Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Saturday, April 26, 2014
Saturday, April 19, 2014
The fact that Christianity has stood firm over the last twenty centuries of human history is due to the confession of faith in Jesus of Nazareth as the Risen One, the Living One, present in the life of Christians.
This is therefore the principal confession of the faith of Christians: “If Christ did not rise from the dead, our faith and our preaching is in vain” (1 Co 15,14). But this confession of faith is sustained by evidence, a historical fact: the life of men and women, followers of Jesus of Nazareth who —following the death of the Nazarene on the cross— experienced a transforming reality in their life; they became new men and women (cf Eph 2,18), confessing that the One who died changed their life and, if in fact he changed their life, it was because he rose again and is living!
Such a transformation consists fundamentally in a change of mentality (cf Eph 4,23), of criteria, of logic: a new way of seeing and facing up to reality according to the logic and wisdom of God, and of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is not the logic of the world (cf James 3,13 and 1 Co 1). They now discover that they are —just as Jesus himself had lived and had taught them— children of God (Gal 4,6) and related to each other as brothers and sisters (1 Jn 3,14). They discover that the old order of things is obsolete: “The old has passed away, the new has come” (2 Co 5,17) and they begin to read and interpret their own life and all reality “in the light” of what happened in the life of Jesus of Nazareth: his passion, his death, his resurrection.
That is to say that the basis of their confession of faith in Jesus as risen again —concretely— is the new life of men and women who bear testimony to the transforming work in them of the One who was crucified (cf Acts 2).
Two thousand years have now passed since that event, the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and every Sunday and every year, in the Christian Easter celebration, Christ’s disciples of all ages and from all corners of the earth, from the most diverse origins and in the molds of the most diverse cultures, continue to confess Christ as the Risen One and present in human history.
This confession of faith is empty if it does not spring from the experience of men and women who —today, as well as yesterday— continue to experience a transformation of their life which urges them to live out the commandment of love, in the recognition that we are brothers and sisters, children of the same Father: “In this we know that we have passed from death to life, in that we love each other” (1 Jn 3,14).
Yet today there are many realities that deny the confession of faith in the resurrection of Christ. For to confess Christ as the Living One is, above all, to confess the triumph of the Father’s designs in the Son (Phil 2,10), contrary to those who preferred to see him dead. It is to confess the truth of abundant life in God (Jn 10,10) over against a thousand forms of death (1 Co 15,55), which —without God, without love— we invent. To confess Christ as the Risen One is to confess that the light overcame the darkness (1 Thess 5,5) and that —from now on— it is possible to build human life and society more in line with God’s will and less according to the caprice of despots.
For that reason, the Christian celebration of Easter is the remembrance of what happened in the life of Jesus and of the first Christians and it is, above all, a commitment. The commitment that every disciple of Christ must show with his life, with his deeds and words, with his behavior and attitudes the abundant life that God offers us in Jesus Christ: “I have come that they might have life, and have it in abundance” (Jn 10,10).
While millions of our brothers in the world live in situations of extreme poverty, indigence and misery; while the conditions of a precarious life and misery that shroud the great majority of humanity lead them to death rather than life; while even a single person goes hungry on earth (cf Acts 2,42 and 4,32), the celebration of Easter calls each believer in Christ to greater authenticity, greater commitment, greater efficacy, greater truthfulness and a greater sense of all that we believe, profess and hope for.
In Christ, God’s final word concerning the destiny of man is not death on the cross or the thousand crosses that exist, but rather life. The resurrection of Christ and our resurrection in him fills our existence with meaning, but also motivates us to build better lives, a better society and a better world in which we can see, live and build, not according to the world’s logic, but according to God’s logic.
Let us then celebrate our Christian Easter: the passing from death to life, from slavery to the law of the fullness of love, but through Christ, with Him and in Him, let us also leave behind convenience, half-heartedness and the routine of our lives and move to the active combat of men and women who —because of the gospel of Christ—struggle to make possible a world in which Christ is truly alive in the life of all and in every social circle: in politics and in the culture, in the academy and in sports, in the arts and in religion, in science and in our labor…
So that today, as in yesteryear, the confession of faith of the Crucified yet Living One might be accompanied and validated by the life of new men and women who build, day by day, a more human world, that is, more fraternal, more equitable, with more solidarity, more justice. Have a HAPPY EASTER!
