Sunday December 27, 2015
The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (C)
Gospel Lk 2: 41-52
Each year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom. After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it.
Thinking that he was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances, but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him.
After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them. He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man.
Ebanjelioa Lukas 2: 41-52
41 Jesusen gurasoak Jerusalemera joan ohi ziren urtero erromes Pazko-jaietan. 42 Jesusek hamabi urte bete zituenean, jaietara joan ziren, ohi bezala. 43 Jaiak amaiturik gurasoak etxera abiatu zirenean, Jesus haurra Jerusalemen gelditu zen, haiek jakin gabe. 44 Erromes kideen artean zelakoan egun bateko bidea egin ondoren, haren bila hasi ziren ahaide eta ezagunen artean. 45 Eta, aurkitzen ez zutelarik, Jerusalemera itzuli ziren bila. 46 Hiru egunen buruan, tenpluan aurkitu zuten, lege-maisuen erdian eseria, entzun eta galde; 47 entzuten zioten guztiak txunditurik zeuden erantzunetan azaltzen zuen argitasunagatik. 48 Ikusi zutenean, harrituta gelditu ziren gurasoak, eta amak esan zion: –Seme, zergatik egin diguzu hori? Ikusi zein larri genbiltzan aita eta biok zure bila! 49 Hark erantzun zien: –Zergatik zenbiltzaten nire bila? Ez al zenekiten nik neure Aitaren gauzetan jardun behar dudala? 50 Baina haiek ez zuten ulertu zer esan nahi zuen. 51 Jesus beraiekin Nazaretera jaitsi eta beraien menpe bizi izan zen. Amak gogoan hartzen zituen gertakari guztiok. 52Jesus haziz zihoan, bai jakinduriaz, bai gorputzez, eta Jainkoak eta gizakiek gero eta gogokoago zuten.
Mary kept all these things in her heart
We humans seem to end up getting used to almost everything. The famous French poet Ch. Peguy once said, “There is something worse than having a perverse soul, and that is having a soul used to everything.” Therefore, we cannot be surprised to see that the celebration of Christmas, wrapped in superficiality and crazy consumerism, does not inspire anything new and joyful to so many men and women who have an “unmoving soul.” It no longer surprises or moves us that there is a God who offered to us as a child.
Another famous French writer and airplane pilot Antoine Saint-Exupery wrote in the prologue of his inspiring book “Little Prince:” “All senior citizens were children once. However, few remember it.” We forget what is like being a child. We also forget that the first gaze of God when approaching the world was the gaze of a child.
This is the good news of Christmas. God is and remains a mystery, but now we know that HE is not a dark, eerie and frightening being, but someone who becomes near and dear to us manifesting the tenderness and delicate frailty of a child. In addition, this is the message of Christmas. To be able to meet such a God, we need to change our hearts, become as children, to be born again, to restore the delicate frailty of a child in oneself, and to open ourselves full of trust to the grace and forgiveness of God.
In spite of our superficiality, our skepticism and disappointments, and, above all, our shameful selfishness and meanness of an “adult,” there is always in our hearts a corner in which we have not stopped being children. Let us dare even once to look at us with simplicity and without reservation. Let us create around us a quiet environment. Let us turn off the TV, forget our haste, nervousness, our shopping frenzy and commitments. Let us hear within us once again the sound of that “heart of child” who has not yet closed up totally to the possibility of experiencing a more sincere and trusting encounter with the God of life.
Mary kept all these things in her heart.
Friday December 25, 2015
The Nativity Of The Lord (Christmas)
Mass During The Day
Gospel John 1: 1-18
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him.
But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born not by natural generation
nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God. And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth. John testified to him and cried out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.’” From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace, because while the law was given through Moses,
grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him.
Ebanjelioa Joan 1: 1-18
1 Hasieran bazen Hitza. Hitza Jainkoarekin zegoen eta Hitza Jainko zen. 2 Hasieran Jainkoarekin zegoen Hitza. 3 Gauza guztiak beronen bidez egin ziren, eta egindakotik ezer ez da berau gabe egin. 4 Hitzarengan zegoen bizia, eta bizia gizakien argia zen; 5 argi horrek ilunpetan egiten du argi, baina ilunpeek ez zuten onartu. 6 Agertu zen gizon bat Jainkoak bidalia; Joan zuen izena. 7 Testigu izatera etorri zen, argiaz testigantza egitera, beraren mezuaren bidez sinets zezaten. 8 Ez zen hura argia, argiaren testigantza egin behar zuena baizik. 9 Hitza zen egiazko argia, mundura etorriz gizaki guztiak argitzen dituena. 10 Munduan zegoen eta, mundua haren bidez egina izan arren mundukoek ez zuten onartu. 11 Bere etxera etorri zen, baina beretarrek ez zuten onartu. 12 Onartu zuten guztiei, ordea, berarengan sinesten dutenei, alegia, Jainkoaren seme-alaba izateko ahalmena eman zien. 13 Hauek ez dira giza odolekoak, ezta gizakiaren borondatez sortuak ere, Jainkoarengandik jaioak baizik. 14 Eta Hitza gizon egin zen eta gure artean jarri bizitzen. Ikusi dugu haren Jainko-aintza, Aitarengandik maitasun eta egiaz betea datorren Seme bakarrari dagokion aintza. 15 Joanek beronetaz egin zuen testigantza, oihu eginez: «Honetaz ari nintzen ni, “Nire ondoren datorrena nire gainetik dago, ni baino lehenagokoa baitzen” esan nuenean». 16 Izan ere, guztiok hartu dugu haren betearen betetik, eta maitasuna maitasunaren gain hartu ere. 17 Legea Moisesen bidez eman zen; maitasuna eta egia, berriz, Jesus Mesiasen bidez. 18 Jainkoa ez du inork inoiz ikusi; Aitaren baitan dagoen eta Jainko den Seme bakarrak eman digu haren berri.
Only Christ gives life and life abundantly!
Christmas is a season full of nostalgic elements. We sing of peace, but do not know how to build it. We wish each other happiness, yet it seems increasingly difficult to be happy. We buy gifts to each other, but seem to be incapable of giving the tenderness and affection we most urgently need. We sing carols to a Child God, but the faith in our hearts fades away. Life is not as we would like, but we cannot make it better either.
Nostalgia is not just a feeling only during Christmas. The whole life is also filled of nostalgia. Nothing entirely satisfies our desires. There is no wealth, which can provide us with total peace. There is no love that fully meets the deepest desires. No profession that can meet all our aspirations. It is not possible to be loved by all.
To feel nostalgic, however, can have some very positive effects. It allows us to discover that our desires go beyond what we possess or enjoy right now. It may help keep ourselves open the horizon of our existence to something bigger and fuller than anything we know and experience. At the same time, it may teach us not ask of life what life cannot give us, not to expect from human relations that which they cannot provide. Nostalgia challenges us not to live chained to the expectations of this world.
It is too easy to live in such a way that we extinguish the desire to reach the infinite, the impossible dreams, which constantly keep beating in our hearts. We tend to lock ourselves like in a shell, which makes us insensitive to what lies beyond what we see and touch. Christmas celebration, lived from nostalgia, can create a different environment: because during these days we seem to capture better the need for home security, living brotherly relationships, and mutual support. As soon as we let our hearts express what it really feels, we immediately sense that the mystery of God is our final destiny.
To a believer, faith invites to discover during these days the mystery of a tender, forgiving and compassionate God in the person of a newborn child in a strange and inaccessible country. So simple and so amazing! We need to learn to approach God as we approach a child: gently and quietly, with no solemn speeches, but with simple words born out of sincerely. We can find God only when we open to HIM the best that is in us. God in turn, will give us life, and give it abundantly.
Sunday December 20, 2015
Fourth Sunday of Advent (C)
Gospel Lk 1: 39-45
Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”
Ebanjelioa Lukas 1: 39-45
39 Handik egun batzuetara, Maria etxetik atera eta Judeako mendialdeko hiri batera joan zen arin-arin, 40 eta, Zakariasen etxean sarturik, Elisabeti agur egin zion. 41 Mariaren agurra entzun bezain laster, Elisabeti punpaka hasi zitzaion haurra sabelean. Une berean, Espiritu Santuaz beterik gelditu zen Elisabet, 42 eta goraki esan zuen: «Bedeinkatua zu emakume guztien artean eta bedeinkatua zure sabeleko fruitua! 43 Nor naiz ni, nire Jaunaren ama ni ikustera etortzeko? 44 Zure agurra nire belarrietara iritsi orduko, pozez punpaka hasi zait haurra sabelean. 45 Zorionekoa zu, Jaunak esan dizuna beteko dela sinetsi duzulako!»
Portrait of a Believer Woman
Mary’s visit to Elizabeth allows the evangelist Luke establish contact between the Baptist and Jesus even before Jesus was born. The entire scene is charged with a very special atmosphere, especial effects! The two women will be mothers. The two were called to collaborate in God’s plan of salvation. There are no males in the horizon, because Zechariah, on the one hand, has been struck dumb, and Joseph is surprisingly absent. The two women occupied the entire scene of the narrative of Luke.
Mary who came from hastily from Nazareth becomes the central figure. Everything revolves around her and her son. Her image shines with more genuine traces than many other invocations and titles given to her later in history and consequently more remote from the genuine environment of the gospels.
Mary is “the mother of my Lord.” This is how Elizabeth proclaims loudly and filled with the Holy Spirit. It is true: for the followers of Jesus, Mary is, first, the Mother of our Lord. This is the foundational basis for all her grandeur. The early Christians never separated Mary from Jesus. They both are inseparable. “Blessed by God among all women,” she offers Jesus to us, “the blessed fruit of her womb.”
Mary, the believer. Isabel declares her “blessed” because she has “believed.” Mary is great not just for her biological motherhood, but first for having accepted with faith God’s call to be the Mother of the Savior and having placed entirely at the service of the Lord. She has listened to God; she has kept God’s word in her heart; she has meditated it; she has put it into practice faithfully, thus fulfilling her vocation. Mary is a believing Mother.
Mary, the missionary. Maria offers everyone the salvation of God which she has welcome in her own Son. This is, precisely, her great mission and service to humanity. According to the story of the Gospel, Mary evangelizes not only with her gestures and with words, but primarily, because, everywhere he goes, she carries in her the very person of Jesus and his Spirit. This is the essential act of evangelization.
Mary, the bearer of joy. Mary’s greeting communicates to Elizabeth the joy that flows from her Son Jesus. Mary was the first one to hear God’s invitation: “Rejoice … The Lord is with you.” Now, with an attitude of service and assistance to those in need, Mary irradiates the Good News of Jesus, the Christ, whom she always carries in her. This is the reason why she is for the Church the best model of a joyful evangelization.
Sunday December 13, 2015
Third Sunday of Advent (C)
Gospel Luke 3: 10-18
The crowds asked John the Baptist, “What should we do?” He said to them in reply, “Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise.” Even tax collectors came to be baptized and they said to him, “Teacher, what should we do?” He answered them, “Stop collecting more than what is prescribed.” Soldiers also asked him, “And what is it that we should do?” He told them, “Do not practice extortion, do not falsely accuse anyone, and be satisfied with your wages.” Now the people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Christ. John answered them all, saying, “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” Exhorting them in many other ways, he preached good news to the people.
Ebanjelioa Lukas 3: 10-18
10 Jendeak galdetzen zion Joani: –Zer egin behar dugu, bada? 11 Hark erantzuten zien: –Bi soineko dituenak eman diezaiola bat jantzirik ez duenari, eta jatekoa duenak ere bana dezala. 12 Joan ziren zergalari batzuk ere bataiatzera eta galdetu zioten: –Maisu, zer egin behar dugu? 13 Hark erantzun zien: –Ez kendu inori legezko dena baino gehiago. 14 Soldaduek ere galdetu zioten: –Eta guk, zer egin behar dugu? Joanek erantzun zien: –Ez atera inori dirurik gogorkeriaz, ezta gezurrezko salakuntzaz ere; konforma zaitezte daukazuen soldatarekin. 15 Herria zain-zain zegoen eta denak ari ziren pentsatzen Joan ez ote zen Mesias izango. 16 Joanek, ordea, denen aurrean esan zuen: «Nik urez bataiatzen zaituztet, baina badator ni baino ahaltsuago dena, eta ni ez naiz inor haren oinetakoen lokarriak askatzeko ere; horrek Espiritu Santuaz eta suz bataiatuko zaituzte. 17 Eskuan du sardea garia garbitu eta alea bere mandioan jasotzeko; lastoa, berriz, inoiz itzaliko ez den sutan erreko du». 18 Honela eta beste burubide askoren bidez adierazten zion berri ona herriari. 19 Baina Joanek aurpegira botatzen zizkion Herodes agintariari bere anaiaren emazte Herodiasekin elkartu izana eta gainerako gaiztakeria guztiak. 20 Horregatik, Herodesek, aurreko makurkeria guztiez gainera, Joan kartzelan sartu zuen.
Jesus demands Personal and Social Transformation
The word of John the Baptist resounding in the Wilderness touched deeply the hearts of the people. His call to conversion by beginning a new lifestyle more faithful to God awakened in many of them a very concrete question: What should we do? What do I have to do? This is the question, which often arises in us when we hear a radical call and we do not seem to be clear about our response.
The Baptist did not propose new religious rites nor more rules or precepts. The conversion he preaches is not a question of doing things or assume new obligations, but to be different, to live a more humane lifestyle, to let come out that genius, which is already present in our hearts, namely the deep desire for a more just, dignified and fraternal life.
The most decisive and realistic attitude in us is to open our hearts to God looking closely to the needs of those who suffer. The Baptist knows how to summarize his response with a great formula, both for its simplicity and truth: “Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise.” So simple and clear!
As we listen to these words what can we say. We are the very ones who live in a world where more than a third of humanity live in dire poverty struggling every day to survive, while we continue to fill our closets with all kinds of garments and our refrigerators with food, which often have to through away? Moreover, what can we, Christians, say in front of such so simple and human call? We need to open the eyes of our heart in order to become more aware of our insensitivity and the slavery, which keeps subjecting us to a well-being and comfortable life that prevents us from becoming more human, compassionate and merciful?
While we remain concerned, and rightly, of so many aspects of present day challenges, which affect Christianity and the world at large, we are not able to realize that we live “captives of a bourgeois religion:” Christianity, as most of us practice, do not seem to have the power to transform our soft and comfortable lifestyles. On the contrary, it is precisely our lukewarm Christian lifestyle, which is distorting that which is the best of Jesus Christ’s radical message, emptying it from such genuine values like solidarity, defense of the poor, compassion and justice.
Therefore, we must appreciate and thank the efforts of so many people who rebel against this “captivity” and “blindness” and engage themselves in concrete gestures of solidarity and cultivating a simpler, austere, frugal and human lifestyle.
Sunday December 6, 2015
Second Sunday of Advent (C)
Gospel Luke 3: 1-6
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert. John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah: A voice of one crying out in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”
Ebanjelioa Lukas 3: 1-6
1 Tiberio enperadorearen agintealdiko hamabosgarren urtea zen. Pontzio Pilato zen Judeako gobernari, Herodes Galileako agintari, honen anaia Felipe Itureako eta Trakonitidako agintari, eta Lisanio Abileneko agintari; 2 Anas eta Kaifas ziren apaiz nagusi. Garai hartan, Joanek, Zakariasen semeak, Jainkoaren mezua hartu zuen basamortuan. 3 Jordan inguru guztian barrena ibili zen Joan, bihotz-berritzeko eta bataiatzeko hots eginez, bekatuen barkamenerako. 4 Horrela, Isaias profetaren liburuan idatzirik dagoena gertatu zen: Ahots bat oihuka ari da basamortuan: Prestatu bidea Jaunari, zuzendu bidexkak hari. 5 Bete daitezela sakanak, beheratu mendi-muinoak; bihur bitez zelai eta lautada paraje latz eta malkarrak. 6 Orduan, gizaki guztiek ikusiko dute Jainkoak ematen duen salbamena.
God is in Command
Luke has an especial interest in pointing out in detail the names of the characters controlling the different spheres of the political and religious powers of that particular time. They were the ones who seemingly planned, controlled and directed everything.
However, the historically decisive event of Jesus Christ is prepared and occurs entirely outside their sphere of influence and power, even without them being aware or having anything to do in the decision-making.
That which is the most essential and important in the world and even in our lives takes place always without our human preparation. That is also how God’s grace and salvation enter in human history. That which is the most essential is not in the hands of the powerful of this world. God is in Command!
Lucas says tersely that “the Word of God came upon John in the desert” not in the imperial Rome or the sacred precincts of the Temple of Jerusalem.
Nowhere better than in the desert is to be heard God’s call to change one’s heart and the world. The desert is the land of truth. The place where one has to survive only with essential things. There is no room for superfluous and extravagant things. There is no place for accumulating and amassing possessions nor for luxury and ostentation. The only decisive thing in the desert is to seek to find the right path to go on.
Therefore, many prophets, as well as many Christians in the early years, longed to live in the desert, symbol of a simple and frugal lifestyle rooted in that which is the essential, basic, absolutely necessary, a life undistorted yet by many infidelities to God and so much injustices committed against the people as it is the case elsewhere.
It is in this context of the desert, that the Baptist announces the impressive symbol of the “Baptism,” beginning of a new life in conversion, purification, and forgiveness.
How to answer to this call today? The Baptist summarized this answer with an image taken from the Prophet Isaiah: “Prepare the way of the Lord.” We create many obstacles that prevent or hinder the coming of God into our hearts and communities, in our Church and our world. However, God is always near. We are the ones who get away from God. We have to build new roads to welcome God in the incarnated person of Jesus.
With powerful images, Prophet Isiah invites us to return to what are the basic and fundamental commitments:
- to better care what is essential without being distracted with what is secondary, accessory, and dispensable;
- to rectify what we have deformed; to straighten our crooked actions;
- to confront the truth of our lives to recover the spirit of conversion.
We need the baptism of conversion.
Sunday November 29, 2015
First Sunday of Advent (C)
Gospel Luke 21: 25-28, 34-36
Jesus said to his disciples: “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.
“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.”
Principio del formulario
Ebanjelioa Lukas 21: 25-28, 34-36
25 «Seinale handiak agertuko dira eguzkian, ilargian eta izarretan; lurrean, berriz, larri izango dira herriak, itsas orroaz eta olatuez izuturik. 26 Eta munduari gainera datorkionaren ikaraz eta larriz, lur jota geldituko da jendea, ortzia dardarka ariko baita. 27 Orduan, Gizonaren Semea hodei artean ahalmen eta aintzaz beterik etortzen ikusiko dute. 28 «Hau guztia gertatzen hastean, izan bihotz eta altxatu burua, laster baituzue zeuen askapena».
34 «Zabiltzate, bada, kontuz! Galdukeria, mozkorkeria eta bizitzako ardurak direla eta, ez bekizue gogoa motel, egun hura ustekabean gainera eror ez dakizuen, 35 sarea bezala eroriko baita munduan bizi diren guztien gainera. 36 Egon erne eta erregutu uneoro, gertatuko diren horiei guztiei ihes egiteko eta Gizonaren Semearen aurrean zutik irauteko kemena izan dezazuen».
Between Outrage and Hope
An indestructible conviction since its inception holds firm the faith of the followers of Jesus, encouraged by God, that our human history is heading toward its final liberation. The unbearable contradictions of human beings and the uncountable horrific actions committed by man in every age must not lead to extinguish our hope in the final victory of God over evil.
The world that sustains us is not definitive. One day the whole creation shall give “signs” that the end has arrived to make way for a new and liberated life, which none of us can think of in the wildest of our dreams or understand it.
The Gospels collect a remembrance of Jesus´ reflection about the end of times. Paradoxically, His attention does not focus in the “cosmic events” that may occur at that time. His main objective is to offer His followers a lifestyle model to live with lucidity the arrival of the end times.
The end of history is not chaos, destruction of life, and total death. Slowly, amid light and darkness, listening to the calls of our heart or ignoring what is best in us, we walk toward the ultimate mystery of reality, which we believers call “God.”
We are not to live trapped by fear or anxiety. The “last day” is not a day of wrath and revenge, but of liberation. De Gospel of Luke sums up the thought of Jesus with these remarkable words: “when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.” Only then, we shall really know how God loves the world.
We must revive our trust in God, lift up our spirits and awaken our hope. One day the financial powers will sink. The folly play of the powerful will end. The victims of so many unjust wars, crimes and genocide shall come to experience what real life is. Our efforts for a more humane world will not be lost forever, because we shall see how God creates his Kingdom of Peace and Justice.
Jesus struggles to shake the consciences of His followers. “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life.” Do not live like foolish people. Do not let yourselves be carried away by the frivolity and excess. “Be vigilant.” Lead a lifestyle with lucidity and responsibility. Never be tired of doing good. Keep yourselves always in constant effort to do good and avoid returning evil with evil.
We must go beyond what seems to be a reasonable human answer to the present day’s challenges: “forgive those who kill you, bless those who affront you, and bless those who insult you.”
Sunday November 22, 2015
The Solemnity Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe (B)
Gospel John 18: 33b-37
Pilate said to Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you say this on your own or have others told you about me?” Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here.” So Pilate said to him, “Then you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”
Ebanjelioa Joan 18:33b-37
Oilatok galdetu zion Jesusi: –Zu al zara juduen erregea? 34 Eta Jesusek: –Zeure kabuz galdetzen didazu hori ala besteek esan dizute hori nitaz? 35 Pilatok erantzun zion: –Judua ote naiz, bada, ni? Zeure herrikoek eta apaizburuek ekarri zaituzte niregana. Zer egin duzu? 36 Jesusek erantzun: –Nire erregetza ez da mundu honetakoa. Nire erregetza mundu honetakoa balitz, nire jendeak borroka egingo zuen ni judu-agintarien menpe ez erortzeko; nire erregetza, ordea, ez da hemengoa. 37 Orduan, Pilatok esan zion: –Beraz, errege zara zu? Jesusek erantzun zion: – Errege naiz, zeuk diozun bezalaxe. Horretarakoxe jaio eta etorri naiz mundura: egiaren testigantza egitera. Egiarena denak entzuten du nire ahotsa.
The Truth will make us free
Within the judicial context, which was to decide the execution of Jesus, the gospel of John narrates a stunning private dialogue between Pilate, representative of the most powerful empire on earth of the time and Jesus, a handcuffed inmate who introduces Himself as witness of the truth.
Indeed, Pilate wants, apparently, to know the truth, which lies hidden in this strange character brought before his throne, “Are you the King of the Jews?” inquires Pilate. Jesus will respond him by proclaiming two fundamental assertions, very dear to John the Evangelist.
“My kingdom does not belong to this world.” Jesus is not the kind of king Pilate can imagine. Jesus does not intended to occupy the throne of Israel nor extract from Tiberius his imperial power. Jesus does not belong to the system in which the prefect of Rome seems to move at ease supported by injustice and falsehood. Jesus does not rely on the force of armies. It has a completely different foundation. Jesus’ kingship comes from and is based upon the tender love of God to the world.
Then Jesus added something very important: “I am a king … and I came into the world, to testify to the truth.” It is in this very world that Jesus wants to exercise his kingship, but in a surprising way. Jesus does not come to rule as Tiberius did, but by being the “witness of truth” bringing about the love and justice of God into human history.
The truth Jesus brings is not a theoretical, theological, and doctrinal, not even a moral teaching. The Truth Jesus witnesses is a call, a vocation that can transform the lives of people as well as society. Jesus said once: “If you remain in and live my word … you too shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” The only condition for us is to accept the Lordship of God.
Being faithful to the Gospel of Jesus is a unique experience because it leads to know the truth, which set us all free liberating, and enable us to be fully human.
Jesus Christ is the only truth from which we Christians are allow to live fully. Is it by following Christ, by imitating him, and by allowing ourselves be transformed into new Christs, that we will be able to co-create a new heaven and a new earth.
Sunday November 15, 2015
Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Gospel Mk 13: 24-32
Jesus said to his disciples: “In those days after that tribulation the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. “And then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in the clouds’ with great power and glory, and then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds,
from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.
“Learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see these things happening, know that he is near, at the gates. Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
“But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
Ebanjelioa Markos 13: 24-32
24 «Egun haietan, larrialdi horren ondoren, eguzkia ilunduko da, ilargiak ez du argirik egingo, 25 izarrak zeru goitik amiltzen hasiko dira eta ortzia dardarka ariko.
26 Orduan, Gizonaren Semea hodei artean ahalmen eta aintzaz beterik etortzen ikusiko dute. 27 Orduan, aingeruak bidali eta bere aukeratuak bilduko ditu lau haizeetatik, lur-muga batetik besteraino. 28 «Ikasi pikondoaren irudi honetatik: kimua berritzen eta hostoa zabaltzen zaioneko, badakizue uda hurbil dela. 29 Era berean, gauza horiek gertatzen ikustean, jakizue hurbil dela, Gizonaren Semea ate ondoan duzuela. 30 Benetan diotsuet: Gizaldi honetakoak hil baino lehen gertatuko dira gauza guztiok. 31 Zeru-lurrak igaroko dira, baina nire hitzak ez dira bete gabe igaroko. 32 Baina zein egunetan edo ordutan gertatuko den, ez daki inork, ez zeruko aingeruek, ez Semeak, Aitak baizik.
We Hold these Truths
Little by little those disciples and the people at large who had known Jesus in person were dying. As a result, the number of those who believed in Jesus, even without having seen Him, became the majority of the Christian group. These believers continued celebrating the Eucharist and in it, they discovered always the living presence of the Risen One.
However, they longed for the day in which they could see the Lord, and touch his wounds, kneel in front of Him and kiss His feet. When was that day to arrive? When this desire could become a reality?
The community remembered with love and with faith the words of Jesus. These Words were the nourishment and consolation in those difficult times of persecution. However, when would they be able to experience in their own flesh the truth the Words of Jesus and the symbols of the Eucharist contained? Did they not risk to slowly forgetting the memory of Jesus? Years passed and there never seemed to arrive the long-awaited Final Day. What to think about Paul’s words, and even Jesus’ about the imminent coming of the Day of the Lord?
