First Sunday of Lent

+Mark 1:12-15

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the wilderness and he remained there for forty days, and was tempted by Satan. He was with the wild beasts, and the angels looked after him.

After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee. There he proclaimed the Good News from God. ‘The time has come’ he said ‘and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.’

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Jesus’ temptations

538 The Gospels speak of a time of solitude for Jesus Jesuin the desert immediately after his baptism by John. Driven by the Spirit into the desert, Jesus remains there for forty days without eating; he lives among wild beasts, and angels minister to him. At the end of this time Satan tempts him three times, seeking to compromise his filial attitude toward God. Jesus rebuffs these attacks, which recapitulate the temptations of Adam in Paradise and of Israel in the desert, and the devil leaves him “until an opportune time”.

539 The evangelists indicate the salvific meaning of this mysterious event: Jesus is the new Adam who remained faithful just where the first Adam had given in to temptation. Jesus fulfills Israel’s vocation perfectly: in contrast to those who had once provoked God during forty years in the desert, Christ reveals himself as God’s Servant, totally obedient to the divine will. In this, Jesus is the devil’s conqueror: he “binds the strong man” to take back his plunder.243 Jesus’ victory over the tempter in the desert anticipates victory at the Passion, the supreme act of obedience of his filial love for the Father.

540 Jesus’ temptation reveals the way in which the Son of God is Messiah, contrary to the way Satan proposes to him and the way men wish to attribute to him. This is why Christ vanquished the Tempter for us: “For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sinning.”245 By the solemn forty days of Lent the Church unites herself each year to the mystery of Jesus in the desert.


Psalm 24

A psalm of David. The earth is the LORD’S and all it holds, the world and those who live there.

For God founded it on the seas, established it over the rivers.

Who may go up the mountain of the LORD? Who can stand in his holy place?

“The clean of hand and pure of heart, who are not devoted to idols, who have not sworn falsely.

They will receive blessings from the LORD, and justice from their saving God.

Such are the people that love the LORD, that seek the face of the God of Jacob.” Selah

Lift up your heads, O gates; rise up, you ancient portals, that the king of glory may enter.

Who is this king of glory? The LORD, a mighty warrior, the LORD, mighty in battle.

Lift up your heads, O gates; rise up, you ancient portals, that the king of glory may enter.

Who is this king of glory? The LORD of hosts is the king of glory. Selah

Source: The New American Bible

 

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Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time

+Mark 1:40-45

A leper came to Jesus and pleaded on his knees: ‘If you want to’ he said ‘you can cure me.’ Feeling sorry for him, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him. ‘Of course I want to!’ he said. ‘Be cured!’ And the leprosy left him at once and he was cured. Jesus immediately sent him away and sternly ordered him, ‘Mind you say nothing to anyone, but go and show yourself to the priest, and make the offering for your healing prescribed by Moses as evidence of your recovery.’ The man went away, but then started talking about it freely and telling the story everywhere, so that Jesus could no longer go openly into any town, but had to stay outside in places where nobody lived. Even so, people from all around would come to him.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Christ the physician

1503 Christ’s compassion toward the sick and his many healings of every kind of infirmity are a resplendent sign that “God has visited his people” and that the Kingdom of God is close at hand. Jesus has the power not only to heal, but also to forgive sins; he has come to heal the whole man, soul and body; he is the physician the sick have need of. His compassion toward all who suffer goes so far that he identifies himself with them: “I was sick and you visited me.” His preferential love for the sick has not ceased through the centuries to draw the very special attention of Christians toward all those who suffer in body and soul. It is the source of tireless efforts to comfort them.

1504 Often Jesus asks the sick to believe. He makes use of signs to heal: spittle and the laying on of hands, mud and washing.110 The sick try to touch him, “for power came forth from him and healed them all.” And so in the sacraments Christ continues to “touch” us in order to heal us.

1505 Moved by so much suffering Christ not only allows himself to be touched by the sick, but he makes their miseries his own: “He took our infirmities and bore our diseases.”. But he did not heal all the sick. His healings were signs of the coming of the Kingdom of God. They announced a more radical healing: the victory over sin and death through his Passover. On the cross Christ took upon himself the whole weight of evil and took away the “sin of the world,”. of which illness is only a consequence. By his passion and death on the cross Christ has given a new meaning to suffering: it can henceforth configure us to him and unite us with his redemptive Passion.


Psalm 31

For the leader. A psalm of David.

In you, LORD, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your justice deliver me;

incline your ear to me; make haste to rescue me! Be my rock of refuge, a stronghold to save me.

