Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time

+Luke 6:17,20-26

Happy are you who are poor, who are hungry, who weep

Jesus came down with the Twelve and stopped at a piece of level ground where there was a large gathering of his disciples with a great crowd of people from all parts of Judaea and from Jerusalem and from the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon. Then fixing his eyes on his disciples he said:

‘How happy are you who are poor: yours is the kingdom of God.

Happy you who are hungry now: you shall be satisfied.

Happy you who weep now: you shall laugh.

Happy are you when people hate you, drive you out, abuse you, denounce your name as criminal, on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice when that day comes and dance for joy, for then your reward will be great in heaven. This was the way their ancestors treated the prophets.

‘But alas for you who are rich: you are having your consolation now.

Alas for you who have your fill now: you shall go hungry.

Alas for you who laugh now: you shall mourn and weep.

‘Alas for you when the world speaks well of you! This was the way their ancestors treated the false prophets.’


Jeremiah 17:5-8

A blessing on the man who puts his trust in the Lord

The Lord says this:

‘A curse on the man who puts his trust in man,

who relies on things of flesh,

whose heart turns from the Lord.

He is like dry scrub in the wastelands:

if good comes, he has no eyes for it,

he settles in the parched places of the wilderness,

a salt land, uninhabited.

‘A blessing on the man who puts his trust in the Lord,

with the Lord for his hope.

He is like a tree by the waterside

that thrusts its roots to the stream:

when the heat comes it feels no alarm,

its foliage stays green;

it has no worries in a year of drought,

and never ceases to bear fruit.’


Psalm 1:1-4,6

Anyone who follows you, O Lord, will have the light of life.

Happy indeed is the man

who follows not the counsel of the wicked;

nor lingers in the way of sinners

nor sits in the company of scorners,

but whose delight is the law of the Lord

and who ponders his law day and night.

Anyone who follows you, O Lord, will have the light of life.

He is like a tree that is planted

beside the flowing waters,

that yields its fruit in due season

and whose leaves shall never fade;

and all that he does shall prosper.

Anyone who follows you, O Lord, will have the light of life.

Not so are the wicked, not so!

For they like winnowed chaff

shall be driven away by the wind:

for the Lord guards the way of the just

but the way of the wicked leads to doom.

Anyone who follows you, O Lord, will have the light of life.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Poverty Of Heart

2544 Jesus enjoins his disciples to prefer him to everything and everyone, and bids them “renounce all that [they have]” for his sake and that of the Gospel. Shortly before his passion he gave them the example of the poor widow of Jerusalem who, out of her poverty, gave all that she had to live on. The precept of detachment from riches is obligatory for entrance into the Kingdom of heaven.

2545 All Christ’s faithful are to “direct their affections rightly, lest they be hindered in their pursuit of perfect charity by the use of worldly things and by an adherence to riches which is contrary to the spirit of evangelical poverty.”

2546 “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” The Beatitudes reveal an order of happiness and grace, of beauty and peace. Jesus celebrates the joy of the poor, to whom the Kingdom already belongs:

The Word speaks of voluntary humility as “poverty in spirit”; the Apostle gives an example of God’s poverty when he says: “For your sakes he became poor.”

2547 The Lord grieves over the rich, because they find their consolation in the abundance of goods. “Let the proud seek and love earthly kingdoms, but blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.” Abandonment to the providence of the Father in heaven frees us from anxiety about tomorrow. Trust in God is a preparation for the blessedness of the poor. They shall see God.

Prayer to the Holy Spirit for the Fruit of Love

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Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time

+Luke 5:1-11

They left everything and followed him

Jesus was standing one day by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the crowd pressing round him listening to the word of God, when he caught sight of two boats close to the bank. The fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats – it was Simon’s – and asked him to put out a little from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.

When he had finished speaking he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water and pay out your nets for a catch.’ ‘Master,’ Simon replied, ‘we worked hard all night long and caught nothing, but if you say so, I will pay out the nets.’ And when they had done this they netted such a huge number of fish that their nets began to tear, so they signalled to their companions in the other boat to come and help them; when these came, they filled the two boats to sinking point.

When Simon Peter saw this he fell at the knees of Jesus saying, ‘Leave me, Lord; I am a sinful man.’ For he and all his companions were completely overcome by the catch they had made; so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were Simon’s partners. But Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on it is men you will catch.’ Then, bringing their boats back to land, they left everything and followed him.


Isaiah 6:1-2,3-8

‘Here I am: send me’

In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord of Hosts seated on a high throne; his train filled the sanctuary; above him stood seraphs, each one with six wings.

And they cried out to one another in this way,

‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts.

His glory fills the whole earth.’

The foundations of the threshold shook with the voice of the one who cried out, and the Temple was filled with smoke. I said:

‘What a wretched state I am in! I am lost,

for I am a man of unclean lips

and I live among a people of unclean lips,

and my eyes have looked at the King, the Lord of Hosts.’

Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding in his hand a live coal which he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. With this he touched my mouth and said:

‘See now, this has touched your lips,

your sin is taken away,

your iniquity is purged.’

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying:

‘Whom shall I send? Who will be our messenger?’

I answered, ‘Here I am, send me.’


Psalm 137(138):1-5,7-8

In the presence of the angels I will bless you, O Lord.

I thank you, Lord, with all my heart:

you have heard the words of my mouth.

In the presence of the angels I will bless you.

I will adore before your holy temple.

In the presence of the angels I will bless you, O Lord.

I thank you for your faithfulness and love,

which excel all we ever knew of you.

On the day I called, you answered;

you increased the strength of my soul.

In the presence of the angels I will bless you, O Lord.

All earth’s kings shall thank you

when they hear the words of your mouth.