The apocalyptic discourse of Mark offers some truths, which we hold to feed our hope. We must not understand them literally. We rather must try to uncover in those images and symbols the hidden faith, which will take us away from a science-fiction movie.
First conviction. This exciting history of humankind will one day come to its end.
The “sun” that points at the succession of the years will be extinguished. The “moon” that sets the pace for months and changes of seasons will no longer shine. There will be no days and nights. Our concepts of time and space will cease to exist. Moreover, “the stars shall fall from heaven,” which means that the distance between heaven and earth will be obliterated, and there will no longer be space. This life we live in is not forever, because that Day is coming in which we will live eternal live, the definitive life, without space or time. We shall live immersed in the mystery of God.
Second conviction. Jesus will return in full glory and His followers will finally be able to see His desired Countenance: “They will see the Son of Man.” The sun, the moon and the stars will disappear, but the world will not remain without a Light. Jesus will illumine that reality with His Truth, Justice and Peace in the entire human history that is living today enslaved of all sorts of abuses, injustices and lies.
Third conviction. Jesus will bring the total salvation of God for all. Jesus will arrive with the great saving power of the Father. Jesus will not arrive with a menacing and fearful power. Notice that the Evangelist avoids using terms such as judgement, prosecution or condemnation. Jesus comes to “gather his elect,” those who await with faith and simple hope His salvation.
Fourth conviction. The words and actions of Jesus “will never fade away.” Jesus’ Words and actions will never lose their saving power. They must continue nourishing the hopes and dreams of his followers and continue being the fresh breath of the poor. We are not walking towards nothingness and emptiness or total recall and annihilation. We are pilgrims walking to receive the hug and kiss of God.
Sunday November 8, 2015
Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Gospel Mk 12: 38-44
In the course of his teaching, Jesus said to the crowds, “Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes and accept greetings in the marketplaces, seats of honor in synagogues, and places of honor at banquets. They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext recite lengthy prayers. They will receive a very severe condemnation.” He sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents. Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, “Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.”
Ebanjelioa Markos 12: 38-44
38 Bere irakastaldian, beste hau ere esan zien: «Zabiltzate kontuz lege-maisuekin! Gogoko baitute harro-harro jantzita ibiltzea eta plazetan jendeak agur egitea; 39 gogoko dituzte sinagogetan lehenengo aulkiak eta jai-otorduetan mahaiburuak. 40 Eta, azkengabeko otoitzen aitzakiaz, alargunen ondasunak irensten dituzte. Epairik zorrotzena izango dute horrelako horiek».
41 Jesus tenpluko dirutegiaren aurrean eseria zegoen, jendeak kutxetara dirua nola botatzen zuen begira. Aberats askok ugari ematen zuen. 42 Etorri zen emakume alargun behartsu bat, eta bi sos bota zituen, huskeria bat. 43 Jesusek bere ikasleei dei egin eta esan zien: «Benetan diotsuet: Alargun behartsu honek beste guztiek baino gehiago bota du kutxara. 44 Izan ere, beste guztiek sobera dutenetik eman dute; honek, ordea, bere eskasian, zeukan guztia, bizitzeko behar zuena, eman du».
Blessed the Poor
The contrast between the two gospel scenes is total. In the first, Jesus puts people on guard against the scribes of the temple. Their religion is a false one: they use religion only to seek their own glory and to exploit the weak people who try to find comfort from their fears in religion. No one is to admire and follow their example.
In the second scene, Jesus observed the gesture of a poor widow, and calls upon his disciples to pay attention to it. From this woman they can learn something the scribes never taught the faithful: a total faith in God and boundless generosity.
Jesus’ criticism directed to the scribes is a harsh one. These leaders, instead of guiding the people to God seeking His glory, attract the attention of people towards themselves seeking their own honor. They like “walking with flowing robes” and demand the people greet and bow their heads in front of them. In the liturgy of the synagogues and at banquets, they seek “seats of honor” and “the first places.”
However, something certainly hurts Jesus more than the Pharisees’ fatuous and childish behavior demanding attention and empty reverence. While they feign deep piety in their “long prayers” in public (to be seen), they take advantage of their religious prestige to live at the expense (in the expression of the biblical tradition) of widows, weak and defenseless beings of Israel.
It was precisely one of these widows, who will expose the corrupt religion of these religious leaders. Her gesture has gone unnoticed to everyone, but not Jesus. The poor woman has thrown only two small coins into the temple’s treasury box. Jesus noticed it and called immediately his disciples, because they would not have been able to find in the difficult environment of a religious temple someone with such a religious and solitary heart in favor of the needy.
This widow is not looking for honors or prestige; she acts in a quiet and humble way. She does not think of exploiting anyone; on the contrary, he gives everything she has because others may need her help. According to Jesus, she has given more than anyone else has, because she did not give from her “surplus” but from “all she have to live.”
Make no mistake. These simple people, with a big and generous heart, who know how to love unconditionally, are the best asset the Church has. These people make the world more humane. These ones truly believe in God and keep alive the spirit of Jesus among other false and interested religious attitudes. From these, we must learn to follow.
Sunday November 1, 2015
Solemnity of All Saints
(Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time-B)
Gospel Mt 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.”
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 zaituztenean, erasoka eta gezurrez gaizki-esaka erabiliko zaituztenean. 12 Poz zaitezte eta alaitu, handia izango baita zuen saria zeruan.
It is not difficult to draw the profile of a happy person in the society in which Jesus lived. A happy person would have been an adult male, in good health, married to honest and fruitful women, mother of many male children, rich with plenty of land, zealous observant of religion and respected in his village. What more could a man ask for?
For sure, this was not the ideal, which animated Jesus. No wife, no children, no land or property, wandering through the dusty roads of Galilee as a homeless, his life-style did not fit into any of the conventional attributes of happiness for the standards of his time.
His life-style was a provocative and challenging one. If He was a happy man, he was so in such a countercultural manner that provoked bitterness among the well to do people of his time. In fact, Jesus did not think much about his own personal happiness. Rather, His entire life revolved around a project, a dream, a utopia, which made him excited and drew him to live intensely. He called it “the kingdom of God.” Apparently, He was happy when he could make others happy. He felt good when he could give back health and dignity to the people from whom it had been taken unfairly.
He never cared much if his expectations were not met: He was concerned more about creating new social, religious and political conditions, which would bring humanness and happiness to the poorest, the smallest, indeed, for those living in the margins of society. Jesus never sought to be happy if people were excluded from it. He proposed to all a new way of thinking, new values, attitudes and criteria, coming from God, that would enhance the freedom and dignity and happiness of the people living on the margins.
Jesus believed passionately in a “happy God,” “Creator God” who looks at all creatures with tender love. Jesus believed in a God, lover of life and not death, constantly attentive more to the everyday suffering of the people than their sins. Urged by a deep faith in such a God, Jesus broke all the boundaries of religious and social doctrines, traditions and stereotypes.
Jesus never preached, “Blessed you the just and pious, because God will reward you” as the Pharisees and men of Law, the theologians and cannon lawyers of the time, would like Him to have done. Jesus did not say “happy you the rich and powerful because God will bless you.”
On the contrary, His cry was disconcerting for all: “Blessed are the poor because God will be your happiness.” Briefly, Jesus’ invitation may be summarized: “Do not seek happiness in satisfying your personal interests or in the rewarding practice of your own religion. Be happy, rather, working faithfully and patiently for a happier world for all.”
Sunday October 25, 2015
Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Gospel 10: 46-52
As Jesus was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a sizable crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus, sat by the roadside begging. On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he kept calling out all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me.” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you.” He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus. Jesus said to him in reply, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man replied to him, “Master, I want to see.” Jesus told him, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.
Ebanjelioa Markos 10: 46-52
46 Jerikora iritsi ziren. Eta Jesus bere ikasleekin eta jendetza handiarekin hiritik irteerakoan, Bartimeo itsua, Timeoren semea, eskean zegoen bide-ertzean eserita. 47 Jesus Nazaretarra zela jakitean, oihuka hasi zen: –Daviden Semea, Jesus, erruki zakizkit! 48 Askok gogor egiten zioten, isilarazteko; baina hark areago oihu: –Daviden Semea, erruki zakizkit! 49 Jesusek gelditu eta hari dei egiteko agindu zuen. Dei egin zioten itsuari, esanez: –Izan bihotz! Jaiki, deika ari zaik. 50 Bere soingainekoa jaurtiz, salto batean zutitu eta Jesusengana joan zen. 51 Jesusek galdegin zion: –Zer nahi duzu niregandik? Itsuak erantzun: –Berriro ikustea, Jauna. 52 Jesusek esan zion: –Zoaz, zeure sinesmenak sendatu zaitu. Une berean ikusmena etorri zitzaion berriro, eta Jesusen ondoren zihoan bidean.
Lord, Open my Eyes!
Mark narrates the healing of the blind Bartimaeus to urge Christian communities to leave their blindness and mediocrity. It is a hidden criticism to James and John who in the Gospel of last Sunday demanded from Jesus positions of privilege. Prophet Isaiah prophesized about them already: “they have ears, but do not listen, have eyes, and cannot see.” In fact, Timaeus can also be a diminishing term to describe arrogance, a superiority complex of the two disciples.
The story is a remarkably relevant for the Church today. Bartimaeus is “a blind beggar sitting by the roadside.” In his life, it is always dark. He has heard of Jesus, but has not seen His face. He cannot follow Him.
Is not this our situation? ¿Are not we blind Christians, sitting by the road, unable to follow Jesus on his way to Jerusalem, to the Cross? Among us it is also dark. We do not know Jesus. We need His light to move on. We ignore where the Church is moving. We do not even know what future we want for her. We are safely installed in a religion made up to our own liking, which hinders us from becoming followers of Jesus. Like James and John, we want glory and power.
However, despite his blindness, Bartimaeus captures that Jesus is passing by him. Not doubting for an instant, he seizes this unique opportunity. Something tells him that Jesus is his only salvation: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” This cry repeated several times with faith will trigger his healing.
Today we hear in the church all sorts of complaints, criticisms, protests and mutual disqualifications. Often the humble and confident prayer of the blind cannot be heard. We have forgotten that only Jesus can save this church, not our theology, doctrine or cannon law. Theologies, doctrines, and laws blur our vision to perceive the loving and compassionate presence of Jesus near-by. We are full of selfishness, like James and John.
The blind man cannot see, but he knows how to listen to the voice of Jesus that comes through his envoys: “Take courage, rise, he is calling you.” The blind man reacts admirably: threw away his cloak, which prevented him to get up, and jumped forward in spite of his darkness and kneels in front of Jesus. He only has one request: “Master, I want to see.” He knows that with his eyes opened, everything will change. The Gospel concludes that the blind received his sight and he “followed Jesus on the way,” of course, to Jerusalem, the Cross, something James and John were reluctant to do.
We need to open our eyes to see Jesus.
Sunday October 18, 2015
Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Gospel Mk 10: 35-45
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” He replied, “What do you wish me to do for you?” They answered him, “Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.” Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” They said to him, “We can.” Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink, you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared.” When the ten heard this, they became indignant at James and John. Jesus summoned them and said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Ebanjelioa Markos 10: 35-45
35Santiago eta Joanek, Zebedeoren semeek, Jesusengana hurbildu eta esan zioten: —Maisu, eskatuko dizuguna zuk ematea nahi genuke. 36Jesusek galdetu zien: —Zer nahi duzue, bada, niregandik? 37Eta haiek: —Zu zeure aintzara heltzean, bata zure eskuinean eta bestea ezkerrean jar gaitezela. 38Jesusek esan zien: —Ez dakizue zer eskatzen ari zareten. Gauza al zarete nik edan behar dudan edari saminetik edateko, edo nik murgildu behar dudan uretan murgiltzeko? 39—Bai, gauza gara —esan zioten. Jesusek, orduan: —Nik edan behar dudan edari saminetik, bai, edango duzue, baita nik murgildu behar dudan uretan murgilduko ere; 40baina nire eskuin-ezkerretan eseri ahal izate hori, ez dago nire esku inori ematea; Jainkoak norentzat prestatua duen, hari emango zaio. 41Beste hamarrak, hori entzutean, Santiago eta Joanen aurka haserre jarri ziren. 42Jesusek dei egin eta esan zien: «Dakizuenez, herrien buruzagi direnek menpean hartzen dituzte herriak, eta handi-mandiek beren agintea ezartzen diete. 43Zuen artean, ordea, ez du horrela izan behar. Zuen artean handien izan nahi duena izan bedi zuen zerbitzari.44Eta zuen artean lehenengo izan nahi duena izan bedi guztion morroi. 45Zeren Gizonaren Semea ere ez da etorri zerbitzatua izatera, zerbitzari izatera baizik, bere bizia guztien alde ordainsaritzat ematera»
Your Ways are Not my Ways
On the road to Jerusalem, Jesus is warning his disciples of the painful fate that awaits him and those who follow His steps. The unconsciousness of those accompanying him is incredible. Even today this inconsistency continues. James and John, the sons of Zebedee, separate themselves from the rest of the group and approach Jesus. They do not seem to need the rest of the group. They just wish to seize the most privileged positions of power and be the first ones in what they perceive was Jesus’ project. Their request is not a humble request but a ridiculous ambition: “Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.” They want Jesus to place them above the rest of the disciples.
Jesus seems surprised. “You do not know what you are asking.” They have not understood Jesus. With great patience Jesus invites them to wonder if they are going to be able to share in his painful fate. They say yes, although they do not clearly get what Jesus really means.
When the other ten disciples find out what is going on, they become angry with James, and John. They too have the same aspirations. Ambition divides and confronts them. The quest for honors and play protagonist roles always breaks and divides the communion of the Christian community.
This is true also today. What could be more contrary to Jesus and His project to serve to the liberation of the people?
This event was so serious and disturbing that Jesus “summoned them” to make it clear what should the attitude be that characterize His disciple. They already know how the Romans «the rulers of the people» and «lords» of the land behave: they tyrannize the people, submit them and make feel all the weight of their power over the people. Jesus urges them, that «none of this» should take place among them.
Among His followers, everything has to be different: « whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. Greatness is not measured by the power that one may possess, the degree one may carry or the titles one gained. The one who desires to possess these things, in the Church of Jesus, is not a great person but is the most insignificant and ridiculous.
In fact, titles and grandeur are a hindrance to the growth in the life style willed by the Crucified One. In the Church of Jesus everyone must be a servant. Each one of us must place ourselves in the Christian community, not from above, from superiority, power or interested protagonism, but from below, from the availability, and service.
Jesus is our example. He never lived ‘to be served, but to serve.’ This is the best and most admirable summary of what His lifestyle was: service to all.
Sunday October 11, 2015
Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Gospel Mark 10: 17-30
As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; honor your father and your mother.” He replied and said to him, “Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” At that statement his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” The disciples were amazed at his words. So Jesus again said to them in reply, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.” Peter began to say to him, “We have given up everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come.”
Ebanjelioa Markos 10: 17-30
17 Bidean abiatzera zihoala, gizon bat etorri zitzaion lasterka eta, aurrean belaunikaturik, galdetu zion: –Maisu ona, zer egin behar dut betiko bizia ondaretzat jasotzeko? 18 Jesusek erantzun zion: –Zergatik esaten didazu ona? Inor ez da ona Jainkoa besterik. 19 Badakizkizu aginduak: Ez hil inor, ez egin adulteriorik, ez ostu, ez egin gezurrezko testigantzarik, ez egin kalterik, ohoratu aita-amak. 20 Hark, orduan: –Maisu, gazte-gaztetandik bete izan dut hori guztia. 21 Jesus maitasunez begira jarri zitzaion eta esan zion: –Gauza bat falta zaizu bakarrik: zoaz, saldu daukazun guztia eta eman behartsuei, zeure aberastasuna zeruan izan dezazun; gero, zatoz eta jarraitu niri. 22 Hitz hauek entzutean, ilun jarri zen gizona eta atsekabez joan, ondasun handien jabe baitzen. 23 Inguruan begiratuz, Jesusek esan zien bere ikasleei: –Bai nekez sartuko direla aberatsak Jainkoaren erreinuan! 24 Harriturik utzi zituen ikasleak esaldi honek. Baina Jesusek, berriro ere: –Ene semeok, zaila da benetan Jainkoaren erreinuan sartze. 25 Orratzaren begitik gamelua igarotzea errazago, aberatsa Jainkoaren erreinuan sartzea baino. 26 Ikasleek, gero eta nahasiago, honela zioten beren artean: –Nor salba daiteke, orduan? 27 Jesusek begira-begira jarri eta esan zien: –Gizakientzat bai ezinezko, baina Jainkoarentzat ez, dena baitezake Jainkoak. 28 Orduan, Pedrok esan zion Jesusi: –Hara, guk dena utzi dugu zuri jarraitzeko. 29 Jesusek erantzun: –Benetan diotsuet: Niregatik eta berri onagatik etxea, senideak, ama, aita, seme-alabak eta lurrak uzten dituenak, 30 orain, mundu honetan, ehun halako etxe, senide, ama, seme-alaba eta lur jasoko du, erasoaldiekin batera; eta gero, datorren munduan, betiko bizia.
Where is My Heart?
This Sunday readings face three clear positions: One is about the attitude of King Solomon, who chose wisdom to be more precious than gold, silver or precious stones. The Gospel reflects on the other two attitudes, one of the young rich man, who puts his wealth over Jesus and the other of the disciples, who give up everything to follow Jesus.
The Gospel of Mark provides some very curious details typical of the Second Gospel. Someone approaches Jesus “running,” and “kneels” and calls him “Good Teacher” (causing some discomfort in Jesus), and asks his question. Then, Jesus looks at him “fondly.” In the end, the young rich man “frowns” and goes away sad. The scene describes a whole life time: it points at the priorities by which we live.
The question of the young man is about “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He obviously wants to be part of the Kingdom of God. He wants to go to Heaven. He must have heard Jesus speak about it. Jesus, before replying, warns the young man on the precipitate use of words. Only God is good. Jesus has in his mind something he said already a bit earlier: “Be perfect as the Heavenly Father is perfect.”
Jesus’ answer refers to five mosaics commandments, all belonging to the second table, which refers to his relationship to his neighbors, but changing the order and adding one, which is not in the Decalogue: “you shall not defraud.” Jesus affirms that salvation, or entering in the Kingdom of God or going to Heaven, relates directly with the way I deal with my brothers and sisters around me.
The young man seems, in principle, to be satisfied with the answer and tells Jesus that he has fulfilled all those commandments since childhood. He is convinced that he is a good person because he fulfills the commandments. Jesus, then, says the Gospel, looks at him with love and proposes him something new: to stop thinking about afterlife and think rather in this life, giving a new meaning to it, to live his life making life meaningful for others, especially the poor. It is a proposition about following Jesus, really, physically, but first, he must free himself from his ego and possessions. What Jesus proposes is expressed in three active and powerful verbs: to sell, give and take.
When Jesus meets people, he always provokes an awareness for a deeper desire to live life in its fullness. Conscious of that awareness, Jesus invites the young man, as well as his disciples, to guide their life from a new logic, a novel way of thinking. The first thing is not to live clinging to possessions, “sell what you have.” Second, help the poor, “give them your money.” Finally, “Come, follow me.” Thus, the two, Jesus and the young man, can walk together toward the realization of the kingdom of God on this earth, in the now and here of our history.
There are two reactions to Jesus’ proposal: the young man gets up and walks away from Jesus. He forgot Jesus’ loving gaze and becomes sad. He knows he will never know the joy and freedom of those who follow Jesus. Marcos explains, “He had many possessions.” The second reaction is that of the apostles: “We have given up everything and followed you.”
Some questions for personal reflection: Is this not our experience of satisfied Christians in rich countries? Have we not separate personal morality from Jesus’ demand to act on behalf of the poor? Do not we live trapped in the material well-being and the desire to possess more and more? Have not we made a religion to our own measure and principles, which lacks practical love to the poor? Do not we need the joy and freedom of the followers of Jesus?
Sunday October 4, 2015
Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Gospel Mark 10: 2-16
The Pharisees approached Jesus and asked, “Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?” They were testing him. He said to them in reply, “What did Moses command you?” They replied, “Moses permitted a husband to write a bill of divorce and dismiss her.” But Jesus told them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” In the house the disciples again questioned Jesus about this. He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” And people were bringing children to him that he might touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this he became indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.” Then he embraced them and blessed them, placing his hands on them.
Ebanjelioa Markos 10, 2-16
2 Fariseu batzuek hurbildu eta, zertan harrapatuko, gizonak bere emaztea uztea zilegi ote zuen galdetu zioten. 3 Hark erantzun zien: – Zer agindu zizuen horretaz Moisesek? 4 Eta haiek: –Moisesek, dibortzio-agiria idatzi eta emaztea uzteko baimena eman zigun. 5 Jesusek esan zien: –Jainkoaren gauzetan itsu zaretelako eman zizuen lege hori Moisesek. 6 Baina, munduaren hasieratik, Jainkoak gizaseme eta emakume egin zituen; 7 horregatik, gizasemeak bere aita-amak utziko ditu eta emazteari elkartuko zaio, 8 eta biak bat izango dira. Beraz, aurrerantzean ez dira bi, bat baino. 9 Horrela bada, Jainkoak uztartu duena ez beza gizakiak aska. 10 Gero, etxean, arazo berari buruz galdegin zioten ikasleek. 11 Jesusek esan zien: –Bere emaztea utzi eta beste bat hartzen duenak adulterio egiten du lehenengoaren aurka; 12 eta bere senarra utzi eta beste bat hartzen duen emakumeak adulterio egiten du era berean.
13 Beste batean, haurrak eraman zizkioten Jesusi, uki zitzan; ikasleek, berriz, haserre egiten zieten. 14 Hori ikustean, Jesus haserretu egin zen eta esan zien: «Utzi haurrei niregana etortzen, ez galarazi, horrelakoek baitute Jainkoa errege. 15 Benetan diotsuet: Jainkoaren erreinua haur batek bezala onartzen ez duena ez da inola ere bertan sartuko». 16 Eta haurtxoak magalean hartu eta bedeinkatu egiten zituen, eskuak ezarriz.
AGAINST MALE POWER
The Gospel reflects on the two weak links of the Jewish society of the time of Jesus: The women and the children. On the first link about divorce, the Pharisees posed a question to Jesus to test HIM. This time it is not a minor issue, but a fact that makes women of Galilee suffer a lot and is a source of lively discussions among followers of different rabbinical schools: “is the man permitted to divorce his wife?”
It is not about modern divorce, as we know it today, but about the situation in which a Jewish woman had to live within the marriage, an only male-controlled institution. According to the Law of Moses, a husband could break the marriage contract and expel his wife from home. Husbands could carried it out for an anodyne reason such as overcooking. The wife, however, submitted entirely to man, could not do the same, and could not even complain about it.
As in other occasions, Jesus’ answer takes everyone by surprise. Jesus refused to enter into discussions of the rabbis. Rather he invites all to discover the original plan of God, which is above laws and regulations. Jesus affirms that this “macho” law in particular, entered into the Jewish community “because of the hardness of your hearts” who wished to control women and subject them to their masculine desires.
Jesus deepens on the original mystery of human being. God “created them male and female.” God created them both on equal footing, although diverse. God did not create man with power over women. Nor created the woman to subject to the man as if she were to be a slave. Between men and women there must be no dominion of the one over the other.
It is from this original structure of the human being that Jesus offers a new vision of marriage, which goes beyond all the established provisions because of their “hardness of heart.” Women and men will unite to “become one flesh” and start a life together in mutual self-giving without imposition or submission.
Marriage thus understood, is for Jesus the supreme expression of human love. Man has no right to control women as if he were to be her lord. In addition, the woman does not have to accept living under a man’s lordship. God himself is the One who draws them to live together in a free and gratuitous love relationship. Jesus concludes flatly: “Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.”
With this new vision, Jesus is uprooting the foundations of patriarchy in all its forms of control, submission and imposition of males over females. Not only in marriage, also in any civil or religious institution.
We must hear the message of Jesus. It is not possible to make new in-roads into the kingdom of God and his righteousness without actively fighting against patriarchy in all its shapes and forms. When shall we react in our church with evangelical energy against all types of abuse, violence and aggression of males over women? When shall we defend the women from the “hardness of heart” of men?
The second weak link has to do with children. Children were also the last in that Jewish society, and Jesus wants to reverse that by claiming children to be the center in the Kingdom of Heaven. The reason is very deep, because due to the designs of the Father “the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” In the kingdom of God and in Jesus’ group, the troublemakers are not the small, but the big and powerful; those who want to dominate others and always be the first.
In the community of Jesus, those seeking the last places and willing to welcome, serve, embrace and bless the weak and needy are to be the center. The kingdom of God does not spread with the imposition of the powerful but hosting, welcoming, and defending the small.
Sunday September 27, 2015
Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Gospel Mk 9: 38-43; 45, 47-48
At that time, John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.” Jesus replied, “Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us. Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward. “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut if off. It is better for you to enter into life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna, where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.'”
Ebanjelioa Markos 9: 38-43; 45, 47-48
38 Joanek esan zion: –Maisu, gizon bat ikusi dugu zure izenean deabruak botatzen, eta eragotzi egin nahi izan diogu, ez baita gure taldekoa. 39 Baina Jesusek erantzun: –Ez eragotzi; ez baita inor nire izenean mirari bat egin eta gero nitaz gaizki-esaka jardungo duenik. 40 Hau da, gure kontra ez dagoena gure alde dago. 41 Benetan diotsuet: Mesiasen jarraitzaile zaretelako, ontzixka bat ur bada ere ematen dizuen inor ez da saririk gabe geldituko. 42 «Sinesten duten txiki hauetakoren baten sinesmena galbidean jartzen duenak, hobe luke errotarri bat lepotik lotu eta itsasora amilduko balute. 43 Zeure eskuak galbidean jartzen bazaitu, moztu; hobe duzu eskumotz betiko bizitzan sartu, bi eskuekin infernura, itzalezineko sutara, erori baino. ( 44 ). 45 Zeure oinak galbidean jartzen bazaitu, moztu; hobe duzu hankamotz betiko bizitzan sartu, bi oinekin infernura jaurtia izan baino. ( 46 ). 47 Zeure begiak galbidean jartzen bazaitu, atera; hobe duzu begibakar Jainkoaren erreinuan sartu, bi begiekin infernura jaurtia izan baino; 48 han ez da barruko harra hiltzen, ez eta sua itzaltzen.