You are my rock and my fortress; for your name’s sake lead and guide me.

Free me from the net they have set for me, for you are my refuge.

Into your hands I commend my spirit; you will redeem me, LORD, faithful God.

You hate those who serve worthless idols, but I trust in the LORD.

I will rejoice and be glad in your love, once you have seen my misery, observed my distress.

You will not abandon me into enemy hands, but will set my feet in a free and open space.

Be gracious to me, LORD, for I am in distress; with grief my eyes are wasted, my soul and body spent.

My life is worn out by sorrow, my years by sighing. My strength fails in affliction; my bones are consumed.

To all my foes I am a thing of scorn, to my neighbors, a dreaded sight, a horror to my friends. When they see me in the street, they quickly shy away.

I am forgotten, out of mind like the dead; I am like a shattered dish.

I hear the whispers of the crowd; terrors are all around me. They conspire against me; they plot to take my life.

But I trust in you, LORD; I say, “You are my God.”

My times are in your hands; rescue me from my enemies, from the hands of my pursuers.

Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your kindness.

Do not let me be put to shame, for I have called to you, LORD. Put the wicked to shame; reduce them to silence in Sheol.

Strike dumb their lying lips, proud lips that attack the just in contempt and scorn.

How great is your goodness, Lord, stored up for those who fear you. You display it for those who trust you, in the sight of all the people.

You hide them in the shelter of your presence, safe from scheming enemies. You keep them in your abode, safe from plotting tongues.

Blessed be the LORD, who has shown me wondrous love, and been for me a city most secure.

Once I said in my anguish, “I am shut out from your sight.” Yet you heard my plea, when I cried out to you.

Love the LORD, all you faithful. The LORD protects the loyal, but repays the arrogant in full.

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.

Source: The New American Bible

Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time

+Mark 1:29-39

On leaving the synagogue, Jesus went with James and John straight to the house of Simon and Andrew. Now Simon’s mother-in-law had gone to bed with fever, and they told him about her straightaway. He went to her, took her by the hand and helped her up. And the fever left her and she began to wait on them.

That evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were sick and those who were possessed by devils. The whole town came crowding round the door, and he cured many who were suffering from diseases of one kind or another; he also cast out many devils, but he would not allow them to speak, because they knew who he was.

In the morning, long before dawn, he got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place and prayed there. Simon and his companions set out in search of him, and when they found him they said, ‘Everybody is looking for you.’ He answered, ‘Let us go elsewhere, to the neighbouring country towns, so that I can preach there too, because that is why I came.’ And he went all through Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out devils.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Jesus prays

2599 The Son of God who became Son of the Virgin also learned to pray according to his human heart. He learns the formulas of prayer from his mother, who kept in her heart and meditated upon all the “great things” done by the Almighty. He learns to pray in the words and rhythms of the prayer of his people, in the synagogue at Nazareth and the Temple at Jerusalem. But his prayer springs from an otherwise secret source, as he intimates at the age of twelve: “I must be in my Father’s house.” Here the newness of prayer in the fullness of time begins to be revealed: his filial prayer, which the Father awaits from his children, is finally going to be lived out by the only Son in his humanity, with and for men.

2600 The Gospel according to St. Luke emphasizes the action of the Holy Spirit and the meaning of prayer in Christ’s ministry. Jesus prays before the decisive moments of his mission: before his Father’s witness to him during his baptism and Transfiguration, and before his own fulfillment of the Father’s plan of love by his Passion. He also prays before the decisive moments involving the mission of his apostles: at his election and call of the Twelve, before Peter’s confession of him as “the Christ of God,” and again that the faith of the chief of the Apostles may not fail when tempted. Jesus’ prayer before the events of salvation that the Father has asked him to fulfill is a humble and trusting commitment of his human will to the loving will of the Father.

2601 “He was praying in a certain place and when he had ceased, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray.”‘ In seeing the Master at prayer the disciple of Christ also wants to pray. By contemplating and hearing the Son, the master of prayer, the children learn to pray to the Father.

2602 Jesus often draws apart to pray in solitude, on a mountain, preferably at night. He includes all men in his prayer, for he has taken on humanity in his incarnation, and he offers them to the Father when he offers himself. Jesus, the Word who has become flesh, shares by his human prayer in all that “his brethren” experience; he sympathizes with their weaknesses in order to free them. It was for this that the Father sent him. His words and works are the visible manifestation of his prayer in secret.

