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Saturday, January 2, 2010

Epiphany of the Lord

January 3, 2010

Epiphany marks the date in which Gentiles, represented through the three kings from the East, encounter the newborn Jewish infant who will become the king of all kings. They bring gifts to honor his divinity and humanity, but their greater gift is in offering him homage. The Jewish acceptance of Gentiles into the community of faith was a difficult, but essential step toward truly accepting the gift that Jesus brought us. We have such fear of the ‘other.’ Fear closes down and rejects. Fear makes the ‘other’ alien. Fear stops us from finding the hidden plan of God within the presence of another person. Rather, our faith invites us to be open to the gifts of God that we would otherwise shun.

Gift-giving or respectfully receiving a gift is a tricky art – a form that many of us have not yet mastered well. The Christmas season allows us to ease up on these rules. We are a complicated people who might not fully understand the consequences of gift-giving, but our desire to respond in gifts speaks appreciatively of the relationship that we have or want to establish with another. The gift is a tangible manifestation of the bonds that we feel towards one another. It tells the other than we want to continue to deepen our relationship and be meaningful to the other. This is the message of the three wise men, the foreign ‘others,’ who want to deepen their relationship not only with the God who has just given us his son, but also with the Jewish people.

As we enter this new year and we have the model of the wise men as healthy gift-bearers, let us reflect upon the gifts given to us by God. Take some time to do an inventory of the spiritual gifts you have received by God and can offer the world. List out your talents and skills that you would like to offer more freely. Be open to the possibility that God might call you to do more with those gifts this year. God gave them to you because you are a treasure. After all, this is a God whose divinity is hidden and revealed in humanity. On this week of Epiphany, let us decide to reveal our gifts more fully to ‘others.’

Quote for the Week

"Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true."

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1850

"We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day."

Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: We stay with 1 John during this Christmas season. John asks us to believe in Jesus as the Christ and to follow his commands. He suggests that we test the spirits to see if they acknowledge Jesus as Lord. The presence of true love attests to the Spirit of God who abundantly blesses us by giving the world his Son, and because he has done that, we are to love one another in the same way. We love God because God loved us first; God also loves our brothers and sisters so if we belong to God, we are to love our brothers and sisters. God has worked a wonderful event through Jesus, one that gives us eternal life. We are to ask God for what we need in the name of Jesus and to avoid all deadly sins.

Gospel: Christmas leaves us asking, “Who is this King?” Scripture answers by telling us about Jesus’ work of proclaiming the Kingdom of God and healing all sorts of illnesses. His heart is moved with pity for their conditions and he generously provides for their great needs, especially through miraculous feedings. He has power over the natural (storms) and supernatural worlds (demons.) He proclaims that scripture attests to his words and deeds by proclaiming a year of favor and he heals the outcasts and brings them back into society. Even the strong John who baptizes defers to the power of Jesus as the one sent from heaven.

Saints of the Week

Monday: Elizabeth Ann Seton, religious, founded the Sisters of Charity in 1809 after the death of her husband and her conversion as an Episcopalian to Catholicism. She was instrumental in forming the curriculum for the American parochial system of education. She is the first native-born U. S. saint.

Tuesday: John Neumann, bishop, joined the Redemptorists in 1840 after he migrated from Bohemia to the US. He became the bishop of Philadelphia in 1852 and oversaw the construction of many churches and parish schools in the diocese.

Wednesday: Andre Bessette, religious, became a brother of the Congregation of the Holy Cross in 1870 in Quebec and worked at Notre-Dame College for 40 years. He cared for the sick and was known for many healing miracles. He built a chapel that would later become St. Joseph’s Oratory.

Thursday: Raymond of Penafort, priest, was a Dominican priest who taught philosophy and law. He organized papal decrees into what we now know as canon law. He wrote guidelines for the sacrament of reconciliation and preached to both Moors and Christians in Spain.

This Week in Jesuit History

• Jan. 3, 1816: Fr. General Brzozowski and 25 members of the Society, guarded by soldiers, left St. Petersburg, Russia, having been banished by the civil government.
• Jan. 4, 1619: The English mission is raised to the status of a province.
• Jan. 5, 1548: Francis Suarez, one of the greatest theologians of the church, was born at Granada.
• Jan. 6, 1829: Publication of Pope Leo XII's rescript, declaring the Society to be canonically restored in England.
• Jan. 7, 1566: Cardinal Ghislieri was elected pope as Pius V. He was a great friend of the Francis Borgia and appointed Salmeron and Toletus as apostolic preachers at the Vatican. He desired to impose the office of choir on the Society and even ordered it. He was canonized as St. Pius V.
• Jan. 8, 1601: Balthasar Gracian was born. A Spanish Jesuit, he wrote on courtly matters. He is the author of "The Compleat Gentleman" and "The Art of Worldly Wisdom."
• Jan. 9, 1574: Fr. Jasper Haywood died at Naples. He was superior of the English mission. As a boy he was one of the pages of honor to the Princess Elizabeth. After a brilliant career at Oxford, he renounced his fellowship and entered the Society in Rome in 1570. An able Hebrew scholar and theologians, he was for two years professor in the Roman College.

Meditation for Epiphany

Isaiah’s 60th chapter provides a jubilant prayer for our new year.

Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you.

You shall be radiant at what you see, your heart shall throb and overflow, for the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you, the wealth of nations shall be brought to you.

Raise up your eyes and look about; they all gather and come to you.

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