January 11, 2020

Jan. 11

January 11, 2020:  Saturday after Epiphany

What connections with today do you see?
Legend below
    Listen to Epiphanytide music
    The Ethiopian presence within the Vatican Walls is one of welcome.  At Peter's tomb, the children of peoples far from Rome but close to the Apostles' faith professing Jesus Christ the Savior, have long found home and hospitality.  Tesfa Sion (Peter the Ethiopian) said, “I am Ethiopian, a pilgrim from place to place, but only in Rome have I found peace:  peace of mind because the true faith is here, peace of body because I've found the Successor of Peter, who favors us in our needs.

    The priests who study here come from Ethiopia and Eritrea, two Churches united by the same rich, precious ecclesial tradition.  I appreciate the tradition of coexistence, not only with Jews and Muslims but also with my Tewahedo Orthodox brothers and sisters.  But I recall with sorrow the many poor in your countries who have suffered from a “fratricidal war” which has only recently ended.  I pray for an end to divisions between ethnic groups and countries with common roots; I encourage priests to be artisans of good relations and builders of peace.

    Many in both countries have left their homelands at great cost and experienced tragedies.  Much more must be done for pastoral care of migrants, humbly, generously, and in union with the Lord.  May hope the Church in Ethiopia and Eritrea be guaranteed the freedom to serve the common good; pastors and faithful want to contribute to the good and prosperity of your nations.  Entrust your needs to Mary, and pray for me.


      • 1 Jn 5:14-21  We're confident that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us and it's ours.  If you see another sinning, pray and God will give him life.  God protects those begotten by him.  We belong to God, but the world is under the Evil One.  God's Son has given us discernment to know Who is true.  We're in Christ, true God, eternal life.  Children, be on your guard against idols.
      • Ps 149:1-6a, 9b  "The Lord takes delight in his people."  Sing and dance God's praise.  The Lord loves his people and adorns the lowly with victory.
      • Jn 3:22-30  Jesus, his disciples, and John were baptizing.  “John, [Jesus] to whom you testified is baptizing.”  John:  “We can only receive what's been given from heaven.   I said I'm not the Christ but was sent before him.  My joy has been made complete.  He must increase; I must decrease.”
      • Creighton:  Epiphany ('revelation' to the nations, the ‘others’) spells out the meaning of Christmas.  Today is an occasion to apply the meaning of Christmas and Epiphany; the readings help our reflection.  "John's disciples said to him, 'The one you testified to is baptizing, and everyone is coming to him.'"  The disciples are tempted to be divided from others by suspecting bad will.  If their mentor is the one to follow, they must resist this other Jew (Jesus?) and his followers.  But John replied, "I said I'm not the Christ but was sent before him....  So my joy has been made complete.  He must increase; I must decrease," in effect saying, "If you follow me because you recognize God sent me, remember I said I’m not the Messiah; God sent me to prepare the Messiah's way.  The prophets spoke of the Lord's relation to his chosen people as between bride and groom.  Now Jesus comes inviting people to be chosen by God who delights in us because it makes us part of God’s project to serve humanity.  Being chosen means becoming part of God’s mission.  I’m the 'best man,' the groom's friend, not the groom, alert to the signs of his coming to prepare the way for his homecoming with the bride.  I’m preparing, not competing.  That coming is happening now. Join me in his project of saving the world by becoming the community we're meant to be."
      • One Bread, One Body:  "Decreasing returns":  "A controversy arose between John's disciples and a Jew," but John didn't join in because he was committed to living so Jesus would increase.  When John's disciples said was losing his popularity to Jesus, John was joyful; he wanted Jesus to increase.  John was imprisoned for stating the truth about the adultery of Herod and Herodias, but he wasn't intimidated or manipulated; he willingly laid down his life for truth and purity.  Jesus increased by John's decrease to the point of death.  As Jesus' disciples, our commitment must be that Jesus increase.  We give up time, energy, money, and plans so that his Church may grow in numbers and holiness; we'll gladly have nothing so Jesus may have all he wills.  Decide to live for him who for us died and was raised....
      • Passionist:  When John declared of Jesus, “He must increase; I must decrease,” he meant he must recede so that others may know Jesus.  If Jesus is to increase in our lives, we must decrease.  Then he describes a wedding procession.  John, the best man, makes Jesus known to Israel, the Lord’s bride.  With Jesus’s arrival, the Messianic wedding celebration may begin, where the groom increases and best man decreases.  God magnifies his worth to the world through our weakness and brokenness, not our worth and success, as humble Mary proclaimed ("My soul proclaims the Lord's greatness") and Paul declared ("When I'm weak, I'm strong”).  Only when the best man fades, when the Baptist decreases, is he ready to announce his joy is full.  He challenges us to decrease so Christ may increase and become the center of our lives.
      • DailyScripture.net:  "My joy is now full":  When John the Baptist's friends complain the people going to Jesus, John humbly exclaimed he was only the messenger to prepare his way, not the groom but his friend.  In the Bible the groom delighting in his bride and the wedding feast are signs of God's love and joy in being united with his people, his bride.  "As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall God rejoice over you."   Through the Spirit's gift, John recognized Jesus as Messiah and acted as the groom's best man in arranging the marriage and preparing the feast.  John now rejoices the groom has come to make his bride, God's people, ready for the feast.  Revelation depicts the consummation of God's covenant relationship with us as a marriage feast of the "Lamb and his Bride...."
      Dress legend
      • 'Star' tie pin, white socks:  star guiding the magi (Epiphanytide)
      • No-ël pin and 'Christmas wreaths' tie:  It's Christmas through tomorrow!
      • 'Golden calf' pin:  Be on your guard against idols (1st reading)
      • Blue shirt:  Jesus and John were baptizing (gospel)
      • 'Musical notes with "joy"' pin (oops; forgot):  Rejoice in your king (psalm); my joy is now full (gospel)

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