2603 The evangelists have preserved two more explicit prayers offered by Christ during his public ministry. Each begins with thanksgiving. In the first, Jesus confesses the Father, acknowledges, and blesses him because he has hidden the mysteries of the Kingdom from those who think themselves learned and has revealed them to infants, the poor of the Beatitudes. His exclamation, “Yes, Father!” expresses the depth of his heart, his adherence to the Father’s “good pleasure,” echoing his mother’s Fiat at the time of his conception and prefiguring what he will say to the Father in his agony. The whole prayer of Jesus is contained in this loving adherence of his human heart to the mystery of the will of the Father.

2604 The second prayer, before the raising of Lazarus, is recorded by St. John. Thanksgiving precedes the event: “Father, I thank you for having heard me,” which implies that the Father always hears his petitions. Jesus immediately adds: “I know that you always hear me,” which implies that Jesus, on his part, constantly made such petitions. Jesus’ prayer, characterized by thanksgiving, reveals to us how to ask: before the gift is given, Jesus commits himself to the One who in giving gives himself. The Giver is more precious than the gift; he is the “treasure”; in him abides his Son’s heart; the gift is given “as well.”

The priestly prayer of Jesus holds a unique place in the economy of salvation. A meditation on it will conclude Section One. It reveals the ever present prayer of our High Priest and, at the same time, contains what he teaches us about our prayer to our Father, which will be developed in Section Two.

2605 When the hour had come for him to fulfill the Father’s plan of love, Jesus allows a glimpse of the boundless depth of his filial prayer, not only before he freely delivered himself up (“Abba . . . not my will, but yours.”), but even in his last words on the Cross, where prayer and the gift of self are but one: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”; “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise”, “Woman, behold your son” – “Behold your mother”; “I thirst.”; “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”; “It is finished”; “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!”60 until the “loud cry” as he expires, giving up his spirit.

2606 All the troubles, for all time, of humanity enslaved by sin and death, all the petitions and intercessions of salvation history are summed up in this cry of the incarnate Word. Here the Father accepts them and, beyond all hope, answers them by raising his Son. Thus is fulfilled and brought to completion the drama of prayer in the economy of creation and salvation. The Psalter gives us the key to prayer in Christ. In the “today” of the Resurrection the Father says: “You are my Son, today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.”

The Letter to the Hebrews expresses in dramatic terms how the prayer of Jesus accomplished the victory of salvation: “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard for his godly fear. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered, and being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him.”


Psalm 146

Hallelujah!

Praise the LORD, my soul; I shall praise the LORD all my life, sing praise to my God while I live.

I Put no trust in princes, in mere mortals powerless to save.

When they breathe their last, they return to the earth; that day all their planning comes to nothing.

Happy those whose help is Jacob’s God, whose hope is in the LORD, their God,

The maker of heaven and earth, the seas and all that is in them, Who keeps faith forever,

secures justice for the oppressed, gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free;

the LORD gives sight to the blind. The LORD raises up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous.

The LORD protects the stranger, sustains the orphan and the widow, but thwarts the way of the wicked.

The LORD shall reign forever, your God, Zion, through all generations! Hallelujah!

Source: The New American Bible

Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time

+Mark 1:21-28

Jesus and his disciples went as far as Capernaum, and as soon as the sabbath came he went to the synagogue and began to teach. And his teaching made a deep impression on them because, unlike the scribes, he taught them with authority.

In their synagogue just then there was a man possessed by an unclean spirit and it shouted, ‘What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: the Holy One of God.’ But Jesus said sharply, ‘Be quiet! Come out of him!’ And the unclean spirit threw the man into convulsions and with a loud cry went out of him. The people were so astonished that they started asking each other what it all meant. ‘Here is a teaching that is new’ they said ‘and with authority behind it: he gives orders even to unclean spirits and they obey him.’ And his reputation rapidly spread everywhere, through all the surrounding Galilean countryside.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Various forms of sacramentals

1671 Among sacramentals blessings (of persons, meals, objects, and places) come first. Every blessing praises God and prays for his gifts. In Christ, Christians are blessed by God the Father “with every spiritual blessing.” This is why the Church imparts blessings by invoking the name of Jesus, usually while making the holy sign of the cross of Christ.

1672 Certain blessings have a lasting importance because they consecrate persons to God, or reserve objects and places for liturgical use. Among those blessings which are intended for persons – not to be confused with sacramental ordination – are the blessing of the abbot or abbess of a monastery, the consecration of virgins and widows, the rite of religious profession and the blessing of certain ministries of the Church (readers, acolytes, catechists, etc.). The dedication or blessing of a church or an altar, the blessing of holy oils, vessels, and vestments, bells, etc., can be mentioned as examples of blessings that concern objects.