Become Friends of Jesus: Do Good!
Despite all the efforts Jesus made to teach his disciples to live like him, prioritizing the service to the kingdom of God, which consisted, among other things, in making the life of the people a more humane, dignified and happy one, the disciples did not seem to understand the power of the Spirit, which animated his entire ministry. It was, indeed, an endless love of the needy and a total commitment to the poorest of the poor that emanated from the deepest of his heart that put in motion his entire life and ministry. The disciples seem to, once again, miss the point.
Mark’s account is very enlightening in this regard. Jesus’ disciples report to Jesus a fact, which seems to have unsettled them deeply. They saw a stranger “casting out demons.” He, moreover, claim to act “in the name of Jesus.” He acts in the same line: he is committed to freeing people from evil that prevents them from living in a humane way and in peace with themselves. However, the disciples did not like this liberating ministry of this estranger. The disciples failed to think of the joy of those healed by this man. They regard the ministry of this estranger as an intrusion and thus, it must be stopped at once. The disciples tell Jesus that they tried to stop him from practicing his ministry “because he was not from our group.” That estranger should stop performing his healing ministry because he is not a member of the group. The disciples did not care about the health of the people: they were emphasizing only on the prestige of the little group of the friends of Jesus. It is obvious to the Evangelist that these disciples intended to monopolize the healing power of Jesus: “no one should cure in the name of Jesus, if one does not adhere to the group.”
Jesus is not happy with the attitude of his disciples and invites them to enter into a very different logic. Jesus sees things differently. For Jesus, the first and most important element is to affirm that God offers salvation to every human being freely and unconditionally and not the growth of that small group, nor its prestige. Moreover, to accomplish this mission, God uses even people who may not belong to the ‘institution:’ “He who is not against us is for us.” Anyone who makes present in the world the healing and liberating power of Jesus is in favor of Jesus’ dream of the realization of the Kingdom of God.
Jesus rejects the sectarian and excluding attitude of his disciples who seem only to think about their growing prestige and influence in the society. Jesus, on the contrary, adopts an open and inclusive attitude where the first priority is to free human beings from that which destroys and causes them misery. This underlying Spirit must always encourage the true follower of Jesus.
There are in the world, outside of the Church’s institution, countless men and women of good will, who do much good work and live out their lives in an tireless effort to build a more just and dignified space for all. Within these people, the Spirit of the healing power of Jesus is also alive. We must feel friends and allies of them, never adversaries. They are not against us as they are in favor of the full dignity of the human being, just as Jesus was too.
Sunday September 13, 2015
Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Gospel Mark 9: 30-37
Jesus and his disciples left from there and began a journey through Galilee, but he did not wish anyone to know about it. He was teaching his disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death the Son of Man will rise.” But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question him. They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house, he began to ask them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they remained silent. They had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest. Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” Taking a child, he placed it in the their midst, and putting his arms around it, he said to them, “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.”
Ebanjelioa Markos 9:30-37
30 Handik atera eta Galilean zehar zebiltzan. Jesusek ez zuen inork jakiterik nahi, 31 bere ikasleei irakastera emana baitzegoen. Honela ari zitzaien: «Gizonaren Semea gizakien eskuetara emango dute; hil egingo dute, baina hil eta hiru egunera piztu egingo da». 32 Haiek, ordea, ez zuten ulertzen zer ari zitzaien; galdetzera, berriz, ez ziren ausartzen. 33 Kafarnaumera iritsi ziren. Eta, etxean, Jesusek galdera hau egin zien: –Zer eztabaida izan duzue bidean? 34 Baina haiek hitzik ez; beren artean handiena nor ote zen eztabaidatu baitzuten bidean. 35 Eseri zen Jesus eta, Hamabiei dei eginik, esan zien:–Lehena izan nahi duena izan bedi denetan azkena eta denen zerbitzaria. 36 Eta gero, haur bat hartu, haien aurrera ekarri eta, magalean zuela, esan zien: 37 –Honelako haurra nire izenean onartzen duenak neu onartzen nau; eta ni onartzen nauenak, ez nau ni onartzen, bidali nauen hura baizik.
To be Last and Servant
Jesus with his followers is walking through the dusty road from Galilee to Jerusalem. They wished to do it in a quiet manner, without drawing anyone’s attention. Jesus wants to devote himself entirely to instruct his disciples. It is very important what which He wishes to carve in their hearts, namely, that His way is not a path toward acquiring glory, success and power. It is rather the opposite: a path that leads to the crucifixion, after having been rejected by all, but that death will end in resurrection.
The disciples did not get what Jesus is telling them on the way. They are even afraid to ask Him about it. They do not want to think about crucifixion. Crucifixion did not fit into their plans or expectations about their future. Because while Jesus speaks to them about the cross and a life of self-denial and in total commitment to the others, they are speaking about their ambitions: Who will be the biggest in the group? Who will get the highest place? Who will receive more honors?
Jesus “sits down.” May be He is disheartened that after all this time with them, they have understood nothing about the kernel of His message. Now He wants to teach them something they must never forget. He calls the twelve, those most closely associated with his mission, and invites them to come closer, because he sees them very far from HIM.
If they wish to follow His example and be like Him, they must learn and practice two fundamental attitudes.
First attitude: “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” The disciple of Jesus must renounce ambitions of possessing a rank with the plethora of its honors and vanities. In the group of Jesus, no one must pretend to be over others. Rather, one has to be last, place at the same level of those who have no power and hold no rank at all. Moreover, from this start, to grow to be like Jesus “servant of all.”
The second attitude is so important that Jesus illustrates it with a very tender symbolic gesture. He places a child in the midst of the Twelve, in the center of the group, so that those megalomaniac ambitious men forget about honors, titles, and greatness, and put their eyes on the small, the weak, the needy and those most needing care and protection. Then He hugs the child and says: “Whoever receives a child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.”
The one who welcomes on of these “little” ones welcomes the “greatest” of all, Jesus. And those who accept Jesus are welcoming the Father who sent him.
Any follower of Jesus, the church for that matter, who looks at and associates with the powerful of the earth is perverting the Good News and has already betrayed Jesus.
Sunday September 13, 2015
Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Gospel Mark 8: 27-35
Jesus and his disciples set out for the villages of Caesarea Philippi. Along the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” They said in reply, “John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said to him in reply, “You are the Christ.” Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him. He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days. He spoke this openly. Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples, rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, “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 and that of the gospel will save it.”
Ebanjelioa Markos 8: 27-35
27 Gero, Feliperen Zesarea inguruko auzoetarantz abiatu zen Jesus bere ikasleekin. Bidean galdera hau egin zien: –Ni nor naizela dio jendeak? 28 Haiek erantzun zioten: –Batzuek Joan Bataiatzailea zarela; beste batzuek Elias; besteek profetaren bat. 29 Jesusek berriro galdetu zien: –Eta zuek, nor naizela diozue? Pedrok erantzun: –Zu Mesias zara. 30 Eta Jesusek inori ere ez esateko agindu zien zorrotz. 31 Orduan, irakasten hasi zitzaien, Gizonaren Semeak asko sufritu behar zuela; zahar, apaizburu eta lege-maisuek gaitzetsi egingo zutela eta hil; eta hiru egunen buruan piztu egingo zela. 32 Argi eta garbi mintzatzen zitzaien honetaz. Pedro, Jesus aparte harturik, gogor egiten hasi zitzaion. 33 Baina Jesusek, itzuli eta ikasleei begira, gogor eraso zion Pedrori, esanez: –Alde nire ondotik, Satanas! Hire asmoak ez dituk Jainkoarenak, gizakiarenak baizik. 34 Gero, jendeari eta ikasleei dei eginik, esan zien Jesusek: «Nire ondoren etorri nahi duenak uko egin biezaio bere buruari, bere gurutzea hartu eta jarrai biezat. 35 Izan ere, bere bizia gorde nahi duenak galdu egingo du; bere bizia niregatik eta berri onagatik galtzen duenak, ordea, gorde egingo du.
Who do you say that I am?
This episode plays a central and decisive role in the Gospel of Mark.
It has been a while already that the disciples have been living together with Jesus. Now the time has arrived when they will have to pronounce clearly their intentions. Whom are they following? What is it they discover in Jesus that makes them follow HIM? What is it they captured in HIS life, HIS message and HIS project?
Ever since they decided to join him, the disciples keep questioning about HIS identity. What strikes them most is the authority with which HE speaks, HIS power to heal the sick and the love with which HE offers God’s forgiveness to sinners. Who is this man in whom all feel God, as a close friend of life and forgiveness?
Among the people who have not lived with HIM run all kinds of rumors, but Jesus is interested in knowing, firsthand, the position of his disciples: “But who do you say that I am?” It is not enough that each may have more or less accurate opinions about HIM. It is essential that those who are committed to HIS vision, acknowledge the mystery, which is hidden in HIM. If that is not the case then, who will be able to keep alive HIS message? What will be of the great dream of the kingdom of God? How will end up that little group of friends Jesus was trying to build?
The question is also vital for his future disciples. The response to the question will radically affect us all. No one can follow Jesus light heartedly or unconsciously. We all need to know HIM more deeply, and feel totally identified with HIS dream and project of the Kingdom of God.
Peter, collecting the experiences they have lived with HIM so far, replied on behalf of all: “You are the Christ.”
Peter’s confession is still limited, because the disciples did not yet know Jesus’ crucifixion at the hands of HIS enemies. They cannot even imagine in their wildest dream, that Jesus will be raised up by the Father and declared as HIS ONLY beloved Son. They are unaware still of the many experiences that will allow them capture everything that lies hidden in Jesus. It is only by following HIM closely that they will discover with growing faith.
For us Christians today it is vital to recognize and acknowledge ever more deeply the mystery of Jesus the Christ. If we ignore Christ, the Church will remain ignoring herself and her mission. If we fail to know and recognize Christ, then we will fail to know that which is the most essential and decisive of our task and mission. In order to know and confess Jesus Christ is not enough to fill our mouths with impressive Christological titles. We must follow closely, walk on HIS footsteps and work with him every day.
Sunday September 6, 2015
Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Gospel Mark 7: 31-37
Again Jesus left the district of Tyre and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, into the district of the Decapolis. And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him off by himself away from the crowd. He put his finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, “Ephphatha!”— that is, “Be opened!” — And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly. He ordered them not to tell anyone. But the more he ordered them not to, the more they proclaimed it. They were exceedingly astonished and they said, “He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
Ebanjelioa Markos 7: 31-37
31 Utzi zuen Jesusek Tiro aldea eta, Sidonen barrena, Galileako aintzirara iritsi zen berriro, Dekapolisko lurraldean zehar. 32 Gizon gor bat eraman zioten, hizmotela gainera, eta eskua ezartzeko eskatu zioten. 33 Jesusek, jendearengandik aparte harturik, hatzak belarrietan sartu zizkion eta listuz mihia ukitu. 34 Gero, zerura begiratuz, hasperen egin eta esan zion: «Effata!» (hau da, «Ireki!»). 35 Eta une berean, ireki egin zitzaizkion belarriak, mihia askatu eta garbi hitz egiten hasi zen. 36 Gertatua inori ez aipatzeko agindu zien Jesusek; baina zenbat eta gehiago agindu, orduan eta areago zabaltzen zuten. 37 Eta biziki harrituta, honela zioten: «Ongi egin du dena: gorrei entzunarazi eta mutuei hitz eragin».
Heal our Deafness
The prophets of Israel often used “deafness” as a provocative metaphor to speak about the closure and resistance of the people to listen and obey their God. The prophets repeatedly cry out that Israel “has ears but cannot hear” what God is saying. Therefore, a prophet calls everyone to conversion with these words: “You deaf, listen and hear!”
In this context, the healings of a deaf person, narrated in the Gospels, are to be read as “parables to conversion,” which invite us to let us be healed by Jesus from our deafness and resistance that keep us from listening his call to follow HIM. Mark, in concrete, provides in his account highly suggestive nuances to help Christian communities work in this process of conversion. I shall mention three.
A deaf person lives oblivious to everyone. H/She does not seem to be aware of the personal situation and does nothing to approach the one who can heal him/her. In today’s narrative, and luckily for him, some friends are interested and carry him to Jesus.
This is the first step for a Christian community as it tells us how we must take care of each other: a group of brothers and sisters who help one another to live around Jesus, and letting us experience the healing power of Jesus.
Healing deafness is not easy. Jesus took him apart to a discrete place to work on it. We can see here the second attitude Christian communities need to build up: Recollection and personal relationship with all those in need is necessary. We need in our Christian groups to create a climate that allows a more intimate and vital contact with Jesus. Faith in Jesus emerges and matures through a personal relationship with HIM.
Jesus works hard on the ears and the tongue of the patient, but this alone is not enough. It is necessary that the deaf person cooperate also, in his healing. Therefore, Jesus, after lifting his eyes to heaven, asking His Father to be with Him in this healing process, shouts at the deaf person the very first word any person deaf to Jesus and his Gospel needs to hear: “Open up.”
This is indeed the third step of the Christian community in the process of healing: it is urgent that, we, Christians hear the call of Jesus also today. These are not easy times for the Church. We are asked to act with lucidity and responsibility. It would be disastrous that we live today deaf to Jesus’ Cry, or ignore HIS words of life, or not listen to the Good News, or not read the signs of the times, and live locked in our deafness. The healing power of Jesus can heal us.
Sunday August 30, 2015
Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Gospel Mark 7: 1-8, 14-15, 21-23
When the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus, they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands. —For the Pharisees and, in fact, all Jews, do not eat without carefully washing their hands, keeping the tradition of the elders. And on coming from the marketplace they do not eat without purifying themselves. And there are many other things that they have traditionally observed, the purification of cups and jugs and kettles and beds. — So the Pharisees and scribes questioned him, “Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?” He responded, “Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written: This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts. You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.” He summoned the crowd again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile. “From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile.”
Ebanjelioa Markos 7: 1-8, 14-15, 21-23
1 Behin batean, fariseuak eta Jerusalemdik etorritako zenbait lege-maisu hurbildu zitzaizkion Jesusi, 2 eta konturatu ziren, honen ikasle batzuek otordua esku kutsatuekin egiten zutela, eskuen garbikuntza egin gabe, alegia. 3 Izan ere, fariseuek, eta juduek oro har, ez dute behin ere jaten lehenbizi eskuak arretaz garbitu gabe, zaharren ohiturari tinko eutsiz. 4 Azokatik etxeratzean ere, ez dute jaten garbikuntza egin gabe; eta badute beste hamaika ohiturazko betebehar: hala nola edalontzi, pitxer eta suilen garbiketa. 5 Horrela bada, galdera hau egin zioten fariseuek eta lege-maisuek Jesusi: –Zergatik ez dute zure ikasleek zaharren ohiturari dagokionez jokatzen? Nolatan jaten dute esku kutsatuekin? 6 Jesusek erantzun zien: –Itxurazaleok halakook! Ederki asko esan zuen zuetaz Isaias profetak, honako hau idatzi zuenean: Herri honek ezpainez ohoratzen nau,
baina niregandik urrun du bihotza; 7 alferrik naute gurtzen;hauen irakaspena giza agindu hutsa. 8 «Zuek, Jainkoaren agindua bazterrera utzi eta giza ohiturari eusten diozue». 14 Jesusek berriro jendeari dei egin eta esan zion: «Entzun niri denok eta ulertu ongi! 15 Ez da deus ere, kanpotik gizakiaren barrura sartuz, hau kutsa dezakeenik; barrutik ateratzen zaionak, horrek kutsatzen du gizakia».
21 Izan ere, barrutik, gizakiaren bihotzetik, ateratzen dira asmo txarrak, lizunkeria, lapurretak, hilketak, 22 adulterioak, diru-gosea, gaiztakeriak, maltzurkeria, lasaikeria, bekaizkeria, irainak, harrokeria, burugabekeria. 23 Gaiztakeria guztiok barrutik irteten dira, eta hauek dute gizakia kutsatzen.
Seek Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God
We do not know when or where the clash took place. Mark is only interested in evoking the kind of an atmosphere in which Jesus moved, surrounded by scribes, scrupulous observers of the multiple traditions, which blindly resisted to the novelty the Prophet f Love wanted to introduce in their lives.
The Pharisees observed outraged that his disciples eat with unclean hands. They could not tolerate it: “Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders?” Although they speak about the disciples, it is obvious the attack was directed at Jesus. They were right. Jesus was the one breaking the attitude of blind obedience to traditions as he tried to create around him a “space of freedom” where what matters was love.
That group of religious teachers did not understand anything about the kingdom of God Jesus was announcing. God did not reign in their hearts. On the contrary, it was the law, rules, uses and customs marked by traditions that were still reigning in them. For them the important thing was to observe the provisions passed on to them, by the “eldest.” They did not take time to think about what was good for the simple people. They were not interested in “seeking first the kingdom of God and its righteousness.”
This was a serious mistake. Therefore, Jesus responded to them with harsh words: “You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.”
The doctors of the law spoke reverently about the “tradition of the elders” and even dared to attribute divine authority to those rules and rubrics, while Jesus refers to them as mere “human traditions.” We are never to mix up God’s will with what is the result of human ruling.
It would also be a serious mistake today that the Church would remain prisoner of human traditions invented by our ancestors, when everything around us is calling each one of us to a profound conversion to Jesus Christ, our only Master and Lord. Our concern today must be not so much to preserve intact the past, but to facilitate the birth of a new Church and more Christian communities, capable to reproduce in total fidelity the Gospel of Christ, and to update the project of the Kingdom of God in our contemporary society.
Our first responsibility is not so much to repeat the past, as to enable the acceptance of Jesus Christ, without hiding or darken HIM with our human traditions, however venerable they may appear.
Sunday August 23, 2015
Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Gospel Jn 6: 60-69
Many of Jesus ‘disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.” As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”
Ebanjelioa Joan 6: 60-69
60 Jesusen hitzok entzutean, haren ikasleetariko askok esan zuen: «Onargaitza da mezu hau. Nork jaramon egin? »
61 Jesusek, ikasleak marmarka ari zirela oharturik, esan zien: «Honek eragozten al dizue sinestea? 62 Bada, Gizonaren Semea lehen zegoen tokira igotzen ikusiko bazenute, zer gertatuko ote?
63 Espiritua da bizia ematen duena; gizakia berez ez da ezertarako. Nik eman dizkizuedan irakatsiak espiritu eta bizi dira.
64 Baina badira zuen artean sinesten ez duten batzuk».
Izan ere, Jesusek hasieratik zekien nork ez zuen sinesten eta nork salduko zuen.
65 Eta esan zuen, gainera: «Horregatik esan dizuet ezin dela inor ere niregana hurbildu, Aitak ez badio horretarako gaitasuna ematen».
66 Geroztik, haren ikasleetariko askok atzera jo zuen, eta aurrerantzean ez ziren harekin ibili. 67 Orduan, esan zien Jesusek Hamabiei:
–Zuek ere alde egin nahi al duzue?
68 Erantzun zion Simon Pedrok:
–Jauna, norengana joango gara? Betiko bizia dute zure irakatsiek.
69 Eta guk sinetsi dugu eta badakigu zu zarela Jainkoaren Santua.
Living from the Words and Actions of Jesus
During these past years, many researches and studies have taken place to determine the causes of the crisis of the Christian Churches in modern society. It is indeed necessary to do these studies in order to, better know some historical facts, but they are insufficient to discern what should be our reaction.
The episode narrated by John in today’s Gospel can help us interpret and live the present crisis of the church from a more evangelical perspective.
According to the evangelist, Jesus sums up the crisis, which is taking place in his closest group, as follows: “The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and Life. And yet, some of you will not believe.”
It is true. Jesus introduces in his followers a new Spirit; His Words and Actions convey them Life; what Jesus proposes can generate a new movement capable of guiding the world toward a more dignified and fulfilling life-style. Are they ready to follow him? Are they ready to give up all their lives and enter into this revolutionary mission Jesus demands from his followers?
The fact alone of belonging to the group of Jesus does not guarantee the faith this project of Jesus demands. There are some in the group, who want to belong to the group of the friends of Jesus, formally, but refuse to accept His words and actions, which give Spirit and Life. Theirs is a fictional idea of Jesus; their faith in him is not real. They would like another type of Jesus with different words and actions. These people would like a Jesus who speaks more about going to the temple to pray, and does not challenge our behavior once we leave the temple. The real crisis then, in the time of Jesus, and now among Christians is the same: do we believe or do not in Jesus?
The Evangelist says, “Many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.”
It is during a crisis when it becomes clear who the true followers of Jesus are. The decisive choice is always to observe who are really the ones who abandon and who remain with Him, fully identified with His Spirit and Life? Who is in favor and who is against the project of the Kingdom of God?
Because of Jesus’ challenging remarks, the group begins to decrease. Jesus does not get irritated by it and does not pronounce any judgment against anyone. He just asks a question to those with him: “Do you also want to leave?”
It is the very question Jesus asks each one of us who remain today in the Church: What do you, and I, want? Why do we remain in the Church? Is it to follow Jesus, accepting his Spirit and His life-style? Is it to work in His great project to build the Kingdom of God?
Peter’s response is exemplary: “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Those of us, who remain in the church, have to do so for Jesus. Only because of Jesus. Not for anything else. We are determined to carry on with the mission of Jesus. Jesus and His Spirit and Actions are the only reason we decide to stay in this group.
However painful the current crisis of the Church may seem, will be positive if, those of us who decide to remain in the Church, many or few it does not matter, continue with our process of becoming disciples of Jesus, that is, men and women who live from His Words and Actions.
Sunday August 16, 2015
Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Gospel Jn 6: 51-58
Jesus said to the 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.
We are what we eat!
The Gospel of John uses strong wording to insist on the need to nourish ourselves the communion with Jesus Christ. Only with this communion with Christ, we shall be able to experience in our lives His very life. According to John, it is necessary to eat Jesus: “whoever eats me, will live by me.”
The language acquires an even more aggressive character when Jesus says we must eat HIS very flesh and drink his very own blood. The text is unequivocal. “My flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and me in him.”
This language does not produce any impact among Christians anymore. Accustomed, as we are, to hear it from childhood, we tend to think about what we have done since our first communion. We all know the doctrine learned in catechism: at the moment of communion, Christ is present in us by the grace of the sacrament of the Eucharist.
Unfortunately, all of this tends to remain as an accepted pious doctrine. In most of the cases, we lack the experience of bringing the real Christ to our everyday lives. We do not know how to open ourselves up to him so that He may nourish, with his Spirit, our everyday life and transform it making it a more human and evangelical one.
Eating Christ’s flesh is much more than vaguely approach ourselves to meet HIM in the sacramental rite of receiving the consecrated bread. Communion with Christ requires a leap of faith and, yes, an experience of special intensity during the sacramental communion, but which must also be experienced in other moments of our daily life, especially in our encounter with the people in need with whom Jesus identified HIMSELF.
What is decisive here is to feel the hunger for Jesus. To feel the hunger to experience the encounter with HIM. To open ourselves to HIS truth, his lifestyle, his way of thinking, his attitudes, his heart, so that He carves in each one of us His Spirit and strengthens what is best in us. We must let him enlighten and transform within us those dark areas of our lives, which are not yet “Christianized.”
If we do not feed ourselves with the flesh of Christ, ourselves, of course, but also the Church will remain weak. If we eat the flesh of Christ, we will become the very life of Christ. We are what we eat!
Sunday August 9, 2015
Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Gospel Jn 6: 41-51
The Jews murmured about Jesus because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven,” and they said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph? Do we not know his father and mother? Then how can he say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Stop murmuring among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day. It is written in the prophets: They shall all be taught by God. Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. 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.”
Ebanjelioa Joan 6: 41-51
41 Orduan, marmarka hasi ziren entzuleak, «Neu naiz zerutik jaitsiriko ogia» esan zuelako, 42 eta zioten: –Ez da, bada, hau Jesus, Joseren semea? Ez ditugu, bada, ezagunak honen aita-amak? Nola dio, orain, zerutik jaitsia dela? 43 Jesusek ihardetsi zien: –Ez ari marmarka zeuen artean. 44 Ezin da inor niregana hurbildu, bidali nauen Aitak erakartzen ez badu; eta neuk piztuko dut azken egunean. 45 Honela esaten da profeten liburuan: Jainkoaren ikasle izango dira denak. Aitari entzun eta hark irakatsia bereganatzen duena niregana hurbiltzen da. 46 Horrek ez du esan nahi inork Aita ikusi duenik; Jainkoarengandik etorri denak bakarrik ikusi du Aita. 47 «Bene-benetan diotsuet: Sinesten duenak betiko bizia du. 48 Neu naiz bizia ematen duen ogia. 49 Zuen gurasoek mana jan zuten basamortuan eta, halere, hil egin ziren. 50 Bestelakoa da zerutik jaisten den ogia: beronetatik jaten duena ez da hilko. 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».
Jesus’ Attraction Power
The Gospel of John uses repeatedly powerful expressions and images to remind Christian communities that they must go to Jesus if they want to find the source of new life. This encounter with Jesus must become a vital principle and it is not comparable to any other religious experience they may have been able to experience before.
Jesus is “bread from heaven,” therefore, He is not to be confused with any other source of life. It is only in Jesus Christ that we are fed with an energy, a light, a hope, a breath of life …, which comes directly from the mystery of God, the Creator of life. And Jesus is “the bread of life.”
This bread from Heaven, Jesus, appears, to many, in such a simplicity and humility that provokes scandal. Who does he think he is? “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph? Do we not know his father and mother?” How can we believe in him? He is just one like us!
That is precisely why it is not possible to meet him if we do not first go to the deepest of ourselves, open ourselves to God and “listen to what the Father tells us.” No one can feel real attraction for Jesus, “if we are not attracted by the Father who sent him.”
