The Epiphany of the Lord

The Epiphany of the Lord
Isa 60:1-6  +  Eph 3:2-3,5-6  +  Mt 2:1-12
January 6, 2019

Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

The feast of the Epiphany reflects upon the gift that appeared to the world at Bethlehem.  In the Gospel passage today, we see the gifts of the three kings from the east.  But these three gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, of course, are responses to the Gift—with a capital “G”—named Jesus, who was gifted to mankind by God the Father.  It’s the reflection on all four of these gifts that leads members of the Church in the East (both the Eastern Orthodox Churches and the Eastern Catholic Churches) to give Christmas gifts not on December 25, but on January 6, the Twelfth Day of Christmas. Continue reading

January 2-5, 2019

Sts. Basil the Great & Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops & Doctors of the Church
1 John 2:22-28  +  John 1:19-28
January 2, 2019

And now, children, remain in Him….

With all due respect to the Little Flower, an argument could be made that her “Little Way” was first taught by the Beloved Disciple, St. John the Evangelist and Apostle.  At the very least, her Little Way is rooted in the scriptural doctrine of the Beloved Disciple.  It would be interesting to explore the writings of the Little Flower for references to those scripture verses written by the Beloved Disciple which the Church proclaims during Christmastide. Continue reading

Mary, the Mother of God

The Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God
Num 6:22-27  +  Gal 4:4-7  +  Lk 2:16-21
January 1, 2019

… God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law….

We are invited as Christians to imitate Mary, the first and best disciple of Jesus.  If we were to imagine the scene in the first part of today’s Gospel passage, we would picture the infant Jesus in the manger, with His mother still lying next to Him, and Saint Joseph standing watch over them both. Continue reading

December 31, 2018

The Seventh Day within the Octave of the Nativity of the Lord
1 John 2:18-21  +  John 1:1-18
December 31, 2018

Thus we know this is the last hour.

Because the Nativity is always celebrated on December 25, the seventh day of the Octave of Christmas is always December 31.  While the world prepares to celebrate tonight the passing from one year to the next, the Church encourages us to meditate upon what is eternal by means of one of the most beautiful passages from the Gospel. Continue reading

The Holy Family [C]

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph [C]
Sir 3:2-6,12-14  +  Col 3:12-21  +  Lk 2:41-52
December 30, 2018

“Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

The Holy Family were still weary from their journey to Bethlehem, and from their search through Bethlehem for suitable lodging.  They had been forced after Christ’s birth to flee their own country for the foreign land of Egypt, out of fear for Jesus’ life.  But these experiences were only the start of many sorrows for the Holy Family. Continue reading

December 26-29, 2018

St. Stephen, the First Martyr
Acts 6:8-10;7:54-59  +  Matthew 10:17-22
December 26, 2018

Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.

Today’s feast is similar to the feast of the Holy Innocents, whom we’ll honor in the Sacred Liturgy in two days.  To some, the celebration of these martyrs within just days of celebrating the birth of the tiny God-man might seem inapt, if not downright macabre.  In truth, the Sacred Liturgy is focusing our attention on the integrity of our Faith. Continue reading

The Nativity – Mass during the Day

The Nativity of the Lord
Scriptures for the Four Masses:
Vigil Mass:  Isaiah 62:1-5  + Acts 13:16-17,22-25  +  Matthew 1:1-25
Mass during the Night:  Isaiah 9:1-6  +  Titus 2:11-14  +  Luke 2:1-14
Mass at Dawn:  Isaiah 62:11-12  +  Titus 3:4-7  +  Luke 2:15-20
Mass during the Day:  Isaiah 52:7-10  +  Hebrews 1:1-6  +  John 1:1-18

And the Word became flesh / and made his dwelling among us, / and we saw his glory ….

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references to the Catechism of the Catholic Church cited for this Sunday by the Vatican’s Homiletic Directory:

CCC 456-460, 466: “Why did the Word become flesh?”
CCC 461-463, 470-478: the Incarnation
CCC 437, 525-526: the Christmas mystery
CCC 439, 496, 559, 2616: Jesus is the Son of David
CCC 65, 102: God has said everything in his Word
CCC 333: the incarnate Christ worshipped by the angels
CCC 1159-1162, 2131, 2502: the Incarnation and images of Christ

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It’s telling that the Gospel passage on Christmas morning is repeated just six days later, on December 31.  This Gospel passage speaks to the beginning and end not only of our salvation, but in fact of God’s entire work of creation.

The English author G. K. Chesterton wrote in his book The Everlasting Man that:  “Any agnostic or atheist whose childhood has known a real Christmas has ever afterwards, whether he likes it or not, an association in his mind between two ideas that most of mankind must regard as remote from each other; the idea of a baby and the idea of unknown strength that sustains the stars.  His instincts and imagination can still connect them, when his reason can no longer see the need of the connection; for him there will always be some savour of religion about the mere picture of a mother and baby; some hint of mercy and softening about the mere mention of the dreadful name of God.”

Chesterton was a master of paradox, and through paradox he insightfully explained the depth of the Christian mysteries.  Christmas and Easter are intimately related to each other, by means of a divine paradox:  Christ was born for us, so that He might be able to die for us.  Christ rose from the dead so that you and I might find the strength to die, so as to live forever.

The great Anglo-American poet T. S. Eliot captured this paradox in his poem titled “The Journey of the Magi”.  Towards the end of this poem one of the Three Wise Men asks, many years after the epiphany they had witnessed:  “were we led all that way for Birth or Death?  There was a birth, certainly, We had evidence and no doubt.  I had seen birth and death, But had thought they were different; this Birth was Hard and bitter Agony for us, like Death, our death.”

May this Christmas Season lead you to the gift of dying to everything in this world.

Nativity stained glass

December 24 [morning]

Late Advent Weekday [Morning Mass]
II Samuel 7:1-5,8-12,14,16  +  Luke 1:67-79
December 24, 2018

“…the dawn from on high shall break upon us….”

This morning’s Scriptures are beautiful in their simplicity.  The Gospel passage is a prophecy.  We’re so familiar with the Benedictus from praying Lauds each day that we might forget the words by which St. Luke the Evangelist introduces this hymn:  “Zechariah his father, filled with the Holy Spirit, prophesied, saying….” Continue reading

The Fourth Sunday of Advent [C]

The Fourth Sunday of Advent [C]
Mic 5:1-4  +  Heb 10:5-10  +  Lk 1:39-45
December 23, 2018

“‘…behold, I come to do your will, O God.’”

In today’s Gospel passage we hear about the second Joyful Mystery of the Rosary:  the Visitation.  In the person of Mary we see someone bearing her Lord and God within her.  We also see Mary as someone who brings Him into the lives of others. Continue reading