1673 When the Church asks publicly and authoritatively in the name of Jesus Christ that a person or object be protected against the power of the Evil One and withdrawn from his dominion, it is called exorcism. Jesus performed exorcisms and from him the Church has received the power and office of exorcizing. In a simple form, exorcism is performed at the celebration of Baptism. The solemn exorcism, called “a major exorcism,” can be performed only by a priest and with the permission of the bishop. The priest must proceed with prudence, strictly observing the rules established by the Church. Exorcism is directed at the expulsion of demons or to the liberation from demonic possession through the spiritual authority which Jesus entrusted to his Church. Illness, especially psychological illness, is a very different matter; treating this is the concern of medical science. Therefore, before an exorcism is performed, it is important to ascertain that one is dealing with the presence of the Evil One, and not an illness.

The Sabbath Day

2168 The third commandment of the Decalogue recalls the holiness of the sabbath: “The seventh day is a sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD.”

2169 In speaking of the sabbath Scripture recalls creation: “For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it.”

2170 Scripture also reveals in the Lord’s day a memorial of Israel’s liberation from bondage in Egypt: “You shall remember that you were a servant in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out thence with mighty hand and outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the sabbath day.”

2171 God entrusted the sabbath to Israel to keep as a sign of the irrevocable covenant.95 The sabbath is for the Lord, holy and set apart for the praise of God, his work of creation, and his saving actions on behalf of Israel.

2172 God’s action is the model for human action. If God “rested and was refreshed” on the seventh day, man too ought to “rest” and should let others, especially the poor, “be refreshed.” The sabbath brings everyday work to a halt and provides a respite. It is a day of protest against the servitude of work and the worship of money.

2173 The Gospel reports many incidents when Jesus was accused of violating the sabbath law. But Jesus never fails to respect the holiness of this day.98 He gives this law its authentic and authoritative interpretation: “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.” With compassion, Christ declares the sabbath for doing good rather than harm, for saving life rather than killing. The sabbath is the day of the Lord of mercies and a day to honor God. “The Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”


Psalm 94

LORD, avenging God, avenging God, shine forth!

Rise up, judge of the earth; give the proud what they deserve.

How long, LORD, shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked glory?

How long will they mouth haughty speeches, go on boasting, all these evildoers?

They crush your people, LORD, torment your very own.

They kill the widow and alien; the fatherless they murder.

They say, “The LORD does not see; the God of Jacob takes no notice.”

Understand, you stupid people! You fools, when will you be wise?

Does the one who shaped the ear not hear? The one who formed the eye not see?

Does the one who guides nations not rebuke? The one who teaches humans not have knowledge?

The LORD does know human plans; they are only puffs of air.

Happy those whom you guide, LORD, whom you teach by your instruction.

You give them rest from evil days, while a pit is being dug for the wicked.

You, LORD, will not forsake your people, nor abandon your very own.

Judgment shall again be just, and all the upright of heart will follow it.

Who will rise up for me against the wicked? Who will stand up for me against evildoers?

If the LORD were not my help, I would long have been silent in the grave.

When I say, “My foot is slipping,” your love, LORD, holds me up.

When cares increase within me, your comfort gives me joy.

Can unjust judges be your allies, those who create burdens in the name of law,

Those who conspire against the just and condemn the innocent to death?

No, the LORD is my secure height, my God, the rock where I find refuge,

Who will turn back their evil upon them and destroy them for their wickedness. Surely the LORD our God will destroy them!

Source: The New American Bible


 

Third Sunday of Ordinary Time

+Mark 1:14-20

I will make you into fishers of men

After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee. There he proclaimed the Good News from God. ‘The time has come’ he said ‘and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.’

As he was walking along by the Sea of Galilee he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net in the lake – for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you into fishers of men.’ And at once they left their nets and followed him.

Going on a little further, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John; they too were in their boat, mending their nets. He called them at once and, leaving their father Zebedee in the boat with the men he employed, they went after him.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

THE CHURCH – BODY OF CHRIST

The Church is communion with Jesus

787 From the beginning, Jesus associated his disciples with his own life, revealed the mystery of the Kingdom to them, and gave them a share in his mission, joy, and sufferings. Jesus spoke of a still more intimate communion between him and those who would follow him: “Abide in me, and I in you. . . . I am the vine, you are the branches.” And he proclaimed a mysterious and real communion between his own body and ours: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.”