That which is the most attractive in Jesus is his capacity to give life, and give it abundantly. Whoever believes in Jesus Christ and experiences him, encounters a different life, life with new quality, a life that, somehow, already belongs to the world of God. John dares to say, “He who eats this bread will live forever.”
If, each one of us personally and as Christian communities, do not feed from this personal contact with Jesus, we will continue to ignore the most essential and decisive of Christianity and will be distracted about having a position in the community, clinging on to personal likes and dislikes, and making trouble. Therefore, nothing is more urgent in our pastoral care in our parishes than to live out existentially our relationship with the person of Jesus Christ. It is not about an ideology or opinion discrepancy: it is about experiencing Jesus who transforms our lives.
If we, as individuals and community, are not attracted by God, who appears incarnated in such a human, close and cordial man, as Jesus of Nazareth was, nothing will be able to get us out from the state of mediocrity and superficiality in which we usually live immersed in our Christian lives. Nothing will encourage us to go that extra mile beyond what is required by our institutions. Nothing will encourage us to go beyond our traditions and devotions. If Jesus does not feed us with his Spirit, we shall remain trapped in the fears of the past, living our religion in a formalistic way.
Sunday August 2, 2015
Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Gospel Jn 6: 24-35
When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into boats and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus. And when they found him across the sea they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” Jesus answered them and said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.” So they said to him, “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.” So they said to him, “What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do? Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.” So Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” So they said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”
Ebanjelioa Joan 6: 24-35
24 Han ez zeudela ez Jesus, ez ikasleak konturatzean, jendea txalupetara igo eta Kafarnaumera joan zen, Jesusen bila. 25 Aintziraz beste aldean aurkitu eta esan zioten: –Maisu, noiz etorri zara hona? 26 Jesusek erantzun zien: –Bene-benetan diotsuet: Nire bila zabiltzate, ez ikusi dituzuen mirarizko seinaleengatik, ogia asetzeraino jan duzuelako baizik. 27 Ahalegin zaitezte, ez galtzen den janariagatik, baizik eta irauten eta betiko bizia ematen duen janariagatik; hori Gizonaren Semeak emango dizue, Jainko Aitak bere aginpidearen ordezkari egin duenak. 28 Orduan, galdetu zioten: –Zer egin behar dugu Jainkoak nahi duena egiteko? 29 Jesusek erantzun zien: –Hauxe da Jainkoak nahi duena: berak bidali duenarengan zuek sinestea. 30 Galdetu zioten, orduan: –Zer seinale ematen diguzu, bada, guk ikusi eta zuri sinesteko? Zer egiten duzu? 31 Gure arbasoek mana jan zuten basamortuan, Liburu Santuak dioen bezala: Zeruko ogia eman zien jaten. 32 Jesusek erantzun zien: –Bene-benetan diotsuet: Ez zizuen Moisesek eman zeruko ogia, baizik eta nire Aitak ematen dizue zeruko egiazko ogia. 33 Zeren Jainkoaren ogia, zerutik jaitsi eta munduari bizia ematen diona da. 34 Orduan, eskatu zioten: –Jauna, emaguzu beti ogi horretatik. 35 Jesusek erantzun zien: –Neu naiz bizia ematen duen ogia; niregana hurbiltzen dena ez da, ez, sekula gose izango, eta niregan sinesten duena ez da behin ere egarri izango.
Jesus Christ is the Only Center
People need Jesus and search him. There is something about him, that attracts them, but still they do not know exactly why they seek him. According to the evangelist, many do so because the day before Jesus distributed bread to satisfy their hunger. People saw in Jesus a genuine leader, efficient and merciful.
Jesus begins to talk to them. There are some things, which must be clear from the beginning. Material bread is very important. He himself has taught them to ask God for “the daily bread” for everyone. However, we must look for something more. Jesus wants to offer them a food that can satisfy for good their deepest and most vital hunger.
People sensed that Jesus was trying to open in front of them a new horizon, but do not know what to do or from where to start. The evangelist summarizes their questions with these words: “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” In them, there is a sincere desire to get it right. They have a true desire to work on what God wants, but used to think everything from the perspective of the Law, they inquire from Jesus what kind of works, or new practices and observances they must do.
Jesus’s answer touches the heart of Christianity, “This is the work (notice the singular here) of God that you believe in the one he sent.” God only wants us to believe in Jesus Christ, because he is the great gift God has sent into the world. This is the new requirement. In this, they have to work. Everything else is secondary.
After twenty centuries of Christianity, we need to rediscover that the full force and originality of the Church rests only in believing in Jesus and follow him. It is an urgent task that we move from an attitude of followers and adepts of a religion of “beliefs” and “practices” to one of living as disciples of Jesus.
Christian faith does not consist primarily in properly fulfilling a code of practices and new observances, superior to those of the Old Testament. Certainly not. Christian identity derives from learning to live a lifestyle born from experiencing the relationship with and trusting in Jesus Christ. We become Christians in the measure that we learn to think, feel, love, work, suffer and live like Jesus.
To be a Christian today requires an experience of Jesus and fully identify with his project of the Kingdom, something, which was not required in recent years to be a good practitioner. In order to survive in the midst of secular society, Christian communities need to take care, more than ever, of the commitment and vital contact with Jesus Christ.
Sunday July 26, 2015
Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Gospel Jn: 1-15
Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee. A large crowd followed him, because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples.
The Jewish feast of Passover was near. When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” He said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people recline.” Now there was a great deal of grass in that place. So the men reclined, about five thousand in number. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted. When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.”
So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat. When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, “This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.” Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain alone.
Ebanjelioa Joan 6: 1-15
1 Handik aldi batera, Galilea edo Tiberiades aintziraz beste aldera joan zen Jesus. 2 Eta jendetza handia zihoakion atzetik, gaixoak sendatuz egiten zituen mirarizko seinaleak ikusten baitzituzten. 3 Jesus mendira igo eta han eseri zen bere ikasleekin. 4Hurbil zen Pazkoa, juduen jai nagusia. 5 Jesusek, jende asko zetorkiola ikusirik, esan zion Feliperi: –Non erosiko genuke ogia hauei jaten emateko? 6 Zirikatzeko esan zion hori, ongi baitzekien berak zer egin behar zuen. 7 Felipek erantzun zion: –Berrehun denarioren ogia ez litzateke nahikoa bakoitzak puska bat izateko. 8 Haren ikasleetako batek, Simon Pedroren anaia Andresek, esan zion: 9 –Bada hemen bost garagar-ogi eta bi arrain txiki dituen mutiko bat; baina zer da hori honenbesterentzat? 10 Jesusek jendea eserarazteko agindu zien ikasleei. Belar asko zegoen leku hartan, eta eseri egin ziren denak. Bost milaren bat gizonezko ziren. 11 Jesusek ogiak hartu eta, esker oneko otoitza egin ondoren, banatu egin zituen eserita zeudenen artean; berdin arrainak ere, nahi adina. 12 Eta ase zirenean, esan zien Jesusek ikasleei: «Bil itzazue hondarrak, ezer gal ez dadin». 13 Bildu zituzten, bada, eta bost garagar-ogietatik jan zutenei gelditu zitzaizkien hondarrez hamabi saski bete zituzten. 14 Jendeak, orduan, Jesusen mirarizko seinale hura ikusirik, honela zioen: «Hauxe da egiaz mundura etortzekoa zen profeta». 15 Jesusek, ordea, errege egiteko indarrez eraman nahi zutela ikusirik, mendira alde egin zuen berriro berak bakarrik.
In sharing there is Live
The episode of the multiplication of the loaves enjoyed great popularity among the followers of Jesus. All evangelists write about it. Surely, they were moved when thinking about that man of God who was concerned also about feeding a crowd left without enough to eat.
According to John’s version, Jesus was the first to think of the hungry crowd that had come to listen to him. These people must eat; something needs to be done for them. So was Jesus. He lived thinking always about the basic needs of fellow human beings.
Philip makes Jesus notice that they have no money. Among the disciples, everyone is poor: they cannot buy enough bread for so many people. Jesus is aware of it. Those with money will never solve the problem of world’s hunger. It takes more than just money.
Jesus is determined to help them envision a different way to deal with the problem. First of all, it is necessary not to hoard his own food (any good for that matter) for oneself if others are hungry or in need. His disciples have to learn to make available to the hungry all what they have, even if they only have “five barley loaves and two fish.”
Jesus’ attitude is the simplest and most humane that we can imagine. But who is going to teach us to share, if we only know to buy? Who will free us from our indifference in front of the millions of starving people? Is there anything that can make us be more humane? Is this “miracle” of real solidarity among us all, ever going to take place?
Jesus thinks of God. It is not possible to believe in God as Father of all, and live our lives by letting His children and our brothers and sisters starve to death. This is why Jesus takes in his hands the food the disciples were able to collect out of the generosity of the people around and “raised his eyes to heaven and says the thanksgiving prayer.” Indeed, the earth and everything that feeds us, we have received from God. It is the gift the heavenly Father intended for all his children. If we live depriving others of what they need for their daily sustenance, it means that we have forgotten the universal destiny of all created things. This is, precisely, our greatest and only sin, which we almost never confess.
As the early Christians shared the Eucharistic bread, they felt fed by the risen Christ, but at the same time, remembered Jesus’ challenging gesture and went on to share their goods with the needy. They believed in being brothers and sisters to each other. They had not yet forgotten the Spirit of Jesus.
Sunday July 19, 2015
Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Gospel Mk 6: 30-34
The apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat. So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place. People saw them leaving and many came to know about it. They hastened there on foot from all the towns and arrived at the place before them. When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.
Ebanjelioa Markos 6: 30-34
30 Apostoluek, berriro Jesusengana bildu zirenean, egin eta irakatsi zuten guztiaren berri eman zioten. 31 Jesusek esan zien: «Zatozte zuek bakarrik leku gorde batera, eta hartu atseden pixka bat». Asko baitziren joan-etorri zebiltzanak, eta ez zuten jateko astirik ere. 32 Orduan, bazter batera joan ziren, beraiek bakarrik, txalupaz. 33 Baina jende askok ikusi zituen alde egiten, eta nora zihoazen igarri ere bai, eta herri guztietatik leku hartara jo zuten lasterka, haiei aurrea hartuz. 34 Txalupatik jaitsi zenean, jendetza handia ikusi zuen Jesusek. Errukitu egin zitzaien, artzain gabeko ardiak bezala baitzebiltzan, eta irakasten hasi zitzaien luze eta zabal.
Jesus’ hart takes pity on the wandering people
The disciples, sent by Jesus to announce his Gospel, return home excited. They are anxious to tell his master what they have done and taught along the way. Jesus is determined to listen to them with calm and invites them to retire “with them to a quiet place to rest a while.”
People spoil their whole plan. From all the villages, people run after until they find them. Now it seems almost possible to have that quiet meeting Jesus had planned to have alone with his closest disciples. By the time they arrive to the designated place, the crowds had invaded everything and were piling everywhere. How did Jesus react?
Mark describes in detail Jesus’ emotions. Jesus never avoids meeting with people. He stares into the crowds. Jesus knows how to look not only to an individual person, but also to the masses of voiceless, faceless and insignificance people made up of men and women. Immediately, feelings of compassion awake from the depth of his heart. He cannot avoid that feeling. “His heart was moved with pity for them.” Jesus carries all deep inside his heart.
He will never abandon them. He “sees them like sheep without a shepherd:” people without leaders to help them discover the way of the Gospel, or like people without prophets who will announce them the voice of God. Therefore, “he began to teach them, calmly, many things,” taking time to be with them, in order to feed them with his Words that carry healing power.
I am persuaded that one day many of us “in” the church will be made accountable before Jesus, our one Lord, for the way we look and treat the crowds (those bunch of people) who slowly are abandoning the Church. Many abandon the church perhaps because the Gospel we preach is too doctrinal, or because our speeches and liturgies (more concerned with rituals than substance), our statements, and declarations do not speak any longer to their hearts and minds. Many of these persons are simple and good people and we have disappointed them because they never saw in us the compassion of Jesus.
Many of them were believers who did not know where to turn, or what path to follow, to experience the encounter with a more humane and compassionate God. They have not been able to experience that God with us. Many Christians keep silent because they know that their opinions will not be taken into account by any important figure in the community.
I hope that one day the face of this Church will change. The church will learn to act more compassionately; she will forget her own speeches and will turn to listen to the voice of suffering of the people. Jesus has the power to transform our hearts and renew our communities.
Sunday July 12, 2015
Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Gospel Mk 6: 7-13
Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick— no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic. He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave. Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.” So they went off and preached repentance. The Twelve drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.
Ebanjelioa Markos 6: 7-13
7 Jesusek hamabiei dei egin eta binaka bidaltzen hasi zen, espiritu gaiztoak botatzeko ahalmena ematen ziela. 8 Biderako deus ere ez hartzeko agindu zien, makila bat besterik: ez ogirik, ez zakutorik, ezta gerrikoan dirurik ere; 9 oinetan sandaliak eraman zitzatela, baina aldatzeko soinekorik ez. 10 Gero, nola jokatu esan zien: «Etxe batean sartzen zaretenean, gelditu bertan herri hartatik atera arte. 11 Eta nonbait onartzen ez bazaituztete eta entzun nahi ez, handik alde egitean, astindu zeuen oinetako hautsa, beraien kontrako seinaletzat». 12 Joan ziren, bada, haiek eta berri ona hots egin zuten bihozberri zitezen. 13 Deabru asko botatzen zuten eta gaixo asko sendatzen, olioz igurtziz.
Mission demands a coherent life-style
Jesus did not send his disciples in a careless way. In order to collaborate on the great project of the kingdom of God and to extend Jesus’ mission, it is necessary to take a especial care for one’s lifestyle. Without a coherent lifestyle, one may be able to accomplish many things, but will not be able to introduce the spirit of Jesus into the world. Mark highlights some recommendations of Jesus.
First, who are they to act in Jesus’s name? What is their authority or where does it come from? According to Mark, by sending them out, Jesus “gives them authority over unclean spirits.” Jesus did not give them power over people they were going to meet along the way. Nor did Jesus use his power to rule, control, impose, or dictate upon people, but only to heal, restore, and give life, and give it abundantly.
As always, Jesus is thinking of a healthier world, freed from evil forces, which enslave and dehumanize human beings. His disciples are to introduce among the nations Jesus’ saving power. Discreetly they are to enter into the society, not using power to master over people, but by humanizing life, alleviating the suffering of the people, by increasing freedom and fraternity.
Second, they are take only a “walking stick” and “sandals.” These were the signs of pilgrims. Jesus sees them as pilgrims. Not bound to people or to properties. They are to carry only that which is necessary. As agile as Jesus who could show up immediately and anywhere, wherever someone needed him. The staff of Jesus is not to rule on, but to walk with.
Third, they are to carry “no bread, no bag, and no money.” They must not live obsessed with their own security. They carry with them something, which is more important: the Spirit of Jesus, His Word and His authority to humanize the lives of the people. Interestingly, Jesus is not thinking about what they should bring along in order to be effective, but about what they must not carry, so that they do not fall into the temptation of forgetting the poor and end up living enclosed in their own welfare.
Fourth, they are not to carry even a “second tunic.” They are to dress as simple and as casual as the poor do. They shall not put on holy garments as the Temple priests do. They are not to dress even as the Baptist did in the desert wilderness. They are to be prophets among the people. Their lifestyle has to be the sign of God’s closeness to all, especially the neediest.
Shall we dare someday to make within the Church a collective exam of conscience to let ourselves be enlightened by Jesus and come to realize how much we have been moving, almost without realizing it, away from HIS Spirit?
Sunday July 5, 2015
Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Gospel Mk 6: 1-6
Jesus departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples. When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.” So he was not able to perform any mighty deeds there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.
Ebanjelioa Markos 6: 1-6
1 Handik alde egin eta bere herrira joan zen Jesus, bere ikasleak ondoren zituela. 2 Hurrengo larunbatean, sinagogan irakasten hasi zen. Entzule askok honela zioen harriturik: «Nondik honek hori guztia? Zer da eman zaion jakinduria hori? Eta honen eskuz gertatzen diren mirari horiek? 3 Ez al da, bada, arotza, Mariaren semea eta Santiago, Jose, Judas eta Simonen anaia? Eta honen arrebak ere ez ote dira hemen gure artean bizi?» Eta honengatik, ezin zuten sinetsi harengan. 4 Jesusek esan zien: «Profeta bati edonon ematen zaio ohore, bere herri, senitarte eta etxean izan ezik». 5 Eta ezin izan zuen han miraririk egin; hala ere, gaixo bakar batzuk sendatu zituen eskuak ezarriz. 6 Eta harriturik zegoen haien sinesmenik ezaz.
Taking on the challenge of the prophet
The story is a surprising one. Jesus was rejected precisely by his own people, among those who thought they knew him better than anyone else. He arrives in Nazareth, with his disciples, and nobody comes to meet him, as sometimes happens elsewhere. Patients of the village were also not brought to him for healing.
His presence awakens in them only a kind of strange wonder. They do not know who taught him such a message so full of wisdom and common sense. Nor can they explain from where his healing power comes. All they know is that Jesus was supposed to be a worker born in a family from their village. Everything else the villagers “find to be scandalous.”
Jesus feels “despised and rejected:” his own people did not accept him as the bearer of God’s message of salvation. They have made up an idea about “their” neighbor Jesus and refuse to open themselves to the mystery that lies in him. They become so fixated on the tree [their preconceptions of Jesus], that they can’t seem to step back and see the forest [his message]. Jesus reminds them of a saying that all of them probably know: “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.”
Jesus is surprised by their lack of faith. “It is the first time he experiences a collective rejection, not from religious leaders but from all the people in his own village.” No one expected such a rejection from his own people. Their disbelief even blocks Jesus’ capacity to heal: “he was not able to perform any mighty deeds there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them.”
Mark does not tell this episode just to satisfy the curiosity of his readers, but to warn Christian communities that Jesus can be rejected even today precisely by those who think they know him best: those who withdraw into their own preconceived ideas and prejudices without opening themselves to the novelty of his message or the mystery of his person.
Let us reflect upon the following questions:
- How do we, who call ourselves to be “his,” welcome Jesus?
- In the midst of a world that has become adult, is not our faith often too childish and superficial?
- Do not we live too indifferent to the revolutionary novelty of his message?
- Is not it strange our lack of faith in his transforming power?
- Do not we run the risk of suffocating his Spirit by neglecting his prophetic ministry?
- This was the concern of Paul of Tarsus: “Do not quench the Spirit, do not despise the gift of prophecy. Discern everything and retain only what is good “(1 Thessalonians 5.19-21).
Sunday June 28, 2015
Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Gospel Mk 5: 21-43
When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered around him, and he stayed close to the sea. One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward. Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying, “My daughter is at the point of death. Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live.” He went off with him, and a large crowd followed him and pressed upon him. There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years. She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors and had spent all that she had. Yet she was not helped but only grew worse. She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak. She said, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.” Immediately her flow of blood dried up. She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who has touched my clothes?” But his disciples said to Jesus,
“You see how the crowd is pressing upon you, and yet you ask, ‘Who touched me?’” And he looked around to see who had done it. The woman, realizing what had happened to her, approached in fear and trembling. She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.”
While he was still speaking, people from the synagogue official’s house arrived and said, “Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?” Disregarding the message that was reported, Jesus said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” He did not allow anyone to accompany him inside except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official, he caught sight of a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. So he went in and said to them, “Why this commotion and weeping?
The child is not dead but asleep.” And they ridiculed him. Then he put them all out. He took along the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and entered the room where the child was. He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!” The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around.
At that they were utterly astounded. He gave strict orders that no one should know this and said that she should be given something to eat.
Ebanjelioa Markos 5: 21-43
21 Jesus aintziraren beste bazterrera itzuli zenean, jende-talde handia bildu zitzaion ondora. Oraindik aintzira ondoan zegoela, 22 sinagogako buruzagietako bat etorri zen, Jairo zeritzana; Jesus ikustean, honen oinetan ahuspezturik, 23 otoi eta arren eskatzen zion: «Alaba hilzorian dut; zatoz hari eskuak ezartzera, senda dadin eta bizi». 24 Harekin abiatu zen Jesus. Jende asko zihoakion ondoren, estuka eta bultzaka. 25 Bazen han emakume bat, hamabi urte hartan odoljarioz zegoena. 26 Hamaika sendagileren eskutan jasatekoak jasana zen, eta bere ondasun guztiak ere horretan emanak zituen; baina sendatu beharrean, gero eta okerrago zihoan. 27 Jesusi buruz esaten zena entzunik, jendartean atzetik joan eta jantzia ukitu zion. 28 Honela baitzioen berekiko: «Jantzia bederen ukitzen badiot, sendatuko naiz». 29 Une berean odoljarioa gelditu egin zitzaion, eta gaitza sendatua zuela sumatu zuen bere gorputzean. 30 Berehala antzeman zion Jesusek bere baitatik halako indar bat atera zitzaiola eta, jendartean itzulirik, galdetu zuen: –Nork ukitu dit jantzia? 31 Bere ikasleek erantzun zioten: –Hainbeste jendek estutzen zaituela ikusi eta nork ukitu zaituen galdetzen duzu? 32 Baina Jesus ingurura begira zegoen, nork egin ote zion hori. 33 Orduan, emakumeak, beldurrez dar-dar –ondo baitzekien zer gertatu zitzaion–, oinetara erori eta egia osoa aitortu zion. 34 Jesus honela mintzatu zitzaion: «Ene alaba, zeure sinesmenak sendatu zaitu; zoaz bakean, eta sendatua bekizu gaitza». 35 Oraindik hizketan ari zela, sinagogako buruzagiaren etxetik etorri ziren, esatera: «Hil zaizu alaba. Zertarako eman neke gehiago Maisuari?» 36 Baina Jesusek, hitz hauei kasurik egin gabe, sinagogako buruzagiari esan zion: «Ez izan beldurrik; zuk sinetsi». 37 Ez zion inori ere berarekin joaten utzi, Pedro, Santiago eta honen anaia Joani izan ezik.38 Sinagogako buruzagiaren etxera heltzean, ikusi zuen Jesusek hango istilua, jendea negarrez eta garrasika. 39 Sartu eta esan zien: «Zer dela-eta horrenbeste istilu eta negar? Neskatxa ez dago hilda, lo dago». 40 Haiek barre egiten zioten. Baina Jesusek guztiak kanpora bidali zituen eta, neskaren aita-amak eta berarekin etorriak harturik, neska zegoen tokira sartu zen. 41 Eskutik heldu eta esan zion: «Talitha kum» (hau da: «Neskatxa, zuri diotsut: Jaiki zaitez»). 42 Berehala zutitu eta ibiltzen hasi zen, hamabi urte bazituen eta. Jende guztia harri eta zur gelditu zen. 43 Jesusek zorrotz agindu zien inork ere ez zezala jakin. Eta neskatxari jaten emateko esan zien.
We do not know her name. She is a tiny woman, lost in the crowd that follows Jesus. She dares not to speak with Jesus as Jairus, the chief of a synagogue, who succeeded in bringing Jesus directly to his house. She would have never been so lucky!
Nobody knows she is a woman stigmatized by a secret disease.
The scribes have taught her that, as long as she suffers loss of blood, she should consider herself as an “impure” woman. The Gospel tells us that she spent many years looking for healing, but no one managed to heal her in spite of having spent a fortune in the process. She wonders about where she could find a way to restore her health and thus, be able to live with dignity.
Many people live among us with similar experiences. Humiliated by secret wounds that nobody knows, without the strength to confide with someone their “illness,” with nowhere to go to seeking help, comfort and peace and not knowing if they will ever find a solution to their anguish.
Many such people feel guilty, when often they are victims.
Many good people feel unworthy to approach to receive Christ in communion. There are many pious Christians, who have lived a long life of suffering, in an unhealthy way, because they were taught to consider themselves as dirty and sinful when they did something related to the sixth commandment. Many believers do not know how to break the chain of supposedly sacrilegious confessions and communions… Many Christians could never find peace in their hearts.
According to the story, the sick woman, “has heard people speaking about Jesus” and senses that she stands before someone who can eradicate her “impurity” from both her body and her whole life. Jesus does not speak of dignity or indignity, purity or impurity. His message speaks of love and healing. His whole person radiates a healing power.
The woman seeks her own way to meet Jesus. She does not feel with enough courage to look into HIS eyes: she approaches HIM from behind. She feels ashamed to talk to him about her illness, that is why she decides to act quietly. She was not allowed to touch Him physically, that is why she will only touch the mantle. Never mind. Nothing matters. To be cleansed, it is enough to have a big faith and trust in Jesus.
Jesus himself confirms and accepts this women’s confession of faith. She must not feel embarrassed in front of anyone. What she has done is not bad. It is an act of faith.
Jesus continues with his way healing all the secret wounds of people. Moreover, to all who trust in Him, Jesus has these words to say “My son, my daughter, your faith has healed you. Go on in peace and healthy.”
Sunday June 21, 2015
Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Gospel Mk 4: 35-41
On that day, as evening drew on, Jesus said to his disciples: “Let us cross to the other side.” Leaving the crowd, they took Jesus with them in the boat just as he was. And other boats were with him. A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!” The wind ceased and there was great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” They were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?”
Ebanjelioa Markos 4: 35-41
35 Egun berean, ilunabarrez, Jesusek bere ikasleei esan zien: «Goazen aintziraz beste aldera». 36 Jende-taldea utzirik, zegoen txalupan bertan eraman zuten Jesus, beste zenbait ontzi ere harekin batera bazen arren. 37 Hortan, haize-bolada zakarra atera zuen, eta uhinek txalupa jotzen zuten, ia urez betetzeraino. 38 Jesus, berriz, txopan lo, buruko baten gainean. Esnarazi eta esan zioten: –Maisu, ez al dizu axola gu galtzeak? 39 Hark, esnaturik, haserre egin zion haizeari, eta aintzirari esan: –Hago isilik! Geldi! Gelditu zen haizea eta barealdi handia egin zen. 40 Jesusek esan zien: –Zergatik beldur hori? Nolatan duzue oraindik hain sinesmen gutxi? 41 Beldur-ikaraz gelditu ziren, elkarri esanez: «Nor ote dugu hau, esana egiten baitiote haizeak eta aintzirak ere?».
