanjelioa Mateo 23: 1-12
1 Honela mintzatu zitzaien Jesus jendetzari eta ikasleei: 2 «Lege-maisuek eta fariseuek Moisesen irakatsiak adierazteko eginkizuna dute. 3 Saia zaitezte, beraz, haiek esaten dizueten guztia betetzen; baina ez egin egiten dutena; esan, esaten baitute, baina egiten ez. 4 Zama astunak lotu eta besteei leporatzen dizkiete, baina beraiek ez dute atzamar bat ere mugitu nahi. 5 Egiten duten guztia, jendeak ikusteagatik egiten dute; larrutxa zabalak eraman ohi dituzte bekokian eta borlatxo luzeak jantzietan; 6 gogoko dituzte jai-otorduetan mahaiburuak eta sinagogetan lehen aulkiak; 7 gogoko dute plazetan jendeak agur egitea eta guztiek “maisu” deitzea. 8 Zuek, ordea, ez utzi inori zuei “maisu” deitzen, bat bakarra baita zuen maisua, eta zuek denak senideak baitzarete. 9 Eta ez deitu lurrean inori “aita”, bat bakarra baita zuen aita, zerukoa. 10 Eta ez utzi “gidari” deitzen ere, bat bakarra baita zuen gidaria, Mesias. 11 Zuetako handiena izan bedi zuen zerbitzari. 12 Bere burua goratzen duena, beheratu egingo du Jainkoak, eta bere burua beheratzen duena, goratu.
They say and they do not: Double Standards!
Jesus always unmasked the lie of the so called “religious” people he found in his daily walk, but he never did so with more vitriolic words than when he confronted the leaders of the society of is time. He did not support the performance of those who “have set a cathedra” in the middle of people to demand from others what they themselves did not live. Jesus condemns their blatant incoherence. “They say but they do not do it.” There is a deep division between what they teach and what they practice, between what they pretend about others and what they demand of themselves. Double standards!
The words of Jesus have not lost relevance today. People continue to listen to leaders who “do not do what they say.” Politicians who speak of sacrifices while their pockets grow; defenders of social order whose life is not a role model; proclaimers of justice whose actions are far from all that is just; educators whose behavior scandalizes their pupils; reformers unable to reform their own lives; revolutionaries who do not stop to think about a radical transformation while their own personal lives are swimming in luxury; socialists who have not “socialized” their lives at all; capitalists who do not believe in anything else but money.
But today we must not forget that Jesus’ vitriolic invectives are directly addressed to religious leaders. Also in our Church and communities, there are those who are obsessed with applying the law rigorously to others, without worrying so much about living out the radicality of following Jesus as his disciple. Today, too, there are teachers who seem to quickly detect “hidden heresies” and diagnose supposed dangers to orthodoxy, without positively helping others to live out faithfully the life of adherence to Jesus Christ. Today too, there are people who condemn rigorously from the cathedra of self-reference and self-righteousness the sins of the small and weak, and olympically ignore the injustices committed by the powerful. These are the very people who are strong with the weak and weak with the powerful.
Our society does not need preachers adorned with beautiful words, but leaders who, with their own behavior, promote a true social and religious transformation. Our Church does not need so much thorough moralists and orthodox theologians, but rather true believers who, with their personal live-styles, radiate a more evangelical environment: men and women who live their faiths in happiness and generosity. We need “teachers of life,” believers of compelling life-style, who “…with their return to the essentials of the Gospel, with cordiality and sincerity, will make possible the “detoxification” of the toxic atmosphere in the Church” (L. Boros).
Sunday October 29, 2017
Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
Gospel Mt 22: 34-40
When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a scholar of the law tested him by asking, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”
Ebanjelioa Mateo 22: 34-40
34 Jesusek saduzearrak hitzik gabe utzi zituela jakitean, fariseuak elkarrekin bildu ziren, 35 eta beraietako lege-gizon batek galdetu zion Jesusi azpikeriaz: 36 –Maisu, zein da legeko agindurik nagusiena? 37 Jesusek erantzun: –Maita ezazu Jauna, zeure Jainkoa, bihotz-bihotzez, gogo osoz eta adimen guztiz. 38 Hori da agindurik nagusiena eta lehena. 39 Eta bigarrena, ez garrantzi gutxiagokoa, hauxe da: Maitatu lagun hurkoa zeure burua bezala. 40 Bi agindu hauetan oinarritzen dira Liburu Santu guztiak.
Only Love is Worth Believing
Christian religion is, for not few, a very difficult religious system to understand and, above all, it sounds like a set of laws and rubrics, which are too complicated to live out and do not seem to bring people any closer God. Don’t do we Christians need to focus our attention and concern more on caring above all, about that, which is the essence of the Christian experience?
The Gospels have collected Jesus’ response to a sector of Pharisees who asked him about the greatest commandment of the Law. Therefore, Jesus answers them by summarizing that, which He believed is the most basic principle and the essence of the Jewish Law. First comes the command to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind” and the second commandment is “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Jesus’ statement is crystal clear. Love is everything. Love is the only decisive factor in life. Love is the source and foundation of everything. Our first call is to live before God and before our brothers and sisters, indeed with all the creation, in an attitude of love, respect, care and awe. We are not to get lost in accidental and secondary things, forgetting that which is the most essential and fundamental. Love is the source from which everything else emanates. Without love, everything is perverted.
In speaking of the love of God, Jesus is not thinking about feelings or emotions, which can spring forth from our hearts; nor is HE inviting us to multiply our prayers and devotions. To love the Lord our God with all our heart is to recognize God as the ultimate source of our existence; it is to let the awakening in us of a full commitment to do HIS will, and to respond with unconditional love to HIS universal Father-like love to all. That is why Jesus adds a second commandment. We cannot love God and turn our backs on our brothers and sisters and the whole creation.
A religion, which preaches God’s love and forgets the suffering of the brothers and sisters, is a big lie. The only truly human attitude towards anyone we find in our way is to love and seek his/her well-being, as we would like it for ourselves.
All of this language may seem too old, too abstract and too worn out and ineffective. However, even today, the first problem in the world is lack of love, which slowly is dehumanizing, one after another, many human efforts and struggles to build a more human society or family or community, for that matter.
Yet we may be able to find heroic acts of love on people who never heard of Jesus as in the case when at the Japanese nuclear plant in Fukushima, destroyed after the terrible tsunami of 2011, some retired technicians, knowing they were going to meet a certain death, asked the younger technicians to abandon the nuclear plant to try to cool it off. Those retired technicians may have not “officially” been Christians; many may have even never known anything about Jesus. Yet, they accepted a certain death simply to save the lives of their younger colleagues still rearing young children. This is a moving deed indeed, and we can say that one can still have hope in human beings. God is Love.
Sunday October 22, 2017
Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
Gospel Mt 22: 15-21
The Pharisees went off and plotted how they might entrap Jesus in speech. They sent their disciples to him, with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. And you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion, for you do not regard a person’s status. Tell us, then, what is your opinion: Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?” Knowing their malice, Jesus said, “Why are you testing me, you hypocrites? Show me the coin that pays the census tax.” Then they handed him the Roman coin. He said to them, “Whose image is this and whose inscription?” They replied, “Caesar’s.” At that he said to them, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”
Ebanjelioa Mateo 22: 15-21
15 Fariseuek elkar hartu zuten, Jesusi galdera bat eginez tranpa jartzeko. 16 Beraz, ikasle batzuk bidali zizkioten, Herodesen alderdikoekin, galdetzera: –Maisu, badakigu egiazale zarena eta Jainkoaren bidea behar bezala irakasten duzuna; inoren zeresanak ez dizu axolarik, ez baitiozu begiratzen gizakiaren itxurari. 17 Emaguzu, bada, zeure iritzia: zilegi al da Zesarri zerga ordaintzea, bai ala ez? 18 Haien maltzurkeria igarriz, Jesusek esan zien: –Zergatik zatozkidate zirika, itxurazaleok? 19 Ea, erakutsi zerga-txanpona. Haiek denario bat aurkeztu zioten. 20 Jesusek galdetu zien: –Norenak dira irudi eta izen hauek? 21 Erantzun zioten: –Zesarrenak. Jesusek, orduan: –Eman, bada, Zesarrena Zesarri eta Jainkoarena Jainkoari.
The Poor Belong to God
Behind Jesus, the Pharisees agreed among them to prepare a critical trap to see how they could make HIM fall. They themselves do not dare to come to meet Jesus personally. They decided instead to send some of their followers backed and accompanied by some supporters of king Herod Antipas. Provably there were among these, also some powerful people, tax collectors, supporting the Roman rulers.
The question is a tricky one and well thought out. “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” A negative answer immediately meant a rebellion against Rome. A positive answer would put into question Jesus’ love and commitment for the poor peasants of his time already overburdened by taxes. Jesus’ smart answer has been faithfully transmitted to us through centuries: “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”
Few words attributed to Jesus have been so often quoted all along history and perhaps so distorted and manipulated by providing a meaning so far away from the intention of the Prophet, the defender of the poor. Jesus was not thinking about God and the Caesar of Rome as two separate and independent powers, each demanding in “their” field and total submission from their subjects. As any other faithful Jew, Jesus knows that to God “belongs the earth and all that it contains, the world and all its inhabitants” (Psalm 24). What can be of the Caesar that does not belong to God? The subjects the emperor considers “his” are they not also the daughters and sons of God?
Jesus does not stop to consider the different political positions of the time, which confronted the Herodians, Sadducees and Pharisees over paying suzerain tribute to Rome and the meaning of it: if they carry in their pockets, the “tax coin” let them fulfill their obligations! Nevertheless, Jesus shows that he does not live at the service of the Roman Empire, but rather He lives making inroads into the kingdom of God and His righteousness.
Consequently, Jesus answers a question no one asked him: “Give to God what is God’s.” That is, do not give any Caesar what is God’s alone: namely, the very life of HIS children. Jesus has announced it repeatedly in front of his followers, that the poor belong to God, that they are the little ones, HIS favorite people, and that the kingdom of God belongs to them, and only to them. No one has the right of taking advantage of them or abuse them.
Jesus, like then, today too, denounces from the top of his voice, that human power (that’s to say: Caesar) is sacrificing millions of lives, the dignity and the happiness of millions of people with its faceless and cruel dictatorship of the economic and national security policies’ power, which is leading to more suffering, more hunger and more destruction.
That is why Pope Francis has repeated several times that money (and its succedanea means) have become the god, which symbolizes this new dictatorship, to which so many pay their taxes (obedience and loyalty). We cannot remain living our Christian faith in a passive and indifferent silence as we witness the growth of such a dictatorship.
Sunday October 15, 2017
Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
Gospel Mt 22: 1-14
Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and elders of the people in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast, but they refused to come. A second time he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those invited: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet, my calves and fattened cattle are killed, and everything is ready; come to the feast.”’ Some ignored the invitation and went away, one to his farm, another to his business. The rest laid hold of his servants, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged and sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy to come. Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.’ The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to meet the guests, he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment. The king said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?’ But he was reduced to silence. Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’ Many are invited, but few are chosen.”
Ebanjelioa Mateo 22: 1-14
1 Jesus berriro parabola bidez hitz egiten hasi zitzaien: 2 «Jainkoaren erregetzarekin, bere semearen ezteiak ospatzen zituen erregearekin bezala gertatzen da. 3 Bidali zituen morroiak gonbidatuei dei egitera. Baina haiek ez zuten etorri nahi izan. 4 Berriro beste morroi batzuk bidali zituen, mandatu honekin: “Esaiezue gonbidatuei: Hara, gertu daukat bazkaria; hilak ditut zezenak eta zekor gizenduak, dena dago prest. Zatozte ezteietara”. 5 Baina gonbidatuek ez zuten jaramonik egin: bata bere sorora joan zen, bestea bere negozioetara, 6 eta gainerakoek, morroiei heldurik, irainez bete eta hil egin zituzten. 7 Sumindu egin zen erregea eta, soldaduak bidaliz, hil egin zituen giza hiltzaile haiek eta su eman herriari. 8 Gero, bere morroiei esan zien: “Ezteiak prest daude, baina gonbidatuak ez ziren gai. 9 Zoazte, bada, bidegurutzeetara eta deitu ezteietara aurkitu ahala guztiak”. 10 Atera ziren morroiak bideetara eta aurkituriko guztiak bildu zituzten, on nahiz gaizto. Eztei-gela bazkaltiarrez bete zen. 11 Erregeak, bazkaltiarrak ikustera sartu zenean, eztei-jantzirik gabe zegoen bat ikusi zuen, 12 eta esan zion: “Adiskidea, nola sartu zara hemen eztei-jantzirik gabe?” Hark hitzik ez. 13 Erregeak mahai-zerbitzariei esan zien, orduan: “Lot ezazue hanka eta esku, eta bota kanpora, ilunpetara. Negarra eta hortz-karraska izango da han”. 14 Zeren gehiago baitira deituak aukeratuak baino».
All are invited
Jesus knew very well how the peasants of Galilee enjoyed being at weddings, which were celebrated in the villages. Surely, Jesus himself took part in more than one. What could be a more joyful experience for those poor peasants than to be invited to a wedding and being able to sit together with their neighbors and friends to share a wedding banquet? A unique opportunity to eat, for most of them!!!
This vivid memory as a child, helped Jesus at some point in time, to share HIS unique experience of God in a new and surprising way. According to Jesus, God is preparing a final banquet for all his children because HE wants to see them all sitting next to HIM, forever, enjoying fully a blissful life. It may be say that Jesus understood his entire life as a great invitation to a final party on behalf of God. Therefore, Jesus does not impose anything by force, and does not pressure anyone. Jesus simply proclaims the Good News of God, inspires confidence in the Father, and turns hope in the hearts of all who listen to HIM. All are invited!
What has happened to this God’s invitation? Who announces it? Who cares? How often do we speak in our churches about this final banquet? Satisfied with our economic well-being and material comfort, deaf to everything else, which does not comply with our immediate interests and needs; we live often as if we no longer need God. Have we not grown accustomed to live without any reference to that ultimate hope of sitting at the table of the Lord?
Jesus was a realistic person. He knew that God’s invitation could be rejected. In today’s parable about the “wedding guests” Jesus describes different reactions from the guests. Some reject the invitation flatly and fully conscious: “they just did not want to go.” Others respond with absolute indifference: “They did not listen.” They were more concern with their real estate and businesses. Some even handled violently with the messengers and even killed them.
Nevertheless, according to the parable, God is not discouraged. Above all, there will be a final party. It is God’s desire that the banquet hall is full with guests. That is why it is necessary to go to the “crossroads” searching for many people wandering around, living without hope and future. The Church must continue proclaiming with faith and joy God’s invitation proclaimed in the Gospel of Jesus.
Beware, however, that we enter the banquet hall wearing garments of power, superiority and self-complacency! The person not wearing nuptial garments, is not the immigrant, the leper, the prostitute, the tax collector (which, by the way, will precede in the way to the Kingdom) but the self-serving and self-righteous arrogant and “holier than thou” type of person.
Pope Francis is concerned about a preaching obsessed “with the transmission of a multitude of disjointed doctrines, which we try to impose by force or sheer insistence.” The greatest danger is—according to Pope Francis—that the message “will not be the Gospel proper, but some doctrinal or moral accents, which come from certain ideological options. Then the message will risk losing its freshness and cease to be Good News for all.”
Sunday October 8, 2017
Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
Gospel Mt 21: 33-43
Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people: “Hear another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a tower. Then he leased it to tenants and went on a journey. When vintage time drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce. But the tenants seized the servants and one they beat, another they killed, and a third they stoned. Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones, but they treated them in the same way. Finally, he sent his son to them, thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.’ They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?” They answered him, “He will put those wretched men to a wretched death and lease his vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the proper times.” Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures: The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; by the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes? Therefore, I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit.”
Ebanjelioa Mateo 21: 33-43
33 «Entzun beste parabola hau: Behin batean, nagusi batek mahastia landatu zuen eta harresiz inguratu; lurrean dolarea egin eta mahastizainaren dorrea eraiki zuen. Gero, nekazari batzuei errentan utzirik, urrutira joan zen. 34 Mahatsa biltzeko garaia iritsi zenean, bere morroiak bidali zizkien nekazariei, fruitutik zegokion partea jasotzera. 35Baina nekazariek morroiak hartu eta bata jo, bestea hil eta bestea harrikatu egin zituzten. 36 Berriro beste morroi batzuk bidali zizkien, aurrekoan baino gehiago, eta haiei ere beste hainbeste egin zieten. 37 Azkenik, bere semea bidali zien, honela pentsatuz: “Neure semeari bederen izango diote begirune.” 38 Nekazariek, ordea, semea ikustean, esan zuten beren artean: “Oinordekoa duk! Hil dezagun eta egin gaitezen mahastiaren jabe.” 39 Hartu, mahastitik kanpora bota eta hil egin zuten». 40 Jesusek galdetu zien: –Zer egingo ote die nekazari horiei mahasti-jabeak itzultzean? 41 Erantzun zioten: –Gupidarik gabe hilko ditu eta bere garaian fruitua emango dioten beste nekazari batzuen esku utziko du mahastia. 42 Jesusek esan zien: –Ez al duzue irakurri Liburu Santuak dioena: Etxegileek baztertutako harria giltzarri gertatu da. Jaunak egin du hori, gure begien harrigarri? 43 «Horregatik diotsuet: Jainkoaren erreinua zuei kendu eta fruitua aterako dion herri bati emango zaio.
Crisis of Religion
The parable of the “murderous tenants” is a story in which Jesus explains with allegorical traces, the history of God with his chosen people. It is a sad story. From the beginning, God had taken care of his people with affection. It was his “favorite vineyard.” Hoping to make of them a model people, example of justice and fidelity. This people was to become the “great light” to all peoples.
However, this “spoiled” people went from, rejecting one after the other the prophets God sent them to collect the fruits of a righteous life, to killing them all. Finally, in an incredible act of love, God sent his own Son. But the leaders of that people killed him as well. What can God do with such a people, who so open and blatantly disappoints HIS expectations?
The religious leaders, who are listening attentively to the story, respond spontaneously in the same terms of the parable: the lord of the vineyard cannot do nothing but to kill those tenants and hand his vineyard over to others. Then Jesus quickly draws a conclusion they would have never expected: “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce fruit.”
Many commentators and preachers have often interpreted this parable of Jesus as the reaffirmation that the Christian Church is the “new Israel” (especially after the Jewish people, once the temple of Jerusalem was destructed in the year seventies after Jesus, had spread out worldwide). However, the parable refers also about us. An honest reading of the text, compels us to ask ourselves serious questions: are we producing in our time, the “fruits” God expects from his chosen people: such as justice for the excluded and refugees, solidarity, compassion toward the suffering, and forgiveness?
God does not have to bless a sterile Christianity from which does not receive the expected fruits. God need not to identify with our mediocrity, our inconsistencies, deviations and lack of loyalty. If we do not respond to HIS expectations, then God will continue to open new paths for HIS plan of salvation with other people who will produce fruits of righteousness. “Prostitutes and tax collectors will precede us in the way to the Kingdom of God.” Amazing!
We speak of “religious crisis”, “de-Christianization”; “abandonment of religious practice” … Is it not maybe because God is already preparing the way that makes possible the birth of a new church, more faithful to the project of the kingdom of God, less doctrinal and dogmatic and ritualistic? This crisis we are going through, is it not necessary so that a new, less powerful but more evangelical, less numerous but more committed to making this world more human, church may arise? May be there are arising new generations of people, in places we would had never imagined, that are more faithful to God. Let us open our eyes!
Sunday October 1, 2017
Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
Gospel Mt 21: 28-32
Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people: “What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He came to the first and said, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ He said in reply, ‘I will not,’ but afterwards changed his mind and went. The man came to the other son and gave the same order. He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir, ‘but did not go. Which of the two did his father’s will?” They answered, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you. When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did. Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him.”
Ebanjelioa Mateo 21: 8-32
28 Jesusek esan zien: «Ea zer iruditzen zaizuen. Gizon batek bi seme zituen. Batarengana joan eta esan zion: “Seme, hoa gaur mahastira lanera”. 29 Hark erantzun zion: “Ez dut nahi”; baina handik berehala damutu eta joan egin zen. 30 Bestearengana ere joan zen aita eta gauza bera esan zion. Eta hark erantzun: “Banoa, jauna”; baina ez zen joan.31 Zuen ustez, bietatik zeinek egin zuen aitaren nahia?» «Lehenengoak», erantzun zioten. Jesusek esan zien: «Benetan diotsuet: Zergalariak eta emagalduak zuek baino lehenago sartuko dira Jainkoaren erreinuan. 32 Izan ere, etorri zitzaizuen Joan Bataiatzailea Jainkoaren nahiari dagokion jokabidea azalduz, eta ez zenioten sinetsi; zergalariek eta emagalduek, ordea, sinetsi zioten. Eta zuek, hori ikusita ere, ez zarete aldatu: oraindik ez diozue sinetsi.
Actions Speak louder than words
The story Jesus tells his listeners is so easy to understand that his enemies fall into the trap. A father and two sons. Who does the will of his father? Is the typical complainer and self-centered son who ends up doing what the father asks, or is the friendly, smiling, and well-mannered son that does not do what the father wants? The answer is easy: the first one. The important thing is not to say nice words; to protest much does not matter either. The important thing is to do what the Father wants. “Actions speak louder than words.”
However, Jesus extracts from this simple story an amazing teaching. It is better to live badly, if in the end you do what God wants, rather than to live an apparently pious life-style and refuse, in the end, to do the will of God. Using the hurtful words of the gospel: “it is better to be a prostitute or a thief, if in the end one converts to God, than to belong to any religious organization or institution and to be unable to convert to Jesus. As simple as that! Jesus is amazing!
What is conversion, then? We get yet a new surprise. It is not only accepting Jesus and his message, but rather, like John the Baptist, to demand and live the path of justice, fidelity to God, as a first step toward accepting the Gospel. We cannot go to God if we do not go to our brothers and sisters in need first. In today’s story, Jesus indirectly answered the question, which his enemies refused to respond in the temple “where did John’s baptism come from: from God or from men?” John’s baptism was from God and his preaching showed the right way to God. Prostitutes and tax collectors, represented by this bigmouth but obedient son, believed him. Religious authorities, represented by the kind, polite, politically correct but false son, did not believe him.
It is interesting to observe that this interpretation of the parable seems to turn against John and to Jesus. Because those who give testimony in their favor are people unworthy of credit, prostitutes, tax collectors and sinners; whereas those who refuse and reject them are the “reputable” religious leaders and priests. Given a choice, no pious person would ever accept the testimony in favor of Jesus given by a few druggies or a few prostitutes against what an Episcopal Conference might say!!!!!!!!!!
In addition, the pious Jewish of the time of Jesus (as many pious Christians of our time) were convinced that they did not need to convert. And if they had any need for change, the way should not be shown to them in such “strange and questionable” ways like the one of John the Baptist, Martin Luther King, Oscar Romero, or Pope Francis.
Jesus’ words acquire again full meaning: “the tax collectors and prostitutes will take the lead in the way to the kingdom of God.” To enter that kingdom, we have to open to a new way of life, even if it means drastic and painful cutting with our past.
Sunday September 24, 2017
Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
Gospel Mt 20:1-16ª
Jesus told his disciples this parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. Going out about nine o’clock, the landowner saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and he said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard, and I will give you what is just.’ So they went off. And he went out again around noon, and around three o’clock, and did likewise. Going out about five o’clock, the landowner found others standing around, and said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard.’ When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Summon the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and ending with the first.’ When those who had started about five o’clock came, each received the usual daily wage. So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more, but each of them also got the usual wage. And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last ones worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us, who bore the day’s burden and the heat.’ He said to one of them in reply, ‘My friend, I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?’ Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.