788 When his visible presence was taken from them, Jesus did not leave his disciples orphans. He promised to remain with them until the end of time; he sent them his Spirit. As a result communion with Jesus has become, in a way, more intense: “By communicating his Spirit, Christ mystically constitutes as his body those brothers of his who are called together from every nation.”

789 The comparison of the Church with the body casts light on the intimate bond between Christ and his Church. Not only is she gathered around him; she is united in him, in his body. Three aspects of the Church as the Body of Christ are to be more specifically noted: the unity of all her members with each other as a result of their union with Christ; Christ as head of the Body; and the Church as bride of Christ.

 

Psalm 24

A psalm of David. The earth is the LORD’S and all it holds, the world and those who live there.

For God founded it on the seas, established it over the rivers.

Who may go up the mountain of the LORD? Who can stand in his holy place?

“The clean of hand and pure of heart, who are not devoted to idols, who have not sworn falsely.

They will receive blessings from the LORD, and justice from their saving God.

Such are the people that love the LORD, that seek the face of the God of Jacob.” Selah

Lift up your heads, O gates; rise up, you ancient portals, that the king of glory may enter.

Who is this king of glory? The LORD, a mighty warrior, the LORD, mighty in battle.

Lift up your heads, O gates; rise up, you ancient portals, that the king of glory may enter.

Who is this king of glory? The LORD of hosts is the king of glory. Selah

Source: The New American Bible


 

Second Sunday of Ordinary Time

+John 1:35-42

As John stood with two of his disciples, Jesus passed, and John stared hard at him and said, ‘Look, there is the lamb of God.’ Hearing this, the two disciples followed Jesus. Jesus turned round, saw them following and said, ‘What do you want?’ They answered, ‘Rabbi,’ – which means Teacher – ‘where do you live?’ ‘Come and see’ he replied; so they went and saw where he lived, and stayed with him the rest of that day. It was about the tenth hour.

One of these two who became followers of Jesus after hearing what John had said was Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter. Early next morning, Andrew met his brother and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ – which means the Christ – and he took Simon to Jesus. Jesus looked hard at him and said, ‘You are Simon son of John; you are to be called Cephas’ – meaning Rock.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

“The Lamb who takes away the sin of the world”

608 After agreeing to baptize him along with the sinners, John the Baptist looked at Jesus and pointed him out as the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”. By doing so, he reveals that Jesus is at the same time the suffering Servant who silently allows himself to be led to the slaughter and who bears the sin of the multitudes, and also the Paschal Lamb, the symbol of Israel’s redemption at the first Passover. Christ’s whole life expresses his mission: “to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”


Psalm 39

For the leader, for Jeduthun. A psalm of David.

I said, “I will watch my ways, lest I sin with my tongue; I will set a curb on my mouth.”

Dumb and silent before the wicked, I refrained from any speech. But my sorrow increased;

my heart smoldered within me. In my thoughts a fire blazed up, and I broke into speech:

LORD, let me know my end, the number of my days, that I may learn how frail I am.

You have given my days a very short span; my life is as nothing before you. All mortals are but a breath. Selah

Mere phantoms, we go our way; mere vapor, our restless pursuits; we heap up stores without knowing for whom.

And now, Lord, what future do I have? You are my only hope.

From all my sins deliver me; let me not be the taunt of fools.

I was silent and did not open my mouth because you were the one who did this.

Take your plague away from me; I am ravaged by the touch of your hand.

You rebuke our guilt and chasten us; you dissolve all we prize like a cobweb. All mortals are but a breath. Selah

Listen to my prayer, LORD, hear my cry; do not be deaf to my weeping! I sojourn with you like a passing stranger, a guest, like all my ancestors.

Turn your gaze from me, that I may find peace before I depart to be no more.

Source: The New American Bible


 

Epiphany of the Lord

+Matthew 2:1-12

After Jesus had been born at Bethlehem in Judaea during the reign of King Herod, some wise men came to Jerusalem from the east. ‘Where is the infant king of the Jews?’ they asked. ‘We saw his star as it rose and have come to do him homage.’ When King Herod heard this he was perturbed, and so was the whole of Jerusalem. He called together all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, and enquired of them where the Christ was to be born. ‘At Bethlehem in Judaea,’ they told him ‘for this is what the prophet wrote:

And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,

you are by no means least among the leaders of Judah,

for out of you will come a leader

who will shepherd my people Israel.’