Do not be afraid
“Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” These two questions Jesus directs to his disciples are not, for the evangelist Mark, rhetorical or a story of the past. These are questions we, the followers of Jesus, have to listen even today, in the midst of our crisis and challenges of life. We must question ourselves about the roots of our fear: Why do we fear for the future? Why is it we fear to confront our everyday issues? Is it not because we lack faith in Jesus Christ?
The story of today’s Gospel is brief. It all begins with a command of Jesus: “Come, let us cross over to the other side.” The disciples know very well that the other side of the see of Galilea is a pagan territory, the Decapolis. It is a different and strange country. A culture hostile to their Jewish religion, beliefs and traditions.
Suddenly a heavy storm raises (it is a graphical metaphor of what is going on in the group of disciples in front of the perspective of going to hostile territories). The stormy wind, the waves crashing against the boat, the water that begins to invade everything… all of these describes perfectly the situation: What can the followers of Jesus do when confronted by the hostility of the pagan world? It not only jeopardizes their mission, but also the very survival of the group.
Awakened by shouts of despair of his disciples, Jesus intervenes: at once, the wind dies and the lake regains its calm. What is surprising is that the disciples “remain terrified.” A moment before they were terrified due to the storm. And now, they seem to be terrified about Jesus. Nevertheless, something crucial has taken place in them: they have turned to Jesus. In Jesus, they have experienced now the saving power they did not know before. And immediately they begin questioning HIS identity. They begin to sense that anything is possible with HIM.
Christianity finds itself today too in the midst of a “strong storm” and fear has taken hold of many of us. We resist crossing over to “the other side.”
We often sense modern culture to be like a strange and hostile country. We are afraid of the future. It seems as if being creative and audacious were forbidden values in today’s church where many seem to miss “the garlic and onions of Egypt” as it were better to look back than to keep moving forward.
Jesus will continue surprising us, and taking precedence. The Risen Jesus has certainly enough power to inaugurate a new phase in the history of Christianity. Jesus asks only faith from us. A faith that will free us from both fear and cowardice, and will commit us to walk on the very footsteps of Jesus.
Sunday June 14, 2015
Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Gospel Mk 4: 26-34
Jesus said to the crowds: “This is how it is with the kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and through it all the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how. Of its own accord, the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once, for the harvest has come.” He said, “To what shall we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.” With many such parables, he spoke the word to them, as they were able to understand it. Without parables, he did not speak to them, but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.
Ebanjelioa Markos 4: 26-34
26 Jesusek esan zuen: «Jainkoaren erregetza gizonak lurrean hazia ereitean gertatu ohi denaren antzeko da: 27 hura lo nahiz iratzarririk egon, gau eta egun, hazia erne eta hazi egiten da, hark nola ez dakiela. 28 Lurrak berez ematen du: lehenbizi landarea, ondoren galburua, azkenik alea galburua betean. 29 Eta garia heltzean, igitaiaz ekiten zaio, uztaroa da eta». 30 Beste hau ere esan zien: «Zeren antzeko dela esango genuke Jainkoaren erregetza? Zein parabolaren bidez adieraz genezake? 31 Mostaza-haziaren antzekoa da: lurrean ereitean, hazi guztietan txikiena da; 32 erein eta gero, ordea, gora egiten du eta beste barazki guztiak baino handiagoa egiten; eta txoriek habia egiten dute haren itzalpean, hainbestekoak baitira ematen dituen adarrak».33 Horrelako parabola askoren bidez, Jesusek mezua iragartzen zien, beraiek ulertzeko eran. 34 Ez zien ezer irakasten parabola bidez izan ezik; baina bere ikasleei, bakarrean, guztien esanahia adierazten zien.
A great achievement begins with a small step
We live surrounded by bad news. Radio and television, news and stories that unload on us a flood of news of hatred, war, hunger, and violence, all sorts of corruption and scandals, large and small. The “sellers of sensationalism” do not seem to find anything else remarkable on our planet to talk about.
The incredible speed with which the news and world problems spread leave us stunned and bewildered. What can we do to soften so much suffering? We are better informed about the evil that plagues the humanity, and yet we feel powerless to deal with it.
Science wants us to convince that all problems can be solved with more technological gadgets. Thus, science has thrown us all into a gigantic social organizational stage and tends to rationalize life. However, this organized power is no longer in the hands of the people but on the hands of powerful structures and vested interests of a few. Our societies are not governed by democracies and the peoples we vote for, but for invisible and uncontrollable powers beyond the reach of every individual.
As a result, the temptation is great to inhibit us from our duties and obligations. What can I do to improve the life of this society? Not few tend to believe that it is up to the politicians and religious leaders the responsibility to promote the changes needed to move towards a more humane and dignified coexistence. Nevertheless, we cannot trust our politicians nor our religious leaders.
In today’s Gospel, there is a call addressed to all of us, and it is about to plant small seeds of a new humanity. Jesus does not speak of achieving great things. The kingdom of God is something very humble and modest in its origins. Something that can go unnoticed like the smallest seed, but destined to grow and bear fruit in unexpected ways.
Perhaps we need to learn again to appreciate the little things and small gestures. We may not be called to be heroes or martyrs every day, but we all are invited to live out our lives by placing some human dignity in every corner of our little world. A friendly gesture to the one living sad and worried; a welcoming smile to someone who is alone; just one sign of closeness to someone who begins to despair; a ray of small joy to someone who is heavy hearted; all of these certainly are not great things. They are small seeds of the kingdom of God that we all can plant in this difficult and sad society, which seems to have forgotten the charm of the simple and good things.
Sunday June 7, 2015
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi)
10th Week in Ordinary time
Gospel Mk 14: 12-16; 22-26
On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples said to him, “Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” He sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city and a man will meet you, carrying a jar of water. Follow him. Wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?”‘ Then he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready. Make the preparations for us there.” The disciples then went off, entered the city, and found it just as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover. While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many. Amen, I say to you, I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
Ebanjelioa Markos 14: 12-16; 22-26
12 Legamia gabeko Ogien Jaiko lehen eguna zen, Pazko-bildotsa hiltzen zeneko eguna. Ikasleek esan zioten Jesusi: –Non egin behar ditugu Pazko-afarirako prestaketak? 13 Hark ikasleetako bi bidali zituen, esanez: –Zoazte hirira, eta ur-suila daraman gizon batekin egingo duzue topo. Jarraitu berari, 14 eta sartuko den etxeko nagusiari esan: «Maisuak galdetzen du non duen ikasleekin Pazko-bildotsa jateko tokia». 15 Berak gela zabal bat erakutsiko dizue goian, jantzirik eta atondua; prestatu hantxe behar ditugunak. 16 Joan ziren ikasleak eta, hirira iristean, dena Jesusek esan bezala gertatu zitzaien, eta Pazko-afaria prestatu zuten. 22 Afaltzen ari zirela, ogia hartu zuen Jesusek eta, bedeinkazioa esan ondoren, zatitu eta eman egin zien, esanez: «Hartzazue, hau nire gorputza da». 23 Gero, kopa hartu eta, esker oneko otoitza egin ondoren, eman egin zien eta denek edan zuten. 24 Eta esan zien: «Hau nire odola da, Jainkoarekiko ituna berrituko duena, guztiengatik isuria. 25 Benetan diotsuet: Ez dut gehiago ardorik edango, Jainkoaren erreinuan ardo berria edan arte». 26 Gorazarreak kantatu ondoren, Oliamendira abiatu ziren.
AN UNFORGETTABLE FAREWELL
To Celebrate the Eucharist it is to revive the Last Supper Jesus celebrated with his disciples the night before his execution. No theological explanation, no liturgical planning, no interested devotion is to take us away from the original intention of Jesus. How did Jesus design that last supper? What was it, which Jesus wanted to leave forever carved in in the hearts of his disciples? Why and for what purpose should the disciples continue to remember, again and again, that unforgettable farewell?
First, Jesus wanted to transmit his indestructible hope in God’s kingdom. His death was imminent; that dinner was to be the last. Nevertheless, he promised them that, on day, he was to sit at the table with them with a new drink in his hands, in order to drink a “new wine” with them. Nothing and nobody can prevent this final banquet of the Father with their children from taking place. Thus, to celebrate the Eucharist is to rekindle that hope: we must, already from now on, enjoy the feast that awaits us together with Jesus in the Kingdom of the Father.
Secondly, Jesus wanted, also, to prepare them for that final blow of his execution. They were not to sink into sadness. Death cannot break the friendship that unites them. The communion between them will not be broken. Every time they celebrate the memory of that last supper, Jesus’ presence and his spirit will be in the midst of them. For this reason, every time we celebrate the memory of the last supper, we pledge our adherence to Jesus, we promise Him that we shall continue with his mission, and that we shall remain united to his wonderful dream of the Kingdom of God.
Through this action, Jesus wanted his people never to forget what had been his life: a total surrender to God’s plan. Jesus insisted this to them while distributing a piece of bread to each one of them: “This is my body; please do remember me this way: how I handed over all my life for you, till the end, so that you would merit receiving God’s abundant blessing.” To celebrate the Eucharist is to communicate with Jesus in order to live, every day in a more committed way, for the building of a more humane world. Jesus wanted his disciples should feel to be members of one single community.
The disciples must have been surprised to see what Jesus did at the end of the dinner. Instead of each one drinking from his own cup, as it was customary, Jesus invited everyone to drink from the one single glass: HIS! All shared the “cup of salvation” blessed by Jesus Himself. With this gesture, Jesus wished to express something new: “This is the new covenant in my blood.” Every time we celebrate the Eucharist, we are aware of the especial bond, which unites us among ourselves and with Jesus.
Sunday May 31, 2015
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity (B)
(Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time)
Gospel Mt 28: 16-20
The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them.
When they all 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».
God is Love
For twenty centuries of Christianity, theologians have written many and long treatises about the Trinity, trying to think conceptually the mystery of God. However, they themselves have arrived to the conclusion that in order to know God, what matters is not to “reason” much but to “know” something about love: to have experienced love in its fullness.
The reason is quite simple. Christian theology comes to say, in short, that God is love. God is not someone narcissistic, cold and impersonal Being, who is sad and lonely. We must not imagine HIM as some Being with impenetrable power and self-enclosed. In HIS innermost Being, God is love, shared life, joyful friendship, plain dialogue, mutual gift, a hug; God is a communion of persons, a perfect family.
The most admirable reality is that we are (each one of us) made in the image of this very God. The human being is a sort of “miniature” of God. It is easy to fancy this reality. Whenever we feel the need to love and to be loved…, whenever we know how to welcome others and seek to be welcomed by others…, whenever we enjoy sharing a friendship that makes us grow…, whenever we give and receive life, and give and receive it abundantly…, then we are savoring the “Trinitarian love” of God. The love that flows in us comes right from Him.
Therefore, the best way for us to approach the mystery of God is not through books about Him, but through the many love experiences, which all throughout our lives, we are able to give and receive. When two young people kiss each other in true and perfect love…, when two spouses love each other to create new life…, when anyone, forgetting about himself or herself, give up their lives so others can have it, and have it fully…, then, all of these are living experiences, clumsy and imperfect as these may be, pointing to God’s love and perfect self-donation.
The one who knows nothing about giving and receiving love…, who cannot share or dialogue…, who only listens to himself…, who is closed to all friendship…, who seeks only his/her own interests…, who only knows how to make money, compete and win…, what does such a person know about God and love?
Trinitarian love of God is not an exclusive and discarding love, a “selfish love” between three Persons. Rather, it is a love relationship spreads out, and gives to all creatures so that all can have life and have it abundantly.
That is why, the one who lives in order to love like God, or knows how to give without expecting to be reciprocated, is someone capable of “falling in love” with the poor and the smaller, and is capable of donating his/her own life in order to build a more friendly, dignified and humane world.
Sunday May 24, 2015
Mass during the Day (B)
Gospel Jn 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».
We are clay, inhabited by the Spirit of Jesus
Juan has worked with exquisite detail the Gospel scene in which Jesus entrusts his mission to his disciples. Jesus wants to make clear what the essential is.
First, Jesus is at the center of the community filling them all with peace and joy. Second, Jesus entrusts his disciples with a mission: they were not called to enjoy Jesus all by themselves, but to announce Him to the entire world and make Him present in the here and now of human history.
Third, Jesus “sends” them out. Jesus does not tell them specifically to whom they are to go, or what to do or how they should act: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” Their mission is the same as that of Jesus. They receive no other task: the mission Jesus received from the Father, that same mission is been entrusted to the disciples. They have to be in the world in which Jesus has been. They have seen whom Jesus approached, how Jesus treated the most helpless, how Jesus carried out his project of humanizing life, how Jesus sowed gestures of liberation and forgiveness. The wounds in his hands and his side remind them of Jesus total commitment to the wounded people. Jesus now sends them to ‘reproduce’ His presence among the wounded people of the world.
However, Jesus knows that his disciples are fragile. More than once, Jesus was amazed about their “little faith.” They are going to need His own Spirit to accomplish their mission. Therefore, Jesus makes with them a very special gesture. Jesus does not lay his hands upon them and blesses them, as he used to with the sick and the children. He “breathes on them while pronouncing: Receive the Holy Spirit.”
Jesus’ gesture is a powerful one, which not always we know how to understand. According to biblical tradition, God formed Adam with “mud” and then he blew on him His “breath of life” and, then, that mud became a “living being.” That is what the human being is: a little mud breathed by the Spirit of God. Moreover, that is what the church will always be: mud breathed by the Spirit of Jesus: Fragile and believers of little faith: Christians made of mud, theologians made of mud, priests and bishops made of mud, communities made of clay. Only the Spirit of Jesus makes us a living Church. The areas where the Spirit of Jesus is not received yet are “dead.” The Spirit of Jesus is present there where there is peace, compassion and forgiveness. We must not just talk about love, but love everyone just like He did.
Sunday May 17, 2015
Solemnity Of The Ascension Of The Lord
(Seventh Sunday of Easter – B)
Gospel Mk 16: 15-20
Jesus said to his disciples: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents with their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” So then, the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God. But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.
Ebanjelioa Markos 16: 16-20
15 Eta Jesusek esan zien bere ikasleei: «Zoazte mundu guztian zehar eta hots egin berri ona izaki guztiei. 16 Sinesten eta bataiatzen den oro salbatua izango da; sinesten ez duena, berriz, kondenatua. 17 Sinestedunek seinale hauek izango dituzte berekin: nire izenean deabruak botako dituzte, hizkuntza berriz mintzatuko dira, 18 sugeak eskuetan hartuko dituzte eta, edari hilgarriren bat edanik ere, ez die gaitzik egingo; gaixoei eskuak ezarriko dizkiete eta sendatu egingo dira». 19 Horrela hitz egin ondoren, Jesus Jauna zerura jasoa izan zen eta Jainkoaren eskuinean eseri zen. 20 Haiek, berriz, alde guztietara joan ziren berri ona hots egitera. Eta Jauna bera ari zen haiekin, egiten zituzten mirarien bidez mezua baietsiz.
Mission to Witness
The Gospels describe with different nuances the mission Jesus entrusted to his followers. According to Matthew, they have to “make disciples” who are to live as He taught. According to Luke, they are to be “witnesses” of what they experienced while living with Jesus. Mark sums it up by saying that they have to “proclaim the Gospel to all creatures.”
Today many of those who enter into our Christian communities do not directly encounter with the Gospel. What they perceive is rather the modus operandi of an aging religion, with signs of severe crisis. Many cannot clearly identify within that religion the Good News and the impact Jesus provoked twenty centuries ago.
Moreover, many Christians do not directly know the Gospel. All they know about Jesus and his message is a partial and fragmented reconstruction of events, after listening to catechists and preachers. Many live their religion deprived from the powerful experience of a personal encounter with the Gospel.
How can we, preachers and catechists, will be able to proclaim the Good News of Jesus if we ourselves have not been able to encounter Jesus in our personal lives and in our communities?
Second Vatican Council reminds us all about something too often neglected now: that “The Gospel is, at all times, the source of all life for the Church.” Thus, it is about time that we understand and configure our Christian communities as a place where the first thing to do is to welcome the Gospel of Jesus in our persons as well as our midst.
Nothing can regenerate the wounded tissue of our communities in crisis, as it can the power of the Gospel and the vivid presence of Jesus among us. Only a personal, direct, and immediate experience of the encounter with the Gospel can revitalize our Church. Within a few years, when the ongoing crisis will force us to focus only on the essentials, we shall see clearly that nothing is more important today for Christians than to gather to read, listen and share the gospel accounts together.
The first is to believe in the regenerative power of the Gospel. The Gospel narratives teach us to live our faith, not by constraint but by attraction, by seduction. The Gospels compel us to live our Christian life not as a duty but as irradiation and witness. We must try to introduce this dynamic in our parishes by gathering in small groups, not only to acquire more knowledge, but also to touch and taste the Gospel, to see Jesus in whom we shall be able to recover our identity as disciples.
We must return to the Gospel to start all over again. No program or pastoral strategies can take over the task to encounter and experience Jesus in the Gospel. From the task of listening together to the Gospel of Jesus the regeneration of our Christian faith shall commence in small communities scattered in a secularized society where we, then, will be salt and light of the world.
Sunday May 10, 2015
Sixth Sunday of Easter (B)
Gospel Jn 15: 9-17
Jesus said to his disciples: “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.”
Ebanjelioa Joan 15: 9-17
Aldi hartan Jesusen esan zien bere ikasleei: 9 “Aitak maite nauen bezala, halaxe maite zaituztet nik ere zuek; iraun tinko nire maitasunean. 10 Nire aginduak betetzen badituzue, nire maitasunean iraungo duzue, nik neure Aitaren aginduak betez haren maitasunean irauten dudan bezala. 11 Hau guztia nire poza zeuengan izan dezazuen esan dizuet, eta poz hori bete-betea izan dadin. 12 «Hau da nire agindua: maita dezazuela elkar nik maite izan zaituztedan bezala. 13 Ez die inork maitasun handiagorik adiskideei, bere burua haien alde ematen duenak baino. 14 Zuek nire adiskide izango zarete, nik agintzen dizuedana egiten baduzue. 15 Aurrerantzean ez dizuet morroi deituko, morroiak ez baitu jakiten nagusiaren asmoen berri; zuei adiskide deitzen dizuet, neure Aitak jakinarazitako guztia adierazi baitizuet. 16 Ez ninduzuen zuek ni aukeratu, neuk zintuztedan zuek aukeratu. Eta eginkizun hau eman dizuet: edonon fruitu ugaria eta iraunkorra eman dezazuela. Nire izenean Aitari eskatuko diozuen guztia, eman egingo dizue. 17 Hauxe agintzen dizuet: maita dezazuela elkar.
The more You give away, the more You receive
We live in a culture of “instant gratification.” This is, without any doubt, one of the most characteristic features of modern society. Since the publication of the great work of Gerhard Schulze, “The Experience Society; The Sociology of Contemporary Civilization” (1992), studies have multiplied about the behavior of people in modern society. In these studies, the “Western person” is described as someone who seek immediate gratification. He/she is not much concerned about the past, and does not expect much about what the future may bring. Just in case there exist nothing beyond dead, the Western person throws to enjoy the present moment to the full. This seems to offer us “the most reasonable strategy.” Namely, to try to get the entire juice one can from the here and now without depriving oneself of anything. The aim is to squeeze the juice of every moment for our own personal advantage and satisfaction, because tomorrow maybe too late already.
The reasons for such an attitude seem clear. We are subjected to the pressure of a dizzying pace. Everything changes constantly. What has full validity today is outdated tomorrow. One cannot stop at anything. Modern authors speak in all languages repeatedly the same words, “transitory,” “instability,” “précarité,” “insecurity,” “incertezza,” “transitorio,” and so forth. Nothing seems safe and durable. It is best to hold on to the present and just enjoy live.
Such an attitude begins already to configure the various areas of our life. There are no lasting commitments. People depend on the wishes and desires of the moment. What matters is that life is interesting and fun. Marriage is not any longer a commitment “until death do us part” but a contract “while our personal satisfactions are fulfilled.” This attitude to seek immediate satisfaction also affects the way we understand and live the religious world. People are interested in emotions, in what is exciting, and the novelty of things. People take rather what seems to be exotic, liturgical paraphernalia, and abandons that which looks too vulgar, simple and familiar, because it is already known or old, just because it is known forever.
It is not difficult to grasp in all of this and attitude of stampede and evasion, a “lack of seriousness” as Soren Kierkegaard would say. Hence, the importance of listening to the call of Christ in today’s Gospel: “Abide in my love… If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love” (John 15: 9-10). In following Christ, what matters is not feelings, emotions or news, but knowing to “remain” faithful in love. Existence is not only fun and entertainment. It is also the responsibility of taking up our daily cross and follow Jesus to Golgotha. Only from there comes out true life.
Sunday May 3, 2015
Fifth Sunday of Easter (B)
Gospel Jn 15: 1-8
Jesus said to his disciples: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”
Ebanjelioa Joan 15: 1-8
1 «Neu naiz egiazko mahatsondoa, eta nire Aita da nekazaria. 2 Fruiturik ematen ez duen aihena ebaki egiten du Aitak, eta fruitua ematen duena garbitu eta kimatu, fruitu gehiago eman dezan. 3 Zuek garbi zaudete dagoeneko, adierazi dizuedan mezuaren bidez. 4 Zaudete niri itsatsiak, ni zuei bezala. Aihenak, mahatsondoari itsatsia ez badago, fruiturik eman ezin duen bezala, ezta zuek ere, niri itsatsiak ez bazaudete. 5 «Ni naiz mahatsondoa eta zuek aihenak. Norbait niri itsatsia badago, ni berari bezala, horrek fruitu asko emango du; ni gabe ezin baituzue ezer egin. 6 Niri itsatsirik ez dagoena kanpora botatzen dute, ebaki eta ihartzen den aihena bezalaxe; gero, bildu, sutara bota eta erre egiten dute. 7 Niri itsatsirik bazaudete eta nire irakatsiek zuengan tinko irauten badute, eskatu nahi duzuena eta izango duzue. 8 Honetan azaltzen da nire Aitaren aintza: zuek, nire ikasle izanik, fruitu asko ematean.
Everything with Jesus, Nothing without Jesus
The image John presents us today is simple and yet highly expressive. Jesus is the “true vine,” full of life; his disciples are “branches” who live from the sap that comes from Jesus; the Father is the “wine grower” who personally cares for the vines so that they may bear abundant fruit. The only important thing is that God’s plan, the Kingdom of God, becomes a reality with the vision of a more humane and happy world for all, where all can sit at the table of the banquet of the Kingdom.
The image highlights also where the problem is. There are dry branches where the lifeblood of Jesus is not circulating. There are disciples who do not bear fruit because the Spirit of the Risen does not run through their veins. There are Christian communities languishing and without energy because they are disconnected from Jesus, more concerned about laws, rituals, and doctrines than about being live giving communities.
For this reason John makes the following statement full of intensity, “a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine,” which means, the life of the disciples is sterile “unless they remain” in Jesus. His words are categorical: “Without me you can do nothing.” Is not in this precise point that the true root and cause of the crisis of our Christianity is been revealed to us? Why are we so divided? Why so many groups and factions and readymade slogans? It is because we cut ourselves away from the only life-giving vine. When our religion is reduced to mere anachronistic “folklore” and triunfalistic exercise of power, the Good News of the Gospel announced by Jesus will not reach the poor and the oppressed. The Church cannot carry out the mission of Christ in today’s world, if we, who call ourselves “Christian” do not become disciples of Jesus, inspired by His spirit and His passion to build a more humane world.
To be a Christian always requires having the experience of a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, an inner knowledge of His person and a passion for His project. Many Christians live today worried and distracted by many issues. It cannot be otherwise. However, we must not forget the essential. We are all “branches.” Only Jesus is “the true vine.” The decisive thing right now is “to remain in Him” putting all our attention to the Gospel. Everything with Jesus, Nothing without Jesus.
Sunday April 26, 2015
Fourth Sunday of Easter (B)
Sunday Jn 10: 11-18
Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd. This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father.”
Ebanjelioa Joan 10: 11-18
11 «Neu naiz artzain ona; artzain onak bere burua ematen du ardien alde. 12 Morroiak, otsoa etortzen ikusi orduko, ardiak utzi eta ihes egiten du, ez baita artzaina eta ardiak ere ez baititu bereak. Orduan, otsoak ardiak harrapatu eta sakabanatu egiten ditu. 13 Izan ere, morroiari lansaria zaio axola eta ez ardiak. 14 «Neu naiz artzain ona. Ezagutzen ditut neure ardiak, eta ni ere ezagutzen naute neureek, 15 Aitak ni ezagutzen eta nik ere bera ezagutzen dudan bezalaxe. Nik neure burua ematen dut ardien alde. 16 Baditut artegian ez dauden beste ardi batzuk ere; haiek ere erakarri egin behar ditut; nire ahotsa entzungo dute eta artalde bakarra izango dira, artzain bakarraren gidaritzapean. 17 «Horregatik maite nau Aitak, neure bizia ematen dudalako eta horrela eskuratzen berriro. 18 Ez dit bizia inork kentzen, baizik eta nik neurez ematen dut. Neure esku dut ematea, eta neure esku berriro hartzea. Hori da neure Aitarengandik hartu dudan agindua.»
Jesus is the Only Center (Good Shepherd)
When among the early Christians conflicts and divisions between different groups and leaders began taking place, someone felt the need to remember all that in the community only Jesus is the Good Shepherd. Not as one more among many shepherds, but the real one, the true one, whom all must follow.
This beautiful image of Jesus, as the Good Shepherd, is a call to conversion, addressed to those who claim the title of “shepherds” in the Christian communities. The shepherd, who looks like Jesus, thinks only about the sheep, does not “flee” away from the everyday problems, and does not abandon his sheep to their fate. On the contrary, He walks with them, defends them, risks his own life to defend them, and only seeks the well-being of his sheep.