Ebanjelioa Mateo 20: 1-16ª
1 «Izan ere, Jainkoaren erregetzarekin mahasti-nagusiarekin bezala gertatzen da. Goizean goiz bere mahastirako langile bila atera zen. 2 Eguneko lanaren ordainetan zilarrezko txanpon bana emateko tratua egin ondoren, mahastira bidali zituen langileak. 3 «Goizeko bederatziak aldera berriro atera zen eta, beste batzuk plazan lanaren zain ikusirik, 4 esan zien: “Zoazte zuek ere nire mahastira, eta ordainduko dizuet bidezko dena”. 5 Eta haiek ere joan egin ziren. «Atera zen berriro hamabiak aldera eta hirurak aldera, eta gauza bera egin zuen. 6 «Arratsaldeko bostak aldera ere atera zen eta, bertan batzuk geldi aurkiturik, esan zien: “Zertan zaudete hemen egun osoan lanik egin gabe?” 7 Erantzun zioten: “Ez gaitu inork lanerako hartu”. Hark, orduan: “Zoazte zuek ere nire mahastira”. 8 «Iluntzean, nagusiak mahastiko arduradunari esan zion: “Deitu langileei, eta emaiozu bakoitzari bere soldata, azkenekotik hasi eta lehenengora”. 9 «Etorri ziren, bada, arratsaldeko bostetakoak, eta zilarrezko txanpon bana jaso zuten. 10 Lehenengo ordukoek, txanda iritsi zitzaienean, besteek baino gehiago jasoko zutela uste zuten; baina haiek ere zilarrezko txanpon bana jaso zuten. 11 «Orduan, nagusiagatik gaizki-esaka hasi ziren; eta esan zioten berari: 12 “Azkeneko hauek ez dute ordubete besterik lan egin eta guri adina ordaindu diezu, egun osoko nekea eta beroa jasan ditugunoi adina!” 13 Baina nagusiak erantzun zion haietako bati: “Adiskide, ez dizut bidegabekeriarik egiten; ez al dugu tratua zilarrezko txanpon batean egin? 14 Tori dagokizuna eta zoaz; zuri adina eman nahi diot azkeneko honi ere. 15 Ezin ote dut neure diruaz nahi dudana egin? Ala ni ona naizelako ezinikusia didazu?” 16 «Horrela, azkenekoak lehenengo izango dira eta lehenengoak azkeneko»
God’s goodness surpasses our expectationThroughout his prophetic life, Jesus insisted repeatedly in transmitting to all His very personal experience of God as “an unfathomable mystery of goodness,” which surpasses all our expectations. His message is so revolutionary that, even after twenty centuries, there are still Christians who dare not to take it seriously.
In order to transmit to all his personal experience of God who is all-Good, Jesus compares God’s way of behaving with the surprising behavior of the lord of a vineyard. Up to five times he goes in person to hire laborers for his vineyard. He does not seem too concerned about their job’s performance. What he wants is that no laborer stays another day without work.
For this reason, at the end of the day, he does not pay them according to the work done by each group of laborers. He is well aware that the performed job has been very uneven, and yet he decides to give them all “a denary:” he simply wants to give each of them what a peasant family in Galilee needed in a day to live decently.
When one of the first group laborers protested because, having worked the whole day, and yet was treated as same as the group of the last hour, the lord of the vineyard responds with these wonderful words: “Are you envious because I am generous? Are you going to stop me, with your petty calculations, from being good to those who need their bread for dinner today?”
What is Jesus suggesting here? Does God not act with the same criteria of justice and equality that we handle things? What kind of justice is this? The truth is that God, rather than measuring the merits of people as we would (=to everyone according to his/her work), looks rather to always answer, from HIS unfathomable goodness, to our radical need of salvation?
I must confess that it produces me a great sadness when I meet good people, wonderful people, who imagine that God spends HIS time to carefully jolt down the sins and merits of us human beings, in order to, one day, pay us back according to or merits or demerits. Is it possible to imagine a more inhuman being dedicated to do this from all eternity?
To believe in a God, as an unconditional loving and forgiving Friend/Father, may be the most liberating experience one can imagine, the most vigorous strength to live out our lives and to die for. In contrast, for a person who lives an entire life under the eye of a revengeful and vigilante and threatening God, faith can become the most dangerous and destructive neurosis.
We have to learn not to make God fit into our narrow and petty ideas. We must not undermine GOD’s unfathomable goodness, which we can see, and experience in the human features of Jesus. All we need is to trust in this God of Jesus.
Sunday September 17, 2017
Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
Gospel Mt 18: 21-3 Peter approached Jesus and asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. That is why the kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the accounting, a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount. Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, his children, and all his property, in payment of the debt. At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’ Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan. When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a much smaller amount. He seized him and started to choke him, demanding, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ But he refused. Instead, he had the fellow servant put in prison until he paid back the debt. Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master and reported the whole affair. His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?’ Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt. So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.”
Ebanjelioa Mateo 18: 21-35
21 Orduan, hurbildu zitzaion Pedro Jesusi eta galdetu zion: –Jauna, senide batek bidegabekeriaren bat egiten badit, zenbat aldiz barkatu behar diot? Zazpi aldiz? 22 Jesusek erantzun zion: –Zazpi aldiz ez, zazpi milatan zazpi aldiz. 23 «Hain zuzen, zerbitzariekin kontuak garbitu nahi izan zituen erregearekin bezala gertatzen da Jainkoaren erregetzarekin. 24 Kontuak garbitzen hasi orduko, milioi asko zor zizkion zerbitzari bat eraman zioten. 25 Honek ez zuen zerez ordaindu, eta nagusiak bera, emaztea, seme-alabak eta ondasun guztiak saltzeko agindu zuen, zorra ordainarazteko. 26 Zerbitzariak, orduan, nagusiaren oinetan ahuspezturik, eskatu zion: “Emadazu astia, eta dena ordainduko dizut”. 27 Nagusiak, errukiturik, dena barkatu eta libre utzi zuen zerbitzaria. 28 «Baina zerbitzari hark, irten orduko, diru pixka bat zor zion zerbitzu-lagun batekin egin zuen topo eta, lepotik heldurik eta ito beharrean, esaten zion: “Emadak zor duana”. 29 Laguna oinetara erori zitzaion, erreguka: “Emadak astia, eta dena ordainduko diat”. 30 Baina hark ezetz. Eta joan eta kartzelan sartu zuen, zorra ordaindu arte. 31 «Gertatua ikusirik, beste zerbitzariak biziki nahigabetu ziren, eta guztiaren berri nagusiari ematera joan ziren. 32 Orduan, nagusiak zerbitzari hari berriro dei egin eta esan zion: “Zerbitzari gaizto hori! Horrenbesteko zorra barkatu diat nik, erregutu didaalako. 33 Ez al huen hik ere heure lagunaz errukitu behar, ni hitaz errukitu nintzen bezala?” 34 Eta, haserre bizitan, zigorpean utzi zuen nagusiak, zor guztia ordaindu arte. 35 «Berdin-berdin egingo dizue zeruko nire Aitak, senideok elkarri bihotzez barkatzen ez badiozue».
Forgive Always: Up to Seven Times Seven
Matthew seems to be very concerned about the conflicts, disputes and confrontations, which arose in the first years of the community of Jesus’ followers and tries to put some order. He is probably writing his gospel at a time when, as it is said in his Gospel, “Evil will spread and cause many people to stop loving others” (Matthew 24:12). That is why he specifies in great detail how to remove evil from the interior of the community, always respecting the person, seeking first of all “correction in private” by going to dialogue with the “witnesses,” and making, in a last instance, the intervention of the “Community” or separating the person away from the community so that the person may not hurt the followers of Jesus.
All this may be necessary, but how should the offended person act? What must the disciple of Jesus—who wants to follow in his footsteps and collaborate with him in the great mission of building the kingdom of God, the kingdom of mercy and justice for all—do? Matthew could not forget some words of Jesus gathered by a gospel previous to his. The words were not easy to understand, but they reflected what was in Jesus’ heart. Although twenty centuries have passed, his followers are not to reduce the demands of the prophetic words of Jesus.
Peter approaches Jesus. As on other occasions, he does so representing the group of followers: “If my brother offends me, how many times do I have to forgive him? Up to seven times?” His question is not petty, but enormously generous. He has heard Jesus speak his parables about the mercy of God. He knows his capacity to understand, apologize and forgive. He too is willing to forgive “many times,” but is there no limit?
Jesus’ answer is blunt: “I do not tell you seven times, but up to seventy times seven:” you must always forgive, at all times, unconditionally.
Throughout centuries we have tried often (even the church in her official teaching) to reduce in many ways that what Jesus said: to “forgive always can be counterproductive,” because it “gives inducements to the offender.” We must always demand “repentance first.”
All of this seems very reasonable and human, but it hides and disfigures what Jesus thought and lived radically. We, as Christian communities, must go back to Jesus’ radical way of forgiving. In the Church, we need men and women who are willing to forgive like Jesus, expressing among us the very gestures of forgiveness of Jesus in all its gratuity and grandeur. Forgiveness is what best makes shine the face of Christ in the Church and in the society.
Sunday September 10, 2017
Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
Gospel Mt 18: 15-20
Jesus said to his disciples: “If your brother sins against you go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector. Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again, amen, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.Ebanjelioa Mateo 18: 15-20
15 «Zure senide batek bekatu egiten badu, zoaz berarengana eta zentzarazi bakarrean. Jaramon egiten badizu, irabazia duzu senidea. 16 Jaramonik egiten ez badizu, berriz, hartu zeurekin lagun bat edo bi, auzi oro bi edo hiru lekukoren aitorpenaz erabaki dadin. 17 Haiei ere jaramonik egiten ez badie, esaiozu elkarteari, eta elkarteari ere jaramonik egin nahi ez badio, izan bedi zuretzat jentil edo zergalari baten pareko. 18 «Benetan diotsuet: Zuek mundu honetan lotua, zeruan ere lotua geldituko da, eta zuek mundu honetan askatua, zeruan ere askatua geldituko da. 19 «Beste hau ere esaten dizuet: Zuetako bik mundu honetan Jainkoari zerbait eskatzeko elkar hartzen badute, eman egingo die zeruko nire Aitak. 20 Izan ere, nire izenean bizpahiru lagun nonbait biltzen badira, han nago ni beraien artean».
“He is among You:” don’t you see?
Although the words of Jesus, collected by Matthew, are of great importance for the life of Christian communities, they rarely attract the attention of commentators and preachers. This is the promise of Jesus: “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am with them.”
Most provably, Jesus does not have in mind massive celebrations such as the ones which take place at St. Peter’s Square in Rome around the Holy Father or at a cathedral around a Bishop. Even though there may only be two or three, Jesus is there among them. It is not necessary that the hierarchy be present; not need to be a big crowd.
The important condition is that they may “be together,” and not scattered or confronting each other: that they may not live disqualifying or humiliating each other. The crucial condition is that they are together “in HIS name:” that they listen to HIS call; that they may live totally identified with HIS great project and dream about the kingdom of God; that they let Jesus be the center of the life of the small community.
It is this living and real presence of Jesus among us, that has to encourage, guide and support the small communities of HIS followers. Jesus must encourage and inspire the prayer, the liturgical celebrations, and all the projects and activities of the community. Jesus’ presence is the “secret” to a success of a lively and contagious Christian community.
We Christians today cannot (and never for that matter) meet in our groups and communities in any way at all: by just following a habit or an inertia or maybe to fulfill certain religious obligations. We can be a big crowd or perhaps just a few people. However, it is important that we gather in HIS name, attracted by HIS person, by His Words and Actions of trying to make of this world a more humane world to live.
We must revive in us the awareness that we are communities of Jesus: we gather to hear the Gospel, to keep alive his memory, to let ourselves be transformed by HIS Spirit; in short, to welcome in us HIS joy and peace, and to proclaim the Good News. The future of the Christian faith will depend largely on what we do in our particular Christian communities in the coming decades.
It is not enough what Pope Francis can do in the Vatican or the Bishop in the diocese or the pastor in his parish. Nor can we place all our hope in the handful priests who may be ordained in the next few years. Our only hope is Jesus Christ. We must center our Christian communities in the person of Jesus as the only force capable of regenerating our worn and fatigued faith. Jesus is the only one capable of attracting today’s men and women. Only Jesus is capable of generating a renewed and committed faith in these times of disbelief.
The renewal of the central authorities of the Church may be an urgent task; the decrees on Church reform necessary. Nevertheless, nothing is as decisive and necessary as to radically return to the centrality of Jesus Christ.
Sunday September 3, 2017
Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
Gospel Mt 16: 21-27
Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.” He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay all according to his conduct.”
Ebanjelioa Mateo 16: 21-27
21 Une hartatik hasi zen Jesus bere ikasleei azaltzen, berak Jerusalemera igo eta zahar, apaizburu eta lege-maisuen aldetik asko sufritu behar zuela; hil egingo zutela eta hiru egunen buruan piztu egingo zela. 22 Pedro, Jesus aparte harturik, gogor egiten hasi zitzaion: –Ez dezala Jainkoak nahi, Jauna! Ez zaizu horrelakorik gertatuko. 23 Baina Jesusek, itzulirik, esan zion Pedrori: –Alde nire ondotik, Satanas! Oztopo haiz niretzat, hire asmoak ez baitituk Jainkoarenak, gizakiarenak baizik.
24 Orduan, esan zien Jesusek bere ikasleei: «Nire ondoren etorri nahi duenak uko egin biezaio bere buruari, bere gurutzea hartu eta jarrai biezat. 25 Izan ere, bere bizia gorde nahi duenak galdu egingo du; bere bizia niregatik galtzen duenak, ordea, eskuratu egingo du. 26 Zertarako du gizakiak mundu guztia irabaztea, bere bizia galtzen badu? Eta zer eman dezake gizakiak berriro bizia bereganatzeko? 27 Izan ere, Gizonaren Semea bere Aitaren aintzaz beterik etorriko da aingeruekin; eta, orduan, bakoitzari bere jokabidearen arabera ordainduko dio
Not being afraid of being a loser
The following saying is recorded in the Gospels and repeated up to six times: “whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Jesus is not talking about a religious theme. He is challenging his disciples about the true value of life. The saying is expressed in a paradoxical and provocative way. There are two very different ways to arrange one’s life: one that leads to salvation, the other to self-destruction. Jesus invites everyone to follow the path that seems harder and less attractive, because that is precisely the way, which leads human beings to the ultimate salvation.
One way is to cling to life living only for oneself: to make of “self” the last reason and the ultimate goal of human existence. This way of life, the one that looks always for self-gain or advantage, leads inexorably the human being to destruction.
The other way is to know how to lose, living like Jesus, open to the Father’s ultimate goal: namely, the humanization of the world by giving up one’s own safety or gain, and seeking not only one’s own good but also the good of others. This generous way of life leads us to salvation.
Jesus is speaking from his faith in a Savior God, but his words are a serious warning to all. What future awaits to a divided and fragmented humanity, where economic powers seek their own benefit; countries, their own welfare; and individuals, their self-interest?
The logic, which right now leads the destiny of the world is irrational. The peoples and individuals have slowly and inexorably fallen under the bondage of the logic to “have always more.” All what we possess seems to be too little to make us feel satisfied. To live comfortably, it seems we always need to produce more, to consume more, more material comfort and more power over others.
We seek insatiably more welfare and warfare, but, because of this, are we not always dehumanizing ourselves? We want more “progress,” but what kind of progress is this, which leads us to abandon millions of human beings into misery, hunger and malnutrition? How long do we think we can enjoy our welfare, if we close our borders to the hungry?
If the inhabitants of the so-called “privileged” or “developed” or “advanced” or “civilized” countries only and desperately seek to “save” our living standard, it will never take steps towards global solidarity unless we are prepared to giving up a bit and piece of our economic hegemony for others. But make no mistake. If we are not ready to “lose” or give up our privileged living standards, the world will increasingly become more unsafe and unhospitable for everyone, including us. Weapons will not protect us. To save human life in the world, we must learn to lose and give.
Sunday August 27, 2017
Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
Gospel Mt 16: 13-20
Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi and he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Then he strictly ordered his disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.
Ebanjelioa Mateo 16: 13-20
13 Feliperen Zesareara iritsi zenean, galdera hau egin zien Jesusek bere ikasleei:–Gizonaren Semea nor dela dio jendeak? 14 Haiek erantzun: –Batzuek Joan Bataiatzailea dela; beste batzuek Elias; besteek Jeremias edo profetaren bat. 15 Jesusek galdetu zien: –Eta zuek, nor naizela diozue? 16 Simon Pedrok erantzun: –Zu Mesias zara, Jainko biziaren Semea. 17 Orduan, Jesusek esan zion: –Zorionekoa zu, Simon, Jonasen semea, hori ez baitizu hezur-mamizko inork agertu, zeruko nire Aitak baizik. 18 Eta nik hau diotsut: Pedro zara zu, eta harkaitz horren gainean eraikiko dut nik neure eliza; eta herioaren indarrak ere ez du menderatuko. 19 Jainkoaren erreinuko giltzak emango dizkizut; zuk mundu honetan lotua zeruan ere loturik geldituko da, eta zuk mundu honetan askatua zeruan ere askaturik geldituko da. 20 Orduan, bera Mesias zela inori ez esateko agindu zien Jesusek ikasleei.
What do YOU sayJesus directs us Christians of today the same question he once posed to his disciples: “But who do you say that I am?” He does not ask it so that we give a theological pronouncement over HIS mysterious identity; HE rather asks to challenge us to review our relationship with HIM: reflecting on how we live our relationship with Jesus as individuals and as a Christian Community, how could we respond to this question?
Individually, do we know Jesus better every day? Or maybe we have “locked HIM up in our old boring patterns.” And as Christian communities, is Jesus at the center of our lives and activities, or are we rather stuck in routine and mediocrity.
Do we love Jesus passionately? or maybe HE has become for us a boring character whom we follow by mouth, while in our hearts and actions doubt, indifference and forgetfulness grow constantly.
Those who approach our communities searching for something, can they feel the strength and attractiveness Jesus inspires in us? Do we really feel ourselves as disciples of Jesus? Are we learning to live HIS lifestyle amidst the challenges of today’s society? or we rather let ourselves easily be immersed into the more appetizing advertising interests. Do we transform our communities into schools of learning to live like Jesus?
Are we learning to look at life the way Jesus looked at it? In our communities, do we look to the refugees, immigrants, the excluded and those in need with compassion and responsibility? or we are rather proud and locked ourselves in the beauty of our liturgical celebrations, totally indifferent to the suffering of the destitute and forgotten ones, who were in fact the favorite people of Jesus?
Are we cooperating with Jesus, helping him in the task of building HIS great humanizing project of the Father (the construction of the Kingdom of God)? or are we still thinking that the most important task of Christianity is to be concerned exclusively with our personal salvation? Are we convinced that the best way to follow Jesus is to live out our call each day to make life a more human and happier one for all?
Do we live the Christian Sunday, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus with joy and solidarity with the poor? or maybe we prefer to organize our weekends totally empty of Christian feelings? Have we learned to find Jesus in the silence of our hearts? or maybe we feel that our faith fades away drowned in the mid of the noises and emptiness inside of us?
Do we believe in the risen Jesus who walks with us full of life? Do we live in our Christians communities welcoming that peace, which HE left as legacy to his followers? Do we believe that Jesus loves us with a love that will never end? Do we believe in HIS renewing power? Do we witness the mystery of hope that we bear within us? Who is Jesus for me?
Sunday August 20, 2017
Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
Gospel Mathew 15: 21-28
At that time, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.” But Jesus did not say a word in answer to her. Jesus’ disciples came and asked him, “Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.” He said in reply, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But the woman came and did Jesus homage, saying, “Lord, help me.” He said in reply, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” Then Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And the woman’s daughter was healed from that hour.
Ebanjelioa Mateo 15: 21-28
21 Handik irtenik, Tiro eta Sidon aldera aldendu zen Jesus. 22 Hartan, inguru haietan bizi zen emakume kanaandar bat deiadarka hasi zitzaion: –Erruki zakizkit, Jauna, Daviden Semea! Oinaze gorritan dauka deabruak nire alaba. 23 Baina Jesusek ez zion hitzik erantzun. Bere ikasleek, ondoraturik, eskatu zioten: –Kasu egiozu, deiadarka baitatorkigu atzetik. 24 Jesusek, ordea: –Israel herriko ardi galduengana bakarrik bidali nau Jainkoak. 25 Baina emakumea, hurbildurik, ahuspez jarri zitzaion, esanez: –Lagun nazazu, Jauna. 26 Jesusek, orduan: –Ez dago ongi seme-alabei ogia kendu eta txakurrei botatzea. 27 Emakumeak erantzun zion: –Bai, Jauna, halaxe da; baina txakurrek ere jan ohi dituzte nagusien mahaitik erortzen diren ogi-apurrak. 28 Orduan, Jesusek esan zion: –Emakumea, handia da zure fedea! Gerta bekizu nahi duzuna! Eta une hartatik sendatua gelditu zitzaion alaba.
JESUS Belongs to ALL
A pagan woman seeking consolation and help, takes the initiative to go to Jesus, although she does not belong to the Jewish people. She is a distraught mother who suffers living with a daughter “tormented by a demon.” She dares to go out to meet Jesus shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David.”
Jesus’ first reaction is unexpected. He did not even stop to listen to her. The hour has not yet arrived to bring the Good News of God to the pagans. We can even say that Jesus behaves as an ethnocentric and exclusivist Rabbi of the time. As the woman insists, Jesus justifies his apparent attitude of disdain: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” This was a typical tribal attitude on the part of Jesus.
The women, however, does not back down. She will overcome all difficulties and resistance. In a bold gesture she stops his walk, bows before Jesus and kneels down with a humble but steadfast heart, and directs to Jesus a single cry, “Lord, help me.”
Jesus’ response is unusual. Although at that time the Jews called flatly “dogs” to the pagans, his words do not cease to be offensive to our ears: “It is not right to throw to the dogs the children’s bread.” Nevertheless, twisting in a very intelligent way the image used by Jesus, the women, kneeling down as she was, dares not only to correct but to give a magisterial lesson to Jesus, “You’re right, Lord—she says— even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.”
Jesus feels overwhelmed by the wisdom of this woman who becomes the catechist of Jesus. She has opened the eyes of Jesus to help HIM to come out from his tribal views into the universal call of the Father. Your faith is admirable, exclaims Jesus, full of emotion.
Surely, in the Father’s table there is enough food to feed all the children of Israel as well as the Gentile dogs. Jesus seems to think only of the “lost sheep” of Israel, but she made Jesus to realize that she also is a “lost sheep.” The Messenger of God cannot be just only for the Jews. He must be a messenger for all.
Jesus surrenders himself to the faith of the woman. His answer reveals at the same time his humility and greatness, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” This woman helps Jesus discover that God’s mercy does not exclude anyone. The Good Father is above ethnic and religious barriers we humans constantly are building. Jesus recognizes the woman as a believer even though she practices a pagan religion. Moreover, Jesus discover what a “great faith” is hidden in her, not like the small faith of his disciples to whom Jesus on several occasions describe as “men of little faith.”
Any human being can approach Jesus with confidence. Jesus can recognize their faith even though they may live outside the Church. In Jesus, everyone will always find a Friend and a Master of life. We Christians must rejoice that Jesus continues to attract so many people today who live outside of the Church. Jesus is greater than all our institutions. Jesus continues to do much good, even to those who have moved away from our Christian communities.
Sunday August 13, 2017
Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
Gospel Mt 14: 22-33
After he had fed the people, Jesus made the disciples get into a boat and precede him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone. Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them walking on the sea. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. “It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear. At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter said to him in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” After they got into the boat, the wind died down. Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying, “Truly, you are the Son of God.”
Ebanjelioa Mateo 14: 22-33
22 Berehala, Jesusek ikasleak txalupan sarrarazi eta bere aurretik beste aldera joateko agindu zien, berak jendeari agur egin bitartean. 23 Jendeari agur egin ondoren, mendira igo zen, bakardadean otoitz egitera. Ilundu zuenean, han zegoen bakarrik. 24 Txalupa, ordurako, lehorretik urruti zihoan, uhinek astindua, haizea kontra baitzuen. 25 Goiz aldera, ikasleengana joan zen Jesus, ur gainean oinez. 26 Aintziran ibiltzen ikusi zutenean, ikasleak izutu egin ziren, mamuren bat zelakoan; eta beldurraren beldurrez oihuka hasi ziren. 27 Baina Jesusek berehala hitz egin zien eta esan: –Lasai! Neu naiz. Ez beldurtu! 28 Orduan, Pedrok esan zion: –Jauna, benetan zeu bazara, agindu iezadazu ur gainean zuregana joateko. 29 Jesusek erantzun: –Zatoz. Pedro ontzitik jaitsi eta Jesusengana abiatu zen ur gainean oinez. 30 Baina, haizearen indarra nabaritzean, beldurra sartu zitzaion, eta, hondoratzen hasi zelarik, deiadar egin zuen: –Jauna, salba nazazu. 31 Jesusek eskua eman eta heldu egin zion, esanez: –Sinesmen gutxiko hori! Zergatik izan duzu zalantza? 32 Txalupara igo zirenean, haizea baretu egin zen. 33 Eta ontzian zeudenak Jesusen aurrean ahuspez jarri ziren, esanez: –Egiaz Jainkoaren Semea zara zu!
It is not difficult to see in the boat of the disciples of Jesus, tossed about by the waves and overwhelmed by the strong headwind, the image of today’s Church; threatened from outside by all the adverse forces and from within tempted by fear and little faith. How to read this Gospel story amid the crisis the Church seems to navigate today?