Then Herod summoned the wise men to see him privately. He asked them the exact date on which the star had appeared, and sent them on to Bethlehem. ‘Go and find out all about the child,’ he said ‘and when you have found him, let me know, so that I too may go and do him homage.’ Having listened to what the king had to say, they set out. And there in front of them was the star they had seen rising; it went forward, and halted over the place where the child was. The sight of the star filled them with delight, and going into the house they saw the child with his mother Mary, and falling to their knees they did him homage. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh. But they were warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, and returned to their own country by a different way.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

CONCEIVED BY THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. . .

484 The Annunciation to Mary inaugurates “the fullness of time”, the time of the fulfillment of God’s promises and preparations. Mary was invited to conceive him in whom the “whole fullness of deity” would dwell “bodily”. The divine response to her question, “How can this be, since I know not man?”, was given by the power of the Spirit: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you.”

485 The mission of the Holy Spirit is always conjoined and ordered to that of the Son. The Holy Spirit, “the Lord, the giver of Life”, is sent to sanctify the womb of the Virgin Mary and divinely fecundate it, causing her to conceive the eternal Son of the Father in a humanity drawn from her own.

486 The Father’s only Son, conceived as man in the womb of the Virgin Mary, is “Christ”, that is to say, anointed by the Holy Spirit, from the beginning of his human existence, though the manifestation of this fact takes place only progressively: to the shepherds, to the magi, to John the Baptist, to the disciples. Thus the whole life of Jesus Christ will make manifest “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power.”


Psalm 71

In you, LORD, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame.

In your justice rescue and deliver me; listen to me and save me!

Be my rock and refuge, my secure stronghold; for you are my rock and fortress.

My God, rescue me from the power of the wicked, from the clutches of the violent.

You are my hope, Lord; my trust, GOD, from my youth.

On you I depend since birth; from my mother’s womb you are my strength; my hope in you never wavers.

I have become a portent to many, but you are my strong refuge!

My mouth shall be filled with your praise, shall sing your glory every day.

Do not cast me aside in my old age; as my strength fails, do not forsake me.

For my enemies speak against me; they watch and plot against me.

They say, “God has abandoned that one Pursue, seize the wretch! No one will come to the rescue!”

God, do not stand far from me; my God, hasten to help me.

Bring to a shameful end those who attack me; Cover with contempt and scorn those who seek my ruin.

I will always hope in you and add to all your praise.

My mouth shall proclaim your just deeds, day after day your acts of deliverance, though I cannot number them all.

I will speak of the mighty works of the Lord; O GOD, I will tell of your singular justice.

God, you have taught me from my youth; to this day I proclaim your wondrous deeds.

Now that I am old and gray, do not forsake me, God, That I may proclaim your might to all generations yet to come, Your power

and justice, God, to the highest heaven. You have done great things; O God, who is your equal?

You have sent me many bitter afflictions, but once more revive me. From the watery depths of the earth once more raise me up.

Restore my honor; turn and comfort me,

That I may praise you with the lyre for your faithfulness, my God, And sing to you with the harp, O Holy One of Israel!

My lips will shout for joy as I sing your praise; my soul, too, which you have redeemed.

Yes, my tongue shall recount your justice day by day. For those who sought my ruin will have been shamed and disgraced.

Source: The New American Bible


 

Holy Family

+Luke 2:22-40

When the day came for them to be purified as laid down by the Law of Moses, the parents of Jesus took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, – observing what stands written in the Law of the Lord: Every first-born male must be consecrated to the Lord – and also to offer in sacrifice, in accordance with what is said in the Law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.

Now in Jerusalem there was a man named Simeon. He was an upright and devout man; he looked forward to Israel’s comforting and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he had set eyes on the Christ of the Lord. Prompted by the Spirit he came to the Temple and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the Law required, he took him into his arms and blessed God; and he said:

‘Now, Master, you can let your servant go in peace,

just as you promised;

because my eyes have seen the salvation

which you have prepared for all the nations to see,

a light to enlighten the pagans

and the glory of your people Israel.’

As the child’s father and mother stood there wondering at the things that were being said about him, Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘You see this child: he is destined for the fall and for the rising of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is rejected – and a sword will pierce your own soul too – so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare.’

There was a prophetess also, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well on in years. Her days of girlhood over, she had been married for seven years before becoming a widow. She was now eighty-four years old and never left the Temple, serving God night and day with fasting and prayer. She came by just at that moment and began to praise God; and she spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.