At the same time, this image of the “Good Shepherd” is a call to fraternal communion among all. The Good Shepherd “knows” his sheep and his sheep “know” him. It is only from this close proximity, from this mutual understanding and this communion of heart, that the Good Shepherd shares his life with his own. We also need in our Church today to walk toward the same fellowship, communion and understanding. However, these are not easy times for our faith: we need, as never before, to join forces, and search together for gospel criteria and guidelines for action as to know which direction we are to walk in order to bring hope to our wounded society.
Maybe this is not what is happening. The hierarchical shepherds make some conventional calls to keep united around the “doctrine” (often mixed with suspicious political implications) but without clear guidelines to taking steps to invite the faithful to taking radical and bold decisions aimed at building the Kingdom of God on this earth. Often we witness attitudes of lack of mutual listening and dialogue in our communities. We also witness the growth of mutual disqualifications and dissensions between bishops and theologians; between theologians of different trends; between movements and communities of different sign; between groups and “blocks” of all kinds in our communities.
Perhaps the saddest thing is the perception of a growing estrangement or cliff between the hierarchy and the Christian people: the sacred and the profane, clergy and laity (pay, pray and obey). As if, there were two separate worlds. In many places, the “shepherds” and “sheep” barely know each other. Many “shepherds” find it not easy to tune with the real needs of sheep.
Jesus challenges us all to believe in Him and his big dream about the Kingdom of God: the only aim of the Church. Only the faithful who are ready to give their lives for the Kingdom of God and for the Brothers and Sisters are full of the Spirit
Sunday April 19, 2015
Third Sunday of Easter (B)
Gospel Lk 24: 35-48
The two disciples recounted what had taken place on the way, and how Jesus was made known to them in the breaking of bread. While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them. He said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”
Ebanjelioa Lukas 24: 35-48
35 Bi ikasleek bidean gertatua eta nola ogia zatitzean ezagutu zuten kontatu zieten. 36 Hamaikak eta lagunak horretaz mintzo zirela, Jesus agertu zitzaien erdian eta esan zien: «Bakea zuei». 37 Beldur-ikaraz beterik, mamua ikusten zutela uste zuten. 38 Baina Jesusek esan zien: «Zergatik izutzen zarete? Zergatik sortzen zaizkizue zalantza horiek barruan? 39 Ikusi nire esku-oinak, neu naiz. Uki nazazue eta begira: mamuak ez du hezur-haragirik, eta nik bai, ikusten duzuenez». 40 Hau esatean, esku-oinak erakutsi zizkien. 41 Baina, oraindik pozaren pozez sinetsi ezinik eta guztiz harriturik zeudenez, Jesusek esan zien: «Ba al duzue hemen jatekorik?» 42 Arrain erre puska bat eskaini zioten. 43 Jesusek hartu eta beraien aurrean jan zuen. 44 Ondoren, esan zien: «Hauxe da, oraindik zuekin nengoela esan nizuena: Moisesen legean, profeten liburuetan eta salmoetan nitaz idatzitako guztia bete beharrekoa zela». 45 Orduan, adimena argitu zien, Liburu Santuak uler zitzaten. 46 Eta esan zien: «Idatzia zegoen Mesiasek sufritu egin behar zuela eta hirugarren egunean hildakoen artetik piztu, 47 eta, Jerusalemdik hasita, herri guztiei bihozberritzeko hots egin behar zaiela, bekatuak barka dakizkien. 48 Zuek zarete honen guztiaren lekuko.
Luke describes the encounter of the Risen Jesus with his disciples as a founding experience of the first Christian community. The desire of Jesus is clear. His task did not finished on the cross. Raised by God after his execution, Jesus makes contact with his disciples to launch a movement of “witnesses” capable of spreading to all peoples the Good News: “You are to be my witnesses.”
It was not an easy task to make witnesses of those men and women lost in total despair, confusion, and fear after crucifixion. Throughout the whole scene, the disciples remain silent, in total silence. The evangelist describes only their inner world: they are full of terror; only feel confusion and disbelief; everything seems too good to be true.
Jesus will regenerate their faith. It is indispensable that they do not feel alone. They must experience Jesus as someone full of life among them. That is why Jesus’ first words are: “Peace be with you … why do you let doubts arise in your hearts?”
When we forget the living presence of Jesus in our midst, or when our personal desire to be protagonist and internal conflicts obfuscate His compassionate and challenging presence among us, or when sadness and mutual disaffection prevent us from feeling and experiencing His peace, or when we are caught up each other with pessimism and disbelief, then, we are committing a sin against Risen One. In such circumstances, it is not possible to be a community of witnesses.
To awaken their faith, Jesus asks them to look not at his face, but at his hands and feet. They are to look at His wounds of the one who was crucified. They are to always have their eyes fixed on the love He reveals us through his death. He is certainly not a ghost: “It is I in person.” The same One who you have known and loved as we walked through the dusty roads of Galilee.
Whenever we intend to support the faith in the Risen One with our knowledge or doctrines, then we turn Him into a ghost. To meet him, we must explore the story of the Gospels: we must look and discover those hands that once blessed and caressed the sick and children, and those feet tired from walking to meet the most neglected. We must discover His wounds and passion. This Jesus was raised by the Father and now lives among us.
Despite seeing them full of fear and doubt, Jesus still has full trusts in his disciples. He will sent them the Spirit that will sustain their testimony. Jesus asks them to extend His presence in the world: “You are witnesses of this.” They should not teach sublime doctrines but simply spread out their experience of the personal encounter with Jesus. They are not to preach great theories about Christ but to irradiate His Spirit. They have to make Jesus believable with their personal life-styles, not just with words.
This is always the real problem of the Church: the lack of witnesses.
Sunday April 12, 2015
Second Sunday of Easter (B)
Gospel Jn 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 is Alive in Community
John’s account could not be more suggestive and challenging. Only when they see the risen Jesus among them, the group of disciples is transformed. The disciples were able to recover inner peace; their fears disappear, and they are filled with an unknown joy: all because they experience the life-giving presence of Jesus among them. It is only now that they can open the doors and go out because they have discovered that they are sent to live out the same mission of Jesus, which He had received from the Father.
The current crisis in the Church, her fears and her lack of spiritual vigor may be the result of a very deep crisis. Often, the idea of the resurrection of Jesus and his presence among us is more a preached doctrine than a lived experience of the presence of Jesus, which sends us to carry on with His mission. The Risen Christ is, yes, at the center of the Church, but His living presence is not rooted in us, is not incorporated into the substance of our communities, and does not inspire our pastoral projects and activities. After twenty centuries of Christianity, Jesus’ originality and radical message is not known or understood. Jesus is not loved and followed today passionately as he was followed by his disciples.
It is noticeable, right away, when someone or a Christian community live out as being inhabited by the invisible presence of the risen Christ. These communities crafted in the image of Jesus, are not happy by only following routinely the guidelines governing ecclesial life. They have a special sensitivity to listen, to look around, to experience the memory of Jesus, and to apply the Gospel to their present historical context. These communities, challenged by the message of Jesus, carry on with the mission of Jesus to construct the Kingdom of God by transforming themselves and the world around them.
Nothing can bring us today strength, joy and the creativity we need to face an unprecedented crisis, if it is not the living presence of the risen Christ. Deprived of His spiritual strength, we will not be able to liberate ourselves from our almost innate passivity; without His spirit, we shall continue with the doors and windows closed to the modern world; yes, we will continue following the “instructions” but without joy or conviction. Where shall we find the strength we need to recreate and reform our Church?
We need to convert to Jesus. We need Jesus more than ever. We need to live out our lives from His living presence among us, remembering at all times His way of looking at things; and more important, we need to let His Spirit to be the inspiration of our actions. He is in our midst sharing with us His peace, joy and Spirit.
Sunday April 5, 2015
The Resurrection of the Lord
The Mass of Easter Day (B)
Gospel Jn 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.
The Cross is Life
“You have slain him, but God raised him.” This is what the disciples of Jesus preached with faith through the streets of Jerusalem just a few days of his execution. For them, the resurrection of Jesus was God’s answer to the unjust and criminal action of those who wanted to silence Jesus’ voice, and forever get rid of his great project and utopic dream of establishing the Kingdom of God, namely a fairer world.
We must never forget this: At the heart of our faith, there is a crucified one, whom God has proven to be right. In the center of the Church, there is a victim, to whom God has done justice. A “crucified” life supported and lived in the spirit of Jesus, will never end in failure, but in resurrection.
This deep conviction totally transforms the meaning of our efforts, sorrows, labors and sufferings in our struggle to build a more human and a happier world and life for all. To live thinking of those who suffer, or being close to the destitute, or lending a hand to the helpless… to follow on the footsteps of Jesus is not something absurd: all of these make meaningful our efforts to walk towards the unfathomable mystery of a God who will resurrect us and invite us to live forever with Him.
The small abuses that we may suffer, the injustices, all the rejections and misunderstandings that we may have to go through, all are wounds that one day will heal forever. We must learn to look with faith the scars of the Risen One. Because our today’s wounds, one day will be scars healed forever by God.
Such a faith sustains us inside and makes us stronger to continue taking risks for God’s sake. Gradually we must learn not to complain so much, not to live forever lamenting the evil in the world and in the Church, not to always feel victims of others. Why cannot we live like Jesus when he said, “No one takes away my life, but it is I the one who give it away for others?”
To follow the Crucified One to the point of sharing with him the resurrection means, ultimately, to learn to “give my life,” my time, my strength and maybe my own health, and certainly my wealth, for love of others. We shall never be short of wounds, tiredness and fatigue. There is a Hope that sustains us: One day “God will wipe away every tear from our eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain because this entire old world will have passed away and a new Heaven created.”
Sunday March 29, 2015
Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion (B)
Gospel Mk 14: 1-15: 47
The Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread
were to take place in two days’ time.
So the chief priests and the scribes were seeking a way
to arrest him by treachery and put him to death.
They said, “Not during the festival,
for fear that there may be a riot among the people.”
When he was in Bethany reclining at table
in the house of Simon the leper,
a woman came with an alabaster jar of perfumed oil,
costly genuine spikenard.
She broke the alabaster jar and poured it on his head.
There were some who were indignant.
“Why has there been this waste of perfumed oil?
It could have been sold for more than three hundred days’ wages
and the money given to the poor.”
They were infuriated with her.
Jesus said, “Let her alone.
Why do you make trouble for her?
She has done a good thing for me.
The poor you will always have with you,
and whenever you wish you can do good to them,
but you will not always have me.
She has done what she could.
She has anticipated anointing my body for burial.
Amen, I say to you,
wherever the gospel is proclaimed to the whole world,
what she has done will be told in memory of her.”
Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve,
went off to the chief priests to hand him over to them.
When they heard him they were pleased and promised to pay him money.
Then he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.
On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread,
when they sacrificed the Passover lamb,
his disciples said to him,
“Where do you want us to go
and prepare for you to eat the Passover?”
He sent two of his disciples and said to them,
“Go into the city and a man will meet you,
carrying a jar of water.
Wherever he enters, say to the master of the house,
‘The Teacher says, “Where is my guest room
where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?”’
Then he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready.
Make the preparations for us there.”
The disciples then went off, entered the city,
and found it just as he had told them;
and they prepared the Passover.
When it was evening, he came with the Twelve.
And as they reclined at table and were eating, Jesus said,
“Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me,
one who is eating with me.”
They began to be distressed and to say to him, one by one,
“Surely it is not I?”
He said to them,
“One of the Twelve, the one who dips with me into the dish.
For the Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him,
but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed.
It would be better for that man if he had never been born.”
While they were eating,
he took bread, said the blessing,
broke it, and gave it to them, and said,
“Take it; this is my body.”
Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them,
and they all drank from it.
He said to them,
“This is my blood of the covenant,
which will be shed for many.
Amen, I say to you,
I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine
until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
Then, after singing a hymn,
they went out to the Mount of Olives.
Then Jesus said to them,
“All of you will have your faith shaken, for it is written:
I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep will be dispersed.
But after I have been raised up,
I shall go before you to Galilee.”
Peter said to him,
“Even though all should have their faith shaken,
mine will not be.”
Then Jesus said to him,
“Amen, I say to you,
this very night before the cock crows twice
you will deny me three times.”
But he vehemently replied,
“Even though I should have to die with you,
I will not deny you.”
And they all spoke similarly.
Then they came to a place named Gethsemane,
and he said to his disciples,
“Sit here while I pray.”
He took with him Peter, James, and John,
and began to be troubled and distressed.
Then he said to them, “My soul is sorrowful even to death.
Remain here and keep watch.”
He advanced a little and fell to the ground and prayed
that if it were possible the hour might pass by him;
he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible to you.
Take this cup away from me,
but not what I will but what you will.”
When he returned he found them asleep.
He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep?
Could you not keep watch for one hour?
Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test.
The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”
Withdrawing again, he prayed, saying the same thing.
Then he returned once more and found them asleep,
for they could not keep their eyes open
and did not know what to answer him.
He returned a third time and said to them,
“Are you still sleeping and taking your rest?
It is enough. The hour has come.
Behold, the Son of Man is to be handed over to sinners.
Get up, let us go.
See, my betrayer is at hand.”
Then, while he was still speaking,
Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived,
accompanied by a crowd with swords and clubs
who had come from the chief priests,
the scribes, and the elders.
His betrayer had arranged a signal with them, saying,
“The man I shall kiss is the one;
arrest him and lead him away securely.”
He came and immediately went over to him and said,
“Rabbi.” And he kissed him.
At this they laid hands on him and arrested him.
One of the bystanders drew his sword,
struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his ear.
Jesus said to them in reply,
“Have you come out as against a robber,
with swords and clubs, to seize me?
Day after day I was with you teaching in the temple area,
yet you did not arrest me;
but that the Scriptures may be fulfilled.”
And they all left him and fled.
Now a young man followed him
wearing nothing but a linen cloth about his body.
They seized him,
but he left the cloth behind and ran off naked.
They led Jesus away to the high priest,
and all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes came together.
Peter followed him at a distance into the high priest’s courtyard
and was seated with the guards, warming himself at the fire.
The chief priests and the entire Sanhedrin
kept trying to obtain testimony against Jesus
in order to put him to death, but they found none.
Many gave false witness against him,
but their testimony did not agree.
Some took the stand and testified falsely against him,
alleging, “We heard him say,
‘I will destroy this temple made with hands
and within three days I will build another
not made with hands.’”
Even so their testimony did not agree.
The high priest rose before the assembly and questioned Jesus,
saying, “Have you no answer?
What are these men testifying against you?”
But he was silent and answered nothing.
Again the high priest asked him and said to him,
“Are you the Christ, the son of the Blessed One?”
Then Jesus answered, “I am;
and ‘you will see the Son of Man
seated at the right hand of the Power
and coming with the clouds of heaven.’”
At that the high priest tore his garments and said,
“hat further need have we of witnesses?
You have heard the blasphemy.
What do you think?”
They all condemned him as deserving to die.
Some began to spit on him.
They blindfolded him and struck him and said to him, “Prophesy!”
And the guards greeted him with blows.
While Peter was below in the courtyard,
one of the high priest’s maids came along.
Seeing Peter warming himself,
she looked intently at him and said,
“You too were with the Nazarene, Jesus.”
But he denied it saying,
“I neither know nor understand what you are talking about.”
So he went out into the outer court.
Then the cock crowed.
The maid saw him and began again to say to the bystanders,
“This man is one of them.”
Once again he denied it.
A little later the bystanders said to Peter once more,
“Surely you are one of them; for you too are a Galilean.”
He began to curse and to swear,
“I do not know this man about whom you are talking.”
And immediately a cock crowed a second time.
Then Peter remembered the word that Jesus had said to him,
“Before the cock crows twice you will deny me three times.”
He broke down and wept.
As soon as morning came,
the chief priests with the elders and the scribes,
that is, the whole Sanhedrin held a council.
They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate.
Pilate questioned him,
“Are you the king of the Jews?”
He said to him in reply, “You say so.”
The chief priests accused him of many things.
Again Pilate questioned him,
“Have you no answer?
See how many things they accuse you of.”
Jesus gave him no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.
Now on the occasion of the feast he used to release to them
one prisoner whom they requested.
A man called Barabbas was then in prison
along with the rebels who had committed murder in a rebellion.
The crowd came forward and began to ask him
to do for them as he was accustomed.
“Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?”
For he knew that it was out of envy
that the chief priests had handed him over.
But the chief priests stirred up the crowd
to have him release Barabbas for them instead.
Pilate again said to them in reply,
“Then what do you want me to do
with the man you call the king of the Jews?”
They shouted again, “Crucify him.”
Pilate said to them, “Why? What evil has he done?”
They only shouted the louder, “Crucify him.”
So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd,
released Barabbas to them and, after he had Jesus scourged,
handed him over to be crucified.
The soldiers led him away inside the palace,
that is, the praetorium, and assembled the whole cohort.
They clothed him in purple and,
weaving a crown of thorns, placed it on him.
They began to salute him with, AHail, King of the Jews!”
and kept striking his head with a reed and spitting upon him.
They knelt before him in homage.
And when they had mocked him,
they stripped him of the purple cloak,
dressed him in his own clothes,
and led him out to crucify him.
They pressed into service a passer-by, Simon,
a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country,
the father of Alexander and Rufus,
to carry his cross.
They brought him to the place of Golgotha
— which is translated Place of the Skull —
They gave him wine drugged with myrrh,
but he did not take it.
Then they crucified him and divided his garments
by casting lots for them to see what each should take.
It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him.
The inscription of the charge against him read,
“The King of the Jews.”
With him they crucified two revolutionaries,
one on his right and one on his left.
Those passing by reviled him,
shaking their heads and saying,
“Aha! You who would destroy the temple
and rebuild it in three days,
save yourself by coming down from the cross.”
Likewise the chief priests, with the scribes,
mocked him among themselves and said,
“He saved others; he cannot save himself.
Let the Christ, the King of Israel,
come down now from the cross
that we may see and believe.”
Those who were crucified with him also kept abusing him.
At noon darkness came over the whole land
until three in the afternoon.
And at three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
“Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?”
which is translated,
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Some of the bystanders who heard it said,
“Look, he is calling Elijah.”
One of them ran, soaked a sponge with wine, put it on a reed
and gave it to him to drink saying,
“Wait, let us see if Elijah comes to take him down.”
Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last.
Here all kneel and pause for a short time.
The veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom.
When the centurion who stood facing him
saw how he breathed his last he said,
“Truly this man was the Son of God!”
There were also women looking on from a distance.
Among them were Mary Magdalene,
Mary the mother of the younger James and of Joses, and Salome.
These women had followed him when he was in Galilee
and ministered to him.
There were also many other women
who had come up with him to Jerusalem.
When it was already evening,
since it was the day of preparation,
the day before the sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea,
a distinguished member of the council,
who was himself awaiting the kingdom of God,
came and courageously went to Pilate
and asked for the body of Jesus.
Pilate was amazed that he was already dead.
He summoned the centurion
and asked him if Jesus had already died.
And when he learned of it from the centurion,
he gave the body to Joseph.
Having bought a linen cloth, he took him down,
wrapped him in the linen cloth,
and laid him in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock.
Then he rolled a stone against the entrance to the tomb.
Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses
watched where he was laid.
Ebanjelioa Markos 14: 1-15: 47
1 Handik bi egunera, Pazko-jaia eta Legamia gabeko Ogien Jaia ospatzen ziren. Apaizburu eta lege-maisuak Jesus maltzurkeriaz nola atxilotuko zebiltzan, hiltzeko.
2Baina hau zioten: «Ez gero jaiegunean, herrian iskanbilarik sor ez dadin».
3 Jesus Betanian zen, Simon legendunaren etxean. Mahaian zegoela, emakume bat etorri zen, hartzurizko ontzian nardozko ukendu garbi eta garestia zekarrela. Ontzia hautsi eta Jesusi burura isuri zion. 4 Batzuek, haserre, honela ziotsoten elkarri:
–Zergatik horrela alferrik galdu ukendu hori? 5 Hirurehun denarioz goitik sal zitekeen eta dirua behartsuei eman.
Eta marmarrean ari ziren emakumearen kontra. 6 Baina Jesusek esan zien:
–Utzi bakean honi; zergatik gogaitarazten duzue? Egintza ona egin du nirekin. 7 Izan ere, behartsuak beti dituzue zeuen artean, eta nahi duzuenean egin diezaiekezue on. Baina ni ez nauzue betiko zuekin. 8 Ahal zuena egin du: nire gorputza ukenduz igurtzi du aldez aurretik hilobirako.
9 Benetan diotsuet: Mundu guztian barrena, berri ona hots egingo den edonon aipatuko dira emakume hau eta beronek egina.
10 Judas Iskariote, Hamabietako bat, apaizburuengana joan zen, Jesus beraiei eskuetara emateko asmotan.
11 Entzutean, poztu egin ziren haiek eta dirua agindu zioten. Jesus haien eskuetara emateko egokiera bila hasi zen Judas.
12 Legamia gabeko Ogien Jaiko lehen eguna zen, Pazko-bildotsa hiltzen zeneko eguna. Ikasleek esan zioten Jesusi:
–Non egin behar ditugu Pazko-afarirako prestaketak?
13 Hark ikasleetako bi bidali zituen, esanez:
–Zoazte hirira, eta ur-suila daraman gizon batekin egingo duzue topo. Jarraitu berari, 14 eta sartuko den etxeko nagusiari esan: «Maisuak galdetzen du non duen ikasleekin Pazko-bildotsa jateko tokia». 15 Berak gela zabal bat erakutsiko dizue goian, jantzirik eta atondua; prestatu hantxe behar ditugunak.
16 Joan ziren ikasleak eta, hirira iristean, dena Jesusek esan bezala gertatu zitzaien, eta Pazko-afaria prestatu zuten.
17 Ilunabarrean, joan zen Jesus Hamabiekin
18 eta, mahaian afaltzen ari zirelarik, Jesusek esan zuen:
–Benetan diotsuet: Zuetako batek saldu egingo nau, nirekin jaten ari den batek.
19 Haiek, goibeldurik, galdezka hasi zitzaizkion bata bestearen ondoren:
20 Jesusek erantzun:
–Hamabiotako batek, nirekin plater beretik jaten ari denak. 21 Gizonaren Semea badoa, bai, Liburu Santuek hartaz dioten bezala; baina dohakabea Gizonaren Semea salduko duena! Hobe zukeen jaio izan ez balitz!
22 Afaltzen ari zirela, ogia hartu zuen Jesusek eta, bedeinkazioa esan ondoren, zatitu eta eman egin zien, esanez: «Hartzazue, hau nire gorputza da».
23 Gero, kopa hartu eta, esker oneko otoitza egin ondoren, eman egin zien eta denek edan zuten.
24 Eta esan zien: «Hau nire odola da, Jainkoarekiko ituna berrituko duena, guztiengatik isuria.
25 Benetan diotsuet: Ez dut gehiago ardorik edango, Jainkoaren erreinuan ardo berria edan arte».
26 Gorazarreak kantatu ondoren, Oliamendira abiatu ziren.
27 Jesusek esan zien: «Zuen sinesmenak huts egingo du, honela baitago idatzia Liburu Santuetan: Joko dut artzaina eta ardiak sakabanatu egingo dira.
28 Baina piztu ondoren, aurretik joango natzaizue Galileara».
29 Pedrok esan zion:
–Beste guztien sinesmenak huts egiten badu ere, nireak ez.
30 Jesusek erantzun:
–Benetan diotsut: Gaur gauean, oilarrak bitan jo baino lehen, zuk hirutan ukatuko nauzu.
31 Baina Pedrok, gero eta areago:
–Zurekin hil behar badut ere, ez zaitut inola ere ukatuko.
Eta beste hainbeste zioten denek.
32 Getsemani izeneko landa batera iritsi ziren, eta Jesusek esan zien bere ikasleei: «Zaudete hemen, nik otoitz egin bitartean».
33 Pedro, Santiago eta Joan eraman zituen berekin. Ikara eta larria sentitzen hasi zen,
34 eta esan zien: «Hiltzeko zorian nago tristuraz. Gelditu hemen eta zaudete erne». 35Eta aurreraxeago joanik, lurrean erori eta otoizka ari zitzaion Jainkoari, urrun ziezaiola ordu hura, ahal bazen. 36 Honela zioen: «Abba, Aita! Zure esku dago guztia; urrun ezazu niregandik edari samin hau! Baina egin bedi zure nahia, ez nirea».
37 Ikasleengana joan eta lotan aurkitu zituen. Pedrori esan zion: «Simon, lotan? Ordubete ere ezin izan zara erne egon? 38 Zaudete erne eta egizue otoitz, tentaldian ez erortzeko: gogoz kartsu izan arren, ahula baita gizakia».
39 Berriro aldendu eta otoitz egin zuen, lehengo hitz berak esanez. 40 Berriro itzulirik, lo aurkitu zituen, begiak astun baitzituzten; haiek ez zekiten zer esan.
41 Joan zitzaien hirugarren aldiz eta esan zien: «Egin lo eta hartu atseden! Kito! Iritsi da ordua: hona Gizonaren Semea bekatarien eskuetara emana.
42 Jaiki, goazen, hemen da salduko nauena!»
43 Jesus hizketan ari zela, han agertu zen Judas, Hamabietako bat; gizon-multzo bat zetorren harekin, ezpata eta makilak eskuetan, apaizburu, lege-maisu eta zaharrek bidalirik. 44 Saltzaileak seinale hau jarria zien: «Nik musu emango diodana, horixe da; atxilotu eta eraman arduraz». 45 Iritsi zeneko, Jesusengana hurbildu eta esan zion: «Maisu!»
Eta musu eman zion.
46 Besteek heldu eta atxilotu egin zuten. 47 Han zegoen batek ezpata atera, apaiz nagusiaren morroia jo eta belarria moztu zion.
48 Jesusek esan zien: «Ezpataz eta makilaz etorri zarete, lapur baten bila bezala, ni harrapatzera! 49 Egunero zuen artean nengoen tenpluan irakasten, eta ez ninduzuen atxilotu. Baina hala behar du, Liburu Santuetan idatzia bete dadin».
