January 4, 2017

Mother Seton

January 4, 2017:  St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Religious

  • 'Olympics' tie pin:  "All the earth have seen God's saving power" (psalm)
  • 'Christmas music' tie:  Sing to the Lord a new song (psalm)
  • 'Hands' pin:  The Lord's right hand has won victory; let the rivers clap their hands... (psalm)
  • 'Alps' tie pin:  ...and the mountains shout with them for joy (psalm)
  • 'Lamb' tie bar:  "Behold, the Lamb of God" (gospel)
  • 'Eyeball' pin:  "Come, and you'll see" (gospel)
  • 'Rock' tie pin:  "You'll be called Cephas" (gospel)
  • White in shirt:  Color of today's liturgical celebration
  • Christmas pin, 'Christmas trees' suspenders:  Christmas season continues through Monday

Pope Francis audience
Rachel died in childbirth, giving life to Benjamin, and the loss of her children sent into exile sent her into inconsolable grief.  No words or gestures can console a grieving mother.  Many mothers today are inconsolable, unable to accept the death of a child.  Rachel’s pain encapsulates the suffering and tears of all who weep for a loss.  It's so hard to console someone's grief.  Before speaking of hope, we must share in their tears.  If we can’t find the words, it’s better to keep silent, offering only a gesture or caress.
God responds to Rachel’s tears, promising her children will return to their homeland.  Her tears become the seeds of new life and generate new hope.  Similarly, the death of Christ offers life and hope to the innocent children of Bethlehem Herod murdered after Jesus was born.
When people ask me why children suffer, I don’t know how to reply; I just say, "Look at the Cross:  God gave us his Son; he suffered.  Perhaps you'll find a reply there.”  He entered into human suffering, sharing our pain and welcoming death.  On the cross he gave new life to Mary, making her the mother of all believers.  Through Mary’s and Rachel’s tears, he generates new hope.
  • 1 Jn 3:7-10  Those who act justly are righteous, just as he is righteous, but sinners belong to the Devil.   No one who doesn't love others belongs to God.
  • Ps 98:1, 7-9  "All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God."  Sing to the Lord, for he has done wondrous deeds.  Let the sea, what fills it, the world, those dwelling in it, the rivers, and the mountains all shout for joy before the Lord; he comes to rule the earth with justice and equity.
  • Jn 1:35-42  As John stood with two of his disciples and watched Jesus walk by, he said, "Behold, the Lamb of God."  They heard him, followed Jesus, and asked where he was staying; Jesus said, "Come and see," and they went, saw, and stayed with him.  Andrew told his brother Simon, "We've found the Messiah" ('Christ'), and brought him to Jesus, who told him, "You are Simon; you'll be called Cephas," ('Peter').
    • Creighton:  Some followers of John thought John was the Messiah, or “Light.” John dramatically says the Lamb of God was passing by; they were to follow the Lamb, see the “Light,” and believe. They went, saw, and stayed.  John’s whole gospel is about seeing enough of the “Light” to walk into life, because of the “Light,” Christ, The Sent, the “Word,” the Visible from and of the Invisible.  Jesus still lives among us and is also seen within the darkness of our doubts and fears.
    • One Bread, One Body:  "Close call":  John's disciples followed Jesus from a distance. Are you close to the Lord, or a long-distance follower?  Jesus challenges us to ask ourselves what we're looking for; he'll show us what's distancing us from him.  If we stay with Jesus, we'll hear the truth from the Truth.  May we stay even when he speaks of changing what we're looking for, repenting, and taking up the cross.  Jesus wants to change our names, looks, and what we're looking for; he wants to draw us close. May we stay close.
      Prayer of Mother Seton
    • Passionist:  "Christmas and Elizabeth Ann Seton":  Many have responded to Jesus’ invitation to “come and see,” to follow him by lives of service.  Today we honor one:  Elizabeth Ann Seton, mother of five, the first American-born saint.  Raised Episcopalian, an Italian Catholic family drew her to Catholicism.  As a widow, she embraced the Catholic faith, opened a parish school in Baltimore to support her family and witness her Catholic faith, despite protests from family and friends.  A group of young women gradually joined her in her approach to education and Christian life.  They formed the American Sisters of Charity, following the rule of St. Vincent de Paul, and helped found other schools and orphanages.  By the time Elizabeth Ann died, they'd expanded from Baltimore to St. Louis and were involved in some twenty schools and orphanages.
    Jesus drew disciples to himself.  God called "Mother Seton" to help build the Church; she said yes to Jesus and worked tirelessly, especially among those on society's fringes.  May we deepen our relationship with Jesus and encourage others to “come and see” God’s love in their lives and our world.
    • DailyScripture.net:  "We found the Messiah!"  John calls Jesus the Lamb of God, signifies his redemptive mission.  Jesus freely offered his life for us; his blood cleanses, heals, and frees us.  John was son of Zechariah, who participated in the sacrifice of a lamb for people's sins.  In Jesus John saw the sacrifice that could deliver us from bondage to sin.  The Holy Spirit revealed Jesus' nature to John so that he could bear witness to the Son of God.  The Spirit makes Christ known to us too.
    John eagerly pointed beyond himself to the Christ (Messiah).  Jesus took the initiative to invite his disciples them into his company, asking, "What are you looking for?"  He asks the same of us.  Only God can show us our purpose.  Jesus invites each of us to draw near to know what he wants to offer us.  "If God hadn't called you, what could you have done to turn back?  The One who called you when you were opposed to him made it possible for you to turn back" (Augustine).   God initiates and draws us to himself; we can't find him on our own.
    It's natural to want to share something good.  When Andrew discovered Jesus was the Messiah, he told his brother right away, bringing him to Jesus so he too could "come and see."  Jesus reached out to Simon as he had to Andrew; he revealed he knew who Simon was and where he came from, then gave him a new name signifying God's mission for him:  'Cephas,' Aramaic for 'rock,' translated as Peter (Greek 'Petros,' Latin 'Petrus'), also meaning 'rock.'  To call someone 'rock' was a great compliment. The rabbis said that when God saw Abraham, he exclaimed: "I discovered a rock to found the world on."  Through faith Peter grasped Jesus was the Messiah.  Faith in Christ makes us rocks or spiritual stones....

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