According to the evangelist, “Jesus approaches the boat, walking on the water.” The disciples are not able to recognize him in the middle of the storm and the darkness of night. To them Jesus looks like a “ghost.” Fear has them terrified. The only real thing they experience is that mighty storm.
This is our first problem: We are experiencing the crisis of the Church by spreading discouragement, fear and lack of faith among each other. It seems that we are incapable to see Jesus in person approaching us, precisely in the midst of this formidable crisis. As a result, we feel more lonely and helpless than ever. Jesus has three words to say: “Courage. It’s I. Fear not.” Only Jesus can talk to them this way. But their ears only hear the roaring of the waves and the wind. This is our second biggest mistake. If we do not hear Jesus’ invitation to put our unconditional trust in him, to whom shall we go?
Peter, this man of action, feels an inner impulse and, sustained by Jesus’ call, jumps out of the boat and “goes to Jesus walking on the water.” So, must we learn today to walk toward Jesus in the midst of crisis: with full trust, not in power, or prestige, or glory of past times, but in the genuine desire to meet Jesus in the middle of the darkness and the uncertainty, even the hostility of the present times.
It is not easy, however. We too can falter and sink like Peter. Nevertheless, like him, we too can experience how Jesus reaches out his hand to us and saves us as he says, “You man of little faith, why do you doubt?”
Why so much doubt? Why are we not learning anything new from these times of crisis? Why do we continue to seek false security in order to “survive” within the comfort zone of our communities, without learning to walk with renewed faith in Jesus to meet him in the very heart of this secularized society today? This crisis is not the end of the Christian faith. It is rather a purification opportunity, which we need to free ourselves from worldly interests, misleading triumphalism and solemn formalism, which, over the centuries, have distanced us from Jesus. Jesus is well alive and acting in the midst of this crisis. He is leading us toward a more Gospel centered Church. Let us rekindle our faith in Jesus. Let us not be afraid.
Sunday August 6, 2017
Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord
(Ordinary Time XVIII A)
Gospel Mt 17: 1-9
Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother, John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and do not be afraid.” And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone. As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, “Do not tell the vision to anyone until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
Ebanjelioa Mateo 17: 1-9
1 Handik sei egunera, Jesusek Pedro, Santiago eta honen anaia Joan hartu eta mendi garai batera eraman zituen aparte. 2 Eta antzaldatu egin zen haien aurrean: aurpegia eguzkia bezain distiratsu bihurtu zitzaion eta jantziak argia bezain zuri. 3 Hartan, Elias eta Moises agertu zitzaizkien Jesusekin hizketan. 4 Pedrok esan zion Jesusi: «Jauna, zein ederki gauden hemen! Nahi baduzu, hiru etxola egingo ditut bertan: bata zuretzat, bestea Moisesentzat eta bestea Eliasentzat». 5 Oraindik hizketan ari zela, hodei argi batek estali zituen, eta mintzo batek hodeitik esan zuen: «Hauxe dut neure Seme maitea, hauxe dut atsegin. Entzun berari!» 6 Hau entzutean, ikasleak ahuspez erori ziren beldur-ikaraz. 7 Hurbildu zitzaien Jesus, ukitu eta esan zien: «Zuti zaitezte. Ez beldurtu!» 8 Begiak altxaturik, Jesus bakarrik ikusi zuten, eta besterik inor ez. 9 Menditik beherakoan, agindu hau eman zien Jesusek: «Ez esan inori ikusi duzuena, harik eta Gizonaren Semea hildakoen artetik piztu arte».
Are we Afraid of Jesus?
The scene known as “the transfiguration of Jesus” concludes in an unexpected way. A voice from above overwhelms the disciples: “This is my beloved Son:” the one with the transfigured face. “Listen to him.” Not to Moses, the legislator. Not to Elijah the prophet. Listen to Jesus. Only to him.
“When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces, full of terror.” They are terrified of the near presence of the mystery of God, but also the fear of living on hearing only Jesus. The scene is unusual: the favorite disciples of Jesus (and yet the most troublesome ones, because Peter not only denied Jesus, but also was concerned about who was the first one, while the brothers James and John wanted to be one at the right and the other to the left of Jesus in his kingdom) fallen on the ground, full of fear, not daring to react to the voice of God.
The action of Jesus is touching: “Jesus makes himself close to them” so that they feel his friendly presence. “He touches them” so as to give them strength and confidence, and make them change their worldly thinking. And he tells them some unforgettable words: “Arise. Fear not.” Stand up and follow me. Do not be afraid to live by listening to me.
It is difficult to hide it. In the Church, we are afraid to listen to Jesus. A hidden fear, which is paralyzing us to the point of prevent us from living today with inner peace, trust and boldness to follow on the footsteps of Jesus, our only Lord. We are afraid about the implications in our own personal lives of listening to Jesus.
We are afraid of change, but not of stagnation, which is keeping us away from the men and women of today who challenge our faith and principles. It would seem as if the only thing we are to do in these times of profound changes is to preserve and repeat the past. What is hidden behind this fear? Faithfulness to Jesus or fear of putting into “new wineskins” the “new wine” of the Gospel?
We are afraid of performing more lively, creative and expressive celebrations of the faith of today’s believers, but we are less concerned about the general boredom of so many good Christians who cannot attune or vibrate with what is being celebrated, and slowly are abandoning our pews. Are we more faithful to Jesus by implementing meticulously the liturgical norms and rubrics, or are we afraid to “make the memory of Him” by celebrating our faith with more truth and creativity?
We are afraid of the freedom Jesus gives to his followers. We are concerned that the people of God may recover the “freedom of speech” and express aloud their aspirations or maybe we are afraid that the laity will assume their responsibility by listening to the voice of their conscience. There is a growing suspicion among no few Christians that many men and women religious try to be faithful to the prophetic charisma they have received from God and take to roads considered “unorthodox.” Are we afraid to listen to what the Spirit may be saying to us and our communities? Are we not afraid to quench the thirst for the Spirit in the people of God?
Jesus is still alive in our midst, but we need to feel his presence more faithfully and listen to him with less fear: “Arise. Do not be afraid.”
Sunday July 27, 2014
Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
Gospel Mt 13: 44-52
Jesus said to his disciples: “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind. When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away. Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. “Do you understand all these things?” They answered, “Yes.” And he replied, “Then every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.”
Ebanjelioa Mateo 13: 44-52
44 «Jainkoaren erregetzarekin, landan ezkutatua dagoen altxorrarekin bezala gertatzen da. Norbaitek aurkitzen duelarik, berriro ezkutatu egiten du, eta pozaren pozez joan, dituen guztiak saldu eta landa hura erosten du. 45 «Era berean, Jainkoaren erregetzarekin, harribitxi bila dabilen tratulariarekin bezala gertatzen da. 46 Balio handiko bat aurkitzen duenean, joan, bere gauza guztiak saldu eta erosi egiten du. 47 «Jainkoaren erregetzarekin, uretara botatzen den eta mota guztietako arrainak biltzen dituen sarearekin bezala gertatzen da. 48 Betea denean, bazterrera ateratzen dute; gero, eseri eta onak saskira biltzen dituzte eta txarrak kanpora botatzen. 49 Berdin izango da munduaren azkenean: aingeruek etorri eta gaiztoak zintzoen artetik bereiziko dituzte, 50 eta su-labera botako. Negarra eta hortz-karraska izango da han». 51 –Ulertu al duzue hau guztia? –galdetu zien Jesusek ikasleei. –Bai –erantzun zioten. 52 Hark esan zien: –Beraz, Jainkoaren erregetzaren jakinduriaz jantzia dagoen lege-maisua, bere altxorretik zahar eta berriak ateratzen dituen etxeko jaunaren antzekoa da.
Life is about Taking Options
The gospel includes two brief parables of Jesus with the same message. In both stories, the protagonist discovers a tremendously valuable treasure or a pearl of incalculable value. Moreover, both react the same way: with joy and determination, both sell what they have, and become in possession of the treasure or the pearl. According to Jesus, this is the logical reaction of the ones who have discovered the kingdom of God.
Apparently, Jesus fears that people follow him by various interests, without discovering the most attractive and important reason: that exciting project of the Father, which consists of leading the whole humanity towards a more just, fraternal and joyful world and directing it towards the ultimate salvation in God.
What can we say today after twenty centuries of Christianity? Why so many good Christians live locked in their religious practice with the feeling of not having been able to discover any “treasure”? Where is the ultimate reason for this lack of enthusiasm and joy in many areas of our Church, unable to attract so many men and women toward the core of the Gospel and who have decided to move away from it, but without daring to abandon completely God or Jesus?
After the Council, Pope Paul VI made this shocking statement: “Only the kingdom of God is absolute. Everything else is relative.” Years later, Pope John Paul II reaffirmed this, by saying, “The Church is not its own end, because it is oriented to the kingdom of God of which is the seed, sign and instrument”. Pope Francisco is repeating to us again: “The project of Jesus is to establish the kingdom of God. A self-complacent church will never be able to attract new believers”
If this is the faith of the Church, why are there so many Christians who have never even heard of that project which Jesus called “the kingdom of God”? Why is it that so many Christians do not know that the deep conviction, which so passionately animated the entire life of Jesus, the raison d´être, and final goal of all his words and actions was to announce and promote this humanizing project of the Father: to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness?
The Church, and each one of us, cannot be renewed from the root if She/we do not discover the “treasure” of the kingdom of God. It is not the same to call Christians to cooperate with God in HIS great project to build a more human world, or to live distracted and self-complacent in doctrines, practices and customs, which make us forget the very heart of the Gospel.
Pope Francis is telling us “the kingdom of God urges and challenges us.” This cry comes to us from the very heart of the Gospel of Jesus. We have to listen. Surely, the most important decision we must take today, both in the Church at large, and in our Christian communities in particular, is to recover, with joy and enthusiasm, the project the kingdom of God which so fascinated Jesus.
Sunday July 23, 2017
Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
Gospel Matthew 13: 24-43
Jesus proposed another parable to the crowds, saying: “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. The slaves of the householder came to him and said, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.”
He proposed another parable to them. “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the ‘birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.’”
He spoke to them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened.”
All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables. He spoke to them only in parables, to fulfill what had been said through the prophet: I will open my mouth in parables, I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation of the world. Then, dismissing the crowds, he went into the house.
His disciples approached him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” He said in reply, “He who sows good seed is the Son of Man, the field is the world, the good seed the children of the kingdom. The weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers.
They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears ought to hear.”
Ebanjelioa Mateo 13: 24-43
24 Beste parabola bat proposatu zien Jesusek: «Jainkoaren erregetzarekin, gizon batek soroan hazi ona erein zuenean bezala gertatzen da. 25 Etxeko denak lo zeudela, etsaiak soroan sartu eta gari artean olo gaiztoa erein zuen eta alde egin. 26 Garia hazi eta burutu zenean, olo gaiztoa ere agertu zen. 27 Joan ziren, orduan, morroiak etxeko nagusiari esatera: “Jauna, ez al zenuen hazi ona erein soroan? Nondik du, bada, olo gaiztoa?” 28 Hark erantzun zien: “Etsaiaren lana da hori”. Eta morroiek: “Joango al gara olo gaiztoa biltzera?” 29 Baina nagusiak: “Ez, ez dadila gerta olo gaiztoa biltzean garia ere ateratzea. 30 Utzi biak batera hazten uztaroa iritsi bitartean; orduan, igitariei esango diet: Bildu lehenik olo gaiztoa, lotu eta erre; garia, berriz, jaso nire mandiora”». 31 Jesusek beste parabola hau kontatu zien: «Jainkoaren erregetza gizon batek soroan ereiten duen mostaza-haziaren antzekoa da. 32 Hazi guztietan txikiena da; baina, hazten denean, beste barazki guztiak baino handiago bihurtzen da eta zuhaitz egiten, txoriek etorri eta adarretan habiak egiteko moduko zuhaitza». 33 Beste parabola bat ere esan zien: «Jainkoaren erregetza legamiaren antzekoa da: emakume batek anega bat irinetan nahasten du, eta oraldi guztia harrotzen da». 34 Irakaspen hauek guztiak parabola bidez eman zizkion Jesusek jendeari, eta ez zien ezer irakasten parabolaz izan ezik. 35 Honela bete zen Jainkoak profetaren bidez esana: Parabola bidez mintzatuko naiz, munduaren hasieratik gordea zegoena azalduko. 36 Jesus jendetza agurtu eta etxeratu egin zen. Hurbildu zitzaizkion, orduan, ikasleak eta eskatu zioten: «Argi iezaguzu soroko olo gaiztoaren parabola». 37 Jesusek esan zien: «Hazi ona ereiten duena Gizonaren Semea da; 38 soroa, mundua; hazi ona Jainkoaren erreinuko seme-alabak dira; olo gaiztoa, berriz, gaiztoarenak; 39 olo gaiztoa ereiten duen etsaia deabrua da; uzta, munduaren azkena; eta uzta-biltzaileak, aingeruak. 40 Olo gaiztoa bildu eta sutan erretzen den bezala, hala gertatuko da munduaren azkenean ere: 41 Gizonaren Semeak bere aingeruak bidaliko ditu, eta haren erreinutik bereiziko dituzte gaizkileak eta besterentzat gaizpide gertatzen direnak, 42 eta su-labera botako. Negarra eta hortz-karraska izango da han. 43 Orduan, zintzoek eguzkiak bezala distira egingo dute beren Aitaren erreinuan. Ulertzeko gauza denak uler beza!
Small is Beautiful
Triumphalism, greed, the thirst for power and the desire to overpower their opponents has done, over the centuries, and even today, much damage to Christianity. These bad attitudes are the real weeds. There are still many Christians among us who long for the return to grow the weeds of a powerful church capable to fill temples, as if they were soccer stadiums, and to conquer the streets and impose their religion on the entire society.
This is why we have to re-read the two little parables in today’s Gospel. In them, Jesus makes it clear that the task of his followers is not to build a powerful religion, but to place ourselves at the service of the humanizing project of the Father (the Kingdom of God), by planting small “seeds” of Gospel and introducing them into our society as small “leaven” of human life.
The first parable speaks of a mustard seed planted in the garden. What is so special about this seed? That is the smallest of all, but when it grows, it becomes bigger than any vegetables’ shrub. The project of the Father has very humble beginnings, but its transforming power we cannot even imagine now.
The activity of Jesus in Galilee, planting gestures of kindness and righteousness was nothing grandiose and spectacular: neither in Rome nor in the Temple of Jerusalem people were aware of what was happening around the person of Jesus. The work that we, his followers, do today is totally insignificant: the big centers of power ignore us completely. Even we Christians may have arrived to think that it is useless to work for a better world: we humans turn repeatedly to make the same mistakes and horrors of the past. We seem not to be able to comprehend the slow growth the kingdom of God is constantly making among us.
The second parable tells of a woman feeding a little yeast in a large dough. No one knows how but the yeast keeps working quietly until the dough is completely fermented. The same thing happens with the humanizing plan of God. Once this Word of God enters the world, it quietly ends up transforming completely human history. God does not act imposing Himself from outside. God humanizes the world by attracting the minds of His children toward a more decent, just and fraternal lifestyle. We must always trust Jesus. The kingdom of God is always humble and small in its beginnings. God is already at work promoting solidarity between us, the desire for truth and justice, the longing for a happier world. We must cooperate with God by following on the footsteps of Jesus.
A less powerful Church, more devoid of privileges, poorer and closer to the poor, will always be freer to plant the seeds of the Gospel, and consequently humbler to live among simple people. Only then the church will become like leaven of a more dignified and fraternal lifestyle.
Sunday July 16, 2017
Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
Gospel Matthew 13: 1-23
On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd stood along the shore. And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it. But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold. Whoever has ears ought to hear.”
The disciples approached him and said, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” He said to them in reply, “Because knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted. To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
This is why I speak to them in parables, because they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand. Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says: You shall indeed hear but not understand, you shall indeed look but never see. Gross is the heart of this people, they will hardly hear with their ears, they have closed their eyes, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their hearts and be converted, and I heal them.
“But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear. Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.
“Hear then the parable of the sower. The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the kingdom without understanding it, and the evil one comes and steals away what was sown in his heart. The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy. But he has no root and lasts only for a time. When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, he immediately falls away. The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit. But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.”
Ebanjelioa Mateo 13: 1-23
1 Egun batez, Jesus etxetik atera eta aintzira-ertzean eseri zen. 2 Eta hainbeste jende bildu baitzitzaion ondora, txalupa batera igo eta eseri egin zen. Jende-taldea, berriz, hondartzan zegoen. 3 Eta luze hitz egin zien parabola bidez. Honela mintzatu zitzaien: «Atera zen behin ereilea hazia ereitera. 4 Ereitean, zenbait ale bide-bazterrean erori zen, eta txoriek etorri eta jan egin zuten. 5 Beste zenbait harri artean erori zen, lur handirik ez zen tokian; eta, axaleko lurra izanik, berehala erne zen; 6 baina eguzkiak jo orduko, erre egin zen eta, sustrairik ez zuelako, ihartu. 7 Beste zenbait ale sasi artean erori zen, eta sasiek, haztean, ito egin zuten hazia. 8 Gainerakoak lur onean erori ziren, eta fruitua eman zuten: bateko ehun edo hirurogei edo hogeita hamar. 9 Ulertzeko gauza denak uler beza». 10 Ondoratu zitzaizkion ikasleak Jesusi eta galdegin zioten: –Zergatik hitz egiten diezu parabola bidez? 11 Jesusek erantzun zien: –Zuei eman zaizue Jainkoaren erregetzaren misterioak ezagutzea; horiei, ordea, ez. 12 Izan ere, duenari eman egingo zaio, eta gainezka izango du; ez duenari, ordea, daukan apurra ere kendu egingo zaio. 13 Hona zergatik hitz egiten diedan parabola bidez: begiratu bai, baina ikusten ez dutelako; entzun bai, baina ez aditzen, ez ulertzen ez dutelako. 14 «Horrela, Isaias profetak esana betetzen da horiengan: «Entzungo duzue, bai, baina ulertu ez; ikusiko duzue, bai, baina ohartu ez. 15 Izan ere, herri honek gogortu egin ditu buru-bihotzak,
gortu belarriak, itsutu begiak. Ez bezate beren begiez ikus, ez belarriez entzun, ezta buruaz ulertu ere, horrela niregana bihur ez daitezen eta salba ez ditzadan. 16 «Zorionekoak, ordea, zuen begiak, ikusten dutelako, eta zuen belarriak, entzuten dutelako! 17 Benetan diotsuet: Profeta eta gizon santu askok ikusi nahi izan zuten zuek ikusten duzuena, baina ez zuten ikusi, eta entzun nahi zuek entzuten duzuena, baina ez zuten entzun. 18 «Entzun ezazue, beraz, ereilearen parabolaren esanahia. 19 Erregetzaren mezua entzun bai, baina ulertzen ez duenari, gaiztoa etortzen zaio eta bihotzean erein zaiona kendu egiten dio. Hori da, mezua “bide-bazterrak” hazia bezala hartzen duena. 20 “Harri-arteak” bezala hartzen duena hauxe da: mezua entzutean, berehala pozik onartzen duena; 21 baina sustrairik gabea eta iraupen gutxikoa izanik, mezua dela-eta estuasun edo erasoaldiren bat sortu orduko, erori egiten da. 22 “Sasi-arteak” bezala hartzen duena hauxe da: mezua entzun bai, baina bizitza honetako ardurak eta diru-goseak mezua ito egiten diotena, fruiturik gabe utziz. 23 “Lur onak” bezala hartzen duena hauxe da: mezua entzun eta ulertzen duena; honek fruitua ematen du: bateko ehun edo hirurogei edo hogeita hamar».
On the footsteps of the Sower
At the end of the story about the parable of the sower, Jesus makes this call: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” It is demanded from us to pay close attention to the parable. What should we think about it? About the sower? About the seed? About the various types of fields on which the seed felt?
Traditionally, we Christians have set almost exclusively attention on the land on which the seed falls, in order to discern what our attitude is when we listen to the Gospel. However, it is important to pay attention to the sower and the way he sows.
That is precisely the first thing the story tells us: “A sower went out to sow.” It does so with a surprising confidence. He sows abundantly. The seed falls and falls everywhere, even there where it seems difficult that the seed can germinate. That was the way, which the peasants of Galilee did, who sowed even in the roadsides and rocky terrain. For the people of the time it was not difficult to identify the sower.
That’s the way also that Jesus sows. People saw Jesus every morning going out to announce the Good News. People saw Jesus sowing the Word among simple people who welcomed it, as well as among the scribes and Pharisees who rejected it. Jesus never got discouraged. He knows that his sowing will not be a fruitless work.
Overwhelmed, as we are, by a strong religious crisis, we may think that the Gospel has lost its original strength and that the message of Jesus no longer has the claw to attract the attention of the men and women of today. I believe that it certainly is not the time to “harvest” striking successes, but to learn to continue sowing without being discouraged, with more humility and facing the truth and our present reality without triumphalism.
For it is not the Gospel that has lost its humanizing power and potentiality, but we ourselves who are announcing it with a weak and wavering faith. It is not Jesus the one who has lost the power to seduce people. It is rather us the ones who make Him a tasteless food with our inconsistencies and contradictions.
Pope Francis has said that when a Christian does not live a strong attachment to Jesus, “soon loses enthusiasm and no longer is sure about what he/she must transmits, and lacks the strength and passion for Jesus. And a person who is not convinced, excited, confident, and in love with what he/she says, does not convince anyone.” Pope Francis also has said that a church centered in itself is self-complacent one and becomes ugly to look at.
To evangelize is not about spreading a doctrine, but to make visible in the midst of society and in the hearts of people the saving and the humanizing power of Jesus. This cannot be accomplished in anyway whatsoever. The most decisive factor is not the number of preachers, catechists and teachers of religion we may be able to have, but the witness of men and women in love with Jesus who can irradiate Gospel values to all Christians.
Sunday July 9, 2017
Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
Gospel Matthew 11: 25-30
At that time Jesus exclaimed: “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to little ones. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father.
No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.” “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
Ebanjelioa Mateo 11: 25-30
25 Behin batean, Jesus honela mintzatu zen: «Goresten zaitut, Aita, zeru-lurren Jauna, gauza hauek jakintsu eta ikasiei ezkutatu dizkiezulako eta jende xumeari agertu. 26 Bai, Aita, goretsia zu, horixe izan baituzu gogoko. 27 «Nire Aitak nire esku utzi du dena. Eta inork ez du Semea ezagutzen, Aitak baizik; ezta Aita ere inork ezagutzen, Semeak baizik eta Semeak agertu nahi dionak. 28 «Zatozte niregana, nekatu eta zamatu guztiok, eta neuk emango dizuet atseden. 29 Hartzazue nire uztarria eta ikasi niregandik, gozoa eta bihotz-apala bainaiz ni, eta aurkituko duzue bizitzarako atsedena; 30 eramanerraza baita nire uztarria eta arina nire zama».
The Three Calls of Jesus
The Gospel of Matthew has collected three calls from Jesus, which we, his followers, have to listen carefully. As we put into practice these three calls, they possess the force to transform this climate of discouragement, tiredness and boredom that sometimes permeate many in our Christian communities.
“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened. I will give you rest.” This is the first call. It is addressed to all those who live their religion as a burden. No few Christians live burdened by their conscience, in a permanent state of guilt. They are not great sinners though. They simply “were trained” to constantly bear in mind their sin and they have not yet experienced the joy of God’s constant forgiveness. If they were to meet or experience Jesus, they would be relieved.
There are also Christians tired of living their religion as a worn out tradition. As empty practices. If they were to meet or experience Jesus, they would learn to live at peace with God. They would be able to discover an inner joy which today they do not know or cannot experience. Then they would follow Jesus, not by compulsion but by attraction and conviction.
“Take my yoke upon you for it is easy, and my burden light.” This is the second call. Jesus does not overwhelm anyone. Instead, He releases what it is the best in each one of us as he proposes us to live our lives in the most humane, dignified and healthy manner. It is not easy to find a more exciting and passionate lifestyle than walking on the footsteps of Jesus!
Jesus frees us from fear, guilt, and pressures, he does not increase them; Jesus increases our freedom, not our dependency; He awakens in us trust, never sadness; He draws us to love, not to a fearful observance of laws and precepts. He invites us to live doing always good.
“Learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart and you shall find rest.” This is the third call. We must learn from Jesus to live like him. Jesus does not make our lives more difficult. On the contrary, He makes it simpler and clearer, more humble and healthier. He offers rest. He never proposes his followers something he has not lived and experienced before. He invites us to follow the same road he has traveled. That is why Jesus can understand our difficulties and our struggles, he can forgive our mistakes and blunders, by always encouraging us to get up and start anew. Jesus is the Good News.
Sunday July 2, 2017
Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
Gospel Matthew 10: 37-42
Jesus said to his apostles: “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because the little one is a disciple—amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.”
Ebanjelioa Mateo 10: 37-42
Jesusek honela esan zien apostoluei: 37 «Aita nahiz ama ni baino maiteago duena ez da niretzat gai; semea nahiz alaba ni baino maiteago duena ez da niretzat gai. 38 Bere gurutzea hartu eta jarraitzen ez didana ez da niretzat gai. 39 Bere biziaren jabe izan nahian dabilenak galdu egingo du; bere bizia niregatik galtzen duenak, ordea, eskuratu egingo du. 40 «Zuek onartzen zaituztenak neu onartzen nau, eta ni onartzen nauenak bidali nauena onartzen du. 41 Profeta bat profeta delako onartzen duenak profetari zor zaion saria jasoko du; eta gizon zuzen bat zuzena delako onartzen duenak gizon zuzenari zor zaion saria jasoko du; 42 eta txiki hauetako bati, nire ikasle delako, ontzixka bat ur fresko besterik ez bada ere ematen diona, benetan diotsuet ez dela saririk gabe geldituko».
“Whoever does not take up his cross and follow me, is not worthy of me”
One of the greatest risks of present-day Christianity is to gradually move away from the “religion of the Cross” to a “religion of comfort.” A few years ago, I took some personal notes of a few words from Reinhold Niebuhr (1892, Wright City, MO- 1971, Stockbridge, MA), which made me think a lot. This American sociologist-theologian spoke then of the danger of a “sinless religion” that would end preaching “a God without anger, that leads sinless men into a kingdom without judgment, through a Christ without a cross.” The danger is real and we must avoid it.
To insist on the unconditional love of a God, who is a Friend, does never mean making a God to our own measure and convenience, a permissive God who would legitimize a “bourgeois religion” (J. B. Metz). To be a Christian is not to seek a God that suits me and says “yes” to everything (as in the 2003 “Bruce Almighty” movie), but rather to encounter with a God who, precisely because He is Friend, awakens my responsibility and, more than once, makes me suffer, cry and silences me.
Discovering the gospel as a source of life and healthy stimulus for our spiritual growth does not mean understanding the Christian faith as an “immunization” in the face of suffering. The gospel is not like a tranquilizing pill, which allows us to organize our life at the service of our ghosts of pleasure and comfort. Christ makes us enjoy, but also makes us suffer, consoles and also creates restlessness, supports us and also makes us experience contradictions. He is the way, the truth and the life for us in a painful manner.
Believing in a Savior God who, already from now on, and without having to wait to the final judgment, seeks to liberate us from that which hurt us, must not lead us to understand the Christian faith as a religion of private use at the service of our own problems and sufferings. The God of Jesus Christ challenges us always to look at the suffering neighbor around us. The gospel does not focus in my own suffering but challenges me to look at the suffering of others. It is only in this way, that we can live our faith as an experience of salvation and redemption for all.
In faith, as in love, everything tends to be very mixed: the faithful commitment as well as the desire to possess, and generosity and selfishness. That is why we must not erase from the Gospel those words of Jesus, which, no matter how hard they may seem to us, and yet, place us before the truth of our faith: “He who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
Sunday June 25, 2017
Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
Gospel Matthew 10: 26-33
Jesus said to the Twelve: “Fear no one. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.
Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. Even all the hairs of your head are counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.”
Ebanjelioa Mateo 10: 26-33
26 «Ez izan jendearen beldur! Izan ere, ez dago ezer gordeta agertuko ez denik, ezta ere ezer ezkutuan jakingo ez denik. 27 Gau-ilunez esaten dizuedana, esan zuek egun-argiz; eta belarrira entzuten duzuena, hots egin etxe-gainetatik. 28 Ez izan beldurrik gorputza hil bai, baina bizia hondatu ezin dutenei; izan beldur, gorputza ez ezik, pertsona osoa infernuan honda dezakeenari. 29 «Ez ote dira bi txori sos batean saltzen? Hala ere, ez da bat bakarra ere lurrera erortzen zuen Aitaren baimenik gabe. 30 Zuen buruko ileak ere denak zenbatuak dauzka Jainkoak. 31 Ez izan, bada, beldur: zuek txori guztiek baino gehiago balio duzue. 32 «Jendearen aurrean aitortzen nauena aitortuko dut nik ere Aita zerukoaren aurrean; 33 baina jendearen aurrean ukatzen nauena ukatu egingo dut nik ere zeruko Aitaren aurrean.
Have no Fear my Little Flock!
The memory of the execution of Jesus was still very recent and vivid among the disciples. Various versions of the Passion circulated through the Christian communities. Everyone knew that it was too dangerous to follow someone who had ended up so badly. They remembered a phrase from Jesus: “The disciple is not above his master, if they have persecuted me, they will persecute you as well.” If people called him Beelzebub, what will they not say about his followers?
Jesus did not want His disciples to make false illusions. No one can pretend to follow Jesus for real, without somehow sharing in his fate. At some point, someone will reject, mistreat, insult or condemn the follower of Jesus. What is there to do?
These words come out from Jesus’ heart: “Fear no one.” Fear is a bad road companion. Fear must never paralyze his disciples. They must not be silent either. They must not cease to spread the message of Jesus for any reason.
And then, Jesus explains them how they must stand before persecution and adversity. With him, the revelation of the Good News of God has already begun. They must have faith. What is still “hidden” and “covered” for many, one day will be clearly exposed: they will finally know the unfathomable mystery of God, his love for the human being and his project of a happier life for all.
Jesus’ followers are called to take an active role now in this process of revelation: “What I tell you at night, say it in broad daylight.” What he explains to them at dusk, before retiring to rest, they are to communicate without fear “in broad daylight.” “What I tell into your ears, the disciples are to proclaim from the rooftops.” Whatever Jesus whispers into the ears so as to penetrate better into their hearts, they are to make it public.
Jesus insists that they should not be afraid. For the one “who takes my part,” has nothing to fear. The last judgment will be a joyful surprise for those in the side of Jesus. The judge will be “my Father in heaven,” who loves you without end. The defender will be myself, that “I will take your side.” Who else can give us more hope in the midst of our trials? Jesus imagined his followers as a group of believers who know how to “take the side of Jesus” without fear.
Why do we lack the freedom to try to open new paths, which are more in line with the will of Jesus? Why do not we dare to propose, that which is the essential of the gospel in a simple, clear and concrete way?
Sunday June 18, 2017
Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ
(11th Sunday in Ordinary time A)
Gospel John 6: 51-58
Jesus said to the Jewish crowds: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”
Ebanjelioa Joan 6: 51-58
51 Neu naiz zerutik jaitsia den ogi bizia; ogi honetatik jaten duenak betiko bizia izango du. Eta nik emanen dudan ogia nire gorputza da, mundua bizi dadin emana». 52 Hitz hauek eztabaida gogorra sortu zuten entzuleen artean. Honela zioten: –Nola eman diezaguke honek bere gorputza jaten? 53 Jesusek esan zien: –Bene-benetan diotsuet: Gizonaren Semearen gorputza jaten eta haren odola edaten ez baduzue, ez duzue bizirik izango zeuengan.54 Nire gorputza jaten eta nire odola edaten duenak betiko bizia du, eta neuk piztuko dut azken egunean. 55 Zeren nire gorputza benetako janari baita, eta nire odola benetako edari. 56 Nire gorputza jaten eta nire odola edaten duena nirekin bat eginda dago, eta ni berarekin. 57 Bizia duen Aitak bidali ninduen eta hari esker dut nik bizia; halaxe, ni jaten nauenak ere niri esker izango du bizia. 58 Hau da zerutik jaitsi den ogia; ez da zuen gurasoek jan zutena bezalakoa, haiek hil egin baitziren; ogi honetatik jaten duenak betiko bizia izango du.
Stranded in no-solidarity
Pope Francis is repeating over and over again, that the fears, the doubts, the lack of audacity … can all impede, from the roots, the arising of the renewal, which the Church needs today. In his Exhortation “The Joy of the Gospel” he even affirms that if we are paralyzed by fear, we could once again remain simply as “spectators of an unhealthy stagnation of the Church.”
His words make us think. What do we perceive among us? Are we mobilizing to revive the faith of our Christian communities, or are we rather stranded in that “unproductive laziness” of which pope Francis speaks? Where can we find the strength to react?
One of the great contributions of Council Vatican II was to promote a passage from the concept of “listening to mass,” understood as an individual obligation to fulfill a sacred precept, to that of “celebrating the Eucharist” lived as a joyful feast for the whole community in order to nourish their faith, grow in fraternity and Revive their hope in Christ.
Undoubtedly, over the years, we have taken very important steps in this regard. Far are those masses celebrated in Latin (though many would wish to return to that practice) in which the priest “said” mass and the Christian people came to “hear” or “attend” mass as mere spectators, while rosary or another devotional prayer was going on. But are we not celebrating the Eucharist routinely and boringly?
There is an undeniable fact. People are moving away unstoppably from Sunday practice, among other reasons, because they do not find in our celebrations the climate, the clear word, the expressive rite, the stimulating welcome they need to nourish their weak and hesitant faith.
Without a doubt, we all, clerics and believers alike, must ask ourselves what we are doing so that the Eucharist becomes, as the Council wants, the “center and summit of the whole life of the Christian community.” The Lord’s Supper is too an important celebration for us to let it continue to “lose” its power of attraction where we have become “spectators of a sterile, fruitless, stagnant ceremony.”
Is not the Eucharist the center of the Christian life? Why is it that some are more interested in making the celebration to be a more attractive and beautiful one, where the cloths are perfectly worn, choirs have become more concert places than a holy ground of worship? Why is it that we believers have lost sight of the fact that the Eucharist is the place of a broken body, tortured and humiliated, as a sign of all those who work the lands to produce bread and wine and are also broken, tortured, laboring from sun rise to sun set, for a miserable pay, most of whom are undocumented immigrants and refugees who are not welcome in our communities?
As long as the Eucharist is not the sacrament for each one of us to identify ourselves with the human suffering, which calls us to solidarity and justice, it will remain just a cold and meaningless ritualistic action, not the celebration of solidarity and love, which creates life and resurrection.
Sunday June 11, 2017
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
10th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
Gospel John 3: 16-18
God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
Ebanjelioa Joan 3: 16-18
16 «Izan ere, Jainkoak hain maite izan zuen mundua, non bere Seme bakarra eman baitzion, harengan sinesten duenik inor gal ez dadin, baizik betiko bizia izan dezan.
17 Zeren Jainkoak ez baitzuen Semea mundura bidali mundua kondenatzeko, haren bitartez salbatzeko baizik. 18 Harengan sinesten duena ez da kondenatua; sinesten ez duena, ordea, kondenatua dago jadanik, ez baitu sinetsi Jainkoaren Seme bakarrarengan.
God Father, God Son, God Holy Spirit
It is not always easy for Christians to relate in a concrete and living way with the mystery of God confessed as Trinity. However, the religious crisis, which we are going through, is inviting us to care more than ever a personal, healthy and rewarding relationship with Him. Jesus, the Mystery of God made flesh in the Prophet of Galilee, is the best starting point for reviving a simple faith.
How to live before the Father? Jesus teaches us two basic attitudes. First, total trust. The Father is good. His love and mercy for us is boundless and unconditional. Nothing matters Him more than our good. We can trust Him without fears, misgivings, calculations or strategies. To live is to trust in Love as the ultimate mystery of everything. Second, an unconditional docility, or obedience. It is good to live attentive to the will of God the Father, for He only wants a more dignified life for all. There is no way to live a healthier and more successful life than in obedience to the Father. This is the secret motivation of the one who lives before the mystery of reality from the perspective of faith in God who is a Father.
What is, then, to live with the incarnate Son of God? First, to follow Jesus: to know him, to believe in him, to tune with him, to learn to live on his footsteps. Also, to look at life as he looked at it; Treat people as he treated them; To sow signs of kindness and creative freedom as he did. Living making life more human. This is the way how God lives when He is incarnated among us. For a follower of Jesus, there is no other more exiting way of living. Second, to collaborate in the Project of God, which Jesus sets in motion following the will of the Father. We cannot remain passive in front of Jesus’ call to build the Kingdom of God. To those who cry, God wants to see them laughing, those who are hungry God wants to see them eating. We must change things so that life is life for all. This project that Jesus calls the “kingdom of God” is the framework, orientation and horizon, which is proposed to us from the perspective of the ultimate mystery of God, in order to make life more human.
What does it mean to live a life animated by the Holy Spirit? First, to live animated by love. This fact is evident throughout the whole life of Jesus. The essential thing is to live everything with love and out of love. Nothing is more important. Love is the sole energy, which makes sense, and brings truth and hope into our existence. It is love, which saves us from so many clumsiness, errors and miseries. Finally, the one who lives “anointed by the Spirit of God” feels the mission of being sent in a special way to announce to the poor the Good News. His life has a liberating force for the captives; brings light on those who are blind; becomes a gift for those who feel miserable.
Let us pray to God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit to transform each one of us into a worthy dwelling and transformative place of the presence of the Trinity.
Sunday June 4, 2017
Pentecost Sunday (A)
Gospel John 20: 19-23
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.”
Ebanjelioa Joan 20: 19-23
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».
Experiencing God from Within
A few years ago, the great German theologian, Karl Rahner, dared to assert that one of the main and most urgent problems of the Church of our times is the “spiritual mediocrity” of the faithful. These were his words: the real problem of the Church is “just to continue pulling with increasing resignation and inertia and with ever more tedium through the usual paths of spiritual mediocrity.” More of the same.
The problem has only aggravated in these last decades. Efforts to strengthen institutions, safeguarding the liturgy, or guarding orthodoxy, have served little. In the hearts of many Christians, the inner experience of God is being extinguished.
Modern society has opted for that which is in “the outside.” Everything invites us to live from the outside. Everything presses us to move in haste, barely stopping at anything or anyone. Peace no longer finds any chinks to penetrate into our heart. We live almost always in the crust of life. Superficiality. We are forgetting what it means to savor life from within. To be fully human, our life lacks an essential dimension: namely, interiority.
It is sad to observe that neither in many of our Christian communities do we know how to care for and promote inner life. Many do not know what the silence of the heart means, we no longer teach to live the faith from within. Deprived of inner experience, we survive forgetting our inner soul: yes, we do listen to the Word of God with our ears and, yes, we do utter fervent prayers with our lips, but our hearts are absent, not connected with the inner experience of the encounter with the Lord.
In the Church there is much talk about God, but where and when do we believers listen and experience the quiet presence of God in the depths of our hearts? Where and when do we welcome the Spirit of the Risen One within us? When do we live in communion with the Mystery of God from within? When do we agree in our everyday lives with the great dream of Jesus about the Kingdom of God?
To welcome the Spirit of God means, among other things, to stop talking with a God whom we almost always feel far away from us, and to learn to listen to Him in the silence of the heart. To stop thinking about God only with our heads, and to learn to perceive Him in the most intimate of our being as I gaze at the poorest of the poor around me.
This inner and concrete experience of God will transform our faith. I am amazed about myself how I was able to live my life about without discovering Him before! Now I know why it is still possible to believe in God even in a secularized culture. Experiencing God gives inner joy. The Holy Spirit takes us all today to this inner experience of God.
Sunday May 28, 2017
The Ascension of the Lord (A)
Gospel Matthew 28: 16-20
The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
Ebanjelioa Mateo 28: 16-20
16 Hamaika ikasleak Galileara joan ziren, Jesusek esandako mendira. 17 Ikusi zutenean, gurtu egin zuten; batzuk, ordea, zalantzan zeuden. 18 Jesus, hurbildurik, honela mintzatu zitzaien: «Ahalmen osoa eman dit Jainkoak zeru-lurretan. 19 Zoazte, bada, eta egin herri guztiak nire ikasle, Aitaren eta Semearen eta Espiritu Santuaren izenean bataiatuz 20 eta nik agindu dizuedan guztia betetzen irakatsiz. Eta ni zeuekin izango nauzue egunero munduaren azkena arte».
Keep the Horizon Open
So concerned only in the immediate achievements for greater well-being and comfort, attracted to small aspirations and hopes, many of us run the risk of impoverishing the broader horizon of our existence by losing the longing for eternity. We call this “progress.” But we are terribly mistaken.
There are two facts—not very difficult to identify—which are taking place in our lives as well as in our society during these beginning years of the third millennium.
On the one hand, the desire for a better world, and the expectation that we can achieve it with our hands seems to be growing. There is a fundamental dissatisfaction in our hearts, which is pushing us to higher degrees of comfort and achievement.
On the other hand, there is fear, because of the uncertainty about our future is growing; there is fear about what the future has for us in reserve: so much violence and war around, much of it provoked by our own desire of security without limits. We see so much absurd suffering in people, so many conflicts, so many abuses against people and our own planet, that it does not make easy to hold an optimistic view of our future.
It is true that the development of science and technology has enabled us to do away and solve many evils and unnecessary suffering. We envision that in the future more spectacular advances will take place, which may be enable us to solve further pain and sorrows, which affect our presents lives.
However, we must not forget that these prodigious developments are only “saving” us some evils only in a limited way. We also carry within us the capacity of self-destruction. We are limited, in everything we do, and we do not seem to be able to offer everything we seek and long for.
Who is going to save us from aging and the inevitable death? Many, in order to free from the anxiety of our finite lives, go seeking all sorts of ideas, doctrines, distractions, addictions, and many other means, which may offer temporary comfort and solace.
In the midst of tough questions and uncertainties, the followers of Jesus continue walking through life, convinced that salvation comes from the Lord. When life seems to be closed in itself and no exit is possible, God always surprises us with his love and mercy. God is an open door from where all that is good comes.
Sunday May 21, 2017
Sixth Sunday of Easter (A)
Gospel John 14: 15-21
Jesus said to his disciples: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows him. But you know him, because he remains with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live and you will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”
Ebanjelioa Joan 14: 15-21
15 «Maite banauzue, beteko dituzue nire aginduak. 16 Nik Aitari eskatuko diot eta beste Laguntzaile bat emango dizue, beti zuekin izango dena, 17 egiaren Espiritua. Mundutarrek ezin dute hartu, ez baitute ikusten, ez ezagutzen; baina zuek ezagutzen duzue, zuengan bizi baita eta zuekin egongo betiko. 18 «Ez zaituztet umezurtz utziko, itzuliko naiz zuengana. 19 Laster munduak ez nau gehiago ikusiko; zuek, ordea, ikusiko nauzue, nik bizia baitut eta zuek ere biziko baitzarete. 20 Egun hartan ulertuko duzue ni Aitarekin bat eginda nagoela, zuek nirekin eta ni zuekin. 21 Nire aginduak onartu eta betetzen dituenak, horrexek nau maite. Ni maite nauena, berriz, nire Aitak maite izango du, eta nik ere maite izango dut eta agertuko natzaio berari».
The Spirit of Truth
Jesus is saying goodbye to his disciples. He sees them sad and dejected. Soon they will not have HIM. Who will be able to fill the emptiness of their hearts? Up to now Jesus took care of them, defended them from the anger of the scribes and Pharisees, and the only ONE who supported them in their weak and wavering faith, the ONE who helped and guided them in the process of discovering the truth of God, and finally initiated with them the building task of HIS great dream: the constructing a more human and humanizing community of brothers and sisters: the Kingdom of God.
Jesus now speaks to them passionately about the Spirit. He is not going to leave them as orphans. He personally will ask the Father to not to abandon them, and to give them “another Advocate” to “always be with them.” Jesus calls this advocate “the Spirit of truth.”
What lies behind these words of Jesus?
This “Spirit of truth” is not to be mistaken with a doctrine: This truth is not to be found in the books of the theologians or in documents of the hierarchy. It is something much deeper. Jesus says that “SHE lives with us and is in us.” SHE is breath, encouragement, strength, light, love … that comes from the ultimate mystery of God. We must welcome HER with a simple and trusting heart.
This “Spirit of truth” does not make us “owners” of the truth. SHE does not come to us so that we can impose on others our faith or to control the orthodoxy of other people. SHE does come to us so that we do not become orphans, and SHE invites us to open ourselves to the truth of Jesus, by listening to HIM, and accepting and living the Gospel.
This “Spirit of truth” does not make us “guardians” or “protectors” of the truth either, but witnesses. Our task is not to dispute, to fight or to defeat adversaries, but to live out the truth of the Gospel and “to love Jesus by keeping His commands.”
This “Spirit of truth” is within each one of us defending us against anything that can separate us from Jesus. SHE invites us to open ourselves in all simplicity to the mystery of a God, who is a Friend of life. Those seeking God with honesty and truth are not far from HIM. Jesus once said: “Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.” It is true.
This “Spirit of truth” invites us to live in the truth of Jesus in the midst of a society where often “lie” is called “strategy;” “exploitation” is “business;” “irresponsibility” is “tolerance;” “injustice” is “new world order;” “capricious arbitrarity” is “freedom;” and the “lack of respect” is “sincerity.”
What sense will make the Church of Jesus if we let the “Spirit of truth” vanish from our communities? Who will save the Church, then, from self-deception, deviations and widespread mediocrity? Who will announce the Good News of Jesus in our society in need of much encouragement and hope?
Sunday May 14, 2017
Fifth Sunday of Easter (A)
Gospel John 14: 1-12
Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. Where I am going you know the way.” Thomas said to him, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said to him, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father.”
Ebanjelioa Joan 14: 1-12
1 «Ez izan kezkarik: sinetsi Jainkoarengan eta sinetsi niregan ere. 2 Nire Aitarenean toki asko dago; horrela izan ez balitz, esango nizuekeen. Orain, zuentzat tokia prestatzera noa. 3 Joan eta tokia prestatu ondoren, berriro etorri eta neurekin eramango zaituztet, ni nagoen lekuan zuek ere egon zaitezten. 4 Zuek badakizue ni noan tokirako bidea». 5 Tomasek esan zion: –Jauna, ez dakigu nora zoazen; nola jakin bidea? 6 Jesusek erantzun: –Neu naiz bidea, egia eta bizia. Ezin da inor Aitarengana joan nire bidez izan ezik. 7 Ni benetan ezagutuko baninduzue, Aita ere ezagutuko zenukete. Are gehiago, ezagutzen duzue dagoeneko, eta ikusi ere ikusi duzue. 8 Orduan, Felipek esan zion:
–Jauna, erakuts iezaguzu Aita, eta aski dugu. 9 Jesusek erantzun: –Honenbeste denbora zuekin, Felipe, eta ez nauzu ezagutzen? Ni ikusten nauenak Aita ere ikusten du. Nola diozu: «Erakuts iezaguzu Aita?» 10 Ez al duzu sinesten ni Aitarekin bat eginda nagoela eta Aita nirekin? Nik irakatsi dizuedana ez dizuet neure kabuz irakatsi. Niregan bizi den Aita da bere salbamen-egintza burutzen ari dena. 11 Sinets iezadazue: ni Aitarekin bat eginda nago eta Aita nirekin. Besterik ez bada, sinetsi egiten ditudan egintzengatik. 12 Bene-benetan diotsuet: Niregan sinesten duenak nik egiten ditudan egintzak eginen ditu berak ere, eta are handiagoak, ni Aitarengana bainoa.
At the end of the Last Supper, the disciples begin to sense that Jesus is not going to be with them for much longer. The hasty departure of Judas, the announcement that Peter will soon deny HIM, the words of Jesus speaking of his imminent departure, have left everyone baffled and dejected. What will become of them? Jesus senses in them sadness and embarrassment. His heart is touched with compassion toward them. Forgetting about himself and about what awaits HIM, Jesus begins to encourage them, “Let not your hearts be troubled; Believe in God and believe also in me.” Later in the course of conversation, Jesus makes the following confession: “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one goes to the Father except through me.” They must never forget this truth.
“I am the way.” The problem many people face today is not just that they find themselves lost or misguided. It is simply that they live without a Way, lost in a sort of labyrinth: walking and retracing the thousand paths, which from the outside, slogans and fashions, indicate them how and where to go. And what can a man or woman do when they find themselves lost and with no way? To whom to turn? Where can they go? If they approach Jesus, what they will discover is not a religion, but a Way. Sometimes one may walk in faith; some other times one may find difficulties or even walk backwards, but it is sure that one is on the right path, one that leads to the Father. This is the promise of Jesus.