50 Ikasleek Jesus utzi eta ihes egin zuten.
51 Gazte bat ondoren zihoakion, soinean oihal bat besterik ez zuela. Heldu zioten, 52 baina oihala utzi eta ihes egin zien biluzik.
53 Apaiz nagusiaren etxera eraman zuten Jesus eta han bildu ziren apaizburu, zahar eta lege-maisu guztiak. 54 Pedro Jesusen ondoren joana zen, urrutitik jarraituz, apaiz nagusiaren jauregi barruraino. Eta morroiekin batera eserita, sutondoan berotzen ari zen.
55 Apaizburuak eta Biltzar Nagusi
osoa Jesusen kontrako lekukotasun bila zebiltzan, heriotzara kondenatzeko, baina ezin zuten aurkitu; 56 askok haren kontra gezurrezko testigantzak egiten bazituzten ere, haien lekukotasunak ez zetozen bat.
57 Batzuek zutitu eta gezurrezko testigantza hau egin zuten Jesusen kontra: 58 «Geuk entzun diogu esaten: Nik, giza eskuz egindako santutegi hau desegingo dut eta hiru egunetan beste bat eraikiko, giza eskuz egin gabea».
59 Baina honetan ere ez zetozen bat beren esanetan.
60 Orduan, apaiz nagusiak, biltzarraren erdian zutik, galdetu zion Jesusi:
–Ez al diezu deus ere erantzun behar zure kontra ateratzen dituztenei?
61 Baina Jesus isilik zegoen, eta ez zuen ezer erantzuten. Apaiz nagusiak berriro galdetu zion:
–Zu al zara Mesias, Jainko bedeinkatuaren Semea?
62 Jesusek erantzun:
–Bai, neu naiz, eta Gizonaren Semea Ahalguztidunaren eskuinean eserita eta zeruko hodei artean etortzen ikusiko duzue.
63 Apaiz nagusiak bere jantziak urratu zituen eta esan:
–Ba ote dugu lekuko beharrik?
64 Zeuek entzun duzue biraoa. Zer deritzozue?
Heriotza merezi zuela erabaki zuten denek.
65 Batzuk listuka hasi zitzaizkion eta, aurpegia estalirik, ukabilkadak ematen zizkioten, esanez: «Asma ezak, profeta!»
Guardiek ere masailekoka zerabilten.
66 Pedro beheko patioan zegoela, apaiz nagusiaren neskame bat etorri zen. 67 Pedro berotzen ikusirik, begira jarri eta esan zion:
–Hi ere Nazareteko Jesusekin bizi hintzen.
68 Baina hark ukatu, esanez:
–Ez zekinat zer dionan ere, ez dinat ulertzen.
Atarira irten zen, eta oilarrak jo zuen. 69 Ikusi zuen neskameak eta han zeudenei ere honela hasi zitzaien:
–Hau ere haietakoa diagu.
70 Pedrok berriro ukatu zuen. Geroxeago, ingurukoek ere esan zioten:
–Bai, haietakoa haiz, noski, galilearra haiz eta.
71 Orduan, Pedro biraoka eta maldizioka hasi zen:
–Ez dut ezagutzen zuek diozuen hori.
72 Une hartan, bigarren aldiz jo zuen oilarrak. Gogoratu zitzaion Pedrori Jesusek esana: «Oilarrak bitan jo baino lehen, zuk hirutan ukatuko nauzu», eta negarrari eman zion.
15 1 Eguna argitu bezain laster, apaizburu, zahar eta lege-maisuak bildu ziren –Biltzar Nagusi osoa–, eta, erabakia hartu ondoren, Jesus lotuta eraman zuten eta Pilatoren eskuetara eman.
2 Pilatok galdetu zion:
–Zu al zara juduen erregea?
Jesusek erantzun zion:
3 Apaizburuek salaketa asko egiten zituzten haren kontra. 4 Pilatok esan zion:
–Ez al duzu ezer erantzun behar? Begira zenbat gauzaz salatzen zaituzten.
5 Baina Jesusek ez baitzion gehiago erantzun, harriturik gelditu zen Pilato.
6 Pazko-jaiero preso bat askatu ohi zuen Pilatok, herriak eskatzen zuena. 7 Bazen kartzelan Barrabas zeritzan bat, matxinadakoan giza hilketa bat egina, beste batzuekin batera. 8 Igo zen jendea gobernariaren jauregira eta ohitura zuena emateko eskatu zioten. 9 Pilatok erantzun zien:
–Nahi al duzue juduen erregea askatzea?
10 Ongi baitzekien apaizburuek bekaizkeriaz emana ziotela Jesus. 11 Baina apaizburuek jendea berotu zuten, Barrabas libratzeko eska zezan.
12 Berriro mintzatu zitzaien Pilato:
–Eta zer egin behar dut juduen errege deitzen duzuen honekin?
13 Jendeak, orduan, oihu:
14 Eta Pilatok:
–Zer oker egin du, bada?
Haiek, are eta oihu handiagoz:
15 Orduan, Pilatok, jendeari poz emateagatik, Barrabas askatu zien eta Jesus, zigorkarazi ondoren, haien eskuetara eman zuen, gurutziltza zezaten.
16 Soldaduek gobernariaren jauregira sartu zuten Jesus, eta gudari-taldeko denak bildu zituzten. 17 Purpurazko jantzia ipini zioten soinean eta arantzaz egindako koroa buruan.
18 Eta agurka hasi zitzaizkion: «Agur, juduen erregea!»
19 Kanabera batez jotzen zuten buruan, listua botatzen zioten eta, belaunikatuz, aurrean ahuspez jartzen zitzaizkion.
20 Nahikoa iseka egin ondoren, purpurazko jantzia erantzi eta bere soinekoak jarri zizkioten. Gero, atera eta gurutzean josteko eraman zuten.
21 Sorotik etxerakoan handik zihoan bat, Simon Zirenekoa (Alexandro eta Ruforen aita), Jesusen gurutzea eramatera behartu zuten.
22 Golgota izeneko tokira eraman zuten Jesus (Golgotak «Burezur» esan nahi du).
23 Mirraz nahasiriko ardoa eskaini zioten, baina ez zuen hartu.
24 Josi zuten gurutzean, eta haren jantziak banatu egin zituzten, zer zeinentzat zotz eginez.
25 Bederatziak ziren gurutziltzatu zutenean. 26 Eta honela zioen kondenaren arrazoia adierazten zuen idazkunak: «Juduen erregea».
27 Jesusekin batera, bi lapur gurutziltzatu zituzten, bata eskuinean eta bestea ezkerrean.
29 Handik igarotzen zirenek irain egiten zioten Jesusi, buruari eragin eta esanez: «Hara, santutegia desegin eta hiru egunetan eraikitzen omen duena!
30 Salba ezak heure burua! Jaits hadi gurutzetik!»
31 Era berean, apaizburu eta lege-maisuek ere irri egiten zioten, elkarri esanez: «Besteak salbatu ditik, eta bere burua ezin. 32 Mesias omen duk hori, Israelgo erregea; jaits dadila orain gurutzetik, ikus eta sinets dezagun».
Berarekin gurutzean josiak zeudenek ere irain egiten zioten.
33 Eguerdian, ilundu egin zuen lurbira osoan hirurak arte. 34 Hiruretan, Jesusek oihu handiz esan zuen: «Eloi, Eloi, lema sabaktani?» (Hau da: «Ene Jainko, ene Jainko, zergatik utzi nauzu?»).
35 Hau entzutean, bertan zeuden batzuek esan zuten: «Eliasi deika ari duk».
36 Orduan, batek, lasterka joan, belaki bat ozpinetan busti eta, kanabera bati muturrean erantsiz, edatera eman zion, esanez: «Egon, ea datorkion Elias gurutzetik eraistera».
37 Baina Jesusek, deiadar handia eginez, azken arnasa eman zuen. 38 Orduan, santutegiko oihala erdiz erdi urratu zen, goitik behera.
39 Aurrean zegoen erromatar ehuntariak, nola hil zen ikustean, esan zuen: «Zinez, gizon hau Jainkoaren Semea zen».
40 Baziren han emakume batzuk ere, urrutitik begira; haien artean, Magdalako Maria, Santiago gaztearen eta Joseren ama Maria, eta Salome. 41 Hauek Jesusen ondoren eta beraren zerbitzuan ibiliak ziren, Galilean zegoela; bazeuden beste emakume asko ere, Jesusekin Jerusalemera igotakoak.
42 Ilunabarrean –larunbat-bezpera zen egun hura, festarako prestaketak egiteko eguna
–, 43 Arimateako Jose Pilatogana joatera ausartu zen, Jesusen gorpua eskatzera. Jose hau kontseiluko kide ospetsua zen, eta Jainkoaren erregetza noiz iritsiko zain zegoen. 44 Harritu zen Pilato ordurako hila izateaz, eta ehuntariari dei egin eta galdetu zion ea egia zen hilda zegoela. 45 Ehuntariaren argibideak jaso ondoren, gorpua eramateko baimena eman zion Joseri. 46 Honek izara bat erosi eta, Jesus gurutzetik eraitsirik, izaran bildu zuen eta haitzean zulaturiko hilobi batean ezarri. Gero, harri bat irauliz, hilobiko sarrera itxi zuen.
47 Magdalako Maria eta Maria, Joseren ama, non ezartzen zuten begira zeuden.
They crucified him!
He had no money, weapons or power. He had no religious authority. He was not a priest or Scribe. He was nobody. However, he carried in his heart the fire of love for the crucified, the excluded. He knew that for God these were the first. This profound conviction marked forever the life of Jesus.
He went to the least and the last and became one with them. He too would live without family, homeless and without a steady work. He healed the sick he found on his way, hugged children, and touched all those nobody dared to touch, sat at the table with them and to all helped restored their lost dignity and self-esteem. His message was always the same: “These very people you throw away from your society are the favorites of God.”
A man with such deep convictions was considered a public threat. He had to be removed. His execution was not a mistake or an unfortunate coincidence of circumstances. All was well calculated. Such a man is always a threat in a society that ignores the least and the last.
According to the oldest Christian sources, as he was dying, Jesus “gave a loud cry.” This cry not only was the final cry of a dying man. In that cry, all the crucified in history were screaming. It was a cry of indignation and protest. It was at the same time, a cry of hope.
The early Christians never forgot that final dramatic cry of Jesus. In the cry of this man— dishonored, tortured and executed, and yet offering open arms to all without excluding anyone—we find the ultimate truth of life. In the powerless love of the one crucified, God himself is crucified, and identified with all who suffer and shout against the injustice, abuse and torture of all times.
One may or may not believe in this God, but certainly, no one can make fun of Him. This God is not a caricature of a supreme and omnipotent Being, eager to demand from his creatures more sacrifices to further increase HIS honor and glory. On the contrary, He is a God who suffers with the suffering, shouts and protests with the victims of all times, and seeks Life with us and for us.
To believe in this God, it is not enough to be pious; it is also necessary to have compassion. To adore the mystery of a crucified God it is not enough to celebrate the Holy Week; It is also necessary to look at life from the perspective of the suffering and to try to identify ourselves a little more with them.
Sunday March 22, 2015
Fifth Sunday of Lent (B)
Gospel Jn 12:20-33
Some Greeks who had come to worship at the Passover Feast came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me. “I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.” The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder; but others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come for my sake but for yours. Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” He said this indicating the kind of death he would die.
Ebanjelioa Joan 12: 20-33
20 Jaietan Jainkoari kultu ematera joan zirenen artean baziren greziar batzuk. 21 Hauek Galileako Betsaidako Felipegana hurbildu eta eskabide hau egin zioten: «Jauna, Jesus ikusi nahi genuke». 22 Felipe Andresi esatera joan zen, eta biek, Andresek eta Felipek, Jesusi jakinarazi zioten. 23 Jesusek erantzun zien: «Iritsi da Gizonaren Semearen aintza azalduko den ordua. 24 Bene-benetan diotsuet: Gari-alea, lurrean sartu eta hiltzen ez bada, bera bakarrik gelditzen da; hiltzen bada, ordea, fruitu asko ematen du. 25 Bere bizia maite duenak galdu egingo du; baina mundu honetan bere bizia gutxiesten duenak betiko bizirako gordeko du. 26 Nire zerbitzari izan nahi duenak jarrai biezat eta, ni nagoen tokian, han izango da nire zerbitzaria ere. Nire zerbitzari dena Aitak ohoratu egingo du. 27 «Larri dut orain neure barrua. Baina zer esan? Larrialdi honetatik ateratzeko eskatuko al diot Aitari? Ez horixe, honetarakoxe etorri bainaiz!28 Aita, azaldu zeure aintza!» Ahots bat entzun zen orduan zerutik: «Azaldu dut, eta berriro ere azalduko dut». 29 Han zeudenetako batzuek, ahotsa entzunik, trumoia izan zela zioten; beste batzuek, ordea, aingeru batek hitz egin ziola. 30 Jesusek adierazi zuen: «Ahots horrek ez du niretzat hitz egin, zuentzat baizik. 31 Oraintxe da mundu honen epaiketa; oraintxe galduko du bere boterea mundu honetako buruzagiak. 32 Eta nik, lurretik jasoko nautenean, neuregana erakarriko ditut denak». 33 Hitz hauen bidez, nolako heriotzaz hilko zen adierazi zuen.
Few sentences in the gospels expressed in such challenging words may be found, which capture a very profound conviction of Jesus: “I assure you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.”
The idea of Jesus is clear. With life it happens as with the grain of wheat: it has to die in order to release all its vital energy and, one day, produce abundant fruit. If “it does not die,” it remains alone above the ground. Conversely, if it “dies” it rises again bringing new life and new grains.
With this graphic and forceful language, Jesus tells us that his death, far from being a failure, it will precisely bring fertility and fullness to HIS life. At the same time, Jesus invites his followers to live according to the same paradoxical law: to give life it is necessary “to die”.
It is not possible to beget life without giving away our own. It is not possible to help others to live, if one is not willing to “die out” for others in the process. It is not possible to try to build a more just and humane world, if we remain attached to our own personal comfort and security. No one can seriously claim to work for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, if, in the process, we are not willing to take risks and assume the rejection, the conflicts and even the persecution Jesus suffered.
We spend our lives trying to avoid that kind of suffering and problems and we rather hid ourselves after a sort of easy practices of spiritual-religious facade. Our dislike to take up the cross and follow Jesus has made of us nominal Christians only too happy to proclaim a few doctrinal slogans. However, there are sufferings and sacrifices that we must be ready to take if we want our life to be a fruitful and creative one. Hedonism is not an inspiring and energy giving force; neither is the obsession for our personal or national wellbeing and security: these dwarf people.
We have grown used to live with our eyes closed to the suffering of others. In fact, other people’s sufferings makes us very uncomfortable. We use all possible gadgets to live distracted and away from the cry of the people. However, this attitude is not making us happy either. Surely, we may be able to avoid some problems and disappointments, but our wellbeing and comfort will increasingly turn empty, boring and sterile, and our religion increasingly sad and selfish.
Geureaz hustutzeak dakarki barne-poza eta atsegina. Haziak hilez fruitu ugariak ematen dituen bezala, guk ere gure bizia besteen alde emanez, bihurtzen da fruitu ugariko eskaintza.
Sunday March 15, 2015
Fourth Sunday of Lent (B)
Gospel Jn 3: 14-21
Jesus said to Nicodemus: “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” For 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. And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.
Ebanjelioa Joan 3: 14-21
Jesusek esan zion Nikodemori: 14 Moisesek basamortuan brontzezko sugea hagan jaso zuen bezala, halaxe izan behar du jasoa Gizonaren Semeak, 15 harengan sinesten duten guztiek betiko bizia izan dezaten. 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. 19 Hauxe da kondenaren arrazoia: argia mundura etorria dela eta gizakiak ilunpea maiteago izan duela argia baino, beraren jokabidea gaiztoa delako. 20 Izan ere, gaizki jokatzen duenak gorroto dio argiari, eta ez da hurbiltzen argitara, beraren jokabidea agerian geldi ez dadin. 21 Egiaren arabera ari dena, ordea, argitara hurbiltzen da, beraren egintzak Jainkoaren borondatearen arabera eginak direla ager dadin».
The one who lives truthfully arrives to the Light
Often we hear and even say that modern man does not want to hear about God. My personal experience tells me that it is not true. More than ever people want today to hear about God, but not with insincere language or inconsistent actions, which betray truth. People today cannot stand words, which do not correspond with actions, or words full of clichés and ready-made catch phrases. People today look for something more than a conventional idea of God. People look for a coherent life-style.
When facing with the mystery of God, sincerity and coherence are the vital questions. Staying in truth, not to deceive oneself nor others. Pope Leo XIII used to say, “God does not need our lies.” Neither God nor the Church or faith lose anything with the truth. Moreover, a coherent truth brings us closer to God.
Therefore, we must rejoice in something that may go unnoticed, but it is enormously positive. The modern atheism is forcing us believers to purify our image of God. With its objections and criticisms, is urging us to greater sincerity and truth. When we see that our own children do not wish to come to church, it forces us adults to consider what kind of God’s image we try to portray on them.
True theology is not triumphalist, but humble. God does not impose on anyone. God invites us to trace HIM on the many paths we find in our lives. It is like the wind: “you hear it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes to.”
We must announce the unfathomable mystery of God’s love, and not our doctrinal or cultural adhesions, which often hide God’s tenderness, compassion and love for every human being.
The late Hungarian theologian, Ladislaus Boros S.J. (+1981), once said that the most dreadful form of atheism that threatens us all is “the atheism of insincerity.” It is true. Some call ourselves believers and others agnostics, but the truth is that only those who lead a coherent life-style are near to God. We all can make mistakes, but only to the one who is searching the light, God will come to meet him on the way.
Often under dogmatic attitudes or the agnostic apathy, we hide a lack of courage to approach sincerely the living and true God. Therefore, we should heed the words of Jesus: “Whoever performs the truth approaches to light.”
Sunday March 8, 2015
Third Sunday Of Lent (B)
Gospel Jn 2: 13-25
Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the moneychangers seated there. He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the moneychangers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.” His disciples recalled the words of Scripture: Zeal for your house will consume me. At this the Jews answered and said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and you will raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body. Therefore, when he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they came to believe the Scripture and the word Jesus had spoken. While he was in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, many began to believe in his name when they saw the signs he was doing. But Jesus would not trust himself to them because he knew them all, and did not need anyone to testify about human nature. He himself understood it well.
Ebanjelioa Joan 2: 13-25
13 Hurbil zen juduen Pazko-jaia, eta Jerusalemera joan zen Jesus. 14 Tenpluan merkatariak aurkitu zituen idi, ardi eta usoak saltzen, eta diru-trukatzaileak ere bai, han eserita. 15 Jesusek, lokarriz zartailu bat eginez, tenplutik kanpora bota zituen denak, baita ardiak eta idiak ere; eta trukatzaileen diruak sakabanatu eta mahaiak irauli egin zituen. 16 Uso-saltzaileei esan zien: «Kendu hemendik hau dena. Ez egin nire Aitaren etxea merkatu-etxe». 17 Ikasleei, Liburu Santuak dioena etorri zitzaien gogora: Zure tenpluaren maiteminak erreko nau. 18 Orduan, galdetu zioten judu-agintariek: –Zer seinale ematen diguzu hori egiteko aginpidea duzula frogatzeko? 19 Jesusek erantzun zien: –Desegizue tenplu hau eta hiru egunetan berreraikiko dut. 20 Juduek ihardetsi zioten: –Berrogeita sei urte behar izan dira tenplu hau eraikitzeko, eta zuk hiru egunetan berreraikiko duzula? 21 Hura, ordea, bere gorputzaren tenpluaz ari zen. 22 Horregatik, hildakoen artetik piztu zenean, esandako hori gogoratu zitzaien haren ikasleei, eta sinetsi egin zuten Liburu Santuko eta Jesusek esandako hitza. 23 Pazko-jaian Jesus Jerusalemen zegoela, askok sinetsi zuten harengan, egiten zituen mirarizko seinaleak ikusirik. 24 Baina, Jesus bera ez zen fidatzen haietaz, guztiak ezagutzen baitzituen, 25 eta ez zuen inoren aitorpen-beharrik, ongi ezagutzen baitzuen berak gizakiaren baitan dagoena.
The Temple (religión, Church) IS NOT a Priority
All the four Gospels relate a bold and provocative gesture of Jesus within the precincts of the temple of Jerusalem. It probably was not a very spectacular gesture. He ran over a group of sellers of doves, he overturned the tables of some moneychangers and tried to interrupt the activity for a while. Jesus could not do much more.
However, the gesture full of prophetic power was that which triggered his arrest and summary execution. Attacking the temple was to attack the heart of the Jewish people: the center of their religious, social and political life. The Temple was untouchable. Therein dwelt the God of Israel. What would be of the people without God’s presence among them? How could the people survive without the Temple?
For Jesus, however, the Temple was precisely the major obstacle to welcome the kingdom of God as He understood and proclaimed it. Jesus’ gesture called into question the unjust economic, political and religious system, which that “holy place” sustained and perpetuated. What was this temple? Was it a sign of the kingdom of God and his righteousness or just a symbol of collaboration with the imperial Rome? Was it a prayer house or a cave of thieves who robbed the tithes and first fruits of the poor and religious peasants? Was this Temple a sanctuary of God’s forgiveness or a social institution that justified all sorts of injustices?
That Temple was indeed a “cave of thieves.” While around of-and-with the excuse of the “house of God,” wealth was being accumulated inside, in the rest of the villages of Palestine misery was growing for the majority of the children of Abraham. No! God would never legitimize such a religion. God, the defender of the poor could not reign from that Temple. For this reason, Jesus declares, that with the arrival of the Kingdom of God in Him, the Temple lost its reason to exist.
With his prophetic gesture, Jesus warns us all his followers and forces us to ask tough questions about the type of religion we are promoting in our temples. Are we placing doctrine, liturgical performance, ecclesiastical institutions and grandeur over compassion, forgiveness, tenderness, justice and humanness? Jesus warns us about covering sin with the mantel of “holiness.” Pope Paul VI, John Paul II and now Pope Francis have often spoken that neither religion nor the church are the center of Jesus’ proclamation, but the kingdom of God. A church who is self-centered and self-referential becomes superficial and selfish.
Erlijioaren helburua pertsonaren zauriak gozatzea da, dotrina eta beste axaleko azalpenen gainetik. Zer nolako eliza ari gera eraikitzen gu?
Sunday March 1, 2015
Second Sunday of Lent (B)
Gospel Mk 9: 2-10
Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them. Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified. Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; from the cloud came a voice, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them. As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant.
Ebanjelioa Markos 9: 2-10
2 Handik sei egunera, Jesusek Pedro, Santiago eta Joan hartu eta mendi garai batera eraman zituen aparte. Eta antzaldatu egin zen haien aurrean: 3 jantziak distiratsu bihurtu zitzaizkion, zuri-zuri, munduan inork jar litzakeen baino zuriago. 4 Eta Elias eta Moises agertu zitzaizkien Jesusekin hizketan. 5 Pedrok esan zion Jesusi: «Maisu, zein ederki gauden hemen! Zergatik ez egin hiru etxola: bata zuretzat, bestea Moisesentzat eta bestea Eliasentzat?» 6 Ez zekien zer esaten zuen ere, beldurrak jota baitzeuden. 7 Orduan, hodei batek estali zituen eta mintzo hau izan zen hodeitik: «Hauxe dut neure Seme maitea. Entzun berari!» 8 Eta hartan, inguruan begiratu eta Jesus bakarrik ikusi zuten berekin, eta besterik inor ez. 9 Menditik beherakoan, ikusitakoa inori ez aipatzeko agindu zien, harik eta Gizonaren Semea hildakoen artetik piztu arte. 10 Agindu hau bete zuten, baina «hildakoen artetik pizte» horrekin zer adierazi nahi ote zien ziharduten beren artean.
Open the eyes to the Cross and welcome it in Our lives
Mark tells us that Jesus took Peter, James and John, and led them to a high mountain, where he “was transfigured before them.” These seem to be the very disciples who apparently posed major resistance to Jesus when he told them of his imminent painful fate of crucifixion.
Peter tried even to take this absurd idea away from Jesus’ head. While the brothers James and John demanded the highest places in the kingdom of the Messiah. It is precisely in front of them that Jesus decided to transfigure. They needed it more than anyone else.
The scene, recreated with various symbolic resources, is magnificent. Jesus appears “clothed” of the same glory of God. Meanwhile, Elijah and Moses, who according to the Jewish tradition, were freed from experimenting death and live already with God, are shown conversing with Jesus. All of this invites us to see the divinity of Jesus, crucified by his enemies, but resurrected by God.
Once again, Peter reacts with all spontaneity, “Lord, how good it is to be here! If you wish, I will make three tents: one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” Peter did not understand anything about Jesus. On the one hand, Peter places Jesus on the same level as Elijah and Moses: each gets a tent! On the other hand, he stubbornly resists accepting the hard way of Jesus; he just wants to hold on to the glory of Tabor, away from the passion and the cross of Calvary.
It is God himself that will give solemn testimony about who Jesus is: “This is my beloved Son.” Not to be mistaken with anyone else. “Listen to him” and only to HIM, even when HE talks to you about the way of the cross, which will end in resurrection.
Only Jesus radiates light. All other, prophets and teachers, theologians and hierarchs, doctors and preachers…, our faces are pale and grim. We must not mistake anyone with Jesus. Only He is the beloved Son. His Word is the only Word we must be ready to hear and follow. Everyone else must lead us to Him.
We must listen to Him again today, when He speaks to us about “carrying the cross” of these times without diverting our ears to false messages, like Peter wished. Success has and continues to hurt us Christians. It has taken us even to think that it is possible to build a church faithful to Jesus bypassing the demands of the Kingdom, even without the cross. We need to share the so many crosses we see around us. Open your eyes! It will help us regain our Christian identity.
Jesusek gurutzea aurkezten digu. Onar dezagun mezu hori eta lagun dezaiogun besteeri ere heuren gurutze zama arintzen. Piztueraren poza gurutzearen ondoren dator.
