Monthly Archives: April 2014

2nd Sunday of Easter – Year A

They rejoice in seeing the Lord


The best outfit is worn when one goes to church. It is said in a popular Portuguese language: “Dressed to see God.” This phrase stems from the belief that, on Sunday, the celebrating community comes together to “see the Lord.”

It’s a day of joy, because, as at Easter and “eight days later” (Jn 20:19:26), the Risen Lord becomes present again in the midst of the gathered disciples. He warms their hearts, opening them to understand the Scriptures, and “the breaking of the bread”. He opens their eyes and makes himself known (Lk 24:31-32).

The evangelists show little interest in the chronological accuracy, yet they agree perfectly on a datum: it was on the “first day after the Sabbath” that the disciples saw the Lord. For this reason the Christian community chose this day dedicated to the listening to the word (Acts 20:7-12), the celebration of the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11:20-26), prayer and the sharing of goods.

Every first day of every week each put aside what he had managed to save (1 Cor 16:2) and presented his gift to the community, which in turn distributed the offerings to the most needy members or sent them to the poorer communities.

One of the most ancient evidence is offered to us by a pagan writer, Pliny the Younger. In 112, he wrote to Emperor Trajan: Christians “meet in a fixed day before dawn and sing hymns to “Christ as a God.”

It was the day of the Lord – Sunday (Rev 1:10)—the one in which each community celebrated in the rite, its faith and life.

To internalize the message, we repeat:
“Like newborn babies, the mother church feeds her children, not with visions, but with the milk of the Word.”

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Witness is one who “saw” the Lord


The words with which John begins his letter are moving: “What we have heard and what we have seen with our own eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, I mean the Word who is Life…we proclaim also to you” (1 Jn 1:1-3). His is an enviable experience, but unrepeatable. However, to become “witnesses” of Christ, it is not necessary to have walked with Jesus of Nazareth on the roads of Palestine.

Paul—who also did not know Jesus personally—is constituted a witness of the things he saw (Acts 26:16) and receives this task from the Lord: “As you have born witness to me here in Jerusalem, so must you do in Rome” (Acts 23:11). To be a witness, it’s enough to have seen the Lord really alive, beyond death.

Witnessing is not to give good example. This is certainly useful, but the testimony is something else. This can only be given by one who passed from death to life; one who can confirm that his existence is changed and acquired meaning when it was illuminated by the light of Easter; one who has made the experience that faith in Christ gives meaning to the joys and sorrows and illuminates the joyful and sad moments.

Let’s ask ourselves: is Christ’s resurrection a constant point of reference in all the projects we do, when we buy, sell, dialogue, divide an inheritance, choose to have another child … or do we believe that the reality of this world have nothing to do with Easter?

Anyone who has seen the Lord will do nothing more without him.

To internalize the message, repeat:

“If our heart open itself to the understanding of the Scriptures, we will see the Lord.”

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His crime to have loved and taught to love


Jesus is at table with the Twelve and, while they are having dinner, he turns to them, saying, “One of you will betray me.” Then they, deeply saddened, begin to ask him, one by one, “Surely not I, Lord?” Judas, the traitor, says, “Is it I, Rabbi?” Jesus replied “You have said it” (Mt 26 20-25 ).

One should know if he is a traitor or not; what need is there to ask Christ? Judas is hypocritical until the end but why do the others ask, “Is it I?”

If things had gone just in this way, the response of Jesus that unmasks the traitor would have been followed by the immediate reaction of the eleven and the settling of accounts with the culprit. Instead dinner quietly resumes.

One pastoral concern moves Matthew to place the question on the lips of everyone present. He wants every Christian to continue to ask the question: Am I a traitor?
Judas is the symbol of the anti-disciple, one who cultivates projects opposite to those of Jesus. He is one who is willing to betray his faith for the sake of money. He is ready to place himself at the head of those who struggle against the forces of good.
The true disciple does not illude himself to be immuned from this danger. He knows his own frailty; he knows that can easily become self-deluded and, perhaps in good faith transforms himself a traitor, siding against the Master, playing the game of the enemies of life.

Only the constant comparison with the word of God and the supreme gesture of his love can prevent naive, arrogant certainties and tragic illusions.

To internalize the message we will repeat: “Only those who respond to hatred with love introduces in the world a novelty and a principle of life.”

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5th Sunday of Lent – Year A

The tomb: a womb, no longer a grave


“When the gods formed mankind, they attributed death to humanity and withhold life in their hands.” These are the words that—in the famous Mesopotamian era—the tavern-keeper Siduri addressed to Gilgamesh and who is in desperate search of the tree of life. Dejected, the hero realizes that he has to resign himself: to die is to leave for the “Land of no return.”

Darkness, silence, oblivion wrap the abode of the dead according to the Jewish conception. It is hard to find in the Old Testament some hints of the soul’s immortality and the resurrection of the dead. Those few texts, of course, were not written before the second century BC.

Job said: “There is hope for a tree: if cut down it will sprout again; its new shoots will still reappear. But when a man is cut down, he comes undone: he breathes his last—where will he be? The waters of the sea may disappear, rivers drain away, but the one who lies down will not rise again; the heavens will vanish before he wakes, before he rises from his sleep” (Job 14:7-12). This dejection flowed in an elegy on the mouth of the Psalmist: “You allow me to live but short span; before you all my years are nothing. Human existence is a mere whiff of breath. Turn from me a while, that I may find relief, before I depart and be no more” (Ps 39:6-7.14 ).

So the more enlightened spirit of antiquity expressed their bewilderment, anguish and loss in front of the transience of life. The Bible has preserved the memory of their disorientation and concerns to remind us how dense were the darkness of the tomb, before the light of Easter shine on the world.

To internalize the message, we repeat:

“Although I walk in the darkest valley, I fear no evil, for you, O Lord of life, are beside me.”

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