Wednesday, December 29, 2010

January 9, 2011 - The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

(Joachim Patenier, The Baptism of Christ [1515; Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna])
The Readings
Reading I: Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7
Responsorial Psalm: 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10
Reading II: Acts 10:34-38
Gospel: Matthew 3:13-17

One of the most certain historical facts recorded in the gospels is that John baptized Jesus. The voice from heaven in Matthew says that Jesus is baptized because God wills it. God is pleased by Jesus’ obedience, which in turn suggests that Jesus deserves obedience from his followers.

*1 Jesus' baptism is at the heart of his mission to heal us. 
  • He enters even the wounds of our self-rejection, without having made the rejection himself. 
  • He accepts full solidarity with us even if it means being seen as sinner. 
Jesus’ baptism is one of his earliest great transformations of our human condition. 
  1. The first was that the Word itself could take human flesh. All the further implications would follow: 
  2. that he would be tempted to reject this mission of transformation
  3. that he would undertake all manner of healing and disarming of devils
  4. that he would announce a kingdom to transmute all blindness, poverty, imprisonment, and darkness
  5. that he would, at last, suffer the very fate of sin in death
Just as we now baptize our children to announce a new fate for the human body, the baptism of Jesus is the inauguration of that fate. Announced as sinner, wholly one with our condition, Jesus, hovered over by the very spirit of God, is gazed upon by the Father who sent him and who now says to him and all of us who share his flesh—“This is my beloved, in whom I am well pleased.”

LAGNIAPPE: Apologetics - All about Baptism @

For the kiddos ---
This a great time to talk about the Holy Trinity.
At Jesus' Baptism, all three Persons of the Blessed Trinity are present. Here are some questions you might want to ask after reading the Gospel together:
  1. Can you name the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity? (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit)
  2. How do we know God, the Father was present? (through his voice from the heavens)Matthew 3:16
  3. How do we know the Son was present? (It was Jesus, who was baptized)
  4. How do we know the Holy Spirit was present (seen as descending like a dove). Matthew 3:16
Remind them that we honor the Trinity whenever we make the sign of the cross.

*1 John Kavanaugh, S. J. of Saint Louis University
John J. Pilch of Georgetown University


my personal copy with notes here: 

Sunday, January 2, 2011 - Feast of Epiphany

Wise men still seek Jesus . . . .
Wise men still offer him gifts . . . 
Wise men still "go by another way" when they have found Jesus . . .

Reading I: Isaiah 60:1-6
Responsorial Psalm: 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13
Reading II: Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6
Gospel: Matthew 2:1-12
The Magi, trust their message given in a dream and return, not merely geographically, but wisdom-wise, by an “other way”. 
This “other way” is what Epiphany means.
The Magi symbolize our noblest human efforts. 

They go trekking for the truth. Finding it, they give homage, not to the high and mighty Herod, but to the child of the Most High.
Epiphany is not only a dramatic feast. 
It is a missionary feast as well. Its message is for the nations. And if people of faith do not proclaim it, our children will be left to the Herods of the world.

From Goffine's Devout Instructions on the Epistles and Gospels for the Sundays and Holydays:
Why did the Wise Men come from afar to seek the 
Saviour in Jerusalem? 
They lived in Arabia, and had acquired some information 
of the prophecies of Israel, particularly of the noted prophecy 
of Balaam, "A star shall rise out of Jacob, and a sceptre shall 
spring up from Israel" (Num. xxiv. IT), which was the more 
significant to them because they were, as their name denotes, skilled in astronomy. 
But to these human considerations must be added the light of divine inspiration, 
as St. Leo says, 
" The star shone also in their hearts a beautiful example for us to follow,  
without delay, the inspirations of divine grace, and to do the will of God  
without fear of men." 
What was the significance of the presents which the Wise Men offered to the Saviour?
In offering gold the Wise Men honored the infant Jesus as King;
in frankincense, as God;
in myrrh, as suffering Man. 

