Friday, January 6, 2017

Liturgical Year A, Cycle I

First Friday

First Reading: Isaiah 60:1-6
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-13
Second Reading: Ephesians 3:2-3, 5-6
Gospel: Matthew 2:1-12

The Sorrowful Mystery

First Reading: Isaiah 60:1-6

The Future Glory of Israel

Isa 60:1 Rise up to be illuminated, O Jerusalem! For your light has arrived, and the glory of the Lord has risen over you.

Isa 60:2 For behold, darkness will cover the earth, and thick darkness will cover the peoples. Then the Lord will rise above you, and his glory will be seen in you.

Isa 60:3 And the nations will walk in your light, and the kings will walk by the splendor of your rising.

Isa 60:4 Lift up your eyes all around and see! All these have been gathered together; they have arrived before you. Your sons will arrive from far away, and your daughters will rise up from your side.

Isa 60:5 Then you will see, and you will overflow, and your heart will be amazed and expanded. When the multitude of the sea will have been converted to you, the strength of the nations will approach you.

Isa 60:6 A multitude of camels will inundate you: the dromedaries from Midian and Ephah. All those from Sheba will arrive, carrying gold and frankincense, and announcing praise to the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-13

Give the King Your Justice

Psa 72:1 71:1 A Psalm according to Solomon.

Psa 72:2 71:2 Give your judgment, O God, to the king, and your justice to the king"s son, to judge your people with justice and your poor with judgment.

Psa 72:7 71:7 In his days, justice will rise like the sun, with abundance of peace, until the moon is taken away.

Psa 72:8 71:8 And he will rule from sea to sea and from the river to the limits of the whole world.

Psa 72:10 71:10 The kings of Tarshish and the islands will offer gifts. The kings of Arabia and of Seba will bring gifts.

Psa 72:11 71:11 And all the kings of the earth shall adore him. All nations will serve him.

Psa 72:12 71:12 For he will free the poor from the powerful, and the poor one who has no helper.

Psa 72:13 71:13 He will spare the poor and the indigent, and he will bring salvation to the souls of the poor.

Second Reading: Ephesians 3:2-3, 5-6

The Mystery of the Gospel Revealed

Eph 3:2 Now certainly, you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God, which has been given to me among you:

Eph 3:3 that, by means of revelation, the mystery was made known to me, just as I have written above in a few words.

Eph 3:5 In other generations, this was unknown to the sons of men, even as it has now been revealed to his holy Apostles and Prophets in the Spirit,

Eph 3:6 so that the Gentiles would be co-heirs, and of the same body, and partners together, by his promise in Christ Jesus, through the Gospel.

Gospel: Matthew 2:1-12

The Visit of the Wise Men

Mat 2:1 And so, when Jesus had been born in Bethlehem of Judah, in the days of king Herod, behold, Magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem,
 
Mat 2:2 saying: "Where is he who was born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and we have come to adore him."

Mat 2:3 Now king Herod, hearing this, was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.

Mat 2:4 And gathering together all the leaders of the priests, and the scribes of the people, he consulted with them as to where the Christ would be born.

Mat 2:5 And they said to him: "In Bethlehem of Judea. For so it has been written by the prophet:

Mat 2:6 "And you, Bethlehem, the land of Judah, are by no means least among the leaders of Judah. For from you shall go forth the ruler who shall guide my people Israel." "

Mat 2:7 Then Herod, quietly calling the Magi, diligently learned from them the time when the star appeared to them.

Mat 2:8 And sending them into Bethlehem, he said: "Go and diligently ask questions about the boy. And when you have found him, report back to me, so that I, too, may come and adore him."

Mat 2:9 And when they had heard the king, they went away. And behold, the star that they had seen in the east went before them, even until, arriving, it stood still above the place where the child was.

Mat 2:10 Then, seeing the star, they were gladdened by a very great joy.

Mat 2:11 And entering the home, they found the boy with his mother Mary. And so, falling prostrate, they adored him. And opening their treasures, they offered him gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Mat 2:12 And having received a response in sleep that they should not return to Herod, they went back by another way to their own region.

"They fell down and worshiped Jesus"

If Jesus truly is who he claims to be, the eternal Son of God and Savior of the world, then why is he not recognized by everyone who hears his word and sees his works? John the Evangelist states that when Jesus came into the world the world knew him not and his own people received him not (John 1:10-11). Jesus was born in obscurity. Only the lowly shepherds recognized him at his birth. Some wise men also found their way to Bethlehem to pay homage to the newborn King of Israel. These men were not Israelites, but foreigners. They likely had read and discussed the Messianic prophecies and were anxious to see when this Messianic King would appear. God led them by means of an extraordinary star across the desert to the little town of Bethlehem where Jesus was born.