Sunday February 22, 2015
First Sunday of Lent (B)
Gospel Mk 1: 12-15
The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him. After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
Ebanjelioa Markos 1: 12-15
12 Berehala, Espirituak basamortura bultzatu zuen Jesus. 13 Berrogei egunez egon zen basamortuan, Satanasek tentatzen zuela. Basabereekin bizi zen eta aingeruak zituen zerbitzari. 14 Joan Bataiatzailea kartzelan sartu eta gero, Jesus Galileara etorri zen eta Jainkoaren berri ona hots egiten zuen. 15 Honela zioen: «Betea da garaia, eta gainean duzue Jainkoaren erregetza. Bihozberri zaitezte eta sinetsi berri ona».
The Desert, the Place of the Encounter with God
Mark presents the scene of Jesus in the desert as a summary of his life. He offers some clues. According to the evangelist, “the Spirit pushed Jesus into the desert.” It is not his personal initiative. The Spirit of God leads him into the wilderness. Jesus’ life is not meant to be a bed of easy success; rather times of tests, insecurity and threats await him.
However, the “desert” is at the same time, the best place to listen in silence and solitude, the voice of God. It is a place to return in times of crisis, to open to the Lord new paths in the hearts of the people. This was the way of thinking in the times of Jesus.
In the desert, Jesus “is tempted by Satan.” Mark says nothing about the content of the temptations. He only affirms that they come from “Satan,” the enemy seeking the ruin of human beings by destroying God’s plan. This enemy will no longer appear throughout the Gospel of Mark. However, Jesus sees him acting through all those people and events that want to divert HIM from the mission given to HIM by God, including Peter.
The short story ends with two images in sharp contrast: Jesus lives among wild beasts, “but” the angels serve him. “The “beasts,” the most violent beings of all the creatures in the entire creation evoke the challenges which threaten always Jesus and his project: the realization of the Kingdom of God. The “angels,” on the other side, the good beings of creation, evoke the closeness of God that blesses, maintains and defends Jesus and his mission.
Christianity seems to be going through challenging times. Following some sociological studies, we speak of crisis, secularism, and modernity’s rejection of God… If we read these signs of time with the eyes of faith, we may have to ask ourselves the following question: Is it not God, the One pushing us back into the “desert”? May be we needed this experience of dejection to free ourselves from pride, worldliness, thirst of power, vanity and triumphalism we have accumulated for so many centuries? Surely, we would never have chosen the path into the desert.
This desert experience, which will certainly grow in the coming years, needs to be accepted as an unexpected grace and purification time for which we have to thank God. God will continue caring for his project. He only asks from us that we reject lucidly all temptations, which may divert us from converting ourselves to Jesus Christ.
Basamortua Jaunari entzuteko eta Haren borondatea ikertzeko leku egokia da.
Sunday February 15, 2015
Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Gospel Mk 1: 40-45
A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.” The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean. Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once. He said to him, “See that you tell no one anything, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.” The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter. He spread the report abroad so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places, and people kept coming to him from everywhere.
Ebanjelioa Markos 1: 40-45
40 Legendun bat etorri zitzaion erreguka, eta belauniko esan zion: –Nahi baduzu, garbi nazakezu. 41 Errukiturik, Jesusek eskua luzatu eta ukitu egin zuen, esanez: –Nahi dut, izan zaitez garbi. 42 Berehala alde egin zion legenak, eta garbi gelditu zen. 43 Jesusek bidali egin zuen, zorrotz aginduz: 44 –Kontuz gero! Ez esan inori ezer. Zoaz, hala ere, azaldu apaizarengana eta eskaini garbikuntzaren ordainez Moisesek agindutakoa, ezaugarri izan dezaten. 45 Hura, ordea, irten orduko, gertatu berria goraki hots egiten eta zabaltzen hasi zen. Eta harrezkero, ezin zen Jesus inongo herritan agerian sartu, eta kanpoan gelditzen zen, bazterretan. Hala ere, edonondik zetorkion jendea.
At the beginning of his Gospel, Mark presents Jesus healing the sick, freeing people from demons, and purifying lepers. This activity of Jesus as written by Mark has been called “the spring of Galilee.” This refers to stories that are not to be read superficially, as the evangelist has written them to emphasize the depth of the saving action of Jesus and his profound challenge to everyone.
One of the most significant of these stories is “the cleansing of the leper” because Jesus not only cures leprosy, but everything that disease meant in those times. Observe that the text does not speak of “healing,” but of “purification” “cleansing” and it emphasizes Jesus’ desire to see him integrated in social life.
It is not easy for us today to grasp the situation of a leper in that Jewish society. He was certainly a patient suffering from a cruel disease classified medically only in 1870. But for the people of his time he also was a man “punished” by God because leprosy was considered to be the a result of serious personal sins (such as, licentious life, murder, and mockery of religion). Having become a source of danger and pollution for the rest of the people, the leper was excluded from social life and forced away from home, society, and religious activity. For a leper, this situation did not have a turning back.
For this reason, Mark’s story is dramatic. A leper dares, in spite of all, to approach Jesus who was alone (the disciples seem to have run quickly away). The man kneeling on the ground, invoked with faith: “If you want, you can make me clean.” What will be the reaction of Jesus, the man inhabited by the unfathomable love of God?
The evangelist has chosen the wording very carefully: “Jesus was moved with compassion, extended his hand and touched him as He uttered “I do will it: Be made clean.” Jesus did not only let the leper get closer, but He himself touched him and expressed immediately His willingness to clean him.
With his gesture, Jesus brings a prophetic, a revolutionary action never seen before. Jesus reveals that God does not use diseases just to punish us. Moreover, Jesus frees that man from isolation and exclusion; Jesus also dismantles the mechanism of prejudice and discrimination in society, breaks down the barriers and walls that we humans have built up. Finally, Jesus teaches us all that the right path to move on goes along love, inclusion, and fraternal coexistence.
All the excluded and stigmatized, all those classified by society or churches, or those who have just come out of any kind of “closet” must rejoice with the Good News of Jesus Christ: When you do not find a worthy or welcoming place among men, know that Jesus is moved with compassion and touches you. When nobody seem to understand you, Jesus does; when nobody seem to respect you, Jesus welcomes you: when other exclude you, Jesus reaches out and wraps you with his blessing.
Errukiak osatzen gaitu.
Sunday February 8, 2015
Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Gospel Mk 1: 29-39
On leaving the synagogue Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John. Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever. They immediately told him about her. He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up. Then the fever left her and she waited on them. When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. The whole town was gathered at the door. He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him. Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed. Simon and those who were with him pursued him and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you.” He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.” So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee.
Gospel Markos 1: 29-39
29 Jesus sinagogatik atera eta Simonen eta Andresen etxera joan zen zuzenean, Santiago eta Joanekin. 30 Simonen amaginarreba oheratua zegoen sukarrez; berehala, hartaz hitz egin zioten Jesusi. 31 Joan zitzaion ondora, eskutik hartu eta jaikiarazi egin zuen. Sukarrak alde egin zion, eta zerbitzatzen hasi zitzaien.
32 Arratsean, eguzkia sartu ondoren, gaixo eta deabrudun guztiak eraman zizkioten Jesusi.
33 Herri osoa bildu zitzaion atarian. 34 Eta hark gaixo asko sendatu zituen, edozein zela ere haien gaitza, eta deabru asko bota ere bai. Deabruei ez zien hitzik egiten uzten, bazekiten-eta nor zen. 35 Goizean goiz, oraindik ilun zegoela, Jesus herritik irten eta bazter bakarti batera joan zen; han otoitzean ari zen. 36 Simon eta lagunak haren bila hasi ziren; 37 aurkitzean, esan zioten: –Jende guztia zure bila dabil. 38 Hark, ordea, erantzun: –Goazen beste norabait, inguruko auzoetara, horietan ere berri ona hots egitera, horretarako atera bainaiz. 39 Eta Galilea guztian barrena ibili zen, hango sinagogetan berri ona hots egiten eta deabruak botatzen.
Why to Pray?
Amid his intense activity of an itinerant prophet, Jesus always took especial care to have constant communication with God his Father in silence and solitude. The Gospels have preserved for us the vivid memory of his praying habit, which must have caused deep impression in his disciples: Jesus often withdrew at night to pray.
Today’s episode narrated by Mark helps us to understand what prayer meant for Jesus. The day before Jesus had a hard day. Jesus “cured many sick.” He had a terribly “successful” day and Capernaum was shocked and speechless: “The whole town gathered around Jesus. Everyone talked about him. All wanted to see and touch him.”
That same night, at “dawn,” between three and six o’clock, Jesus gets up and, without telling his disciples, withdrew into the open. “There he began to pray.” He needs to be alone with his Father. He does not let himself be flattered by his success. He only wishes to do the will of the Father: to master the way his Father wants him to walk.
Surprised by his absence, Simon and the other disciples run after to get him. They did not hesitate to disturb his conversation with God. They just want to keep him, “Everyone is looking for you.” But Jesus does not allow himself to be programed or controlled from outside. Jesus is totally focused in his Father’s project. This project is about building God’s Kingdom in the here and now of the history. Nothing and nobody can make him turn away from this mission.
Jesus has no interest in staying on to enjoy his success and popularity in Capernaum. He will not yield to popular enthusiasm. On the contrary, there are villages, which have not yet heard the Good News of God so he invites his disciples: “Come on … let’s go there too to preach the Good News.”
One of the most comforting features in contemporary Christianity, also noticeable in our parish, is to see how in many believers the need to care more carefully the communication with God, silence and meditation are awakening. The most lucid and responsible Christians want to drag the Christian Communities of today to lead and live a contemplative way. It is an urgent task.
However, many of us Christians usually do not know any longer to be alone with the Father; many are afraid of being alone and in silence and for this reason prefer to live distracted among the many gadgets modern technology offers us. Even theologians, preachers and catechists talk much about God, but speak very little with Him. Jesus’ custom to pray alone with the father has been forgotten long time ago. In our parishes, we conduct many meetings, but often we forget to retire to take a rest in the presence of God to feel and experience His life giving peace.
We are inclined more and more to do things, to accomplish goals and to program activities, in short, to control Jesus, than to let ourselves be guided by Jesus. We risk falling into hyperactive pastoral behavior, which make us wear out quickly and get empty inside. As a result, our problem is not having many problems, but rather, not having the necessary inner spiritual strength to face them.
Otoitz egiteko geratu egin behar da. Barne-bakea lortzeko “denpora galtzen” ikasi behar dugu: Jaunaren aurrean, ixilean, bakarrik, otoitz egiten, “denpora galtzen” ikastea beharrezkoa dugu.
Sunday February 1, 2015
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Gospel Mk 1: 21-28
Then they came to Capernaum, and on the Sabbath Jesus entered the synagogue and taught. The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes. In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit; he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” Jesus rebuked him and said, “Quiet! Come out of him!” The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him. All were amazed and asked one another, “What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.” His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.
Ebanjelioa Markos 1: 21-28
21 Kafarnaumen sartu ziren. Eta, larunbatean sinagogara joanik, irakasten hasi zen Jesus. 22 Haren irakaspenaz txunditurik zegoen jende guztia, nagusitasunez irakasten baitzien eta ez lege-maisuek bezala. 23 Bazen, hain zuzen, sinagoga hartan espiritu gaiztoaren menpe zegoen gizon bat. Eta oihuka ekin zion: 24 –Zer duk gurekin, Nazareteko Jesus? Gu hondatzera al hator? Bazekiat nor haizen: Jainkoaren Santua. 25 Jesusek gogor eraso zion: –Isil hadi eta irten horrengandik! 26 Espiritu gaiztoak astinaldi gogorra eman zion eta, garrasi handia eginez, atera egin zen harengandik. 27 Guztiz ikaraturik gelditu ziren denak, elkarri galdezka: «Zer dugu hau? Irakaspen berria, eta nolako nagusitasunez emana gainera! Espiritu gaiztoei ere agintzen die eta hauek esana egiten!» 28 Laster zabaldu zen Jesusen entzutea Galilea aldeko bazter guztietara.
The way Jesus taught provoked among the people the impression that they were in front of something unknown and admirable. The oldest Christian sources point to it and researchers think that was really so. Jesus did not teach as the Scribes of Law did. “They were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority.” The disciples appear to have seen in Jesus a rare integrity. His word freed people of “evil spirits”.
We must not confuse “authority” with “power.” Mark is very precise in his language. The word of Jesus does not come from power. Jesus did not try to impose his own will on others. Jesus never taught to control the behavior of people. Jesus does not use coercion or threats.
Jesus’ words were not coated with institutional power either. People around him may have questioned his right and his authority to do what he did, but in their very questions, they bore eloquent testimony to the presence of something quite different and authentic in him. His “authority” came from the Spirit who was in him. His authority came from his love and compassion for the people. Jesus sought to alleviate their sufferings, to heal their wounds, to promote a more humane lifestyle. Jesus never generated submission, infantilism or passivity among his listeners. Jesus tries to free people from fear, to instill confidence in God, to encourage people to build a new world.
It is obvious that we may be experiencing a crisis of authority. Our trust in institutions may be at its minimum. Even within the Church, many speak of a strong “devaluation of authority.” Homilies are boring. Words seems to have become meaningless.
Is it not time to go back to Jesus and learn to teach as he did? The word of the Church must be born from the real love for people. It has to be uttered—as Pope Francis tells us—after carefully listening to the suffering of the people, and not before. Our words must reflect our closeness to the suffering people, be warm, and capable to accompany them in their suffering.
We need to utter words that are free from the seduction of power and full of the power of the Spirit. Words, which are born from respect and positive esteem of people, capable of generating hope, joy, and heal wounds. It would be a serious mistake if we, within the Church, would continue listening to the “doctrine of lawyers’ rather than the healing words of Jesus.
Nagusitasunez erakusten du nork bere izaera guzia Jesusi itsasita dagoenak.
Sunday January 25, 2015
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Gospel MK 1: 14-20
After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” As he passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Then they abandoned their nets and followed him. He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets. Then he called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him.
Ebanjelioa Markos 1: 14-20
14 Joan Bataiatzailea kartzelan sartu eta gero, Jesus Galileara etorri zen eta Jainkoaren berri ona hots egiten zuen. 15 Honela zioen: «Betea da garaia, eta gainean duzue Jainkoaren erregetza. Bihozberri zaitezte eta sinetsi berri ona». 16 Jesusek, Galileako aintzira-bazterrean zehar zihoala, Simon eta honen anaia Andres ikusi zituen sareak uretara botatzen, arrantzaleak baitziren. 17 Jesusek esan zien: «Zatozte nirekin eta giza arrantzale egingo zaituztet». 18 Haiek, besterik gabe, sareak utzi eta jarraitu egin zioten. 19 Aurreraxeago, Santiago eta Joan anaiak, Zebedeoren semeak, ikusi zituen; sare-konponketan ari ziren beren ontzian. 20 Ikusi bezain laster, dei egin zien. Haiek, beren aita Zebedeo eta mutilak ontzian utzirik, Jesusen ondoren abiatu ziren.
Jesus and personal and social transformation
Many scholars have written important works to try to define precisely where the “essence of Christianity” it to be found. However, to know the center of the Christian faith, we do not need to go to any theological theory. First thing is to understand what was for Jesus his most important goal, the center of his life, the absolute, the cause to which he devoted himself in body and soul.
No one doubts today that Mark’s gospel has aptly summarized that goal in these words: “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the Good News.” The aim of Jesus was to introduce in the world what he called “the kingdom of God:” a society structured in a fair and dignified manner for all, jus as God wants it.
When God reigns in the world, humanity progresses in justice, solidarity, compassion, fraternity and peace. To this goal Jesus gave passionately all his energies. For believing in this dream, or utopia, and for putting all his energies into its accomplishment, he was persecuted, tortured and executed. “The kingdom of God” was the absolute value for him.
The conclusion is obvious: the strength, the energy, the sense of purpose, the reason and the ultimate meaning of Christianity is “the kingdom of God,” and nothing else. The only criteria to measure the Christian identity, the truth of any spirituality or the value of what the Church is, is always subject and at the service of the “kingdom of God.”
In a nutshell, the only way to look at life as Jesus did, the only way to feel things as Jesus felt, the only way to act as Jesus did, is to guide all our lives toward building a more humane world. However, many Christians have not heard that the “kingdom of God”. One of the most serious heresies which we introduced in our Christian rationale is to make of the Church an absolute principle; worst still, to identify our Church with the “Kingdom of God.” It is a serious error to think that the Church is the center to which everything else must be subordinated. It is a serious mistake to make of the Church the “replacement” of the kingdom of God. This error and mistake has led us to worry more for the organization and strengthening of the juridical, liturgical aspects of a triumphal Church rather than taking care of the suffering in the world and fighting for the building of a more equitable and just society. Often the official church has looked at the other side in front of flagrant social injustices, in order to maintain her privileges.
It is not easy to maintain our Christian convictions oriented toward serving the values of the kingdom of God, but when we do try working in that direction, then faith becomes more creative and, above all, more evangelical and Christian.
Jesusek mundu berri bat eraikitzera gonbidatu eta bultzatzen gaitu. Jainkoak nahi duen erako mundo berri bat: baztertuak eta txikiak eta humilatuak eta ankapetuak goiengo aulkietan exeriko diren mundo berri bat.
Sunday January 18, 2015
Second Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)
Gospel Jn 1: 35-42
John was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” — which translated means Teacher —, “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come, and you will see.” So they went and saw where Jesus was staying, and they stayed with him that day. It was about four in the afternoon. Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus. He first found his own brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah” — which is translated Christ —. Then he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas” — which is translated Peter.
Ebanjelioa Joan 1: 35-42
35 Hurrengo egunean, berriro ere bertan zegoen Joan bere bi ikaslerekin. 36 Jesus handik igarotzen ikusirik, esan zuen: «Hona hemen Jainkoaren Bildotsa». 37 Bi ikasleek, hori entzutean, Jesusi jarraitu zioten. 38 Jesusek, atzera begiratu eta ondoren zetozkiola ikusirik, galdetu zien: –Zeren bila zabiltzate? Haiek erantzun: –Rabbi, non bizi zara? (Rabbik «Maisu» esan nahi du). 39 Jesusek esan zien: –Etorri eta ikusi. Joan, non bizi zen ikusi eta berarekin gelditu ziren egun hartan. Arratsaldeko laurak aldea zen. 40 Joani entzun eta Jesusi jarraitu zioten bietariko bat Andres zen, Simon Pedroren anaia. 41 Lehenik, bere anaia Simonekin egin zuen topo, eta esan zion: «Mesias aurkitu diagu» (Mesiasek «Kristo» –hau da, Gantzutu– esan nahi du). 42 Eta Jesusengana eraman zuen. Jesusek, begira-begira jarririk, esan zion: «Simon zara zu, Joanen semea, baina aurrerantzean Kefas deituko zara» (Kefasek «Pedro» –hau da, Harkaitz– esan nahi du).
On the Road to the Encounter with Jesus
Two disciples, guided by the Baptist, decide to follow Jesus. For a while, they walk behind him in silence. There has been yet no real contact with him. Suddenly, Jesus turns back toward them and asks a crucial question: “What do you seek? What do you expect from me?”
They still answer him yet with another question: Rabbi “where do you live?” As if they wished to asked him: What is the secret of your life? Where have you anchored your life? What is for you the meaning of life? Jesus’s response is simple, yet challenging: “Come and see”. Jesus invites them to experience it by being together with him: “Come and live with me. Discover who I am and how I can transform your life.”
This short dialogue sheds more light on the essentials of the Christian faith than many complicated words. In short, what is that which is necessary for being a Christian? It is not about making dramatic sacrifices or living in the desert dressed in camel skin and eating worms.
It is all about knowing Jesus and trying to be like him, to imitate him. The Middle Age spiritual masters used the expression: “imitatio Christi.”
It is not about finding something but encountering someone. It is not about knowing things about Jesus, knowing doctrine or lots of theology; it is about tuning with him, to internalize his basic and deepest attitudes, and experience that his person does me good, that it revives my spirit and it gives me strength and hope to live on. When this occurs, one begins to realize how little my faith in Jesus was, and how wrong I understood almost everything about Jesus.
We may need to forget our convictions, doctrines, personal schemes and certainties. Jesus does not ask me to be more religious and more pious. He just asks me to know Him better. To walk along the road with Him.
What means to be a Christian, is to try to live as Jesus lived, albeit in a very simple and primitive way. It is about believing in what he believed, to give importance to what He gave importance and to be interested in what he was interested, to look at life from the very perspective he did, to deal with people as he did, to listen to the weak the way he did, to welcome and accompany then as he did. In a nutshell, to trust God as he trusted, and to pray as he prayed.
Jesusekin batera bidean joatea da Kristau jator baten ekintza eta helburua. Jesus ezagutzea, ez da Jesusetaz asko jakitea. Haren jarrerak, bizimodua eta pentsakera bera, nere jarrera, bizimodu eta pentsakera egitea baizik.
Sunday January 11, 2015
The Baptism of the Lord (B)
Gospel Mk 1: 7-11
This is what John the Baptist 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.” It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
Ebanjelioa Markos 1: 7-11
7 Joanek 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».
9 Egun haietako batean, Jesus etorri zen Galileako Nazaretetik, eta Joanek bataiatu egin zuen Jordanen. 10 Jesusek, uretatik ateratzerakoan, zerua urratzen ikusi zuen eta Espiritua, uso-tankeran, beregana jaisten. 11 Eta mintzo hau etorri zen zerutik: «Zu zaitut neure Semea, neure maitea, zu zaitut atsegin».
God is well pleased with Jesus
Jesus appeared in Galilee at a time when the Jewish people lived a deep religious crisis. People had for long felt the remoteness of God. The skies were “closed” not only to the rain but also to the mercy of God. A sort of invisible wall seemed to prevent communication between God and his people. Nobody could hear HIS voice. There were no prophets. Nobody seem to be able to utter any words inspired by HIS Spirit.
The hardest was that feeling that God had seemingly forgotten HIS chosen people. Why had God hidden away from HIS people? Surely, many remembered the ardent prayer of an ancient prophet who prayed to God: “Break open oh heavens and rain down upon us” (“Rorate coeli de super, et nubes pluant Justum”).
Those who first heard the Gospel of Mark had to be flabbergasted. According to his account, after being baptized and as he was coming out from the waters of Jordan, Jesus “saw the heavens open” and felt that “the Spirit of God descended upon him.” A man full of God’s Spirit was now among us walking together with us on earth! Jesus was his name and he came from Nazareth.
The very Spirit who descends upon Jesus is the breath of God that creates life; it is the energy, which renews and heals all the living; it is the love, which transforms everything. That is why the mission of Jesus is one of freeing life, restoring the wounded self of the people so that we all may become more humane. The early Christians did not want to identify themselves with the disciples of John the Baptist because they were convinced that they had received the same Spirit of Jesus.
Without the Spirit of Jesus, everything becomes dark. Trust in God disappears. Faith is weak. Jesus becomes a mere character from the past; the Gospel becomes a dead letter; the commandment to love one another becomes pure formalism; the Church is nothing more than a religious institution, one among many, concerned about rules, doctrines and dogma.
Without the Spirit of Jesus, freedom chokes, joy turns off, celebrations become formal routine, and our community fellowship cracks. Without the Spirit of Jesus we forget what His mission was, our final hope dies, the fears grow, and the call to following Jesus ends being a mediocre religious practice.
Our biggest problem is to forget Jesus and ignore his Spirit. It is a mistake to try to achieve with catechetical strategies, hard planning work, endless devotions and various pilgrimages, that which can only be achieved with the Spirit of Jesus. It is imperative that we return to the root of the message of Jesus and to recover the Gospel in all its freshness and truth, and be baptized with the same Spirit of Jesus.
We must not let ourselves be misled. If we do not let ourselves be revived and recreated by the Spirit of Jesus, then, we Christians will have nothing important to contribute to our society, because we will be interiorly as empty, as incapable of loving and lacking in solidarity as the world in which we live is. If we are empty interiorly, we will have nothing to give.
Jesusen Espirituz beterik bakarrik izan gindezke Jesus bezala.
Sunday January 4, 2015
The Epiphany of the Lord (B)
Gospel Mt 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.
WHOM DO I WORSHIP?
The Magi come from the “East,” a place that evokes among the Jewish the fatherland of astrology and other esoteric sciences. These people are pagans. They do not know the Holy Scriptures of Israel, but only the language of the stars. However, the Magi seek the truth and set on the road to discover it. They let themselves be guided by the mystery and feel the urge to “worship.”
The presence of the Magi shocks everyone in Jerusalem. The Magi declare having seen a new star shine in heaven and that makes them to think that the “king of the Jews” is born and they come to “worship him.” This king is neither Cesar Augustus nor King Herod. Who is he then? Where is He? This is their question.
Herod was “startled.” The news does not make him happy. He is the “King of the Jews” appointed and blessed by Rome. This newborn usurper must be eliminated at once: where is this strange intruder? The “chief priests and scribes” know vaguely the Scriptures and proclaim that he is to be born in Bethlehem, but they do not care much about it and have no intention in going to worship the Child.
This is what Jesus will encounter throughout his life: hostility and rejection on the part of the representatives of political powers; indifference and resistance from religious leaders. Only those who seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness will welcome Him.
The Magi continue their long search. Sometimes, the star that guides them disappears leaving them in uncertainty. Other times, the star shines again filling them with “immense joy.” Finally, they encounter the Child, and “falling on their knees, they worship him.” Then they place at the service of the Child all the wealth and treasures they have. This Child can count on them because they recognize in Him their King and Lord.
This apparently simple and childish story hides crucial questions for each one of us: In front of whom or what do I kneel down? Who is the “God” I worship? We call ourselves Christians, but, do we come to Bethlehem to adore the Child? Am I ready to place my riches, wellbeing and capabilities at the service of this Child? Am I willing to listen to his call to enter the kingdom of God and his righteousness? In the lives of each one of us there is always an Star that guides me towards Bethlehem. Do I follow it? Or I just try to ignore it?