“I am the truth.” These words contain an outrageous provocation to modern ears. Not everything can be reduced to reason. Scientific theory does not contain the whole truth. The ultimate mystery of reality is not to be caught by the most sophisticated reasoning. Human beings are always confronted with the mystery of the ultimate reality, which demands clear answers. Before this phenomenal challenge, Jesus comes to us as a Way, which leads and approaches to us that ultimate mystery. God does not impose himself upon us. God does not force anyone by way of scientific proofs or evidence. The mystery of the ultimate reality is humble, silence and respectful attraction. Jesus is the way which can open us to experience that goodness of God.
“I am the life.” Jesus can transform our lives. Not like a distant teacher who has left a legacy of admirable wisdom to humanity, but as someone who is alive and as someone who, from the very depths of our being, instils a seed of new life. This action of Jesus within us always takes place in a discreet and quiet manner. Even the follower of Jesus feels an imperceptible insight. Sometimes, however, that feeling becomes a certainty, in the manner of an irrepressible joy, and total trust: God exists, God loves us, and everything is possible, even eternal life. We will never be able to understand Christian faith if we do not welcome Jesus as the way, the truth and the life.
Sunday May 7, 2017
Fourth Sunday of Easter (A)
Gospel John 10: 1-10
Jesus said: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate
but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice. But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.” Although Jesus used this figure of speech, the Pharisees did not realize what he was trying to tell them. So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”
Ebanjelioa Joan 10: 1-10
1 «Bene-benetan diotsuet: Artegian atetik barik, beste nonbaitetik sartzen dena lapurra da eta harraparia. 2 Atetik sartzen dena, berriz, artzaina da. 3 Hari irekitzen dio atezainak, eta haren ahotsa entzuten dute ardiek; ardi bakoitzari bere izenez deitu eta artegitik ateratzen ditu. 4 Bere ardi guztiak atera dituenean, aurretik joaten zaie, eta ardiek atzetik jarraitzen diote, ezaguna baitute haren ahotsa. 5 Arrotzari, ordea, ez diote jarraituko; aitzitik, ihes egingo diote, arrotzaren ahotsa ezaguna ez dutelako». 6 Adibide hau eman zien Jesusek, baina haiek ez zuten ulertu zer esan nahi zien. 7 Orduan, honela azaldu zien Jesusek: «Bene-benetan diotsuet: Neu naiz ardientzako atea. 8 Nire aurretik etorritako guztiak lapurrak ziren eta harrapariak; horregatik, ardiek ez zieten jaramonik egin. 9 Neu naiz atea; ate honetan zehar sartzen dena, onik izango da, eta ez du inolako eragozpenik izango larreak aurkitzeko. 10 Lapurra ez doa artaldera ebatsi, hil eta hondatzera baizik. Ni, berriz, bizia –eta bizia ugari gainera– izan dezaten etorri naiz.
Building a New Relationship with Jesus
In Christian communities today, once again, we need to live a new experience of Jesus by rekindling our relationship with HIM. We must firmly place HIM at the center of our life. We must move away from a routine confession of Jesus to an attitude of vitally welcoming HIM in our lives. The Gospel of John suggests some important clues about this relationship with Jesus by referring to the relationship between the sheep with their shepherd.
The first step is to “hear his voice” in all its freshness and originality. This VOICE is not to be blended with the respect to the traditions nor with the attraction of new fashions. We must not let ourselves be distracted, lured or fascinated by other strange voices which are heard even inside the Church, because these voices do not communicate HIS Good News.
It is important that each one of us feel called by Jesus “by our name.” We must let us be attracted by him personally. We must discover slowly, and with ever more joy, that no one else does answer our most critical questions, our deepest desires and our ultimate needs.
It is crucial also to “follow” Jesus. The Christian faith is not about believing things about Jesus, but to believe HIM: to live trusting in HIM; to be inspired by HIS lifestyle, which will guide our own existence with lucidity and responsibility.
It is vital to walk in life having Jesus “in front of us.” We mustn’t journey our life alone. We must try to experience at some point in our lives that it is possible to live it, albeit clumsily, from its root: from that which God offered to us in Jesus: more human, more friend and savior, closer and dearer to us than our own theories.
To enjoy this sort of living relationship with Jesus does not come in us automatically. It awakens within us in a fragile and humble manner. At the beginning, it’s almost like a wish. Usually it grows surrounded by doubts, many questions and resistances. But somehow, a time arrives when that contact with Jesus begins to transform our lives decisively.
I am convinced that the future of faith among us is being decided, largely on the consciousness of those who right now believe to be Christians. Right now, the faith is rekindling or is becoming extinct in our very parishes and communities, in the hearts of priests and faithful which make part of it.
Unbelief begins to penetrate in us from the very moment our relationship with Jesus loses power or is numb by the routine, indifference and carelessness. This is the reason why Pope Francis has acknowledged that “we need to create motivating and healing spaces …and appeals that spaces must be created where faith in Jesus may be regenerated.” We must listen to his appeal.
Sunday April 30, 2017
Third Sunday of Easter (A)
Gospel Luke 24: 13-35
That very day, the first day of the week, two of Jesus’ disciples were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing as you walk along?” They stopped, looking downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?” And he replied to them, “What sort of things?” They said to him, “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him. But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place. Some women from our group, however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that he was alive. Then some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the Scriptures. As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther. But they urged him, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?” So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them who were saying, “The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!” Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of bread.
Ebanjelioa Lukas 24: 13-35
13 Egun hartan bertan, ikasleetako bi Emaus izeneko herrixka batera zihoazen, Jerusalemdik hamaika kilometrora. 14 Gertakari guztiotaz mintzo ziren elkarrekin. 15 Eta, hizketan eta eztabaidan ari zirela, Jesus bera ondoratu zitzaien eta beraiekin joan zen. 16 Baina ikasleek begiak itsu zituzten eta ez zuten ezagutu. 17 Jesusek esan zien: –Zeri buruz zoazte bidean elkarrekin hizketan? Haiek gelditu egin ziren, aurpegia ilun, 18 eta beraietako batek, Kleofas zeritzanak, honela erantzun zion: –Zeu izango zara egun hauetan Jerusalemen gertatu dena jakin ez duen kanpotar bakarra! 19 –Zer gertatu da, bada? –esan zien hark. Haiek erantzun zioten: –Jesus Nazaretarrarena; profeta handia zen hitzez eta egitez Jainkoaren eta herri osoaren begitan; 20 baina gure apaizburu eta agintariek heriotzara kondenatu dute eta gurutziltzatu. 21 Guk uste genuen berak askatuko zuela Israel; baina badira hiru egun hori gertatu dela. 22 Egia da gure arteko emakume batzuek harriturik utzi gaituztela: goizean goiz joan dira hilobira 23 eta ez omen dute gorpua aurkitu; gainera, Jesus bizi dela esan dieten aingeru batzuk agertu zaizkiela esanez etorri zaizkigu. 24 Gutako batzuk ere izan dira hilobian eta emakumeek esan bezala aurkitu dute guztia; baina bera ez dute ikusi. 25 Orduan, Jesusek esan zien: –Bai buru gutxikoak zaretela, bai motelak profetek esana sinesteko! 26 Ez ote zuen Mesiasek hori guztia sufritu behar bere aintzara iristeko? 27 Eta, Moisesengandik hasi eta profetaz profeta, Liburu Santuek berari buruz zioten guztia azaldu zien. 28 Zihoazen herrixkara hurbildu zirenean, aurrera jarraitzeko keinua egin zuen Jesusek. 29 Baina haiek arren eta arren eskatu zioten: «Geldi zaitez gurekin, berandu baita eta iluna gainean dugu». Eta herrian sartu zen haiekin gelditzeko. 30 Ondoren, elkarrekin mahaian jarri ziren, eta Jesusek, ogia harturik, bedeinkazioa esan, zatitu eta eman egin zien. 31 Orduan, begiak ireki zitzaizkien eta ezagutu egin zuten, baina Jesus desagertu egin zitzaien begi aurretik. 32 Haiek elkarri esan zioten: «Ez al geneukan barrua sutan, bidean Liburu Santuak azalduz mintzo zitzaigunean?» 33 Berehala jaiki eta Jerusalemera itzuli ziren; eta Hamaikak eta hauen lagunak bildurik aurkitu zituzten, 34 honela ziotela: «Egia da! Piztu da Jauna eta Simoni agertu zaio». 35 Bi ikasleek bidean gertatua eta nola ogia zatitzean ezagutu zuten kontatu zieten.
Dare to welcome the Gospel
Two of Jesus’ disciples move slowly away from Jerusalem. As they walk, they are sad and desolate. Deep in their hearts all the hopes they had placed in Jesus had died out, when they saw him dying on the cross. However, they still think about it. They can’t forget him. Was this all a dream or an illusion? As they talk and discuss everything they had experienced all these passed days, Jesus approaches them and starts to walk with them. However, the disciples did not recognize HIM. That very Jesus whom the two disciples trusted so much and loved so tenderly and passionately, was now a total stranger. Jesus joins their conversation.
The two disciples listen to him surprised at first, but gradually HIS presence and words awaken something in their hearts. They do not know exactly what. Later they will confess “were not our hearts burning while they spoke to us on the way?” The two disciples find themselves totally attracted to the words of Jesus. There comes a moment when they really need HIS company. They don’t want to let him go, “Stay with us,” they insist. During dinner, at the breaking of the break, the eyes of the two disciples got open and then they were able to recognize HIM.
This is the first message of the story: When we embrace Jesus as companion of our pilgrimage in this world, HIS words can awaken in us our lost hope. Over the years, many people have lost their trust in Jesus. Gradually, Jesus may have become for many a strange and unrecognizable character. All they know about HIM is the image they can rebuild, in a partial and fragmentary way, from what they have heard to preachers and catechists. Surely Sunday homilies may play an irreplaceable task for many, but it is clearly insufficient for people today, for those who wish to come into direct contact with the living Gospel.
Is it time to establish spaces out of the context of the Sunday liturgy, for new and different ways where we can listen together to the Gospel of Jesus. We need more and more to listen directly to Jesus and to experience him in our lives. We need to gather all, lay people and priests, men and women, who are interested, around Jesus and to listen to HIM, experience HIM, and taste HIM without having to give lessons about HIM. For this to happen it is absolutely necessary that ALL are WELCOME in our churches: All means ALL.
We need to give the GOSPEL itself the opportunity to enter in us with all its transforming power within the direct and immediate contact with the everyday problems, crisis, fears and longings of today’s people. Or else it will be too late to recover in us the genuine freshness of the Gospel. If we are not able to experience Jesus in the outcast, the poor, refugees and undocumented people, we risk to make the Gospel a purse and simple ideology: a piece of a museum.
Sunday April 23, 2017
Second Sunday of Easter (A)
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 nail marks 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.
Jesus will save the Church
Terrified by the execution of Jesus, the disciples took refuge in a known house. They were again together, but Jesus is not with them at this time. There is an emptiness in the community, which no one can fill. Jesus is missing. Whom to follow now? What can they do without HIM? “It’s getting dark” in Jerusalem and also in the hearts of the disciples.
Inside the house, they are “with the doors locked.” They have become a community with no mission and no horizon, closed up on itself, without a welcoming energy. No one thinks any longer about going out the dusty roads to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the wounds of life. With the doors so locked up, it is impossible to approach and to see and the experience of the suffering of the people. The disciples are filled with “fear of the Jews.” They have become a community paralyzed by fear, in a defensive attitude. They have become a community, which only sees hostility and rejection everywhere. But with fear of everything it is not possible to love the world as Jesus loved, nor to instill courage and hope on others.
Suddenly, the risen Jesus takes again the initiative. HE comes to rescue his followers. “Entered into the house and placed HIMSELF in their midst.” The small community begins to change. From fear, they moved on to the peace that Jesus instills in them. From the darkness of the night they moved to the joy of seeing him full of life. From locked doors, they will soon move to the opening of them and on to the mission. Jesus talks to them as HE placed on them all his trust: “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” Jesus does not tell them whom they need to approach, or what they should announce or how should they act. All that they have already been able to learn from him as they walked together on the dusty roads of Galilee. They must become in the world what JESUS himself has been.
Jesus knows the frailty of his disciples. Often Jesus criticized them because of their wavering and small faith. They will need the power of HIS Spirit to fulfill HIS mission. That’s why Jesus performs for them a special gesture. Jesus does not lay his hands or blesses them as HE used to do for the sick. Jesus rather breathes on them and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
Only Jesus will save the Church. Only he will deliver us from the fears that paralyze us, and will break our boring doctrines and dogmas in which we intend to lock HIM up, and HE will open many doors that have been closed over the centuries, and will strengthen so many roads, which had diverted us from HIM. What we are asked is to revive much more throughout the Church the faith in the risen Jesus, to mobilize ourselves to put HIM without fear in the center of our ecclesial institutions, parishes and communities, and to concentrate all our strength in listening carefully to what the Spirit is saying to us today. All are welcome, all, into this wonderful project.
Sunday April 16, 2017
The Resurrection of the Lord Easter Sunday (A)
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. 8 Orduan, 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.
“Return to Galille”
The Gospels have collected the memory of three remarkable women who, at dawn on a Saturday, approached the tomb where Jesus was buried. They cannot forget him. They still love him more than anyone else. Meanwhile, the men have fled and perhaps remain hidden.
The message these loving women hear as they arrive to the tomb, is of an exceptional importance and transcendence. The oldest written gospel reads as follow, “Do you seek Jesus of Nazareth, the one who was crucified? He is not here. He has risen.” It is a mistake to look for Jesus in the world of the death. He is alive forever. We will never find him where life is dead. We must not forget. If we wish to find the risen Christ, the one full of life and creative power, we must not have to look in a dead religion, reduced only to external routine compliance of precepts and rituals, or in a dull faith sustained with stereotypes, clichés, and worn-out formulas, devoid of true living love of Jesus.
So, where we can find HIM? The three loving women received the following mission: “Now go, tell my disciples and Peter, that I go before you to Galilee. There they shall see ME.” Why must we return to Galilee to see the Risen Lord? What is the deeper meaning hidden in this invitation? What does this mission of Jesus tell to Christians today? It was in Galilee that the Good News of God, the humanizing project of the Father, was heard for the first time and in all its purity. If we do not hear the same message today, with simple and open hearts, we may feed ourselves with venerable doctrines, but we will not be able to know the joy of the Gospel of Jesus, capable to “resurrect” our dormant faith. It was on the shores of Lake Galilee, that Jesus began to call his first followers to teach them to share his lifestyle, and to collaborate with him in the great task of making the life of the outcast people more human.
Today Jesus continues to call us to the same project. If we do not hear today his call and he does not “go before us,” where will the whole Christian community go? It was walking along the dusty roads of Galilee, on the way to Jerusalem, that the first community of Jesus started growing. His followers were able to live with him a unique experience. His presence fills all. He was the center. Sharing their lives with Jesus, the disciples learnt to live welcoming everyone, forgiving all, healing and restoring self-confidence in everyone they met; in short, awakening trust and faith in the unfathomable love of God.
If we do not, radically, place Jesus in the center of our personal as well as communitarian lives, we will never experience his presence in our midst. If we determine ourselves to return to Galilee, the “invisible presence” of the risen Jesus will acquire human traits when reading the Gospel narratives; then, his “silent presence” will become a concrete voice of encouragement, sending us on the same mission of the three loving ladies.
Holy Father’s Message for Lent 2017, 07.02.2017
The following is the full text of the Holy Father Francis’ message for Lent 2017 on the theme “The Word is a gift. Other persons are a gift”.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Lent is a new beginning, a path leading to the certain goal of Easter, Christ’s victory over death. This season urgently calls us to conversion. Christians are asked to return to God “with all their hearts” (Joel 2:12), to refuse to settle for mediocrity and to grow in friendship with the Lord. Jesus is the faithful friend Who never abandons us. Even when we sin, He patiently awaits our return; by that patient expectation, He shows us His readiness to forgive (cf. Homily, 8 January 2016).
Lent is a favourable season for deepening our spiritual life through the means of sanctification offered us by the Church: fasting, prayer and almsgiving. At the basis of everything is the word of God, which during this season we are invited to hear and ponder more deeply. I would now like to consider the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (cf. Lk 16:19-31). Let us find inspiration in this meaningful story, for it provides a key to understanding what we need to do in order to attain true happiness and eternal life. It exhorts us to sincere conversion.
1. The other person is a gift
The parable begins by presenting its two main characters. The poor man is described in greater detail: he is wretched and lacks the strength even to stand. Lying before the door of the rich man, he fed on the crumbs falling from his table. His body is full of sores and dogs come to lick his wounds (cf. vv. 20-21). The picture is one of great misery; it portrays a man disgraced and pitiful.
The scene is even more dramatic if we consider that the poor man is called Lazarus: a name full of promise, which literally means “God helps”. This character is not anonymous. His features are clearly delineated and he appears as an individual with his own story. While practically invisible to the rich man, we see and know him as someone familiar. He becomes a face, and as such, a gift, a priceless treasure, a human being whom God loves and cares for, despite his concrete condition as an outcast (cf. Homily, 8 January 2016).
Lazarus teaches us that other persons are a gift. A right relationship with people consists in gratefully recognising their value. Even the poor person at the door of the rich is not a nuisance, but a summons to conversion and to change. The parable first invites us to open the doors of our heart to others because each person is a gift, whether it be our neighbour or an anonymous pauper. Lent is a favourable season for opening the doors to all those in need and recognising in them the face of Christ. Each of us meets people like this every day. Each life that we encounter is a gift deserving acceptance, respect and love. The word of God helps us to open our eyes to welcome and love life, especially when it is weak and vulnerable. But in order to do this, we have to take seriously what the Gospel tells us about the rich man.
2. Sin blinds us
The parable is unsparing in its description of the contradictions associated with the rich man (cf. v. 19). Unlike poor Lazarus, he does not have a name; he is simply called “a rich man”. His opulence was seen in his extravagant and expensive robes. Purple cloth was even more precious than silver and gold, and was thus reserved to divinities (cf. Jer 10:9) and kings (cf. Jg 8:26), while fine linen gave one an almost sacred character. The man was clearly ostentatious about his wealth, and in the habit of displaying it daily: “He feasted sumptuously every day” (v. 19). In him we can catch a dramatic glimpse of the corruption of sin, which progresses in three successive stages: love of money, vanity and pride (cf. Homily, 20 September 2013).
The Apostle Paul tells us that “the love of money is the root of all evils” (1 Tim 6:10). It is the main cause of corruption and a source of envy, strife and suspicion. Money can come to dominate us, even to the point of becoming a tyrannical idol (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 55). Instead of being an instrument at our service for doing good and showing solidarity towards others, money can chain us and the entire world to a selfish logic that leaves no room for love and hinders peace.
The parable then shows that the rich man’s greed makes him vain. His personality finds expression in appearances, in showing others what he can do. But his appearance masks an interior emptiness. His life is a prisoner to outward appearances, to the most superficial and fleeting aspects of existence (cf. ibid., 62).
The lowest rung of this moral degradation is pride. The rich man dresses like a king and acts like a god, forgetting that he is merely mortal. For those corrupted by love of riches, nothing exists beyond their own ego. Those around them do not come into their line of sight. The result of attachment to money is a sort of blindness. The rich man does not see the poor man who is starving, hurting, lying at his door.
Looking at this character, we can understand why the Gospel so bluntly condemns the love of money: “No one can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or be attached to the first and despise the second. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money” (Mt 6:24).
3. The Word is a gift
The Gospel of the rich man and Lazarus helps us to make a good preparation for the approach of Easter. The liturgy of Ash Wednesday invites us to an experience quite similar to that of the rich man. When the priest imposes the ashes on our heads, he repeats the words: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return”. As it turned out, the rich man and the poor man both died, and the greater part of the parable takes place in the afterlife. The two characters suddenly discover that “we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it” (1 Tim 6:7).
We too see what happens in the afterlife. There the rich man speaks at length with Abraham, whom he calls “father” (Lk 16:24.27), as a sign that he belongs to God’s people. This detail makes his life appear all the more contradictory, for until this moment there had been no mention of his relation to God. In fact, there was no place for God in his life. His only god was himself.
The rich man recognizes Lazarus only amid the torments of the afterlife. He wants the poor man to alleviate his suffering with a drop of water. What he asks of Lazarus is similar to what he could have done but never did. Abraham tells him: “During your life you had your fill of good things, just as Lazarus had his fill of bad. Now he is being comforted here while you are in agony” (v. 25). In the afterlife, a kind of fairness is restored and life’s evils are balanced by good.
The parable goes on to offer a message for all Christians. The rich man asks Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his brothers, who are still alive. But Abraham answers: “They have Moses and the prophets, let them listen to them” (v. 29). Countering the rich man’s objections, he adds: “If they will not listen either to Moses or to the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead” (v. 31).
The rich man’s real problem thus comes to the fore. At the root of all his ills was the failure to heed God’s word. As a result, he no longer loved God and grew to despise his neighbor. The word of God is alive and powerful, capable of converting hearts and leading them back to God. When we close our heart to the gift of God’s word, we end up closing our heart to the gift of our brothers and sisters.
Dear friends, Lent is the favorable season for renewing our encounter with Christ, living in his word, in the sacraments and in our neighbor. The Lord, who overcame the deceptions of the Tempter during the forty days in the desert, shows us the path we must take. May the Holy Spirit lead us on a true journey of conversion, so that we can rediscover the gift of God’s word, be purified of the sin that blinds us, and serve Christ present in our brothers and sisters in need. I encourage all the faithful to express this spiritual renewal also by sharing in the Lenten Campaigns promoted by many Church organizations in different parts of the world, and thus to favor the culture of encounter in our one human family. Let us pray for one another so that, by sharing in the victory of Christ, we may open our doors to the weak and poor. Then we will be able to experience and share to the full the joy of Easter.
From the Vatican, 18 October 2016,
Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist
Sunday April 9, 2017
Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion
Gospel: procession MT 21: 1-11
During mass MT 26: 14-66
Nothing could stop him
The execution of the Baptist was not something casual. According to a widespread belief among the Jewish people, the fate that awaits the prophet is one of misunderstanding, rejection and, in many cases, death. Probably Jesus had foreseen, from very early on, the possibility of a violent end.
Jesus was not a suicidal or someone seeking martyrdom. He never wanted the suffering for him or for anyone else. He committed all his life to fighting disease, injustice, marginalization and hopelessness. He lived totally committed to “seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness: “a more decent and happy world for all, which he believed was the ultimate will of the Father.”
If Jesus accepted persecution and martyrdom was out of fidelity to the plan of God who does not wish to see his children suffer. That’s why Jesus does not rush to the death, but he neither escapes away from it. He does not flee away from threats, nor alters or softens his challenging message.
It would have been easy for Jesus to avoid execution. It would have been enough for him just to shut up and not to dwell on the message that he knew irritated both the religious and political institutions. Jesus did not do it. He kept daily going on with his message. He chose to be executed rather than betray his conscience and be unfaithful to God, his Father’s mission.
Jesus learned to live in a climate of insecurity, conflicts and accusations. Day by day he was reaffirming his mission and continued preaching his message clearly. He dared to spread the Good News not only in the most far away villages of Galilee, but also in the dangerous environment surrounding the temple. Nothing could stop him.
Jesus died faithful to God on whom he always trusted. He continued welcoming all around him, even sinners and the rejected people. If the powers to be continue confronting him, then Jesus will die as a “rejected and excluded” one and yet his death will be the clearest confirmation of what has been his whole life: a life of total confidence in a God who does not reject or exclude anyone from forgiveness.
In spite of bitter the confrontation his words and actions created, Jesus continued to seek the kingdom of God and its righteousness, always identifying with the poor and despised. If one day he is executed with the torture of the cross, only reserved for slaves, he will die like the poorest and despised, but with his death Jesus would forever seal his faith in a God who desires the salvation of human beings from all that enslaves.
The followers of Jesus discovered the final mystery of reality, embodied in his love and extreme dedication to human beings. In the love of the crucified Jesus, it is God who identifies Himself with all those who suffer, screaming against all injustices and yet forgiving the murderers of all times. In this God, on whom one may believe or not believe, but we cannot make a mockery of him. Christians trust in him. Nothing will stop Him from His plan to save His children.
