December 29, 2015

Dec. 29

December 29, 2015:  5th day in Christmas octave 

How many connections with today can you find?
Legend below

    Two turtle doves
  • 1 Jn 2:3-11  If you say you know Jesus but don't keep his commandments, you're a liar, but if you keep his word, God's love is in you.  If you hate others, you're in darkness, but if you love them, you're in the light.
  • Ps 96:1-3, 5b-6  "Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!"  Sing to the Lord.  Announce his salvation, glory, and wondrous deeds.
  • Lk 2:22-35  Mary and Joseph presented Jesus to the Lord.  The Spirit revealed to Simeon he'd see the Christ.  He took Jesus in his arms:  “I've seen the salvation you prepared, a light for the nations and glory for Israel.”  Mary and Joseph were amazed.  Simeon to Mary:  “He's destined for the fall and rise of many, and to be a sign to be contradicted (and a sword will pierce you) so the thoughts of many may be revealed.”
    • Creighton:  The 1st reading is not about a new commandment but a well-known one; we're challenged to walk the walk.  How do we respond as persons gifted by that light?  John makes it easy:  if we love others, we're in the light; if not, in darkness.  Tune into the news of violence, death, and destruction to see how hard it is to love others.  If I walk the walk, I confront the darkness in my actions.  John’s letter encourages me to start at home and love the ones there.  In today's gospel Jesus’ parents introduce him to the larger religious community of the law of Moses.  Simeon, who longed for this moment, holds Jesus, the awaited one, and revealed what he knew.  And Mary, a sword will pierce you.  We who want to walk the walk will share in that sword....
      Presentation of Jesus in the Temple/ Bellini
    • One Bread, One Body:  "Receiving believing":  How will my life be different after this Christmas season?  God wants us to begin the new year with a greater faith.  The Lord calls us to see like Simeon and Anna; though hundreds saw Baby Jesus, only they saw Him with the eyes of faith, recognizing him as the "revealing Light to the Gentiles" and the Glory of God's people.  Jesus wants us to believe more deeply that he's God and prayer is such an important privilege....
    • Passionist:  Love calls for effort to understand, feel compassion, and find common ground with the “sinner,” engaging them in dialogue, not putting them down.  Love is active, seeking union, not division.
    •  "The favor of God was upon him":  Jesus' parents fulfilled the Jewish rite of purification after childbirth; they couldn't afford a lamb so offered two pigeons.  Children are gifts from God.  Jesus was born into an ordinary home.  Mary and Joseph raised their son in the fear and wisdom of God; he obeyed them and grew in wisdom and grace.  The Lord's favor is with those who listen to him with trust and obedience.  Simeon was in tune with the Holy Spirit, who revealed to him that the Messiah and King of Israel would also save the Gentiles.  He recognized Jesus as the fulfillment of all the messianic prophecies and prophesied that Jesus was to be "a light to the Gentiles."  The Spirit reveals the Lord to those eager to receive him.  Jesus is the new temple....  Mary receives a crown of joy and cross of sorrow....  Our hope is in God's kingdom of justice, peace, and joy....
      • Elijah and Elisha:  a reflection on St Thomas:  Prophets Elijah and Elisha have similar names, and some of their miracles are so similar that some scholars have argued they're the same person.  Today’s feast reminds us of another historical coincidence:  King Henry of England appoints learned Thomas, his close and trusted friend, to a high office where he is expected to be loyal and take the king’s part against others, even the Church.  Conscious of his unworthiness for the office, Thomas undergoes an interior conversion and resolves to follow God’s voice within him.  His upholding of truth and the Church’s rights leads to a conflict with the king, who feels betrayed.  Thomas is killed, eventually canonized.
        That narrative applies to both Henry II and Thomas Becket, and Henry VIII and Thomas More.  Imagine a future scholar arguing (in error) there was only one Henry and one Thomas, and that early sources accidentally split them into two.
        Dress legend
        • 'Holy Spirit' chain:  Spirit was upon Simeon (gospel)
        • 'Eyeball' pin: Darkness has blinded the eyes of those who hate their brother (1st reading); “My eyes have seen the salvation you prepared in everyone's sight.” (gospel)
        • 'Olympics' pin:  Let the earth rejoice!  Tell his glory among the nations (psalm)
        • 'Sword' pin:  Mary, a sword will pierce you (gospel)
        • 'Peace sign' tie bar:  "Lord, let your servant go in peace" (gospel)
        • 'Law scroll' pin:  keep Jesus' commandments (1st reading)

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