Jesus speaks here at the beginning of His career with striking authority, not through a repetition, a simple commentary, or a refinement of the text but as a prophet, one speaking directly the words of God Himself. He knows the text that He is opening for His community perfectly well, since He is permeated with the words of the Old Testament and filled with the Holy Spirit, just like His mother: it will become apparent later in His life that He is not only a special vessel of God's word, He is God's Word. At this early point, though, His mastery of the written word and the oral delivery of it sets Him up for a special role in salvation history.
"This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel."
Today we begin the Season of Ordinary Time. In this sense, Ordinary does not mean "common." The root of the word comes from "ordinal," so that it literally means "counted time." This is the season of the church year that is counted or marked week by week for a period of time after Advent and before Lent and from the end of the Easter Season until the end of the Church year. It is the time of the year, through the three Sunday cycles and the two daily cycles of the readings we get our biggest nourishment of scripture over a three year period.
Isaiah 55:1-11; 1 Jn 5:1-9; Mark 1:7-11
This great feast of the Baptism of the Lord closes the Christmas Season and points us to the Season of Ordinary Time. We have been renewed in the story of the Incarnation of our God, who is now forever with us as a human being. And, now we move forward into Mark's Gospel to grow in our desire and ability to be more with him and like him, for others.
The pandemic did not stop us from celebrating the feast of Epiphany, although unfortunately we had to do it in a much smaller group than usual. We started the celebration with Vespers in the chapel of the Generalate, singing Christmas carols in various languages, meditating on the theological meaning of the feast of Epiphany, and remembering how Saint Vincent Pallotti organized the solemn octave of Epiphany.
Epiphany was for St. Vincent Pallotti, one of the most important events of the Gospel, around which since 1836 he built a liturgical feast in the streets of Rome with great impetus. What would he wish for us today, being on the threshold of the third decade of the 21st century, when the world is marked by a variety of opposing ideas?
Maybe he would say this:
1 John 4:11-18
Psalm 72:1-2, 10, 12-13
When the disciples, rowing against the wind on the Sea of Galilee, see Jesus walking on the water, they are terrified. He says, “Courage! It is I. Do not be afraid.”
If you are terrified, how do you respond to the command, “Don’t be afraid”? Can you turn off terror just by willing it? Of course not. It is the assurance that a trusted person is with that can begin to mitigate the fear.
Title: We Three Kings of Orient Are
Angel City Chorale and audience sing-along
Artistic Director: Sue Fink
1 John 4:7-10; Mark 6:34-44
The unbelievable, incomprehensible gift of the Incarnation is simply too big to celebrate as a single feast. So Christmas merges into Epiphany and both spread out into the days around them. Epiphany is actually the oldest of the Christmas celebrations – giving us, in stories and in theologizing, some hints of what this gift is all about – helping us get our heads around something really too big to grasp. In the readings around Epiphany we see a Jesus whose identity as God’s Son is revealed at His baptism, a Jesus who works wonders like multiplying bread, healing lepers, and walking on water. But perhaps most directly we hear today in 1 John who/what God actually is – love.
Do you know the joy and freedom of the gospel? John the Baptist’s enemies had sought to silence him, but the gospel cannot be silenced. As soon as John had finished his testimony Jesus began his in Galilee. Galilee was at the crossroads of the world and much traffic passed through this little region. It had been assigned to the tribes of Asher, Naptali and Zebulum when the Israelites first came into the land (see Joshua 9). For a long time it had been under Gentile occupation. Isaiah foretold (see Isaiah 9) that the good news of salvation would be proclaimed in this land and reach to the Gentiles. Jesus begins the proclamation of the gospel here to fulfill the word of God. The Old Testament prophets spoke of God’s promise to send a Redeemer who would establish God’s rule. That time is now fulfilled in Jesus.
Isaiah 60:1-6; Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6; Matthew 2:1-12
Today, St Matthew gives us the story of the visit of the magi to the newborn Savior.
Who were these magi, sometimes called kings?
I think scholars would agree that in ancient times, in what is known to us as the Middle East, the magi — from which come the words “magician” and “magic”— were astrologers. These were men who studied the skies, and found meaning in the movement of the stars and the planets. They were known as wise men, were influential in determining courses of action, and frequently would have been very wealthy, and respected in all levels of society. Their lives were full.
1 John 3:11-21; Psalms 100:1-2, 3, 4, 5; John 1:43-51
During this second week of Christmas, having just celebrated Jesus’ birth - the incarnation of the Most Holy One - it seems a bit odd to be reflecting on the adult Jesus and how he chose his first disciples. Yet as I prayed with today’s readings, the Gospel passage seemed to me to be an allegory of our personal Christmas – remembering how God is born – and borne – by each of us as we open our hearts, our minds, our bodies to the mystery of God’s love.
1 John 3:7-10; John 1:35-42
"What are you looking for?" Jesus asks Simon Peter and Andrew.
Simon Peter and his brother Andrew were restless. They had become disciples of John the Baptist, hoping he could speak to their restlessness. They were baptized in the Jordan River by John as a sign of repentance. Yet John's baptism was not enough. They were looking for more.