When they had done everything the Law of the Lord required, they went back to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. Meanwhile the child grew to maturity, and he was filled with wisdom; and God’s favour was with him.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The mysteries of Jesus’ hidden life

531 During the greater part of his life Jesus shared the condition of the vast majority of human beings: a daily life spent without evident greatness, a life of manual labor. His religious life was that of a Jew obedient to the law of God, a life in the community. From this whole period it is revealed to us that Jesus was “obedient” to his parents and that he “increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man.”

532 Jesus’ obedience to his mother and legal father fulfills the fourth commandment perfectly and was the temporal image of his filial obedience to his Father in heaven. The everyday obedience of Jesus to Joseph and Mary both announced and anticipated the obedience of Holy Thursday: “Not my will. . .” The obedience of Christ in the daily routine of his hidden life was already inaugurating his work of restoring what the disobedience of Adam had destroyed.

533 The hidden life at Nazareth allows everyone to enter into fellowship with Jesus by the most ordinary events of daily life:

The home of Nazareth is the school where we begin to understand the life of Jesus – the school of the Gospel. First, then, a lesson of silence. May esteem for silence, that admirable and indispensable condition of mind, revive in us. . . A lesson on family life. May Nazareth teach us what family life is, its communion of love, its austere and simple beauty, and its sacred and inviolable character. . . A lesson of work. Nazareth, home of the “Carpenter’s Son”, in you I would choose to understand and proclaim the severe and redeeming law of human work. . . To conclude, I want to greet all the workers of the world, holding up to them their great pattern their brother who is God.

534 The finding of Jesus in the temple is the only event that breaks the silence of the Gospels about the hidden years of Jesus. Here Jesus lets us catch a glimpse of the mystery of his total consecration to a mission that flows from his divine sonship: “Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s work?” Mary and Joseph did not understand these words, but they accepted them in faith. Mary “kept all these things in her heart” during the years Jesus remained hidden in the silence of an ordinary life.


Psalm 127

A song of ascents. Of Solomon. Unless the LORD build the house, they labor in vain who build. Unless the LORD guard the city, in vain does the guard keep watch.

It is vain for you to rise early and put off your rest at night, To eat bread earned by hard toil –  all this God gives to his beloved in sleep.

Children too are a gift from the LORD, the fruit of the womb, a reward.

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children born in one’s youth.

Blessed are they whose quivers are full. They will never be shamed contending with foes at the gate.

Source: The New American Bible


The Holy Family consists of the Child Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and Saint Joseph. Veneration of the Holy Family was formally begun in the 17th century by Saint François de Laval, the first bishop of New France, who founded a Confraternity.

Background

The Gospels speak little of the life of the Holy Family in the years before Jesus’ public ministry.

Matthew and Luke narrate the episodes from this period of Christ’s life, namely his circumcision and later Presentation, the flight to Egypt, the return to Nazareth, and the Finding in the Temple. Joseph and Mary were apparently observant Jews, as Luke narrates that they brought Jesus with them on the annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem with other Jewish families.

Veneration

The Feast of the Holy Family is a liturgical celebration in the Catholic Church in honor of Jesus of Nazareth, his mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and his foster father, Saint Joseph, as a family. The primary purpose of this feast is to present the Holy Family as a model for Christian families. Since the 1969 revision of the General Roman Calendar, the feast is celebrated on the Sunday within the Octave of Christmas, the Sunday between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day (both exclusive), or if both Christmas Day and the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God are Sundays, on 30 December (always a Friday in such years). It is a holy day of obligation only if it falls on a Sunday.

The feast was instituted by Pope Leo XIII in 1893 and set on the Sunday within the Octave of the Epiphany; that is to say, on the Sunday between January 7 through January 13, all inclusive (see General Roman Calendar of 1960). The 1962 Roman Missal, whose use is still authorized, follows the General Roman Calendar of 1960, which has the celebration on that date.

Source: Wikipedia


 

Fourth Sunday of Advent

+Luke 1:26-38

The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He went in and said to her, ‘Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’ She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘But how can this come about, since I am a virgin?’ ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you’ the angel answered ‘and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God. Know this too: your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God.’ ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord,’ said Mary ‘let what you have said be done to me.’ And the angel left her.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

“Let it be done to me according to your word. . .”

494 At the announcement that she would give birth to “the Son of the Most High” without knowing man, by the power of the Holy Spirit, Mary responded with the obedience of faith, certain that “with God nothing will be impossible”: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word.” Thus, giving her consent to God’s word, Mary becomes the mother of Jesus. Espousing the divine will for salvation wholeheartedly, without a single sin to restrain her, she gave herself entirely to the person and to the work of her Son; she did so in order to serve the mystery of redemption with him and dependent on him, by God’s grace:

As St. Irenaeus says, “Being obedient she became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race.” Hence not a few of the early Fathers gladly assert. . .: “The knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by Mary’s obedience: what the virgin Eve bound through her disbelief, Mary loosened by her faith.” Comparing her with Eve, they call Mary “the Mother of the living” and frequently claim: “Death through Eve, life through Mary.”


