Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled.
John the Baptist was not the Messiah. He said no when asked. The Lord walked into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, took into his hand the scroll that was handed to him, unrolled the scroll and found the famous passage from Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”
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.
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.
“The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light”
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.
Sirach 24:1-4, 8-12; Ephesians 1:3-6, 15-18; John 1:1-18
"Just to be is a blessing; just to live is holy."
These words of Abraham Heschel may seem to some an exaggeration. Yet today's readings echo this truth and present a crucial perspective for entering this new year.
John's Gospel states most simply and starkly: "All things came to be through him and without him nothing came to be."
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. Then Jesus comes into view. John immediately directs them to Jesus releasing them from himself,"Behold the Lamb of God." And they follow Jesus.
1 John 2:29–3:6; John 1:29-34
“No other name under heaven has been given by which we can be saved.” Acts 4,12
What’s in a name anyway?
Most often we don’t give it much thought, but in ancient and tribal cultures names have power; names contain power. A name told something about the person in the depth of their being. In Israel “The Name” stood for God (Yahweh). To call on Him was to enter into communion with Him. For Christians to pray and act in the name of Jesus was to be in intimate union with His power and presence. The Catholic Catechism puts it this way, “The name Jesus is not just a name, it encloses the mystery and power of the Person of Christ.” The name Jesus in Hebrew means “God saves”.
1 John 2:22-28; John 1:19-28
Preaching of St. John the Baptist by Baciccio, c.1690
It is still Christmas for Christians. We have seen the fulfillment of the prophecies of old in the birth of Christ. The Christmas story leaves us all pretty confident of God’s promises right now. But we aren’t always so confident. There are all sorts of people and circumstances in our lives that shake our confidence in our faith despite the fact that “all the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God” and the Lord’s wondrous deeds. Have we not been shown God’s kindness in our lives? Have we not seen the faithfulness of the Lord? Have we not seen God’s salvation? Have we not seen his justice at work? Today is a good time to reflect on these questions. The psalmist says these acts of the saving power of God are everywhere. We should all be able to see them in our lives. It is good to take time to write these questions down and to follow them with personal examples in our own lives.
MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE
FOR THE CELEBRATION OF THE
53rd WORLD DAY OF PEACE
1 JANUARY 2020
PEACE AS A JOURNEY OF HOPE:
DIALOGUE, RECONCILIATION AND ECOLOGICAL CONVERSION
1. Peace, a journey of hope in the face of obstacles and trial
Peace is a great and precious value, the object of our hope and the aspiration of the entire human family. As a human attitude, our hope for peace is marked by an existential tension that makes it possible for the present, with all its difficulties, to be “lived and accepted if it leads towards a goal, if we can be sure of this goal, and if this goal is great enough to justify the effort of the journey”. Hope is thus the virtue that inspires us and keeps us moving forward, even when obstacles seem insurmountable.