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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Epiphany of the Lord

The Lord’s Epiphany

January 7, 2018
Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 72; Ephesians 3:2-3, 5-6; Matthew 2:1-12

The magi traversed the Arabian desert in search of the star that led them to the infant, who was a tiny light in a dark night, and his light shone on them. They paid the child homage by offering symbols of themselves. Something in that light caused them to honor the child and brush off the untrustworthy request of Herod. The light that shone upon the magi shines on us, and we are asked to share it just as they shared of themselves. The light of our faith may feel fragile or ill-expressed, but even a small light can set the world on fire. We have to share this light that kindles other fires because sharing it does not diminish it, but helps it grow in strength.
I ask you to consider the places and times when you are you experiencing darkness in your life. Likewise, I ask you to call to mind where are you experiencing the light. What effect does this light have upon your day? How do you give this light to others?
We need to give this light away because others need the hope that is contained within it. It prevents harsh events from hardening our hearts. It causes us to seek the good in events that are surrounded by death and destruction. Two weeks ago, we celebrated Christmas, the moment when innocence was born to us and came into our world where cruelty erupts all too violently from human hearts. Fortunately, the magi held onto the light and acted with kindness and mercy, and they gave us an example of choosing to do what is good and right during difficult circumstances.
If we conducted a quick survey of the daily news, we would conclude that King Herod exists today - through human hearts that abuse power through bullying, force, discrimination, violence, exclusion, and destruction. The human heart causes grave debilitating harm to others, but it also has the capacity to heal, to reconcile, to bind, and to create a greater good. The magi chose the greater good when they saw through Herod’s deceptions. Thank God for that! The magi where changed by what they saw and heard, and they had compassion on the boy Jesus and his family.
Think about the tragedy of the slaughter of the innocent boys in Bethlehem. Herod, trapped in his own fears, ruled by destruction. He was defensive because he was scared that his kingship might be threatened. What might have happened if King Herod’s friends gave him the opportunity to speak about his fears in a way that we felt heard and honored. Our listening to each other can settle the person in his or her core, and when they are in balance, they can think and act rightly. Never underestimate the power of compassionate listening so a person can be helped. People search for this being heard, seen, and known.
If Herod’s friends compassionately listened to him so that his fears were tamed, if he had been truly heard, he might have decided the fate of those innocent boys differently. His attention would have turned inwardly from his own needs to an outward concern to those entrusted to him, but because he did not directly confront his fears, they came out in messy and unfortunate ways. Through compassionate listening, his friends could have helped him become more whole rather than to act out of his brokenness. Herod could have been immortalized because of his mercy rather than to be infamous because of his destruction.
We hold a gift in our hands - the light of Christ. Christ has blessed us with divine wisdom, compassion, and mercy, and we transform the world through our choices. We cannot stop all the nonsense around us that creates suffering and sorrow, but we can lessen the insanity because we have the capacity hold a suffering person’s story in front of us through our compassionate listening, which helps us understand their struggle to do good in the midst of darkness. We hope that our good actions will be remembered and passed onto new generations. We hope that life will be built up rather than destroyed.

While King Herod exists today, he does not reign supreme. The birth of Jesus definitively decided that. Let Christ’s love and compassion reign through you. Tell your story; be heard when you are troubled; listen to others as compassionately and patiently as you can; ease the pain of others, and live joyfully in the world Christ came to redeem. Share the light you have been given. Let it kindle other fires that strengthen our awareness of God. Let mercy be born unto us once more.

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (Isaiah 42) Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am please, upon whom I have put my spirit.
Tuesday: (Hebrews 2) It was fitting that Jesus, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make their leader to salvation perfect through suffering.
Wednesday: (Hebrews 2) Since the children share in blood and Flesh, Jesus shared in them likewise, that through death he might destroy the one who has power of death.  
Thursday: (Hebrews 3) Take care that none of you may have an evil and unfaithful heart so as to forsake the living God.      
Friday (Hebrews 4) Let us be on guard while the promise of entering into his rest remains, that none of you seem to have failed.   
Saturday (Hebrews 4) The word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern the reflections and thoughts of the heart.

Monday: (Matthew 3) Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. A voice came from heaven saying: This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.    
Tuesday: (Mark 1) Jesus came to Capernaum’s synagogue when an unclean spirit approached him. He rebuked the Spirit and demonstrated power over him.
Wednesday (Mark 1) Jesus entered the home of Simon and Andrew and cured Simon’s mother-in-law. The townspeople brought many people to him for healing.
Thursday (Mark 1) A leper begged Jesus to heal him. The leprosy left him and he was warned sternly not to make known the source of his healing.
Friday (Mark 2) Jesus returned home and his friends brought a paralytic for healing. He forgave his sins, but the authorities became angry so he also healed his paralysis.
Saturday (Mark 2) Jesus called Levi as a disciple. He was with other tax collectors and sinners, eating and drinking with them. I have come to call sinners, not the righteous, to repentance.  

Saints of the Week

January 7: Raymond of Penyafort, priest (1175-1275), was trained in philosophy and law and was ordained in 1222 to preach to the Moors and Christians. Though he was appointed bishop of Tarragon, he declined the position. Instead he organized papal decrees into the first form of canon law. He was later elected Master of the Dominican Order.

January 8: The Baptism of the Lord is recounted in Mark’s Gospel where the baptism of water is to be replaced by a baptism of fire. God confirms the person of Jesus when he rises from the water and a dove alights on his head. God is well pleased.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      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.
·      Jan. 10, 1581: Queen Elizabeth signed the fifth Penal Statute in England inflicting heavy fines and imprisonment on all who harbored Jesuits and Seminary priests.
·      Jan 10, 1567. Two Jesuits arrived in Havana, Cuba, as a base for evangelization.
·      Jan 11, 1573. At Milan, St Charles Borromeo founded a college (the Brera) and placed it under the care of the Society.
·      Jan 12, 1544. Xavier wrote a long letter on his apostolic labors, saying he wished to visit all the universities of Europe in search of laborers for our Lord's vineyard. The letter was widely circulated and very influential.
·      Jan 13, 1547. At the Council of Trent, Fr. James Laynez, as a papal theologian, defended the Catholic doctrine on the sacraments in a learned three-hour discourse.


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