December 29, 2016

Dec. 29

December 29, 2016:  Fifth day in Christmas Octave

See 12 connections with today?
Legend at bottom
For 1st reading
For Psalm 96
    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:  John reminds us of the inner light that guides us on our journey to God, saying that if we say we know Christ but don't keep his commandments, we're liars. Jesus invites us to keep Christ’s word by living as Christ lived.  If we think we're in the light but are jealous or hate, we're still in darkness. Jesus’ commandment of love is the inner light that empowers us to overcome darkness/evil.  May we connect with the light of Christ, experience God’s grace, and allow Christ’s love and shine in and through us.
    • Presentation of Jesus in the Temple/ Bellini
    • One Bread, One Body:  "The Spirit of Christmas":  How do we live Christmas today?  It's a matter of the heart, a movement of the Spirit.  Before seeing Jesus, Simeon already experienced Christ because "the Spirit was upon him." Father, stir into flame the gift of the Spirit. "The way we know we remain in him and he in us is that he has given us of his Spirit." The Spirit is how we know the reality of Christmas.
    • Passionist:  Walking in the light requires loving others.  How am I the light of Christ to others?  “A light to reveal you...” from Simeon's prophecy calls me to reflect on how I'm growing in my faith. How is my prayer, reflection on the daily readings, attentiveness to homilies, openness to God's call?  We can’t be a light if we don’t have the light.
    •  "The favor of God was upon him":  Mary fulfills the rite of purification after childbirth, offering pigeons since they couldn't afford a lamb.  This rite, with circumcision, recalls that children are God's gifts.  Jesus was born in an ordinary home, reared in the fear and wisdom of God, obeyed his parents, and grew in wisdom and grace.  How do I listen to God's word, submit to God, and help the young grow in wisdom and maturity?
    Simeon believed the Lord would return and renew his people.  The Spirit also revealed to him that the Messiah would also bring salvation to the Gentiles.  When Joseph and Mary presented Jesus in the temple, Simeon, recognizing the child as the fulfillment of the messianic prophecies, and inspired by the Spirit, prophesied Jesus would be "a revealing light to the Gentiles."  The Spirit reveals the Lord to those eager to receive him.
    Jesus is the new temple.  God led his people through the wilderness, showing himself in a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire.  His glory came over the ark and the tabernacle.  When the first Jerusalem temple was built, God's glory rested there.  When the temple was destroyed, Ezekiel saw God's glory leave, but God promised to fill it with greater glory, a promise fulfilled when the King of Glory came to his temple.  Through Jesus' incarnation, death, resurrection, and ascension we're made living temples of his Spirit....
    Simeon prophesied to Mary about the child's destiny and her suffering. Mary was blessed to be the Christ Child's mother, but a sword pierced her as he died on the cross; she received a crown of joy and a cross of sorrow, but the sorrow didn't diminish her joy because of her faith and hope.  The Lord gives us joy to bear any sorrow or pain, and no one will take it.
    The hope God places in us is the desire for his kingdom and everlasting life and happiness.  The Spirit gives hope that enables us to persevere.   What holds me back from trusting God unreservedly?....
      • 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
    • 'Dove' pin:  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)
    • 'Street lamp' tie bar:  The true light is shining; love others = remain in the light (1st reading); "I've seen your salvation, a light to reveal you..." (gospel)
    • 'Peace sign' tie bar:  "Lord, let your servant go in peace" (gospel)
    • 'Mary' pin:  Mary and Joseph presented Jesus in the Temple (gospel)
    • 'Law scroll' pin:  Keep Jesus' commandments (1st reading)

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