Friday, April 18, 2014
On March 31st, His Holiness Pope Francis granted an audience to the representatives of Museum of the Bible and executives of American Bible Society. On this occasion, Pope Francis welcomed our delegation at the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican.
Our visit was due to the inauguration of Verbum Domini II Bible Exhibit on display at the Vatican until June 22nd.
Saturday, April 12, 2014
Thursday, March 13, 2014
We have reached the first anniversary of the Pontificate of Francis. The context in which he was elected as Pope was marked by an enormous crisis of credibility in the world of the Catholic Church due, in large part, to the sexual scandals of members of the clergy that had become public, the forced resignation, including his age and physical conditions, and multiple circumstances within the Church of Benedict XVI, and the correct historical and numerical possibility that the Catholic majority of Latin Americans might have their first Pope.
From the outset, everything was new and refreshing in the election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope: the geographical location and the religious order from which he comes, his humble origin, the name chosen for his pontificate but, above all, his style, his personal manner with each word, each gesture, his way of being and acting. A new and refreshing style that immediately, silently, almost imperceptibly, yet powerfully, began to reveal itself in the options that he chose through his respective denials: an apartment instead of the palatial rooms and offices, a Renault automobile rather than luxury vehicles, worn shoes instead of brand-name footwear, his request for the people’s blessing instead of offering his blessing, etc. Options, procedures, gestures, novel style, especially in the midst of a society where power means privilege, possessions, waste, luxury, comfort, ostentation and appearance.
The intimate and simple word, the warm and welcome gesture, the smiling face, the human and compassionate expressions to the weakest and most needy are other elements that –-like the One from Nazareth or Assisi—characterize the ministry of Francis. Moreover, he is a Pope with a keen sense of humor. Humor that, together with his prayer and that of everyone for his Petrine ministry, is the best “bumper” in the midst of the difficult task of guiding the rudder of Peter’s ship, sometimes through lukewarm mornings or through threatening storms and tempests, but always with confidence in the Lord of the Church and of history.
We are able to say that Francis, in such a short time, has honored the name chosen for his pontificate, that of the poor man of Assisi, but, above all, he has honored the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to which he has dedicated his entire life. His ministry has been an authentic prophecy through the symbolic pedagogy of the testimony of his personal life.
Without a doubt, Francis has become a sign for today’s world, for our historical juncture and for all humanity. A sign of humanity for believers as well as for unbelievers, for Catholics and non-Catholics, for peoples and nations from the most diverse corners of the Earth and the most diverse cultures. Francis welcomes all, impacts all, and calls everyone’s attention through his manner of being and of living out the Church in today’s world.
His style can be summarized in a call, through his very style, to live out a Christian humanism already practiced, proven and evidenced in other times. A Christian humanism that, forgotten in today’s society, seems novel: the humanism of Jesus of Nazareth, elementary and basic, the Christian humanism of the early Christians and, later, of the poor soul of Assisi: the Brother Francis and of so many men and women that have incorporated and lived out in their life the gospel of the humble carpenter and fisherman of Nazareth. Everything is new, yet old at the same time in Francis, because he reminds us of the need to return to the basic fount and proper norm of our Christian life: the way of being and acting of Jesus of Nazareth.
Abundant, from every angle, has been the pontificate exercised by Francis in just a year: renewal of the Roman Curia, renewal of the Vatican Bank, the Advisory Council of eight cardinals for the renewal of the grand subjects of the life of the Church, the convocation of the Synod of the Family, the creation of a commission for the defense of the rights of children and, in the evangelistic and prophetic task, he has begun to place emphasis on the subjects that, in light of the gospel itself, need to be highlighted: on compassion and mercy, on humility and transparency instead of an obsession with legal and sexual subjects that are boring, that scare away and threaten believers.
Ad multos annos! May Francis have many more years to bless us! We join in prayers of thanksgiving for this fresh breeze that bubbled up in all corners of the Church and the world, and that God be pleased, amid gestures and symbols, amid exhortations and documents, to enable Francis, to not only take new positions, execute new decisions that impact in depth fundamental matters that the whole world wants to see dealt with and reconsidered in the bosom of the Catholic Church.
Following Francis and his personal seal on the ministry of Peter, the Church will never be the same. May God and Mary continue to accompany and bless and, through him, that we all be blessed.