Psalm 88

A song; a psalm of the Korahites. For the leader; according to Mahalath. For singing; a maskil of Heman the Ezrahite.

LORD, my God, I call out by day; at night I cry aloud in your presence.

Let my prayer come before you; incline your ear to my cry.

For my soul is filled with troubles; my life draws near to Sheol.

I am reckoned with those who go down to the pit; I am weak, without strength.

My couch is among the dead, with the slain who lie in the grave. You remember them no more; they are cut off from your care.

You plunged me into the bottom of the pit, into the darkness of the abyss.

Your wrath lies heavy upon me; all your waves crash over me. Selah

Because of you my friends shun me; you make me loathsome to them; Caged in, I cannot escape;

my eyes grow dim from trouble. All day I call on you, LORD; I stretch out my hands to you.

Do you work wonders for the dead? Do the shades arise and praise you? Selah

Is your love proclaimed in the grave, your fidelity in the tomb?

Are your marvels declared in the darkness, your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion?

But I cry out to you, LORD; in the morning my prayer comes before you.

Why do you reject me, LORD? Why hide your face from me?

I am mortally afflicted since youth; lifeless, I suffer your terrible blows.

Your wrath has swept over me; your terrors have reduced me to silence.

All the day they surge round like a flood; from every side they close in on me.

Because of you companions shun me; my only friend is darkness.

Source: The New American Bible


 

Third Sunday of Advent

+John 1:6-8,19-28

A man came, sent by God.

His name was John.

He came as a witness,

as a witness to speak for the light,

so that everyone might believe through him.

He was not the light,

only a witness to speak for the light.

This is how John appeared as a witness. When the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ he not only declared, but he declared quite openly, ‘I am not the Christ.’ ‘Well then,’ they asked ‘are you Elijah?’ ‘I am not’ he said. ‘Are you the Prophet?’ He answered, ‘No.’ So they said to him, ‘Who are you? We must take back an answer to those who sent us. What have you to say about yourself?’ So John said, ‘I am, as Isaiah prophesied:

a voice that cries in the wilderness:

Make a straight way for the Lord.’

Now these men had been sent by the Pharisees, and they put this further question to him, ‘Why are you baptising if you are not the Christ, and not Elijah, and not the prophet?’ John replied, ‘I baptise with water; but there stands among you – unknown to you – the one who is coming after me; and I am not fit to undo his sandal-strap.’ This happened at Bethany, on the far side of the Jordan, where John was baptising.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Jesus and Israel

574 From the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, certain Pharisees and partisans of Herod together with priests and scribes agreed together to destroy him. Because of certain acts of his expelling demons, forgiving sins, healing on the sabbath day, his novel interpretation of the precepts of the Law regarding purity, and his familiarity with tax collectors and public sinners — some ill-intentioned persons suspected Jesus of demonic possession. He is accused of blasphemy and false prophecy, religious crimes which the Law punished with death by stoning.

575 Many of Jesus’ deeds and words constituted a “sign of contradiction”, but more so for the religious authorities in Jerusalem, whom the Gospel according to John often calls simply “the Jews”, than for the ordinary People of God. To be sure, Christ’s relations with the Pharisees were not exclusively polemical. Some Pharisees warn him of the danger he was courting; Jesus praises some of them, like the scribe of Mark 12:34, and dines several times at their homes. Jesus endorses some of the teachings imparted by this religious elite of God’s people: the resurrection of the dead, certain forms of piety (almsgiving, fasting and prayer),the custom of addressing God as Father, and the centrality of the commandment to love God and neighbor.

576 In the eyes of many in Israel, Jesus seems to be acting against essential institutions of the Chosen People:

– submission to the whole of the Law in its written commandments and, for the Pharisees, in the interpretation of oral tradition;

– the centrality of the Temple at Jerusalem as the holy place where God’s presence dwells in a special way;

– faith in the one God whose glory no man can share.


Luke 1:46-50,53-54

And Mary said:  “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;

my spirit rejoices in God my savior.

For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.

The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.

His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him.

He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.

He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly.

The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty.

He has helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy,

according to his promise to our fathers, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

Source: The New American Bible