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.
1 John 2:29-3:6; Psalm 98:1,3CD-4, 5-6; John 1:29-34
See what love the Father has bestowed on us
that we may be called the children of God. ...
The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. ...
We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him,
for we shall see him as he is. - 1 John 2
“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. ...
‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain,
he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’" - John 1
John is marvelous in his simplicity. He just says what we know, but have a hard time experiencing sometimes. The reason the world doesn't embrace "us" - followers of Jesus - and the way of Jesus lived out in the real world - is that the world just doesn't know Jesus.
Sirach 24:1-4, 8-12; Ephesians 1:3-6, 15-18; John 1:1-18
The Power of the Word
You might say that during the Christmas season we are celebrating the mystery of the Incarnation, except that that is far too abstract: really, we are celebrating the birth of a child. Of course, this child is True God of True God, the one who has come to save us from destroying ourselves, the one who has come to satisfy every right desire. Still at the heart of it is the birth of a baby, after a long wait.