Saturday, January 30, 2021

4th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B

Today's Gospel (Mk 1:21-28) sees Our Lord curing a man with an unclean spirit. The crowd is amazed and wonders who this man is who teaches with such authority. In his Parochial and Plain Sermons, St. John Henry Newman writes about the revelation of Jesus to humankind:
Rembrandt, Head of Christ
Those who look towards him for teaching, who worship and obey him, will by degrees see “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in his face, and will be changed into the same image from glory to glory.”

And thus it happens that people of the lowest class and the humblest education may know fully the ways and works of God; fully, that is, as human beings can know them; far better and more truly than the most sagacious of this world from whom the gospel is hidden.

Religion has a store of wonderful secrets which cannot be communicated to others, but which are most pleasant and delightful to know. “Call on me,” says God by the prophet, “and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things of which you have no knowledge.” This is no mere idle boast, but a fact which all who seek God will find to be true, though they cannot perhaps clearly express their meaning.



Saturday, January 16, 2021

2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B

In today’s Gospel (Jn 1:35-42) John the Baptist points Jesus out to his disciples as “the Lamb of God.” They respond by following him. The following reflection on the passage was given by Pope Francis at his Angelus talk. Here's a link to the original talk if you'd like to read the full text.

The Calling of Saints Peter and Andrew by Caravaggio
Thus it is for us: the One whom we have contemplated in the Mystery of Christmas, we are now called to  follow in daily life. Therefore, today’s Gospel passage introduces us perfectly into Ordinary Liturgical Time, a time that helps to invigorate and affirm our journey of faith in ordinary life, in a dynamic that moves between epiphany and sequela, between manifestation and vocation.

... Only a personal encounter with Jesus engenders a journey of faith and of discipleship. We will be able to experience many things, to accomplish many things, to establish relationships with many people, but only the appointment with Jesus, at that hour that God knows, can give full meaning to our life and render our plans and our initiatives fruitful.

It is not enough to build an image of God based on the words that are heard; one must go in search of the divine Master and go to where he lives. The two disciples ask Jesus, “where are you staying?” (v. 38). This question has a powerful spiritual meaning: it expresses the wish to know where the Lord lives, so as to abide with him. The life of faith consists in the wish to abide in the Lord, and thus in a continuing search for the place where he lives.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Baptism of the Lord, Year B

Today is the feast of the Baptism of the Lord today, and the last day of the Christmas season. This feast is marked with the Father speaking his love for his own beloved Son at his baptism by St. John the Baptist in the Jordan River. Originally part of the feast of Epiphany, it was only in 1955 that Pope Pius XII instituted a separate liturgical celebration of the Baptism. 

In Rome a new custom was started by St. (Pope) John Paul II for the Pope to baptize babies in the Sistine Chapel on this day. Here's part of a homily that his successor, Pope Benedict, gave to the parents at this ceremony in 2007:
Baptism of Christ, British Library
(ms. illumination, England, 13th century)
These children of yours, whom we will now baptize, are not yet able to collaborate, to manifest their faith. For this reason, your presence, dear fathers and mothers, and yours, dear godfathers and godmothers, acquires a special value and significance. Always watch over your little ones, so that they may learn to know God as they grow up, love him with all their strength and serve him faithfully. May you be their first educators in faith, offering together with your teaching also the examples of a coherent Christian life. Teach them to pray and to feel as living members of the concrete family of God, of the Ecclesial Community. 
... Above all, do not forget that it is your witness, it is your example, that has the greatest effect on the human and spiritual maturation of your children's freedom. Even caught up in the sometimes frenetic daily activities, do not neglect to foster prayer, personally and in the family, which is the secret of Christian perseverance.
Let us entrust these children and their families to the Virgin Mother of Jesus, Our Savior, presented in today's liturgy as the beloved Son of God: may Mary watch over them and accompany them always, so that they can fully carry out the project of salvation which God has for each one. Amen.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Feast of the Epiphany, Year B

Blessed Feast of the Epiphany! This day’s liturgical celebration (from the Greek epiphania, “manifestation,” of Christ, that is) has many layers: the Adoration of the Magi, the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan, and the first miracle at the wedding feast of Cana. The feast is so rich in meaning that it’s difficult to choose from among the wealth of commentaries, let alone edit out sections of the one selected. We hope this commentary by from St. Basil the Great isn’t too long, but we couldn't bear to cut any of it! Perhaps you might read parts of it throughout the coming week:
Journey & Adoration of the Magi
Codex Bruschal, ca 1220
The star came to rest above the place where the child was. At the sight of it the wise men were filled with great joy and that great joy should fill our hearts as well. It is the same as the joy the shepherds received from the glad tidings brought by the angels. Let us join the wise men in worship and the shepherds in giving glory to God. Let us dance with the angels and sing: To us is born this day a savior who is Christ the Lord. The Lord is God and he has appeared to us, not as God which would have terrified us in our weakness, but as a slave in order to free those living in slavery. Could anyone be so lacking in sensibility and so ungrateful as not to join us in our gladness, exultation, and radiant joy? This feast belongs to the whole universe. It gives heavenly gift to the earth, it sends archangels to Zechariah and to Mary, it assembles a choir of angels to sing, Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth.
Stars cross the sky, wise men journey from pagan lands, earth receives its savior in a cave. Let there be no one without a gift to offer, no one without gratitude as we celebrate the salvation of the world, the birthday of the human race. Now it is no longer, Dust you are and to dust you shall return, but “You are joined to heaven and into heaven you shall be taken up.” It is no longer, In sorrow you shall bring forth children, but, “Blessed is she who has borne Emmanuel and blessed the breast that nursed him.” For a child is born to us, a son is given to us, and dominion is laid upon his shoulder.

Come, join the company of those who merrily welcome the Lord from heaven. Think of shepherds receiving wisdom, of priests prophesying, of women who are glad of heart, us Mary was when told by the angel to rejoice and as Elizabeth was when John leapt in her womb. Anna announced the good news; Simeon took the child in his arms. They worshipped the mighty God in a tiny baby, not despising what they beheld but praising his divine majesty.
Like light through clear glass the power of the Godhead shone through that human body for those whose inner eye was pure. Among such may we also be numbered, so that beholding his radiance with unveiled face we too may be transformed from glory to glory by the grace and loving kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be honor and power for endless ages. Amen.