Sunday April 2, 2017
Fifth Sunday of Lent (A)
Gospel John 11: 1-45
Now a man was ill, Lazarus from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who had anointed the Lord with perfumed oil and dried his feet with her hair; it was her brother Lazarus who was ill. So the sisters sent word to him saying, “Master, the one you love is ill.” hen Jesus heard this he said, “This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that he was ill, he remained for two days in the place where he was. Then after this he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you, and you want to go back there?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in a day? If one walks during the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if one walks at night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” He said this, and then told them, “Our friend Lazarus is asleep, but I am going to awaken him.” So the disciples said to him, “Master, if he is asleep, he will be saved.” But Jesus was talking about his death, while they thought that he meant ordinary sleep. So then Jesus said to them clearly, “Lazarus has died. And I am glad for you that I was not there, that you may believe. Let us go to him.” So Thomas, called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go to die with him.” When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, only about two miles away. And many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him; but Mary sat at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise.” Martha said to him, “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.” When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary secretly, saying, “The teacher is here and is asking for you.” As soon as she heard this, she rose quickly and went to him. For Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still where Martha had met him. So when the Jews who were with her in the house comforting her saw Mary get up quickly and go out, they followed her, presuming that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping, he became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Sir, come and see.” And Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him.” But some of them said, “Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man have done something so that this man would not have died?” So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay across it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to him, “Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus raised his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you for hearing me. I know that you always hear me; but because of the crowd here I have said this, that they may believe that you sent me.” And when he had said this, He cried out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth. So Jesus said to them, “Untie him and let him go.” Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary and seen what he had done began to believe in him.
Ebanjelioa Joan 11: 1-45
1 Gizon bat, Lazaro zeritzana, gaixo zegoen. Betaniakoa zen, Maria eta honen ahizpa Martaren herrixkakoa. 2 (Maria hau –gaixo zegoen Lazaroren arreba– Jauna ukenduz igurtzi eta oinak bere ile-adatsez xukatu zizkiona zen). 3 Bi ahizpek Jesusi albistea bidali zioten: «Jauna! Zure adiskidea gaixo dago». 4 Jesusek, hori jakitean, esan zuen: «Eritasun hau ez da heriotzara eramateko, Jainkoaren aintza azaltzeko baizik, beraren bidez Jainkoaren Semearen aintza azal dadin». 5 Marta, honen ahizpa eta Lazaro oso adiskide zituen arren, 6 hau gaixo zegoela jakinda ere, Jesus beste bi egunez gelditu zen zegoen lekuan. 7 Ondoren, esan zien ikasleei: –Goazen berriro Judeara. 8 Ikasleek esan zioten: –Maisu, oraintsu juduek harrika egin nahi zizuten, eta hara zoaz berriro? 9 Jesusek erantzun zien: –Ez al ditu hamabi ordu egunak? Egunez dabilenak ez du estropezu egiten, eguzkiak argitzen baitio bidea; 10 baina gauez dabilenak estropezu egiten du, ez baitu argirik. 11 Eta erantsi zuen: –Lazaro gure adiskidea loak hartu du; baina banoa iratzartzera. 12 Esan zioten, orduan, ikasleek: –Jauna, loak hartu badu, sendatuko da. 13 Jesusek Lazaroren heriotzaz esan zuen hori, baina ikasleek ohiko loaz ari zela uste zuten. 14 Azkenik, argi eta garbi esan zien Jesusek: –Lazaro hil egin da, 15 eta pozten naiz han ez izanaz, zeuen onerako izango baita, horrela sinets dezazuen. Goazen, bada, haren etxera. 16 Orduan, Tomasek, Bikia zeritzanak, bere ikaskideei esan zien: «Goazen gu ere, berarekin hiltzera». 17 Jesus iritsi zenean, jadanik lau egun zeramatzan Lazarok hilobian. 18 Betania Jerusalemdik hurbil dago, hiru kilometrora edo; 19 eta judu asko etorri zen Maria eta Martarengana, nebarengatik doluminak ematera. 20 Marta, Jesus zetorrela entzun orduko, bidera irten zitzaion; Maria, berriz, etxean gelditu zen. 21 Martak esan zion Jesusi: –Jauna, hemen izan bazina, gure neba ez zen hilko. 22 Baina, halere, badakit eska diezaiozun guztia emango dizula Jainkoak. 23 Jesusek erantzun zion: –Piztuko da zure neba. 24 Eta Martak: –Badakit, bai, piztuko dela azken egunean, hildakoen piztuerakoan. 25 Jesusek esan zion, orduan: –Neu naiz piztuera eta bizia; niregan sinesten duena, hilda ere, biziko da. 26 Eta bizi dena, niregan sinesten badu, ez da betiko hilko. Sinesten al duzu hau? 27 Martak erantzun zion: –Bai, Jauna, sinesten dut zeu zarela Mesias, Jainkoaren Semea, mundura etortzekoa zena. 28 Ondoren, Marta bere ahizpa Mariari dei egitera joan zen, eta esan zion isilka: «Maisua hemen dun eta hots egiten din». 29 Berehala jaiki eta Jesusengana joan zen. 30 Jesus artean herrixkan sartu gabe zegoen, Martak topatu zuen lekuan bertan. 31Orduan, hari doluminak ematen etxean zeuden juduek, Maria arin jaiki eta irten egin zela ikusirik, jarraitu egin zioten, hilobian negar egitera zihoalakoan. 32 Mariak, Jesusengana iritsi eta ikustean, oinetara ahuspeztu eta esan zion: «Jauna, hemen izan bazina, gure neba ez zen hilko». 33 Jesusi, orduan, Maria eta beronekin zetozen juduak negarrez ikusirik, barruak zirrara egin zion eta, zeharo hunkiturik, 34 esan zuen: –Non ipini duzue? Erantzun zioten: –Jauna, zatoz eta ikusi. 35 Jesusek negarrari eman zion. 36 Han zeuden juduek esan zuten: –Bai maite zuela! 37 Baina batzuek esan zuten: –Itsuaren begiak ireki zituen honek, ezin ote zuen hau hiltzea galarazi? 38 Jesus, ostera ere hunkiturik, hilobira hurbildu zen. Hartzulo bat zen, harri batez estalia. 39 Jesusek esan zuen: –Kendu harria.
Martak, Lazaro zenaren arrebak, erantzun zion: –Jauna, kiratsa botako du, lau egun daramatza eta. 40 Jesusek erantzun zion: –Ez dizut, bada, esan, sinesten baduzu Jainkoaren aintza ikusiko duzula? 41 Kendu zuten, bada, harria. Jesusek, begiak zerurantz jasorik, esan zuen: «Eskerrak zuri, Aita, entzun didazulako. 42 Nik badakit beti entzuten didazuna; baina inguruan den jendearengatik diot, zuk bidali nauzula sinets dezaten». 43 Ondoren, ozenki egin zuen deiadar: «Lazaro, zatoz kanpora! 44 Eta hildakoa hartzulotik irten zen. Esku-oinak oihal-zerrendaz loturik eta aurpegia zapi batez estalirik zituen. Jesusek esan zien: «Aska ezazue eta utzi joaten».
A Prophet who weeps
Jesus never hides his love for the three brothers living in Bethany. Surely, they are those who welcome him at home whenever he went up to Jerusalem. One day Jesus receives a message: our brother Lazarus, “your friend” is sick. Soon after, Jesus heads toward the small village.
When Jesus arrives, Lazarus is already dead. Seeing him arrive, Mary, the younger sister, begins to mourn. No one can comfort her. Seeing his friend crying and also the accompanying Jews, Jesus could not stop his tears. Also, Jesus “begins to cry” with them. People say: “Look how he loved him!” Jesus weeps not only for the death of a dear friend. His heart breaks as he too experiences the human powerlessness before death. We all carry in the depths of our being an insatiable desire to live. Why should we die? Why life is not a happier one, a longer one, a safer one, in a word, a livelier one?
Man today, as in all ages, carries in his heart the most disturbing and difficult question to answer: What will happen to each and every one of us? It is useless to try to deceive ourselves. What can we do? To rebel? But against whom? Let ourselves be depressed? Without any doubt, before such an anguishing question, the most widespread reaction is to forget about it and to “move on.” But are we, human beings, not called to live our lives and to live ourselves with full awareness and responsibility? Must we approach to our final destiny unconsciously, as if we were sedated and irresponsibly, without taking a position before this reality of my own death?
Faced with the ultimate mystery of our destiny, it is not possible to appeal to scientific and religious dogmas. They cannot lead us beyond this life. To me it seems more honest the attitude of sculptor Eduardo Chillida (1924-2002) who on one occasion made the following statement: “About death, reason tells me that it’s final. About reason, reason tells me that it is limited.”
We Christians do not know about the other life more than others. We too must humbly approach to the dark fact of our death. But we do it with a radical trust in the goodness of the mystery of God that we see in Jesus. This Jesus whom we haven’t seen and yet we love with all our hearts and offer our full trust. This trust, confidence, faith, cannot be understood from outside. It can only be experienced by the one who have responded, with simple faith, to the words of Jesus: “I am the resurrection and the life. Do you believe this?” Recently, Hans Küng, one of the most critical of the twentieth century Catholic theologians, and near already to his end of life, has said that for him to die is to “rest in the mystery of God’s mercy.”
Sunday March 26, 2017
Fourth Sunday of Lent (A)
Gospel John 9: 1-41
As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him. We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva, and smeared the clay on his eyes, and said to him, “Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” —which means Sent—. So he went and washed, and came back able to see.
His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said, “Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?” Some said, “It is, “but others said, “No, he just looks like him.” He said, “I am.” So they said to him, “How were your eyes opened?” He replied, “The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went there and washed and was able to see.” And they said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I don’t know.”
They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees. Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath. So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see. He said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.” So some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, because he does not keep the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a sinful man do such signs?” And there was a division among them. So they said to the blind man again, “What do you have to say about him, since he opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.”
Now the Jews did not believe that he had been blind and gained his sight until they summoned the parents of the one who had gained his sight. They asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How does he now see?” His parents answered and said, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. We do not know how he sees now, nor do we know who opened his eyes.
Ask him, he is of age; he can speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone acknowledged him as the Christ,
he would be expelled from the synagogue. For this reason his parents said, “He is of age; question him.”
So a second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give God the praise! We know that this man is a sinner.” He replied, “If he is a sinner, I do not know. One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see.” So they said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered them, “I told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?” They ridiculed him and said, “You are that man’s disciple; we are disciples of Moses! We know that God spoke to Moses, but we do not know where this one is from.” The man answered and said to them, “This is what is so amazing, that you do not know where he is from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if one is devout and does his will, he listens to him. It is unheard of that anyone ever opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he would not be able to do anything.”
They answered and said to him, “You were born totally in sin, and are you trying to teach us?”
Then they threw him out.
When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, he found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered and said, “Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, the one speaking with you is he.” He said, “I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him. Then Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind.”
Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not also blind, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains.
Ebanjelioa Joan 9: 1-41
1 Bidez zihoala, jaiotzatik itsua zen gizon bat ikusi zuen Jesusek. 2 Eta ikasleek galdegin zioten: –Maisu, zeinek egin zuen bekatu hau itsu jaiotzeko, beronek ala beronen gurasoek?
3 Jesusek erantzun zien: –Ez beronek, ez beronen gurasoek, ez zuten bekatu egin, baizik eta Jainkoaren egintzak honengan ager daitezen jaio zen itsu. 4Egun-argi den bitartean, bidali nauenaren egintzak bete behar ditut; badator gaua, eta orduan ezin izango du inork lanik egin. 5Munduan naizen bitartean, munduaren argia naiz. 6 Hau esanik, lurrera listua bota, listuaz lohia egin eta lohiaz itsuari begiak igurtzi zizkion. 7 Gero, esan zion: –Zoaz garbitzera Siloeko ur-putzura (Siloek «Bidalia» esan nahi du). Joan zen, bada, garbitu eta ikusten zuela itzuli zen. 8 Auzokoek eta lehen eskean ikusi ohi zutenek esaten zuten:
–Ez al da hau eserita eskean egoten zena? 9 Batzuek zioten: –Bai, huraxe da. Beste batzuek, berriz: –Ez, ez da hura, haren antzeko bat baino. Berak, ordea, zioen: –Bai, neu nauzue. 10 Haiek galdetu zioten: –Nola ikusten duzu, bada, orain? 11 Hark erantzun zien: –Jesus delakoak listuaz lohia egin du, begiak igurtzi dizkit eta agindu: «Zoaz Siloera eta garbitu han»; joan, garbitu eta ikusten hasi naiz. 12 Orduan, galdegin zioten: –Non da orain gizon hori? Hark erantzun: –Ez dakit. 13-14 Larunbata zen Jesusek lohia egin eta begiak ireki zizkion eguna. Horregatik, fariseuengana eraman zuten itsu izandako hura, 15 eta fariseuek berriro galdegin zioten ea nola hasi zen ikusten. Hark erantzun zien: –Lohia ezarri zidan begietan, garbitu nintzen eta ikusi egiten dut. 16 Orduan, fariseuetariko batzuek zioten: –Gizon hori ez dator Jainkoarengandik, ez baitu atseden-eguna errespetatzen. Beste batzuek, berriz, zioten: –Nola egin lezake bekatari batek horrelako mirarizko seinalerik? Eta ez zetozen bat beren iritzietan. 17 Orduan, berriro galdetu zioten itsuari: –Eta zuk, zer diozu begiak ireki dizkizunaz? Hark erantzun: –Profeta dela. 18 Judu-agintariek, ordea, ez zuten sinetsi nahi gizon hura itsu izan eta gero ikusten hasi zenik. Beraz, haren gurasoei deitu 19 eta galdegin zieten: –Hau al da zuen semea, itsu jaio zela diozuena? Nola ikusten du, bada, orain? 20 Gurasoek erantzun zieten: –Guk dakiguna da gure semea dela eta itsu jaio zela; 21 baina orain nola ikusten duen edo begiak nork ireki dizkion, hori ez dakigu. Galdegin berari, badu adina-eta bere buruaren berri emateko. 22 Gurasoek agintarien beldur zirelako erantzun zuten horrela, ordurako agintariek erabakia baitzuten Jesus Mesias zela aitortzen zuena beren elkartetik botatzea. 23 Horregatik esan zuten gurasoek: «Badu adina, galdegin berari». 24 Agintariek itsu izandakoari bigarren aldiz dei egin eta esan zioten:
–Aitortu egia Jainkoaren aurrean. Guk badakigu gizon hori bekatari dela. 25 Hark erantzun zien: –Ez dakit bekatari den ala ez. Dakidan gauza bakarra hauxe da: itsu nintzela eta orain ikusi egiten dudala. 26 Haiek, berriro: –Zer egin dizu? Nola ireki dizkizu begiak? 27 Eta hark erantzun: –Esan dizuet, eta ez didazue jaramonik egin. Zergatik nahi duzue berriro entzun? Zuek ere haren ikasle izan nahi duzue, ala? 28 Haiek irainez bete eta esan zioten: –Zeu zara, zu, haren ikasle; gu Moisesen ikasle gara. 29 Guk ziur dakigu Moisesi Jainkoak hitz egin ziola, baina hori nongoa den ere ez dakigu.30 Hark ihardetsi zien: –Hori bai harrigarria! Zuek nongoa den ere jakin ez, eta horrek niri begiak ireki. 31 Jakina da Jainkoak ez diola bekatariari entzuten, baizik eta berari begirune izan eta beraren nahia betetzen duenari entzuten diola Jainkoak. 32 Egundaino ez dugu entzun itsu jaiotako bati inork begiak ireki dizkionik. 33 Gizon horrek, Jainkoarengandik ez baletor, ezin izango luke ezer ere egin. 34 Haiek erantzun zioten: –Goitik beheraino bekatari jaio zinen, eta zu guri irakatsi nahian?
Eta elkartetik kanpora bota zuten. 35 Jakin zuen Jesusek sendatutako itsua elkartetik kanpora bota zutela eta, harekin topo egitean, galdetu zion: –Sinesten duzu Gizonaren Semearengan? 36 Hark erantzun: –Esadazu nor den, Jauna, sinets dezadan. 37 Jesusek esan zion: –Ikusi duzu. Zurekin ari dena bera da. 38 Orduan, Jesusen aurrean ahuspeztu eta esan zion: –Sinesten dut, Jauna. 39 Ondoren, esan zuen Jesusek: –Mundu hau auzitan jartzera etorri naiz ni. Ondorioz, ikusten ez dutenek ikusi egingo dute, eta ikusten omen dutenak itsu bihurtuko. 40 Jesusekin zeuden fariseuetako batzuek, hori entzunik, esan zioten: –Gu ere itsu ote gara? 41 Jesusek erantzun zien: –Itsu bazinete, ez zenukete bekaturik izango; baina ikusten duzuela diozuenez, zeuen bekatuzko egoeran irauten duzue.
For the excluded and the outcast
He is blind from birth. Neither he nor his parents have any guilt, but his fate will be marked forever. People look at him as a sinner punished by God. Jesus’ disciples asked him if the sin was committed by the blind or his parents. Jesus looks at him differently. From the moment, Jesus looks at him, and wonders how he can rescue the poor man from his miserable life of a beggar, and despised by all as a sinner. Jesus felt always called by God to defend, embrace and heal precisely those who live excluded and humiliated. This is his mission.
After an arduous healing process in which the blind man also had to collaborate with Jesus, the blind man discovered for the very first the light. The encounter with Jesus has changed his life. At last he will be able to enjoy a decent life, without fear of shame in front of anyone. Or so he thought. But he was wrong.
The religious leaders, the self-appointed controllers of the purity of the religion, were there to give him a hard time. These leaders seemed to know who is not a sinner and who is in sin. They were the ones who decided who could be accepted in the religious community and who should be excluded.
The healed beggar openly confesses that it was Jesus the one who approached and healed him, but the Pharisees get irritated rejected him: “We know that this man is a sinner.” The beggar insists on defending Jesus: “he is a prophet, he comes from God.” But the Pharisees could not stand him any longer: “you were born a sinner from head to toe and are you going to lecture us?”
The evangelist says, “When Jesus heard that they had expelled him from the synagogue, went to meet him.” The dialogue is short. When Jesus asks him if he believes in the Messiah, the beggar says: “And who is he, Sir that I may believe in him?” Jesus replied moved of compassion: “He is not far from you. You’re seeing him right now, the one who is speaking with you, He is.” And the beggar says, “Lord, I believe.”
So is Jesus. He always comes to meet those who are not officially welcomed by religion. He does not abandon those who seek him and love him even if they are excluded from communities and religious institutions. Those who have no place in our churches are the ones who have a special place in Jesus’ heart.
Who will today carry this message of Jesus to those groups who, at any time, have to endure unfair public condemnation from blind and merciless religious leaders or to those who participate in Christian celebrations with fear of being recognized as outcast and cannot receive Communion with peace in our Eucharist celebrations, and that are forced to live their faith in Jesus in the silence of their hearts, almost in secret and clandestine manner?
Dear unknown friends, do not forget this: when we Christians reject you, Jesus is welcoming you.
Sunday March 19, 2017
Third Sunday of Lent (A)
Gospel John 4: 5-42
Jesus came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there. Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well. It was about noon. A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” His disciples had gone into the town to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to him, “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” —For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans. — Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink, ‘
you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep; where then can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself with his children and his flocks?” Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”
Jesus said to her, “Go call your husband and come back.” The woman answered and said to him,
“I do not have a husband.” Jesus answered her, “You are right in saying, ‘I do not have a husband.’
For you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true.” The woman said to him, “Sir, I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain; but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.” Jesus said to her,
“Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You people worship what you do not understand; we worship what we understand, because salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth; and indeed, the Father seeks such people to worship him. God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth.”
The woman said to him, “I know that the Messiah is coming, the one called the Christ; when he comes, he will tell us everything.” Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one speaking with you.”
At that moment his disciples returned, and were amazed that he was talking with a woman, but still no one said, “What are you looking for?” or “Why are you talking with her?” The woman left her water jar and went into the town and said to the people, “Come see a man who told me everything I have done. Could he possibly be the Christ?” They went out of the town and came to him. Meanwhile, the disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.” So the disciples said to one another, “Could someone have brought him something to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to finish his work. Do you not say, ‘In four months the harvest will be here’? I tell you, look up and see the fields ripe for the harvest. The reaper is already receiving payment and gathering crops for eternal life, so that the sower and reaper can rejoice together. For here the saying is verified that ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap what you have not worked for; others have done the work, and you are sharing the fruits of their work.”
Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me everything I have done.” When the Samaritans came to him, they invited him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. Many more began to believe in him because of his word, and they said to the woman, “We no longer believe because of your word; for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.”
Ebanjelioa Joan 4: 5.42
5 Iritsi zen, bada, Sikar izeneko Samariako hirira, antzina Jakobek bere seme Joseri ondaretzat emaniko lursailetik hurbil. 6 Han zegoen Jakoben putzua delakoa. Jesus, bideaz nekaturik, putzu-ertzean eseri zen. Eguerdi ingurua zen. 7-8 Ikasleak hirira joanak ziren janaria erostera. Hortan, Samariako emakume bat etorri zen putzura ur bila. Jesusek esan zion: –Emadazu edaten. 9 Orduan, emakume samariarrak esan zion: –Nola zuk, judu izanik, eskatzen didazu edatekoa niri, samariar naizen honi? (Jakin behar da juduek eta samariarrek ez dutela elkarrekin harremanik). 10 Jesusek erantzun zion: –Jainkoak ematen duena ezagutuko eta edatekoa nork eskatzen dizun jakingo bazenu, zeuk eskatuko zenioke berari, eta hark ur bizia emango lizuke. 11 Emakumeak esan zion: –Jauna, ez daukazu ura zerez atera, eta putzua sakona da. Nondik aterako duzu, beraz, ur bizi hori? 12 Geure aita Jakobek utzi zigun putzu hau eta bertatik edan zuten berak, beraren seme-alabek eta abereek. Hura baino handiagoa al zara zu? 13 Jesusek ihardetsi zion: –Ur honetatik edaten duena berriro ere egarri izango da; 14 nik emango diodan uretik edango duena, ordea, ez da sekula egarri izango; zeren nik emango diodan ura betiko bizia darion iturburu bihurtuko baitzaio barruan. 15 Orduan, emakumeak: –Jauna, emadazu ur horretatik, berriro egarri ez nadin, eta hona uretara etorri beharrik izan ez dezadan. 16 Jesusek esan zion: –Zoaz etxera, dei egiozu zeure senarrari eta itzuli hona. 17 Emakumeak erantzun: –Ez dut senarrik. Eta Jesusek: –Ongi diozu ez duzula senarrik; 18 bost izan dituzu, eta oraingoa ez duzu senarra; horretan egia diozu. 19 Emakumeak esan zion: –Jauna, profeta zarela ikusten dut. 20 Gure gurasoek mendi honetan eman zioten kultu Jainkoari; zuek, juduok, berriz, Jerusalemen eman behar zaiola diozue. 21 Jesusek esan zion: –Sinets iezadazu, emakume: badator ordua, ez mendi honetan, ez Jerusalemen, Aita adoratuko ez duzuena. 22 Zuek, samariarrok, ez dakizue zer adoratzen duzuen; guk badakigu zer adoratzen dugun, salbamena juduongandik baitator. 23 Baina badator ordua –hobeto esan, heldu da–, egiazko adoratzaileek Aita egiaren arabera eta Espirituak eraginda adoratuko dutena; horrela adora dezaten nahi du Aitak. 24 Jainkoa Espiritu da, eta hura adoratzen dutenek egiaren arabera eta Espirituak eraginda adoratu behar dute. 25 Emakumeak esan zion: –Badakit Mesias, Kristo alegia, etortzekoa dela, eta hark, etortzean, gauza guztiak agertuko dizkigula. 26 Jesusek esan zion:
–Neu naiz, zurekin mintzo naizen hau. 27 Une hartan ikasleak iritsi eta harritu egin ziren Jesus emakume batekin hizketan ari zela ikustean; halere, inor ez zen ausartu galdetzera zer nahi zuen edo zertaz ziharduen emakumearekin. 28 Emakumeak suila utzi, hirira itzuli eta esan zion jendeari: 29 «Zatozte egin dudan guztia esan didan gizon bat ikustera. Ez ote da bera Mesias izango?» 30 Jendea hiritik irten eta Jesusengana joan zen. 31 Bien bitartean, erreguka ari zitzaizkion ikasleak, esanez: –Maisu, jan zerbait. 32 Baina berak esan zien:
–Badut nik beste janari bat, zuek ez dakizuena. 33 Ikasleek galdetu zioten elkarri: –Norbaitek ekarri ote dio jatekoa? 34 Jesusek esan zien: –Nire janaria, bidali nauenaren nahia egitea da, haren salbamen-egintza burutu arte. 35 Ez al duzue esaten zuek: «Lau hilabete barru uztaroa dugu?» Horra, bada, nik esan: Jaso begiak eta ikusi gari-soroak, uztarako horituak. 36 Dagoeneko igitaria bere saria hartzen ari da, eta betiko bizirako fruitua jasotzen, nola ereilea, hala igitaria, biak poz daitezen. 37 Honetan bai betetzen dela esaera: «Batek erein, bestek uzta bildu». 38 Zeuek landu ez duzuena biltzera bidali zaituztet nik; besteak nekatu dira lanean, eta zuek jasotzen duzue haien nekearen fruitua. 39 Hiri hartako samariar askok sinetsi zuen Jesusengan emakumeak emandako testigantzagatik: «Egin dudan guztia esan dit». 40 Beraz, samariarrek, Jesusengana etorri zirenean, beraiekin gelditzeko eskatu zioten Jesusi, eta bi egunez egon zen han. 41Jesusen mezua entzutean, askoz gehiagok sinetsi zuten, 42 eta emakumeari esaten zioten: «Orain ez dugu zure esanarengatik bakarrik sinesten; geuk entzun dugu, eta badakigu, egiaz hauxe dela munduaren Salbatzailea».