How can we offer to Jesus similar gifts? 
1) We can present Him with gold by giving up to Him what we value most, our will;  
also by giving alms in His name to the poor.  
2) We can present Him incense in fervent and devout prayers ascending to heaven. 
3) We can present Him myrrh by preserving purity of body and soul.
 Here is Scott Hahn's reflection on The Feast of the Epiphany 
 Listen Here!         . . . . A King to Behold . . . . 

An “epiphany” is an appearance. In today’s readings, with their rising stars, splendorous lights and mysteries revealed, the face of the child born on Christmas day appears.

Herod, in today’s Gospel, asks the chief priests and scribes where the Messiah is to be born. The answer Matthew puts on their lips says much more, combining two strands of Old Testament promise - one revealing the Messiah to be from the line of David (see 2 Samuel 2:5), the other predicting “a ruler of Israel” who will “shepherd his flock” and whose “greatness shall reach to the ends of the earth” (see Micah 5:1-3).

Those promises of Israel’s king ruling the nations resound also in today’s Psalm. The psalm celebrates David’s son, Solomon. His kingdom, we sing, will stretch “to the ends of the earth,” and the world’s kings will pay Him homage. That’s the scene too in today’s First Reading, as nations stream from the East, bearing “gold and frankincense” for Israel’s king.

The Magi’s pilgrimage in today’s Gospel marks the fulfillment of God’s promises. The Magi, probably Persian astrologers, are following the star that Balaam predicted would rise along with the ruler’s staff over the house of Jacob (see Numbers 24:17).

Laden with gold and spices, their journey evokes those made to Solomon by the Queen of Sheba and the “kings of the earth” (see 1 Kings 10:2,25; 2 Chronicles 9:24). Interestingly, the only other places where frankincense and myrrh are mentioned together are in songs about Solomon (see Song of Songs 3:6, 4:6,14).

One greater than Solomon is here (see Luke 11:31). He has come to reveal that all peoples are “co-heirs” of the royal family of Israel, as today’s Epistle teaches.

His manifestation forces us to choose: Will we follow the signs that lead to Him as the wise Magi did? Or will we be like those priests and the scribes who let God’s words of promise become dead letters on an ancient page?

Yours in Christ,

Scott Hahn, Ph.D.

John Kavanaugh, S. J., of Saint Louis University
Larry Gillick, S. J., of Creighton University's Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality 

Sunday, December 26, 2010

December 26, 2010 - Feast of the Holy Family

Saving Family  Listen Here!

Sirach 3:2-6,12-14
Psalm 128:1-2, 3, 4-5
Colossians 3:12-21
Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23

Underlying the wisdom offered in today’s Liturgy is the mystery of the family in God’s divine plan.
The Lord has set father in honor over his children and mother in authority over her sons, we hear in today’s First Reading.

As we sing in today’s Psalm, the blessings of the family flow from Zion, the heavenly mother of the royal people of God (see Isaiah 66:7,10-13; Galatians 4:26).

And in the drama of today’s Gospel, we see the nucleus of the new people of God - the Holy Family - facing persecution from those who would seek to destroy the child and His Kingdom.

Moses, called to save God’s first born son, the people of Israel (see Exodus 4:22; Sirach 36:11), was also threatened at birth by a mad and jealous tyrant (see Exodus 1:15-16). And as Moses was saved by his mother and sister (see Exodus 2:1-10; 4:19), in God’s plan Jesus too is rescued by His family.

As once God took the family of Jacob down to Egypt to make them the great nation Israel (see Genesis 46:2-4), God leads the Holy Family to Egypt to prepare the coming of the new Israel of God - the Church (see Galatians 6:16).

At the beginning of the world, God established the family in the “marriage” of Adam and Eve, the two becoming one body (see Genesis 2:22-24).
Now in the new creation, Christ is made “one body” with His bride, the Church, as today’s Epistle indicates (see Ephesians 5:21-32). By this union we are made God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved. And our families are to radiate the perfect love that binds us to Christ in the Church.

As we approach the altar on this feast, let us renew our commitment to our God-given duties as spouses, children and parents. Mindful of the promises of today’s First Reading, let us offer our quiet performance of these duties for the atonement of our sins.

Yours in Christ,

Scott Hahn, Ph.D.