William Holman Hunt - The finding of the Saviour in the temple
1Samuel 1:20-22, 24-28
1 John 3:1-2, 21-24
What should it feel like to live a good family life?
The gospel provides us with an answer that is probably quite surprising. For it’s likely that we may think of life in a good family as being one that’s free from tension. As being more or less plain sailing all the way. And yet, tension is precisely what we find in the gospel. Here both Jesus and his earthly parents struggle to negotiate the tension between the obligations of the immediate family and those of the family of God. As the son of Mary and Joseph, Jesus really should have informed them of his intention to remain in the Temple.
1 John 2:3-11; Luke 2:22-35
Whoever says he is in the light, yet hates his brother, is still in the darkness. 1 John 2
The parents of Jesus took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord,
just as it is written in the law of the Lord. Luke 2
We are just four days after Christmas and the first reading challenges us. Who among us, in our experience of Christmas, didn't have some difficult experience with someone? It is almost inevitable each year that Christmas time can become a very stressful time. Christmas often gathers us with family and friends. Sometimes the most difficult relationships of our lives come together. Alcohol - intended as a traditional holiday element to add "cheer" - can make everything much worse. A word was said meanly. An old wound was re-opened. Someone was going through a hard time and was coping very badly. I re-discover how much someone really drives me crazy. As a result, I can understand the challenge of the First Letter of John: I want to be in the Light that is Jesus, but at the same time, there is somebody that I really hate or really resent or simply can't stand to be around, and that places me still in the darkness.
1 John 1:5—2:2; Matthew 2:13-18
‘A voice was heard in Ramah,
wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.’
“Herod!” says the Office of Readings, “you slay those little ones because fear in your heart slays you.” It was a penetrating psychological insight from an early Christian writer. Aggression is a manifestation of fear. But how is it that it looks just the opposite of fear? Why, because it is the repression of fear. If a person has not faced his own fear he will project it onto others and fight it there. If he hasn’t fought the war within he will fight it without. And of course (because it is all about fear) he will pick the easiest target. Even school children discover it: deep down, bullies are cowards.
1 John 1:1-4
Psalm 97:1-2, 5-6, 11-12
John 20:1a, 2-8
In the celebration of today's feast of St. John the Evangelist we read John's own account of the visit that he and St. Peter made to the tomb of Jesus on Easter morning. These words of St. John are appropriate for his feast day because they tell us a lot about him. St. John is presented as a very perceptive person who had listened carefully to the words and teaching of Jesus and had become a faithful follower of the Lord. This whole section of his gospel reveals St. John in a very favorable light. I find him an attractive person whom I would like to imitate in his faithfulness and devotion to Jesus.
'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' Mt 16:16
We believe and confess that Jesus of Nazareth, born a Jew of a daughter of Israel at Bethlehem at the time of King Herod the Great and the emperor Caesar Augustus, a carpenter by trade, who died crucified in Jerusalem under the procurator Pontius Pilate during the reign of the emperor Tiberius,
Is the eternal Son of God made man.
He 'came from God', (Jn13:3) descended from heaven', (Jn 3:13, 6:33), and 'came in the flesh'. (1 Jn 4:2). For 'the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. . . and from his fullness have we all received, grace upon grace.' (Jn 1:14,16). Moved by the grace of the Holy Spirit and drawn by the Father, we believe in Jesus and confess:
'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' Mt 16:16
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 423-424)
Acts 6:8-10.7:54-59; Matthew 10:17-22
The day before yesterday, in the evening, and yesterday we celebrated Christmas, the feast of Jesus' birth. We contemplated the little child in the crib, sung "silent night", heard the tidings of peace for the world. And suddenly today, in stark contrast, we are clothed in blood-red vestments, we hear of the bloody death of Stephen, and of Jesus' warnings of persecution, death, and hatred for his name's sake. Is there a connection between Christmas and the martyr Stephen? How are we to understand this? Does it mean we shouldn't take the beauty and the peace of Christmas too seriously? It is a nice story, but the reality is different…?
Luke 2:1-14; Luke 2:15-20; John 1:1-18
I thought it would be interesting to try to say something at least about all three Christmas gospels. We begin with Midnight Mass, and the story of the birth of Jesus in the stable in Bethlehem, told in a very matter-of-fact way: St Luke at his pithiest. There is a striking contrast, in fact, between the humble ordinariness of Christ's birth and the dramatic scene when the angel of the Lord, and the whole heavenly host, appear to the shepherds in the nearby countryside.
2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-11, 14a, 16
Psalm 89:2-3, 4-5, 27+29
Many times when I reflect on the readings for the day, before I begin to write my thoughts, I will return to the fuller passages in the bible, or look online for some additional context to help me understand the selections. Today there are a couple of items to note from the editing process that help me understand better what the readings say to me.
From Samuel, one of the verses that were omitted, # 13, is the statement that David’s heir, not David, is the one who will build the house in the Lord’s name. The context of Luke is that Zechariah is prophesying about his son, John the Baptist.
O Emmanuel (Isaiah 7:14; 8:8; Luke 1:31-33),
our King and Lawgiver (Genesis 49:10; cf. Ezekiel 21:32), the Expected of the nations and their Savior (Isa 33:22): Come, and save us, O Lord our God.
Mic 5:1-4; Hebr 10:5-10; Lk 1:39-45
In the gospel today we read the story of the Visitation. Here at the beginning of his gospel, Luke has told us of two women, Mary and Elizabeth. Both are about to become mothers unexpectedly. The angel Gabriel has appeared, first to Elizabeth’s elderly husband Zechariah, and five lunar months later to Mary, an unmarried young woman. Zechariah had been in the innermost sanctuary of the temple in Jerusalem; Mary was at home in Nazareth, a provincial place up north, a place from which in popular estimation no good came. Elizabeth had conceived her son John the Baptist in the usual way, after Zechariah had returned dumb-struck from the temple. Mary had conceived as a virgin, although already betrothed to Joseph.
This year’s celebration of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary will be written in golden letters in the pages of the history of our Congregation. In Tanzania we experienced two big events; the beginning of the second year of the International Novitiate with the reception of new novices into the Novitiate and the Profession of the first group of the novices who completed their novitiate formation.
During the morning prayers, echoes of joy were heard in the International Novitiate when the Provincial Superior Sr. Basilisa Jacob accepted 12 Postulants into the Novitiate. These postulants come from four countries namely Cameroon, Rwanda, Congo and Tanzania. Among those who witnessed this joy-filled event were: Sr. Belancilla Mukandahiro, the Regional Superior of Our Lady of Kibeho Rwanda, the Delegature Superior of the Pallottine Fathers in East Africa Fr. John Onna, and many other Sisters from different communities in Tanzania who had come for the First Profession.