Being happy with God
The scene is captivating. Tired of the way, Jesus sits beside the fountain of Jacob. Soon a woman comes to draw water. She belongs to a half-pagan people despised by the Jews. With all spontaneity, Jesus initiates a dialogue. Jesus never looks down on anyone nor with contempt, but with great tenderness. “Lady! Please give me a drink.”
The woman is shocked. How dare you to come in contact with a Samaritan? How dare you to lower yourself to talk to a strange woman? Jesus’ words will surprise her even more: “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink, ‘you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
There are many people who, over the years, have gone away from God, barely noticing what was really going on deep in their hearts. Today God is for them a “weird being.” All things related to God seem for them empty and meaningless: a children’s world, more and more distant from their everyday lives.
It is understandable. I know what they may feel. I too have slowly been moving away from that “God of my childhood,” which used to awaken within me so many fears, uneasiness and discomfort. Probably, without having known Jesus, I’d never have met a God that today is for me a mystery of kindness: a friendly and welcoming presence on whom I can always rely.
It has never appealed to me the task of verifying my faith with scientific evidence: I think it is a mistake to treat the mystery of God as an object of laboratory. Nor religious dogmas have helped me to experience God. I’ve simply let myself be led by my trust in Jesus that has been growing in me over the years.
I couldn’t say exactly how my faith today is sustained in the midst of a religious crisis, which also shakes me like everyone else. I would just say that Jesus has brought me to live my faith in God in a simple way from the depths of my being. If I am ready to listen, God does not remain silent. If I open up myself, God does not close up. If I trust Him, He welcomes me. If I surrender to Him, He holds me fast. If I sink, He lifts me up.
I think the first and most important experience is to find myself happy with God, because then we can perceive Him as a “saving presence.” When a person knows what it is like to live happy with God, because, despite our mediocrity, our mistakes and selfishness, He welcomes us as we are and urges us to face our life in peace. The one who experiences this will hardly abandon the faith in God. Many people today are leaving God even before they have come to know Him. If we all would know the experience of God that Jesus spread around him, many more would seek to be happy with God.
|LA RELIGIÓN DE JESÚS
Cansado del camino, Jesús se sienta junto al manantial de Jacob, en las cercanías de la aldea de Sicar. Pronto llega una mujer samaritana a apagar su sed. Espontáneamente, Jesús comienza a hablar con ella de lo que lleva en su corazón.
En un momento de la conversación, la mujer le plantea los conflictos que enfrentan a judíos y samaritanos. Los judíos peregrinan a Jerusalén para adorar a Dios. Los samaritanos suben al monte Garizim cuya cumbre se divisa desde el pozo de Jacob. ¿Dónde hay que adorar a Dios? ¿Cuál es la verdadera religión? ¿Qué piensa el profeta de Galilea?
Jesús comienza por aclarar que el verdadero culto no depende de un lugar determinado, por muy venerable que pueda ser. El Padre del cielo no está atado a ningún lugar, no es propiedad de ninguna religión. No pertenece a ningún pueblo concreto.
No lo hemos de olvidar. Para encontrarnos con Dios, no es necesario ir a Roma o peregrinar a Jerusalén. No hace falta entrar en una capilla o visitar una catedral. Desde la cárcel más secreta, desde la sala de cuidados intensivos de un hospital, desde cualquier cocina o lugar de trabajo podemos elevar nuestro corazón hacia Dios.
Jesús no habla a la samaritana de «adorar a Dios». Su lenguaje es nuevo. Hasta por tres veces le habla de «adorar al Padre». Por eso, no es necesario subir a una montaña para acercarnos un poco a un Dios lejano, desentendido de nuestros problemas, indiferente a nuestros sufrimientos. El verdadero culto empieza por reconocer a Dios como Padre querido que nos acompaña de cerca a lo largo de nuestra vida.
Jesús le dice algo más. El Padre está buscando «verdaderos adoradores». No está esperando de sus hijos grandes ceremonias, celebraciones solemnes, inciensos y procesiones. Lo que desea es corazones sencillos que le adoren «en espíritu y en verdad».
«Adorar al Padre en espíritu» es seguir los pasos de Jesús y dejarnos conducir como él por el Espíritu del Padre que lo envía siempre hacia los últimos. Aprender a ser compasivos como es el Padre. Lo dice Jesús de manera clara: «Dios es espíritu, y quienes le adoran deben hacerlo en espíritu». Dios es amor, perdón, ternura, aliento vivificador…, y quienes lo adoran deben parecerse a él.
«Adorar al Padre en verdad» es vivir en la verdad. Volver una y otra vez a la verdad del Evangelio. Ser fieles a la verdad de Jesús sin encerrarnos en nuestras propias mentiras. Después de veinte siglos de cristianismo, ¿hemos aprendido a dar culto verdadero a Dios? ¿Somos los verdaderos adoradores que busca el Padre?
|THE RELIGION OF JESUS
Tired of the road, Jesus sits by the spring of Jacob, in the vicinity of the village of Sychar. Soon a Samaritan woman comes to quench her thirst. Spontaneously, Jesus begins to speak to her about what she has in her heart.
At one point in the conversation, the woman poses the conflicts that confront Jews and Samaritans. The Jews are pilgrims to Jerusalem to worship God. The Samaritans go up to Mount Garizim, whose summit can be seen from the well of Jacob. Where is God to be worshiped? Which is the true religion? What does the prophet of Galilee think?
Jesus begins by clarifying that true worship does not depend on a particular place, however venerable it may be. The Father of heaven is not tied to any place, it is not owned by any religion. It does not belong to any particular people.
We must not forget it. To meet God, it is not necessary to go to Rome or to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. There is no need to enter a chapel or visit a cathedral. From the most secret prison, from the intensive care room of a hospital, from any kitchen or workplace we can lift our hearts to God.
Jesus does not speak to the Samaritan woman about “worshiping God.” His language is new. He even speaks of “adoring the Father” three times. Therefore, it is not necessary to climb a mountain to get a little closer to a distant God, disregarded of our problems, indifferent to our sufferings. True worship begins by recognizing God as a beloved Father who accompanies us closely throughout our lives.
Jesus tells him something else. The Father is seeking “true worshipers.” He is not expecting from his children great ceremonies, solemn celebrations, incense and processions. He wants simple hearts to worship him “in spirit and in truth.”
“To worship the Father in spirit” is to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and to let ourselves be led like him by the Spirit of the Father who always sends him towards the last. Learn to be compassionate as the Father is. Jesus says it clearly: “God is spirit, and those who worship him must do it in spirit.” God is love, forgiveness, tenderness, quickening breath …, and those who worship Him must resemble Him.
“To worship the Father in truth” is to live in the truth. Return again and again to the truth of the Gospel. Be faithful to the truth of Jesus without locking ourselves in our own lies. After twenty centuries of Christianity, have we learned to worship God? Are we the true worshipers the Father seeks?
Sunday March 12, 2017
Second Sunday of Lent (A)
Gospel Matthew 17: 1-9
Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they felt prostrate and were very much afraid. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and do not be afraid.” And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone. As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, “Do not tell the vision to anyone until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
Ebanjelioa Mateo 17: 1-9
1 Handik sei egunera, Jesusek Pedro, Santiago eta honen anaia Joan hartu eta mendi garai batera eraman zituen aparte. 2 Eta antzaldatu egin zen haien aurrean: aurpegia eguzkia bezain distiratsu bihurtu zitzaion eta jantziak argia bezain zuri. 3 Hartan, Elias eta Moises agertu zitzaizkien Jesusekin hizketan. 4 Pedrok esan zion Jesusi: «Jauna, zein ederki gauden hemen! Nahi baduzu, hiru etxola egingo ditut bertan: bata zuretzat, bestea Moisesentzat eta bestea Eliasentzat». 5 Oraindik hizketan ari zela, hodei argi batek estali zituen, eta mintzo batek hodeitik esan zuen: «Hauxe dut neure Seme maitea, hauxe dut atsegin. Entzun berari!» 6 Hau entzutean, ikasleak ahuspez erori ziren beldur-ikaraz. 7 Hurbildu zitzaien Jesus, ukitu eta esan zien: «Zuti zaitezte. Ez beldurtu!» 8 Begiak altxaturik, Jesus bakarrik ikusi zuten, eta besterik inor ez. 9 Menditik beherakoan, agindu hau eman zien Jesusek: «Ez esan inori ikusi duzuena, harik eta Gizonaren Semea hildakoen artetik piztu arte».
Listen to Jesus
The center of this complex story, traditionally called “The Transfiguration of Jesus,” is occupied by a voice coming from a strange “luminous cloud” symbol used in the Bible to describe the ever-mysterious presence of God, which is manifested to us and at the same time is hidden.
The Voice says these words: “This is my Son, the beloved, my preferred. Listen to him.” The disciples must not mistake Jesus with anyone else, not even with Moses and Elijah, representatives and witnesses of the Old Testament. Only Jesus is the beloved Son of God, who has a face as “bright as the sun.”
But the Voice adds more: “Listen to him.” At other times, God revealed his will through Moses, the “ten commandments,” also on the mountain. But now God’s will become more concrete and may be summarized in a single command: “listen to Jesus!” The attitude of listening provides now the true relationship between Jesus and his followers.
Upon hearing this, the disciples fall on the ground “filled with awe.” They are overwhelmed by that experience, which has brought them so close to God, but also frightened by what they heard: Will they be able to live listening only to Jesus, recognizing only in him the mysterious presence of God?
At that moment “Jesus approaches and touched them, and tells them ‘arise.’ Do not be afraid.” Jesus knows that they need to experience his human proximity: the touch of his hand, not only the divine glow of his face. Whenever we hear Jesus in the silence of our hearts, his first words to us are: “Arise, do not be afraid.”
Many people only know Jesus by hearsay. His name is perhaps familiar, but what they know about him does not go beyond a few memories and impressions from childhood. Even though many may call themselves Christians, they live without listening to Jesus deep in their hearts. Without the experience of listening to Jesus deep in our hearts, it is not possible to experience the unmistakable peace and strength the encounter with him produces in us to encourage and sustain our life.
Whenever a believer stops listening to Jesus in silence within his conscience, one will be able to hear something like this in the heart: “Do not be afraid. Simply just abandon yourself into the mystery of God. Your little faith is enough. Do not worry. If you listen to me, you’ll discover that God’s love is always forgiving. And if you believe this, your life will change. You will experience peace in your heart.”
In the book of Revelation, the following can be read: “Look, I’m at the door and knock it: if anyone hears my voice and opens me the door, I shall enter the house, and will sit at table with that person.” Jesus knocks at the door of Christians and non-Christians. We may open the door or we may refuse to do so. But is not the same to live with Jesus or without him.
Sunday March 5, 2017
First Sunday of Lent (A)
Gospel Matthew 4: 1-11
At that time, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry. The tempter approached and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.” He said in reply, “It is written: One does not live on bread alone, but on every word, that comes forth from the mouth of God.” Then the devil took him to the holy city, and made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written: He will command his angels concerning you and with their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.” Jesus answered him, “Again it is written, You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.” Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence, and he said to him, “All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.” At this, Jesus said to him, “Get away, Satan! It is written: The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.” Then the devil left him and, behold, angels came and ministered to him.
Ebanjelioa Mateo 4: 1-11
1 Orduan, Espirituak basamortura eraman zuen Jesus, deabruak tenta zezan. 2 Berrogei gau eta berrogei egunez egon zen han, barau eginez, eta azkenik gosetu egin zen. 3 Hurbildu zitzaion, orduan, tentatzailea eta esan zion: –Jainkoaren Semea zarenez, agindu harri hauek ogi bihurtzeko. 4 Jesusek erantzun zion: –Liburu Santuetan idatzia dago: Gizakia ez da ogiz bakarrik bizi, baizik Jainkoak esaten duenetik bizi da. 5 Ondoren, deabruak hiri santura, Jerusalemera, eraman zuen eta, tenpluaren goreneko ertzera jasorik, 6 esan zion: –Jainkoaren Semea zarenez, bota zeure burua behera, idatzia baitago: Bere aingeruei aginduko die zu zaintzeko. Eta besoetan eramango zaituzte, harriekin estropezu egin ez dezazun. 7 Baina Jesusek erantzun: –Hau ere idatzia dago: Ez tentatu Jauna, zeure Jainkoa. 8 Berriro, deabruak hartu eta mendi garai batera eraman zuen; munduko erreinu guztiak beren handi-ederrean erakutsi 9 eta esan zion: –Hori guztia emango dizut, ahuspezturik gurtzen banauzu. 10 Jesusek, orduan: –Alde hemendik, Satanas! Idatzia baitago: Adoratu Jauna, zeure Jainkoa, eta bera bakarrik gurtu. 11 Orduan, deabruak utzi egin zuen, eta aingeruak etorri zitzaizkion zerbitzatzera.
OUR GREAT TEMPTATION
The scene of “the temptations of Jesus” is a story that we should not take lightly. These temptations described in today’s Gospel do not belong, strictly spoken, to the moral order. The story is a warning to us that we can destroy our life, if we deviate from the path of following Jesus.
The first temptation is crucial, as it a discerning point that show us how easily and naively we can pervert and corrupt our real life. Apparently, Jesus was offered something very innocent and good: to place God in the service of his hunger. “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” Simply to make God fit my own measure instead of me placing myself at the service of God in total obedience and submission.
Jesus reacts quickly and surprisingly, “Not of bread alone does man live, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Jesus doesn’t want to make an absolute of his own bread. Jesus does not want to make God to serve his own interests, by ignoring the Father’s plan. Jesus will always seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. At all times, Jesus, will listen to His Word.
Our needs are not satisfied only with having secured our bread. People need and crave for more. Even to rescue from hunger and misery those who do not have bread, we must listen to God, our Father and awaken in our consciousness the true hunger for justice, compassion and solidarity.
Our great temptation today is to turn everything into bread. Our temptation is increasingly to reduce the horizon of our life to the mere satisfaction of our desires; making the only ideal of our lives the ever-greater obsession of the limitless indiscriminate consumerism. We deceive ourselves if we think that consumerism and total manipulation of human beings is the way forward towards progress and liberation. Are we not seeing that a society that pulls people toward consumerism without limits and to self-satisfaction, not only generates emptiness and meaninglessness in people, but also selfishness, lack of solidarity and irresponsibility in our relationship?
Why do we get surprised about the fact which refers to the tragic increase in the number of people who commit suicide each day, especially younger people? Why do we keep locked in our false wellbeing and comfort, and raising increasingly higher inhumane barriers so that the hungry, and the poor do not enter in our countries, or we do not allow them to come to our homes or call to our doors?
The call of Jesus can help us become more aware that man does not live only of wellbeing and comfort. We also need to cultivate the spirit, we need to know what love and friendship is, we need to develop solidarity with those who suffer, and to listen to the conscience of the small and marginalized with responsibility, and be always open with hope to the last mystery of life.
Sunday February 26, 2017
Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
Gospel Matthew 6: 24-34
Jesus said to his disciples: “No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. “Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.”
Ebanjelioa Mateo 6: 24-34
24 «Ezin da inor bi nagusiren morroi izan; izan ere, bata gorroto izango du eta bestea maite, edota batari men egingo dio eta bestea begitan hartuko. Ezin zaitezkete Jainkoaren eta diruaren morroi izan. 25 «Horregatik diotsuet: Ez kezkatu bizitzeko zer jan edo edango, edota gorputza zerez jantziko. Ez ote da bizia janaria baino gehiago, eta gorputza jantzia baino gehiago? 26 Begira aireko hegaztiei: ez dute ereiten, ez uztarik biltzen, ez mandioan pilatzen; hala ere, zeruko zuen Aitak janaritzen ditu. Ez ote duzue horiek baino askoz gehiago balio zuek? 27 Asko arduratu arren, zuetako nork luza lezake bizitza apurtxo bat ere? 28 «Eta jantziaz, zertan kezkatu? Begira nola hazten diren loreak zelaietan: ez dira lanean penatzen, ez dute iruten; 29 baina, egia esan, Salomon bera ere, bere ospe guztian, ez zen janzten horietako baten pare. 30 Beraz, gaur belardian dagoen eta bihar sutan erreko den belarra Jainkoak horrela janzten badu, ez ote askoz gehiago zuek, sinesmen gutxikook? 31 Ez kezkatu, bada, zer jango, zer edango, zer jantziko duzuen pentsatuz. 32 Fedegabeak arduratu ohi dira horiez guztiez; baina zeruko zuen Aitak badaki horren guztiaren beharra duzuena. 33 Ardura zaitezte, batez ere, Jainkoaren erregetzaz eta haren nahia betetzeaz, eta beste hori guztia gehigarritzat emango dizue Jainkoak. 34 Ez arduratu, bada, biharko egunaz, biharkoak ere ekarriko baitu bere ardura. Aski ditu egun bakoitzak bere buruhausteak.
No to the Idolatry of Amassing
Greed, translated into money and an absolute idol, is for Jesus the greatest enemy of that most dignified, fair and solidary world God wants to create. Twenty centuries ago, the Prophet of Galilee, denounced unequivocally, that the cult of god Money will always be the greatest obstacle humanity will find in its way towards a more humane coexistence.
The logic of Jesus is overwhelming: “You cannot serve God and Money.” God cannot reign in the world and be Father of all, without demanding justice for those who are excluded from a dignified lifestyle. That is why it is impossible to work for a more human world loved by God, and at the same time be dominated by the desire to accumulate wealth, promote an economy that excludes the weakest, and leaves them in hunger and misery.
It is surprising what is happening with Pope Francis. While the mass media and social networks that circulate on the Internet inform us, with all the details, of the smallest gestures of his admirable personality, they, shamelessly conceal his most urgent cry to all humanity: “No to an Economy of exclusion and iniquity. That type of economy kills.” In US and Europe many well to do people, have a particular aversion to the words and attitudes of pope Francis.
However, pope Francis does not need long arguments or deep analysis to expose his thinking. He knows how to summarize his indignation about the current economic trends in clear and expressive words, which could open the news of any newscast, or make the headlines of the newspapers in any country.
Just a few examples. Pope Francis has said:
“It cannot be accepted that it is does not make to the news headlines that an old person dies of cold in an undisclosed street and that it becomes a headline news that the stock market has fallen two points. This is an outrighteous event. It cannot be tolerated that food is thrown away while so many people go hungry to sleep. That is iniquity.”
We live under “the dictatorship of an economy without a face and without truly humane objectives.” As a consequence, “while the profits of a few grow exponentially, those of the majority of people are increasingly far from the levels of a well-being of that happy minority.” “The culture of well-being and personal comfort anesthetizes us, and we lose our calm if the market offers something new, which we have not yet acquired, while all those lives of people truncated by lack of possibilities, seem to us like a spectacle, which in no way impresses us.”
As the pope, himself has said: “this message is not Marxism but a pure Gospel.” This is a message that must have a permanent echo in our Christian communities. The opposite could be a sign of what the Pope says: “We are becoming unable to feel pity and compassion of the cries of others; we no longer are capable of crying in front the drama of our lesser brothers and sisters.”
Sunday February 19, 2017
Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
Gospel Matthew 5: 38-48
Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one as well. If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand over your cloak as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go for two miles. Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow. “You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Ebanjelioa Mateo 5: 38-48
38 «Badakizue legean agindua: Begia begiaren ordain, hortza hortzaren ordain. 39 Nik, berriz, hau diotsuet: Gaizkileari ez gaizki erantzun; bestela baizik, eskuineko masailean jotzen zaituenari eskaini beste masaila ere; 40 soinekoa kentzeko auzitara eraman nahi zaituenari eman soingainekoa ere; 41 norbaitek kilometro bat egitera behartzen bazaitu egin bi berarekin. 42 Eskatzen dizunari eman, eta dirua uzteko eskatzen dizunari ez ukatu. 43 «Badakizue legean agindua: Maitatu lagun hurkoa eta gorrotatu etsaia. 44 Nik, berriz, hau diotsuet: Maitatu etsaiak eta egin otoitz pertsegitzen zaituztetenen alde; 45 horrela, zeruko zeuen Aitaren egiazko seme-alaba izango zarete, hark zintzoentzat eta gaiztoentzat ateratzen baitu eguzkia, eta zuzenentzat eta zuzengabeentzat isurtzen euria. 46 Izan ere, maite zaituztetenak bakarrik maite badituzue, zer sari zor zaizue? Zergalariek ere ez al dute beste horrenbeste egiten? 47 Eta zeuen senideak bakarrik agurtzen badituzue, zer egiten duzue berezirik? Jentilek ere ez al dute beste horrenbeste egiten? 48 Izan zaitezte, bada, guztiz onak, zeruko zuen Aita guztiz ona den bezala.
An Outrageous Call
The call to love is always seductive. Surely, many welcomed the call of Jesus to love God and neighbor. It was the best synthesis of the Law. But what they could never have imagined is that one day Jesus would tell them to love the enemies. However, Jesus did so.
Without any support from the biblical tradition and distancing himself from the psalms of vengeance, which fueled much of the popular prayer, and daring even to confront the general state of hatred he found himself around and against his person, Jesus proclaimed, with absolute clarity, his call to all: “But I say to you, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you and pray for those who persecute you.”
Jesus’ language is scandalous, outrageous, and surprising, and yet, totally consistent, coherent, with his experience of God the Father. The Father is heaven is not a violent one: He loves even his enemies, because He even makes rain to fall on good people as well as bad, and makes the sun rise on good as well as bad people; the Father does not seek the destruction of anyone. His greatness does not consist in revenge, but in loving all unconditionally. God the Father shows His power by mercy and compassion. Whoever knows him/herself to be the child of this God the Father, will never introduce hatred into the world, nor desire the destruction of anybody.
The love of the enemy is not a secondary or an optional teaching of Jesus, addressed to people called to a heroic perfection. Jesus’ call wants to, consciously, introduce into human history, a new attitude towards the enemy, because he wants to eliminate from the world the hatred and destructive violence. Anyone who wishes to resemble God, will not feed hatred against anyone and will seek the good of everyone, even of the enemies.
When Jesus speaks of love to the enemy, he is not asking us to feed in us feelings of affection, sympathy or love towards those who do wrong to us. The enemy is still someone from whom we can expect a hurting experience, and it can hardly change the feelings of our heart. To love the enemy means, first of all, not to harm him, not to seek or wish to harm him. We should not be surprised if we do not feel any love for him. It is natural that we may feel hurt or humiliated by him. We have to worry when we continue feeding is us feelings of hate and thirst for revenge.
But it’s not just only about not doing wrong to our enemies. Jesus asks us to take one more step in our relationship in front of our enemies until we are even willing to do them good if we find them in a needy situation. We must not forget that we are more human when we forgive than when we take revenge of our enemies by rejoicing in their misfortune.
Sincere forgiveness of the enemy is not easy. In some circumstances, it can be at that moment practically impossible for a person to be free of rejection, hatred or thirst for revenge against the enemy. We are not to judge anyone from the outside. Only God understands and forgives us unconditionally, even when we are not able to forgive. Forgiveness is God’s grace.
Sunday February 12, 2017
Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
Gospel, Matthew 5: 17-37
Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven. I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. “You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raqa,’ will be answerable to the Sanhedrin; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna. Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny. “You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into Gehenna. “It was also said, Whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorce. But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife – unless the marriage is unlawful – causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. “Again you have heard that it was said to your ancestors, Do not take a false oath, but make good to the Lord all that you vow. But I say to you, do not swear at all; not by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is his footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Do not swear by your head, for you cannot make a single hair white or black. Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything more is from the evil one.”