Thursday, March 6, 2014
On several occasions Jesus of Nazareth, the Teacher, sent his friends and disciples to carry to others the Message of the Kingdom. Sometimes on foot, sent out in pairs, from the rooftops, using all sorts of media. And in those gatherings they reminded others of the deeds and miracles they had witnessed. Such as on the occasion in which the multitude was hungry, where Jesus multiplied the fish and bread. And then he told them to gather up the left-over food. This would serve them well later, as well as to remember the miracle. Everything, even that which appeared to be insignificant, was important.
Years went by. They continued to remember, but these were later generations. The living memory was written down. Those documents were preserved, those pieces of cloth, parchment, bits of ceramic which on one occasion was found stamped with the memory of Yahve’s presence, Jesus, of the Chosen People. Many of those scripts were passed down from generation to generation. Some outlived the Roman invasions, the Temple’s destruction, the debacle of a village. Yet, although they were simple pieces, with no apparent value, for the believers they contained fragments of the living Word of the Lord. And they needed to care for them like great treasure.
Centuries have now passed. But those remains, those ceramic bits, those manuscripts have been preserved. And a family of believers in the Lord Jesus, in a God who is our Father, have dedicated their energies for years to gather those lost texts, those objects that, at one time, were used in the community to make known, to praise, and to learn about the Lord.
The Green family, who for years have dedicated themselves to gather those fragments, like the apostles who gathered the left-overs of the multiplied bread, those texts, those ceramic bits and writings, they wanted everyone to see. Those objects will be a part of a Museum, the Museum of the Bible, so that others can appreciate and study them, and be available to serve all. There will be room in this institution for biblical objects proceeding from diverse traditions of faith based on the Bible. From the respected and age-old tradition of Judaism to the diverse groups of the Christian faith such as the Reformed tradition, as well as Catholic and Orthodox.
While that Museum opens its doors there will be an exposition of some of the backgrounds which, in the future, will be incorporated in permanent, as well as temporary, expositions in the Museum.
This exposition will take place in Vatican City, near Peter’s tomb, who was one of the twelve followers of Jesus. Between April 1 and June 22 we will have the opportunity to contemplate these treasures of the Green Collection together with other artefacts on loan, the property of cultural and ecclesiastic institutions such as the Vatican Library and Museum. Among the hundreds of objects to be exhibited we underscore ten, considered the TOP TEN:
- Three fragments of the Dead Sea scrolls, the oldest known texts of the Hebrew Scriptures.
- A double page of the “Codex Vaticanus”, one of the four uncial codices, that is, the oldest complete manuscripts of the Greek Bible, from around the years 325 to 350 A.D. This is a loan from the Vatican Library, in Vatican City.
- Five pages of the Bodner Codex of the Psalms, which contains the nearly complete Book of Psalms in Greek. Written on papyrus and dated from the Third and Fourth Centuries A.D.
- Pages of the Rescriptus Climaci Codex, a manuscript in palimpsest, which contains the text of the Bible in Greek from the Eighth Century and texts of the Sixth Century in Christian-Palestinian Aramaic, a language similar to the Aramaic that Jesus spoke.
- A copy of the complete Bible of Tours, the oldest known copy of this Bible edited and published by Alcuino of York in the Ninth Century in the Abbey of San Martin in Tours, France. A work on loan, which is the property of the Library of the Abbey of Saint Gall in Switzerland.
- The “Bath Old English Gospels”, a copy of the only complete translation of the Gospels in ancient English, done in the Ninth Century and, for the first time in history, is presented in an exhibition outside of Britain. On loan from the Parker Library of Corpus Christi College, which is part of the University of Cambridge.
- A fragment never before presented of the first commentaries in Hebrew on the Pentateuch prepared by Rabi Sa´adia Gaon and dated in the Eleventh Century, discovered in Geniza of the Sinagogue of Ben Ezra in El Cairo, Egypt.
- The “Book of Hours and Psalter” of Elizabeth of Bohun, countess of Northampton, edited in the Fourteenth Century and one of the most extensively decorated manuscripts that exist in its class.
- A sample of the first edition of the King James Bible - the great “HE” Biblia of 1611- the most influential translation of the Bible ever produced in the English language.
- One of the three Rolls of the Torah from the Jewish community of Kaifeng, in China. On loan from the Bridwell Library Special Collections, of the Perkins Theological Seminary, annex of the Southern Metodist University.