January 6, 2017

Jan. 6

January 6, 2017:  Friday before Epiphany

See 15 connections with today?
Legend below


Pope Francis
Epiphany homily:  Where is the child born king of the Jews?  We've observed his star and have come to worship him.”  The Magi came to see and worship the newborn King.  They saw a star that made them set out.  The star didn't shine just for them; they didn't set out because they'd the star, but they saw it because they'd already set out (John Chrysostom).  Their hearts were open and they could see what the heavens were showing them, for they were guided by inner restlessness.
The Magi personify all believers, who long for God and yearn for their heavenly homeland; they reflect the image of all who haven't let their hearts become anesthetized.  A longing for God wells up in believers because they know the Gospel is now, not a past event.  A longing for God keeps us alert in the face of attempts to impoverish our life; it rebels before doomsayers and keeps hope alive as we say, "Come, Lord Jesus.”
This longing led Simeon to keep going to the Temple, certain he'd eventually hold the Savior.  It led the Prodigal Son to abandon self-destruction and seek his father.  The shepherd who left the 99 sheep to seek the lost one felt it.  Mary Magdalen experienced it when she ran to the tomb.  It draws us out of the isolation that makes us think nothing can change; it impels us to change.  It has roots in the past but reaches out to the future.  It leads believers to seek God by faith, as the Magi did, knowing the Lord waits.  They go to the peripheries, places not yet evangelized, to encounter their Lord, not out of a sense of superiority, but as beggars who can't ignore those who don't yet know the Good News.
An different attitude reigned in Herod's palace, where the world slept in collusion with him who also slept instead of seeking, anesthetized by a cauterized conscience, afraid, with the bewilderment that when faced with newness closes in on its own achievements and knowledge, the bewilderment of one who wants to control everything and everyone, to win at any cost.  A bewilderment born of fear questions our certainties, truths, and ways.  Herod's fear led him to seek security in crime:  “You kill the little ones in their bodies, because fear is killing you in your heart” (St. Quodvultdeus). 
We want to worship like the Magi whose quest led them first to a palace befitting a king.  From there they embarked on their longest journey, to discover that what they sought was elsewhere:  a God who wants to be loved.  Only under the banner of freedom can you realize the gaze of this king doesn't abase, enslave, or imprison us but lifts up, forgives, and heals.  God wanted to be born where we least expected, where we so often refuse him.  In God’s eyes there's always room for the wounded, weary, mistreated, and abandoned.  His strength and power are called mercy.
Herod can't worship because he wouldn't change his way of looking at things; he didn't want to stop worshiping himself.  He thought everything revolved around him and wanted to make others worship him.  The priests couldn't worship, because although they knew the prophecies, they weren't ready to change.  The Magi, weary of the Herods of their day, longed for something different and found a promise of newness, of gratuitousness.  They could worship because they had the courage to set out; as they did, they discovered God's glory.
  • 1 Jn 5:5-13  The one who believes Jesus is God's Son is victor.  The Spirit, the water, and the Blood testify God gave us eternal life in his Son.  Whoever possesses the Son has life.
  • Ps 147:12-15, 19-20  "Praise the Lord, Jerusalem."  God has strengthened your gates, blessed your children, given you peace, and filled you with the best of wheat.
  • Mk 1:7-11  John the Baptist:  “One mightier is coming after me; I'm not worthy to loosen his sandals.  I baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”  Jesus came from Nazareth and was baptized by John.  He saw the heavens being torn open  and the Spirit descending upon him.  A voice came from the heavens:  “You are my beloved Son; with you I am pleased.”
  • Lk 3:23-38  Jesus began his ministry when he was about 30.  He was the son of Joseph, son of Seth, son of Adam, son of God.
      The baptism of Christ/ Ghirlandaio
      (More images)