Ebanjelioa Mateo 5: 17-37
17 «Ez uste izan Moisesen legea edo profeten esanak huts bihurtzera etorria naizenik; ez naiz huts bihurtzera etorri, beren betera eramatera baizik. 18 Zeren eta benetan diotsuet: Zeru-lurrek dirauten bitartean legearen hitz batek edo zeinurik txikienak ere ez du baliorik galduko, dena bete arte. 19 Beraz, agindurik txikienetako bat hausten edota hausten irakasten duena, txikien bezala hartuko du Jainkoak bere erreinuan; betetzen edota betetzen irakasten duena, ordea, handitzat hartuko du Jainkoak bere erreinuan. 20 Hara zer diotsuedan: Jainkoaren nahia lege-maisuek eta fariseuek baino hobeki betetzen ez baduzue, ez zarete sartuko Jainkoaren erreinuan. 21 «Badakizue legean aurrekoei agindu zitzaiena: Ez hil inor; eta hiltzailea kondenatua izango da. 22 Nik, berriz, hau diotsuet: Bere senidearekin haserretzen dena kondenatua izango da; bere anaia iraintzen duena biltzar nagusian kondenatua izango da, eta hitzez mintzen duena, infernukosutara kondenatua izango da.
23 «Beraz, aldarean zeure oparia eskaintzerakoan, zure senideak zure kontra zerbait baduela gogoratzen bazaizu, 24 utzi oparia han, aldare aurrean, eta zoaz lehenbizi senidearekin bakeak egitera; itzuli gero zeure oparia eskaintzera. 25 «Konpon zaitez lehenbailehen zeure etsaiarekin, berarekin auzitegira zoazen bitartean; bestela, epailearen eskuetan jarriko zaitu eta epaileak ertzainaren eskuetan, eta kartzelara botako zaituzte. 26 Benetan diotsut: Ez zara handik aterako azken txanpona ordaindu arte. 27 «Badakizue legean agindua: Ez egin adulteriorik. 28 Nik, berriz, hau diotsuet: Emakume ezkondu bati irrikaz begiratzen dionak, egin du jadanik adulterioa bere bihotzean. 29 «Eskuineko begia galbide bazaizu, atera eta bota zeuregandik urruti: hobe duzu gorputz-atal bat galdu, oso-osorik infernura jaurtia izan baino. 30 Eskuineko eskua galbide bazaizu, moztu eta bota zeuregandik urruti: hobe duzu gorputz-atal bat galdu, oso-osorik infernura joan baino. 31 «Legeak agindua du beste hau ere: Bere emaztea uzten duenak eman diezaiola dibortzio-agiria. 32 Nik, berriz, hau diotsuet: Bere emaztea uzten duenak –legearen kontra elkartuak ez badira behintzat – adulteriora bultzatzen du emaztea; eta utzitako emakume horrekin ezkontzen denak adulterio egiten du. 33 «Badakizue legean aurrekoei agindu zitzaien beste hau ere: Ez egin gezurrezko zinik, eta bete Jaunari egindako zinak. 34 Nik, berriz, hau diotsuet: Ez egin inolako zinik, ez zeruarengatik, Jainkoaren tronua baita; 35 ez lurrarengatik, haren oin-aulkia baita; ezta Jerusalemengatik ere, Errege handiaren hiria baita. 36 Ez egin zinik zeure buruarengatik ere, ez baitezakezu zeure ile bakar bat ere zuri edo beltz bihur. 37 Esan ezazue “bai”, bai denean, eta “ez”, ez denean; gainerakoa gaiztoarengandik dator.
No War Between Us
The Jews spoke proudly of the Law of Moses. According to tradition, God himself had given it to his people. It was the best gift they had received from Him. The will of the one true God is enclosed in it. In it they can find everything they need to be faithful to God.
Also for Jesus the law is important, but it no longer occupies the central place. He lives and communicates another experience: The Kingdom of God is at hand; the Father is trying to open His way among us to create a more humane world. It is not enough to stick to keeping the Law of Moses. It is necessary to open ourselves to the Father and to work with Him to make a more just and fraternal life.
So, according to Jesus, it is not enough to fulfil the law that says “Thou shalt not kill.” It is also necessary to root out from our life all forms of aggression, disregard for other, insults or revenge. The one who does not kill, fulfills, yes, the law of God, who wants to build a more humane life, but often his heart is not relieved of violence. God does not yet reign in him.
According to some observers, a type language is spreading in today’s society that reflects the growth of aggressiveness. Increasingly frequent are offensive insults uttered only to humiliate, scorn and hurt others: words born of rejection, resentment, hatred or revenge. Moreover, many of our conversations are often woven words, which spread unjust condemnation and sow suspicion. These are words spoken without love and respect and often poison the peaceful coexistence and hurt terribly. There are words uttered which almost always are born of irritation, pettiness or meanness.
This is not an event that occurs only in social life. It is also a serious problem in the Church today. Pope Francis suffers when he sees divisions, conflicts and confrontations of “Christians in war against other Christians.” It is a state of things so contrary to the Gospel that he has felt the need to address us all an urgent call: “No war between us.”
So, the Pope says: “It hurts me to see how in some Christian communities, and even among consecrated persons, we tend to consent to various forms of hatred, slander, defamation, revenge, jealousy, desire to impose their own ideas at all cost, and even persecution that seem a relentless witch hunt. Who and how are we going to evangelize with such a behavior?” The Pope wants to work for a church in which “everyone can admire how we take care of each other, how we comfort each other and how we accompany each other.”
Sunday February 5, 2017
Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
Gospel Matthew 5: 13-16
Jesus said to his disciples: “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”
Ebanjelioa Mateo 5: 13-16
13 «Zuek zarete munduarentzat gatza. Baina gatza gezatzen bada, nola gazitu berriro? Ez du jadanik ezertarako balio, botatzeko baizik eta jendeak zapaltzeko. 14 «Zuek zarete munduarentzat argia. Ezin daiteke ezkuta mendi gainean dagoen hiria. 15 Kriseilua ere ez da pizten ontzipean ipintzeko, argimutilaren gainean baizik, etxeko guztiei argi egiteko. 16 Era berean, zuen argiak denen aurrean egin behar du argi, zuen egintza onak ikusiz, zeruko zuen Aita gorets dezaten.
Go Out to the Peripheries of the World!
Jesus exposes with two audacious and surprising images what he thinks and expects of his followers. We are not to live always thinking about our own interests, our prestige or our power (personal or collective). Although they are a small group in the middle of the vast Roman empire, the disciples of Jesus must be the “salt,” which the earth needs and the “light” the world needs.
“You are the salt of the earth.” The simple people of Galilee spontaneously grasp the language of Jesus. Everyone knows that salt serves, above all, to flavor food and to preserve food from corruption. Likewise, the disciples of Jesus are to help people to taste life without falling into corruption.
“You are world’s light.” Without the light of the sun, the world is left in darkness and we cannot orient ourselves nor enjoy life in the midst of darkness. The disciples of Jesus can bring the light we need to orient ourselves, deepen into the ultimate meaning of life and walk with hope.
The two metaphors coincide in something very important. If it remains isolated in a vessel, salt is useless. Only when it comes into contact with food and dissolves itself in food can it flavor what we eat. Same thing happens with light. If it remains enclosed and hidden, it cannot give light to anyone. Only when light is placed in the midst of darkness it can illuminate and guide. A Christian (person or community) isolated from the world can neither be salt nor light.
Pope Francis has observed that many Christians today (persons and communities) are locked up in themselves, paralyzed by fears, and too far removed from the problems and sufferings of the people as to be able to give flavor to modern life and to offer it the genuine light of the Gospel. It is in this context that Pope Francis’ urgent call to “go out to the peripheries” needs to be interpreted.
The Pope has said on several occasions: “I rather have a Christian (person or community) who may be injured, wounded or stained and dirty by going out into the streets of the pain and suffering and sin of the real people, than a Christian (person or community) who may be sick, and practicing a formal and external Christian life clinging to the comfort of one’s security because of the closure to the outside reality. I do not want a Christian (person or community) concerned so much about being the center of the world that ends up closed in a tangle of obsessions and doctrinal and ritual procedures.
Pope Francis’ call is addressed to all Christians: “We cannot rest passively waiting inside our temples for people to come in, but we must go out seeking to save the lost sheep, wherever she may find herself to be.” “The Gospels always invite us and challenge us to take the risk to go out to the encounter of the other.” The Pope wishes to introduce into our Christian communities, that which he calls “the culture of encounter.” Pope Francis is convinced that “what the church needs today is the ability to heal wounds and give warmth to hearts.”
Sunday, January 29, 2017
Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
Matthew 5: 1-12a
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him. He began to teach them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.”
Ebanjelioa Mateo 5: 1-12a
1 Jendetza ikusirik, Jesus mendira igo zen. Eseri eta ikasleak hurbildu zitzaizkion. 2 Orduan, honela hasi zitzaien irakasten:
3 «Zorionekoak bihotzez behartsu direnak, haiek baitute Jainkoa errege.
4 «Zorionekoak negarrez daudenak, haiek baititu Jainkoak kontsolatuko.
5 «Zorionekoak bihotz gozokoak, haiek baitira jabetuko Jainkoak hitzemandako lurraz.
6 «Zorionekoak Jainkoaren nahia betetzeko gose-egarri direnak, haiek baititu Jainkoak aseko.
7 «Zorionekoak errukitsu direnak, haiek baititu Jainkoak erruki izango.
8 «Zorionekoak bihotz-garbiak, haiek baitute ikusiko Jainkoa.
9 «Zorionekoak bakegileak, haiek baititu Jainkoak seme-alabatzat hartuko.
10 «Zorionekoak Jainkoaren nahia betetzeagatik erasotuak, haiek baitute Jainkoa errege.
11 «Zorionekoak zuek, niregatik madarikatuko zaituztetenean, erasoka eta gezurrez gaizki-esaka erabiliko zaituztetenean.
12 Poz zaitezte eta alaitu, handia izango baita zuen saria zeruan.
A More Gospel Oriented Church
When writing the Beatitudes, Matthew, unlike Luke, is more concerned with underlining the traits, which are to characterize the disciple of Jesus. Hence the importance they have for us in these times when the Church must find its Christian style of being and staying in the midst of this our secularized society. It is not possible to propose the Good News of Jesus in any way. The Gospel can only be spread if we are armed with evangelical attitudes. The beatitudes indicate to us the spirit, which is to inspire the action of the Church as she pilgrimages to the Father. We must listen to them in an attitude of personal and community conversion. Only in this way we must walk towards the future.
Blessed is the Church “poor in spirit” and simple of heart when she acts without prepotency or arrogance, without riches or splendor, only sustained by the humble authority of Jesus. For hers is the kingdom of God.
Blessed is the Church that “mourns” with those who mourn and suffers when stripped off from her privileges and power, for she will better be able to share the fate of the losers and the very destiny of Jesus, because one day she will be comforted by God.
Blessed is the Church when renounces to impose herself by force, coercion, or subjugation, and always practices the way of meekness, which was lived out by her Master and Lord, because one day she will inherit the promised land.
Blessed is the Church that experiences the “hunger and thirst for justice,” within her own structures as well as in the whole world, for, thus, she seeks her own conversion and strives for a more just and dignified life for all, beginning with the least and last ones, because her yearning will be satisfied by God.
Blessed is the compassionate Church that renounces to any sort of rigoristic and intransigent attitude and prefers mercy before sacrifices, because, then, she will be like a mother who welcomes sinners and reveal the Good News of Jesus to the weak, because she will obtain mercy from God.
Blessed is the Church with a “clean heart” and transparent conduct, which does not conceal her sins or promote secrecy or ambiguity, because she will walk in the truth of Jesus. One day she will see God.
Blessed is the Church that “struggles for peace” and speaks up against all kind of wars; blessed is the church who struggles to unite the hearts of peoples and sow seeds of reconciliation around, for she will be able to transmit the peace of Jesus, which the world cannot give. Then she will be called God’s daughter.
Blessed is the Church when suffers hostility and persecution because of justice, without shunning martyrdom, because then she will know how to weep with the victims and will experience the cross of Jesus so many millions of people endure in their daily lives, because hers is the kingdom of God.
Today’s society needs to witness and experience Christian communities marked by the spirit of the Beatitudes. Only a Church, imbued with such Gospel values, will have the authority and credibility to show the face of Jesus to the men and women of today’s world.
Sunday January 22, 2017
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
Gospel Matthew 4: 12-23
When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali, that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled: Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has arisen. From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him. He went around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people.
Ebanjelioa 4: 12-23
12 Joan Bataiatzailea kartzelan sartu zutela jakitean, Galileara joan zen Jesus. 13 Baina Nazaret utzirik, Zabulon eta Neftaliren lurraldean jarri zen bizitzen, aintzira-bazterrean
dagoen Kafarnaum herrian. 14 Horrela, Jainkoak Isaias profetaren bidez esana bete zen:
15 Zabulonen lurraldea eta Neftaliren lurraldea, itsas ondoko bidea, Jordanez haranzko lurraldea, jentilen Galilea! 16 Ilunpetan zegoen herriak argi handia ikusi du. Itzalpean bizi zirenei argiak egin die distira. 17 Une hartatik hasi zen Jesus honela hots egiten: «Bihozberri zaitezte, gainean baituzue Jainkoaren erregetza». 18 Jesusek, Galileako aintzira-bazterrean zehar zebilela, bi anaia, Simon, Pedro deitua, eta Andres, ikusi zituen, sarea uretara botatzen, arrantzaleak baitziren. 19 Jesusek esan zien: «Zatozte nirekin eta giza arrantzale egingo zaituztet». 20 Haiek, besterik gabe, sareak utzi eta jarraitu egin zioten. 21 Aurrerago, beste bi anaia ikusi zituen, Santiago eta Joan, Zebedeoren semeak, aitarekin ontzian sareak konpontzen. Eta dei egin zien. 22 Haiek, ontzia eta aita utzirik, jarraitu egin zioten. 23 Jesus Galilea guztian barrena ibili zen, hango sinagogetan irakasten. Jainkoaren erregetzaren berri ona hots egiten zuen eta herriko gaitz eta eritasun guztiak sendatzen.
SOMETHING NEW AND GOOD
The first writer who picked up the news about the actions and the message of Jesus summed it up by saying that Jesus proclaimed the “good news of God.” Later, the other evangelists used the same Greek word (euanggelion εὐαγγέλιον) to express the same conviction: in the God announced by Jesus, people discovered something “new” and “good.”
Is there still something in that gospel which, in the middle of our indifferent and skeptical society can be read or experienced, as something “new” and “good” by today’s men and women? Can we find or experience in the Gospel something “new” and “good” about God, which may not be easily found in the science, technology or progress? How is it possible to live our faith in God today?
In the Gospel of Jesus we, believers, encounter a God who makes us feel and experience that life is a gift, which has its origin in the ultimate mystery of reality which is Love. God is Love. It is “good” for me not to feel alone and lost in the existence, or under fate or chance. I have Someone whom I can thank for my life.
In the Gospel of Jesus, we find and experience a God who gives us, despite our blunders, strength to defend our freedom without falling to be slaves of any idol and ideology or not to go around in mediocrity; the God we meet in Jesus challenges us to always discover new ways to create more humane relationships and to enjoy life in an effort to diminish suffering and increase love. That’s why for me it is “good” to know and experience, that in spite of my little faith, God is with me too.
In the Gospel of Jesus, we find a God who awakens our responsibility to not to remain aloof from others. We may not be able to accomplish great things, but we know we have to contribute to the building of a more dignified and happier life for all, particularly of the most needy and helpless. For me it is “good” to believe in a God who often asks me what am I doing for my brothers and sisters.
In the Gospel of Jesus, we experience a God that helps us to glimpse that evil, injustice, and death do not have the last word. One day, everything that could not have been accomplished here, that what was left half done, our greatest hopes and our deepest desires, will all reach its plenitude in God. It makes me “good” to live my own life and prepare my own death with this confidence.
Certainly, each of us will have to decide how to live and how to die. Each one will have to listen to our own truth. For me it is not the same to believe or not to believe in God. It makes me “good” to walk my journey of life experiencing that I am welcomed, strengthened, forgiven and saved by God whom we can see totally in the person of Jesus. In Jesus, we see God.
Sunday January 15, 2017
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
Gospel John 1: 29-34
John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. He is the one of whom I said, ‘A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.’ I did not know him, but the reason why I came baptizing with water was that he might be made known to Israel.” John testified further, saying, “I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from heaven and remain upon him. I did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.”
Ebanjelioa Joan 1: 29-34
29 Biharamunean, Joanek Jesus beregana etortzen ikusi eta esan zuen: «Hona hemen Jainkoaren Bildotsa, munduko bekatua kentzen duena. 30 Honetaz ari nintzen, “Nire ondoren datorren gizona nire gainetik dago, ni baino lehenagokoa baitzen” esan nuenean. 31 Neuk ere ez nuen ezagutzen; baina ni urez bataiatzera etorri banaiz, bera Israel herriari agerrarazteko izan da». 32 Eta beste hau ere aitortu zuen Joanek: «Espiritua ikusi dut, uso-tankeran, zerutik jaisten, eta honen gainean gelditzen. 33 Neuk ere ez nuen ezagutzen, baina urez bataiatzera bidali ninduenak esan zidan: “Espiritua jaisten eta gizon baten gainean gelditzen ikusiko duzu; huraxe da Espiritu Santuaz bataiatzen duena”. 34 Eta neuk ikusi dut eta aitortzen hauxe dela Jainkoaren Semea».
With the Spirit of Fire
The first Christian communities were purposely concerned about perfectly differentiating the baptism of John to the people by immersing them into the waters of the Jordan and the baptism of Jesus who communicated his Spirit to cleanse, renew and transform the hearts of his followers. Without this Spirit of Jesus, the Church goes out and dies. Only the Spirit of Jesus can bring more truth in Christianity today. Only the Spirit can lead us to recover our true identity, abandoning the ways which divert us again and again from the Gospel. Only the Spirit can give us light and strength to undertake the renewal that the Church needs today.
Pope Francis knows only too well that the biggest obstacle to starting a new evangelization stage is spiritual mediocrity. He says it flatly. He wants to encourage us with all his strength to a “more ardent, cheerful, generous, fearless, full of love to the end, and contagious community life.” But all our efforts to build a Gospel community will be insufficient “if the fire of the Spirit is not burning in our hearts.” That’s why Pope Francis is looking for the Church of today of “evangelizers full with the Spirit of Jesus” who are capable of announcing, without fear, with words and actions the Good News of Jesus which brings consolation to the sad, sight to the blind and healing to the wounded. The renewal that Pope Francis wants to boost in today’s Christianity is not going to be possible “if there is a lack of a deep spirituality, which easily will translate into pessimism, fatalism, mistrust, show off of power and dominion and control over the others—even in ecclesiastical circles—” or when it leads us to believe that “nothing can change” and therefore “is useless to strive for change and transformation,” “or when we give up definitely our Christian identity “dominated by chronic discontent or a heartburn, which dries the soul.” Pope Francis warns us that “sometimes we lose our enthusiasm when we forget that the Gospel responds always to the deepest needs and aspirations of the people.”
We need to enter into our deep personal experience with Jesus. Otherwise, the one who has not made the personal experience of an encounter with the person of Jesus in whatever circumstances of our lives is “suddenly going to lack the strength and the passion it needs to announce the Good News, and will turn into a person who is never satisfied.”
It is our love and passion for Jesus and his message, which will be able to move mountains. Let the Spirit of Jesus drive our lives.
Sunday January 8, 2017
The Epiphany of the Lord (A)
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.
From the outset, we have to affirm that the most important point of Matthew’s account of the Magi is that Jesus was and still is revealed to the whole world. We call it the epiphany of Jesus, which includes two moments. In the first, the Father God manifests or reveals to non-Jews people that His Son, the Messiah, is born. The second point is about how some of these non-Jewish people, represented by the Magi, accepted with faith the manifestation of God in Jesus and went looking for him, to worship him.
Certainly, the story contains many other very striking elements, such as the star that appears and disappears, the asymmetrical encounter with King Herod in Jerusalem, the gifts offered to Jesus, the presence of the Magi in itself, that turn on our imagination and we have made them became kings and given them names and colors of race … But none of this is as important as the epiphany they represent, not even as their worship of the Child as they seem to accept him as God.
Knowing the purpose and style of Matthew as an evangelist, his account of “The Magi” has a twofold purpose: 1. To affirm that Jesus is the promised Messiah, because in Him all what the prophets announced about the Gentiles walking in pilgrimage to Jerusalem (Isaiah 60.6, Ps 72, 10 +) is fulfilled. 2. To affirm that God has transferred to the mostly gentile Church, – (non-Jewish) – his blessing and privilege of the historic Israel. What a contrast of attitude between the king and the sages of Jerusalem who are unaware (and, indeed, oppose) the Child Jesus and that of the “wise men” supposedly pagan, who come from afar to worship Him! The coming of Jesus has subverted all, has unmasked all the hidden lies! It is with this purpose that Matthew develops his story, largely symbolic, but based on the reality of the received traditions.
Here are some conclusions:
- That God’s call to faith in Christ is free and universal. The initiative to look for God and be with Him comes from God. It is His grace at all times. Certainly, God made a special covenant with the people of Israel in whose bosom the Messiah was born, but not excluding His promises (Gen. 3:15) from other peoples. The event of the Magi supports eloquently God’s divine plan of salvation of all peoples.
- That “the Magi” were the first non-Jews who received the gift of faith in Jesus Christ to the point of worshipping him. No matter who in reality they were, they represented the men and women of the towns and regions they were coming from, all non- Jews, including us. Thus, the Feast of “Three Kings” is the celebration of faith of the new People of God. The Day the new Church of Jesus Catholic (universal) and missionary is born.
- That faith in Jesus Christ, which is God’s gift, yet demands of us actively welcoming it, making it to grow through prayer and the practice of good works. Our faith needs to be transformed into a personal encounter of worship and surrender to God, and to pass it onto others by being missionaries. In other words, to go through the very journey of faith of the Magi to the cradle of Bethlehem: they embraced the faith (for the star), they set out, they sought tirelessly, found Jesus and worshiped Him and offered gifts and then returned to their land totally transformed and by being missionaries they became as a new star of Bethlehem for others.
Sunday January 1, 2017
The Octave Day of Christmas
Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God
Gospel Luke 2: 16-21
The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known the message that had been told them about this child. All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds. And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them. When eight days were completed for his circumcision, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
Ebanjelioa Lukas 2: 16-21
16 Joan ziren lasterka eta han aurkitu zituzten Maria, Jose eta jaioberria askan etzana. 17 Ikusi zutenean, haurtxo hartaz esan zitzaiena kontatu zuten. 18 Artzainek esandakoa entzun zuten guztiak harriturik gelditu ziren. 19 Mariak, berriz, gertakari guztiok gogoan hartzen zituen, bere barruan hausnartuz. 20 Artzainak, entzun eta ikusi zutenarengatik Jainkoari aintzaka eta goraka itzuli ziren, dena aingeruak esan bezala gertatu baitzitzaien. 21 Jaio eta zortzi egunera haurra erdaindu zutenean, Jesus izena ezarri zioten, sortu aurretik aingeruak esan bezala.
Happy New Year: Follow Jesus
Experts tell us that pursuit of security, personal as well as social, has grown in modern society to the limits of paranoia. This is normal in times of crisis. People are willing to take less and less risks and become more and more suspicious. It is best to avoid problems or unexpected events. Do not make mistakes. Better think about consequences to avoid criticism, responsibilities or rejection after events.
Some people defend themselves by reducing their lives to the private sphere. Others defend themselves covered behind an ideology, a religion or a forced code of social conduct. “We must be politically or religiously correct” is the mantra. It is dangerous to get out of the “system of single thinking.”
However, the one who only seeks personal security, ends up impoverishing the whole life. It is difficult that within this self-enclosed life something really new and exciting may appear. People become incapable of having new ideas. They lose creativity. Their imagination fades away. Life becomes a sheer repetition of common places and peoples.
This search for security that can paralyze life so much, it does not affect only individuals. There is also a way of organizing the society, of doing politics, trying to answer only to the immediate needs, looking at the electoral results after four years, without dreaming about a future full of hope and renewed spirit of forming people, not only things. It seems we remain blocked by lack of will and audacity.
Something similar seems to be happening also in the Church. We live in times of serious crisis, but we lack the courage to try new paths. We find it safer and even more evangelical to continue doing the same things the way they always have been made.
As we welcome the New Year, we need to look at the simple figures of the Gospels: Mary and Joseph, who gave up the fear to what others may be saying, and trusted totally in God. The shepherds who, after listing to the angels, stood up, and went to place themselves under the leadership of the Great Shepherd who came to them without power.
For each of us, this year will be new if we are enthusiastic about some new project, if we take new initiatives, if we risk loving more generously, if we dare to believe in God with more truth, if we dare to give up everything and listen to Jesus.