John Chrysostom (347-407), in his homily on this passage from Matthew 2, explains the significance of the star of Bethlehem:

"Note how fitting was the order of events: the wise men saw the star, were received by the Jews and their king; they heard prophecy to explain what had appeared; the angel instructed them; and then they journeyed from Jerusalem to Bethlehem by the guidance of the star. From all this we learn that this was not an ordinary star, for no other star has this capacity to guide, not merely to move but to beckon, to “go before them,” drawing and guiding them along their way. The star remained after bringing them to the place, in order that the child might also be seen. For there is nothing conspicuous about the place. The inn was ordinary. The mother was not celebrated or notable. The star was needed to manifest and illumine the lowly place, until they had reached their destination at the manger." [The Gospel of Matthew, Homily 7:3]
In their thirst for knowledge of God, the wise men from the East willingly left everything, their home and country, in pursuit of that quest. In their diligent search they were led to the source of true knowledge - to Jesus Christ, the Light and Wisdom of God. When they found the newborn King they humbly worshiped him and gave him gifts fitting for a king.

The Lord of the universe who revealed the star of Bethlehem to the Gentiles of the East so they could come and worship Jesus, the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) and King of Kings (Revelations 19:16), gives each one of us the same light of revelation to recognize and accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Faith is an entirely free gift that God makes to us. It is through the help of the Holy Spirit, who moves the heart and opens the eyes of the mind, that we are able to understand, accept, and believe the truth which God has revealed to us through his Son, Jesus Christ. In faith, the human will and intellect cooperate with grace. "Believing is an act of the intellect assenting to the divine truth by command of the will moved by God through grace" (Thomas Aquinas).

To know and to encounter Jesus Christ is to know God personally. In the encounter of the wise men with Jesus we see the plan of God to give his only Son as King and Savior, not just for the Jewish people but for all the nations as well. The Lord Jesus came that both Jew and Gentile might find true and lasting peace with God.  Let us pray today that Jew and Gentile alike will find the Lord and Savior on their journey of life. Do you bring the light of Jesus Christ to those you meet through the witness of your life and testimony?

"Lord Jesus Christ, we thank you for bringing salvation to all the nations. May the gospel of salvation be proclaimed to every nation today and to every person on the face of the earth.  Help me to be a good witness of the joy of the gospel to all I meet."

Rise up in splendor,  Jerusalem! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you. See darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds cover the peoples; but upon you the Lord shines, and over you appears his glory. Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your shining radiance (Isaiah 60:1-3).

The glory of the Lord shines from Jerusalem throughout all the earth!  And so we Christians now participate with Israel in God’s manifestation to the world through the child born of Mary!

Gentiles, non–Jews, are now co-heirs with the Jews of God’s promises! No one was more shocked at this revelation than Paul himself. As a devout Jew – indeed as a Pharisee – Paul believed that God’s manifestation throughout Hebrew scriptures was intended exclusively for the Jews. Paul was actually on a journey to Damascus to persecute Jesus’ followers when Jesus appeared and revealed the startling truth.

It was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel (Eph 3:5-6).

And could there be a more dramatic illustration of the significance of Jesus’ birth for all nations than the dramatic scene of the three kings from the east following the star to Bethlehem?

And behold, the star they had seen at its rising preceded them until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage (Mt 1:9-11).

Today’s feast of the Epiphany is a manifestation both that Jesus is Lord and that Jesus is Lord not merely of the Jews but of all peoples!   Jesus’ Lordship occurs through the power of the Holy Spirit! And the Church formally teaches that the light of the Holy Spirit shines not only in Jewish and Christian hearts but in all people of good will. Vatican Council II in The Church in the Modern World put this truth simply and elegantly.

All this hold true not only for Christians, but for all men of good will in whose heart grace works in an unseen way.  For, since Christ died for all men, and since the ultimate vocation of man is in fact one, and divine, we ought to believe that the Holy Spirit, in a manner known only to God offers to every man the possibility of being associated with the paschal mystery (#22).

Yes, authentic Christianity acknowledges the immanence of the divine in all people of good will in every culture. Let us celebrate God’s epiphany to our troubled world! The responsorial psalm catches our joy: “Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.”

by Richard Hauser, S.J.
Creighton University's Emeritus Professor & Assistant to President for Mission
click here for photo and information about the writer

Day By Day Medition

THE WISE-MEN FOLLOW THE STAR

Mat_2:1-8

The expectation of the advent of a great king was far-spread at the time of the Nativity. It was probably founded, so far as the East was concerned, on the prophecies of Balaam and Daniel. See Num_24:17; Dan_7:13-14. There are evidences of the same expectation in the classic literature of the West. Our Lord was the desire of all nations; and the corruption and anarchy of the Roman Empire made the longing still more intense.

God comes to men in the spheres with which they are most familiar; to Zacharias in the Temple, to the shepherds in the fields, to the Wise-Men by a portent in the heavens. He knows just where to find us. “Lift the stone, and I am there.” Be sure to follow your star, whatever it be; only remember that it must ultimately receive the corroboration of Scripture, as in the present case, Mat_2:5. A miracle may be wrought to awaken and start us on our great quest, but the miraculous is withdrawn where the ordinary methods of inquiry will serve. The news of Jesus always disquiets the children of the world; they know that it means division.
Thursday of the First week of Christmas - "Come and see" Saturday of the First week of Christmas - “Jesus manifested his glory at Cana”

 

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