    • Creighton:  Mark uses Old Testament language to communicate the Good News of Jesus.  “I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the holy Spirit”:  Those John baptized likely understood the baptism as recommitment to living the law of Moses, but how would they have understood the promise of baptism in the Spirit?   “I will pour out my spirit upon all mankind.”  Joel pointed to a time when the Spirit would be for everyone, not just prophets and kings.  They might have also recalled Ezekiel's prophecy that God would bring them home, cleanse them from idolatry, give them a new heart, and put his Spirit in them, enabling them to live the covenant to the full.  Jesus saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him.  Heaven being torn open may refer to the sky being ripped open, where Isaiah prays to God, “Father, rend the heavens and come down,”  another plea for the Spirit in a passage that mentions the Spirit three times before.  They'd see that Jesus answers Isaiah's prayer.  The dove could refer to a new beginning.  The dunking in the Spirit and tearing open of the sky remind us that the Child brings new life with God, the gift of the Spirit, a fresh start. May we let God work this newness in our lives.
      St. André Bessette
    • One Bread, One Body:  "Possession":  St. John puts it very directly and bluntly:  Jesus is Life.   "Whoever believes in the Son has life eternal."  John writes us so we may believe Jesus is the Messiah and through this belief life in his name, "to make you realize you who believe in the Son of God possess eternal life."  Do you possess Jesus?  Does he possess you?  He died that you may have full life.  May we live for him.  "The life I live is not my own; Christ is living in me. I live my human life, a life of faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Gal 2:19-20).
    • Passionist:  John the Baptist introduced Jesus to the world as the Messiah, hope of the ages.  “Behold, the Lamb of God....”  Who'd have guessed he'd be the one?  He was a “wilderness man” whose message was blunt.  Maybe his humility qualified him to be the “first evangelist.”  “Humility is keeping yourself within your own bounds, not reaching out to things above one, but submitting” (Thomas Aquinas).  John knew he wasn't the Messiah but just a lesser voice with a lesser baptism.  In Wednesday’s gospel, he was willing to let two of his own disciples go to follow Jesus; he knew who the real leader was.  May we lead others to Jesus through the humility that lets Jesus be Savior.
    • DailyScripture.net:  "The Spirit descends upon the Father's beloved Son":  Jesus didn't need John's baptism of repentance but humbly submitted to it, a foreshadowing of his "baptism" of blood on the cross. Jesus' baptism is the acceptance and the beginning of his mission as God's suffering Servant; he let himself be numbered among sinners.  The Father proclaimed his delight in him for all to hear. The Spirit was present as Jesus was anointed for his ministry.  Jesus would be the source of the Spirit for all who believe.  "Let us be buried with Christ by Baptism to rise with him; let us go down with him to be raised with him; and let us rise with him to be glorified with him" (Gregory Nazianzen).  To be transformed by Christ's love and power and become a more effective servant of the gospel of peace, mercy, and justice, ask the Spirit to forge Jesus' humility in you.  The Lord wants to renew us in the Spirit and anoint us for mission to be "salt and light" to others, to let his love and truth to shine through us.  Lord, fill us with your Spirit so we may radiate gospel joy.
    Dress Legend
    • 'Dove' pin:  The Spirit testifies (1st reading); He'll baptize you with the Spirit; Spirit descended on Jesus (gospel)
    • Blue and white in shirt, white socks:  Blue for the water that testifies (1st reading) and baptism with water (gospel), white for Christmas season
    • 'Blood drop' pin:  The blood testifies (1st reading)
    • Wheat pin:  God fills you with the best of wheat (psalm)
    • 'Children' pin:  "God has blessed your children" (psalm)
    • 'Happy birthday, Jesus' pin:  The one who believes Jesus is God's Son is victor (1st reading)
    • 'Peace sign' tie bar:  God granted peace in your borders (psalm)
    • 'Noël' pin, Christmas tie and suspenders:  It's Christmas season through Monday 
    • 'Caged lion' pin:  God has strengthened the bars of your gates (psalm)
    • Sandals (not shown):  John:  I'm not worthy to loosen his sandals (gospel)
    • '3 stick figures' tie pin (which unfortunately fell off later, so enjoy it now):  Magi (since many celebrate Epiphany today)

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