Tag Archives: Solemnity

Year A – Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord – January 5, 2014 – Gospel Reflection

Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13 (R/. cf. 11); Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6; Matthew 2:2; Matthew 2:1-12

The story of the Magi is one of the most popular stories in Sacred Scripture.  Artists have celebrated it in poetry (T.S. Eliot’s The Journey of the Magi,) in art (Da Vinci, Bosch, Lippi,) in fiction (Van Dyck’s The Other Wise Man,) and in opera (Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors.)  It is the story of being drawn out from what is familiar and led to something that exceeds one’s hopes and desires.  It is a story of every restless heart that will not find rest until it rests in God.  The Magi paid close attention to what was before them in the present, a star, and were open to what was valuable from the past, the prophecies given to Israel, thereby allowing both nature and divine revelation to guide them to the One who alone could fill their hearts.

The Epiphany was not a “once and for all” event.  Our liturgical tradition recognizes three “showings” or “manifestations”:  the journey of the Magi, the wedding feast at Cana, and the baptism of Jesus – all revelations of Jesus as the One who came to draw us toward God and one another.

What epiphanies have you had lately?  What manifestations have you experienced which have brought you closer to God?

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Year A – Solemnity of Mary, The Holy Mother of God – January 1, 2014 – Gospel Reflection

Numbers 6:22-27; Psalm 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8; Galatians 4:4-7; Hebrews 1:1-2; Luke 2:16-21Image

We return again to Bethlehem and the visit of the shepherds to meet their Savior.  While much of the reading focuses on the shepherds, what they saw and said, today’s feast directs us to Mary, providing Pau’s only reference to her and a helpful image of her from Luke’s Gospel.  In his most fiery letter, Paul notes that “God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law…”  On this feast celebrating Mary as the mother of God, Paul’s words provide the earliest designation of her as mother of God’s Son.  God not only lowered himself to our human estate; he made himself, for a short time, subservient to Mary, his human mother.  If Christ made himself subservient to Mary, how much more so should we be obedient to her as well?

Luke gives us a prayerful perspective on Mary, presenting her as the woman who ponders, “Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.”  She is a fitting example to imitate as a new year begins.  She invites us to ponder and reflect on who Christ is for us and for our world.  We live in such a non-stop, 24/7, busy-busy-busy world.  Mother Mary calls us to sit down beside her and ponder the mystery of the Father sending his Son into the world to give us life.

What does Mary invite you to ponder?  When we serve her and follow her example, then we will begin to imitate Jesus Christ.  It is then that we will grow stronger in our faith.

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Year A – Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord – Vigil Mass – December 24, 2013

Isaiah 62:1-5; Psalm 89:4-5, 16-17, 27, 29 (R/.2a); Acts 13:16-17, 22-25; Matthew 1:1-25 or 1:18-25

ImageReaders often dread the long list of names in this Gospel.  Name after name after name – strange names, foreign to us, flowing together in a litany evoking and ancient world.  But if one takes time reading them, even proclaiming them, as if you were reading a roll call of one’s own ancestors, on begins to realize that each name is to be honored.  Each is a son or a daughter (five interesting women are mentioned.)  Each was part of Israel’s history, Jesus’ history, salvation history. God was at work in each of these lives.

Matthew’s genealogy also implies that Jesus did not come from a perfect family; but a family of sinners.  That is not to say the Jesus or Mary were with sin; rather Jesus’ ancestors in the lines of Abraham and David, through fourteen generations after the Babylonia exile (560 years after the death of Amel-Marduk, the king of Babylon – in Jewish tradition, one generation was the equivalent of 40 years.)  Like Jesus’ ancestors, we too are not perfect.  We are sinners, and we welcome Jesus into our human family.

The story of Joseph concludes the genealogy with the angel’s command that Joseph name the child born of Mary and the Holy Spirit.  The name to be given is Jesus “because he will save his people from their sins.”  Tonight, we begin our Christmas celebration remembering that the Son of God, our Savior, was born into our human family.

What does it mean to you to have Jesus in your family and, by Baptism, to be in his?

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Year C – Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe – Thirty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time – November 24, 2013 – Gospel Reflection

2 Samuel 5:1-3; Psalm 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5 (R/. cf. 1); Colossians 1:12-20; Mark 11:19, 10; Luke 23:35-43

The image of a shepherd became linked to the role of the king in the Old Testament.  David, the youngest son of Jesse, who tended sheep, exalted the Lord through his harp music, and slew Goliath, was destined to become king of Israel.  The leaders of Israel came to David and asked him to shepherd them as king, fulfilling what the Lord had said to David, “You shall shepherd my people Israel and be commander of Israel.”

The life of David foreshadowed the life of Christ:  Bethlehem is the birthplace of both; the shepherd life of David prefigures Christ, the Good Shepherd; the five stones chosen to slay Goliath are typical of the five wounds of Christ; the betrayal by his trusted counselor, Achitophel, and the passage over the Cedron remind us of Christ’s Sacred Passion; finally, many of the Davidic Psalms, as we learn from the New Testament, are clearly typical of the Messiah.  Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe is not an earthly king though.  His crown is a crown of thorns, his royal purple robes are draped over his beaten body in mockery, his throne is a cross, and the only jewels he has are the nails that pierce his hands and feet.  They hang a sign on the cross above his head that says, “Iēsus Nazarēnus, Rēx Iūdaeōrum,” (“Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.”)  It is through this unearthly image of a king that he shepherds human souls into his kingdom.

Jesus picked up the image of the Good Shepherd in his preaching to human souls and carried it out in his actions as he sought to shepherd his flock into the kingdom, searching out the blind and the deaf, the lame and the sick, the possessed and the grief-stricken.  He became the king of the poor, the weak, and the suffering.  He is our king.  He is not just the king of a nation, or even of the world; he is king of the entire universe.  He is a king so powerful and feared that Herod tried to kill him as a defenseless newborn baby.  He is so powerful that he may shepherd those most astray back to the flock, no matter how far they have gone or how long they have been away.  He gives hope to those most in need and ushers them into his everlasting kingdom.  A kingdom, as he told Pilate, which is not of this world.  He ushers all in like sheep with wool, white and pure.

Even from the cross, Jesus seeks and saves the lost.  Over the heckling of the crowd and the verbal abuse of one of his crucified companions, Jesus responds to the faith of the nameless thief on his other side.  (Tradition calls him Dismas.)  Through his confession, repentance, and spiritual act of mercy by admonishing the sinner, Jesus absolves the criminal, promising him Paradise that day.  Dismas secures his salvation, becoming the first saint of the Church, through his longing for the kingdom and exaltation of Christ as God and King of the Universe.  Even as Jesus is laying down his life for his sheep, he is also carrying one on his shoulders into the kingdom.

How does it help you to see Christ the king as Jesus the shepherd, leading us to green pastures where he feeds us, gives us rest, and finally leads us through the dark valley of death into the kingdom of light and life?

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