They shall sing of the Lord’s ways:

‘How great is the glory of the Lord!’

In the presence of the angels I will bless you, O Lord.

 Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The living God

205 God calls Moses from the midst of a bush that burns without being consumed: “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” God is the God of the fathers, the One who had called and guided the patriarchs in their wanderings. He is the faithful and compassionate God who remembers them and his promises; he comes to free their descendants from slavery. He is the God who, from beyond space and time, can do this and wills to do it, the God who will put his almighty power to work for this plan.

“I Am who I Am”

Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you’, and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you’. . . this is my name for ever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.”

206 In revealing his mysterious name, YHWH (“I AM HE WHO IS”, “I AM WHO AM” or “I AM WHO I AM”), God says who he is and by what name he is to be called. This divine name is mysterious just as God is mystery. It is at once a name revealed and something like the refusal of a name, and hence it better expresses God as what he is – infinitely above everything that we can understand or say: he is the “hidden God”, his name is ineffable, and he is the God who makes himself close to men.

207 By revealing his name God at the same time reveals his faithfulness which is from everlasting to everlasting, valid for the past (“I am the God of your father”), as for the future (“I will be with you”). God, who reveals his name as “I AM”, reveals himself as the God who is always there, present to his people in order to save them.

208 Faced with God’s fascinating and mysterious presence, man discovers his own insignificance. Before the burning bush, Moses takes off his sandals and veils his face in the presence of God’s holiness. Before the glory of the thrice-holy God, Isaiah cries out: “Woe is me! I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips.” Before the divine signs wrought by Jesus, Peter exclaims: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” But because God is holy, he can forgive the man who realizes that he is a sinner before him: “I will not execute my fierce anger. . . for I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst.” The apostle John says likewise: “We shall. . . reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.”

209 Out of respect for the holiness of God, the people of Israel do not pronounce his name. In the reading of Sacred Scripture, the revealed name (YHWH) is replaced by the divine title “LORD” (in Hebrew Adonai, in Greek Kyrios). It is under this title that the divinity of Jesus will be acclaimed: “Jesus is LORD.”

Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time

+Luke 4:21-30

No prophet is ever accepted in his own country

Jesus began to speak in the synagogue: ‘This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.’ And he won the approval of all, and they were astonished by the gracious words that came from his lips. They said, ‘This is Joseph’s son, surely?’

But he replied, ‘No doubt you will quote me the saying, “Physician, heal yourself” and tell me, “We have heard all that happened in Capernaum, do the same here in your own countryside.”’

And he went on, ‘I tell you solemnly, no prophet is ever accepted in his own country.

‘There were many widows in Israel, I can assure you, in Elijah’s day, when heaven remained shut for three years and six months and a great famine raged throughout the land, but Elijah was not sent to any one of these: he was sent to a widow at Zarephath, a Sidonian town. And in the prophet Elisha’s time there were many lepers in Israel, but none of these was cured, except the Syrian, Naaman.’

When they heard this everyone in the synagogue was enraged. They sprang to their feet and hustled him out of the town; and they took him up to the brow of the hill their town was built on, intending to throw him down the cliff, but he slipped through the crowd and walked away.


Jeremiah 1:4-5,17-19

‘I have appointed you prophet to the nations’

In the days of Josiah, the word of the Lord was addressed to me, saying:

‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;

before you came to birth I consecrated you;

I have appointed you as prophet to the nations.

‘So now brace yourself for action.

Stand up and tell them

all I command you.

Do not be dismayed at their presence,

or in their presence I will make you dismayed.

‘I, for my part, today will make you

into a fortified city,

a pillar of iron,

and a wall of bronze

to confront all this land:

the kings of Judah, its princes,

its priests and the country people.

They will fight against you

but shall not overcome you,

for I am with you to deliver you –

it is the Lord who speaks.’

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Abortion

2270 Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.

My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth.

2271 Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law:

You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish.

God, the Lord of life, has entrusted to men the noble mission of safeguarding life, and men must carry it out in a manner worthy of themselves. Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes.

2272 Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. “A person who procures a completed abortion incurs excommunication latae sententiae,” “by the very commission of the offense,” and subject to the conditions provided by Canon Law. The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy. Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society.

2273 The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation:

“The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority. These human rights depend neither on single individuals nor on parents; nor do they represent a concession made by society and the state; they belong to human nature and are inherent in the person by virtue of the creative act from which the person took his origin. Among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being’s right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death.”

“The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the state is denying the equality of all before the law. When the state does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined. . . . As a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child’s rights.”

2274 Since it must be treated from conception as a person, the embryo must be defended in its integrity, cared for, and healed, as far as possible, like any other human being.

Prenatal diagnosis is morally licit, “if it respects the life and integrity of the embryo and the human fetus and is directed toward its safe guarding or healing as an individual. . . . It is gravely opposed to the moral law when this is done with the thought of possibly inducing an abortion, depending upon the results: a diagnosis must not be the equivalent of a death sentence.”

2275 “One must hold as licit procedures carried out on the human embryo which respect the life and integrity of the embryo and do not involve disproportionate risks for it, but are directed toward its healing the improvement of its condition of health, or its individual survival.”

“It is immoral to produce human embryos intended for exploitation as disposable biological material.”

“Certain attempts to influence chromosomic or genetic inheritance are not therapeutic but are aimed at producing human beings selected according to sex or other predetermined qualities. Such manipulations are contrary to the personal dignity of the human being and his integrity and identity” which are unique and unrepeatable.


Psalm 70(71):1-6,15,17

For the leader; of David. For remembrance.

Graciously rescue me, God! Come quickly to help me, LORD!

Confound and put to shame those who seek my life. Turn back in disgrace those who desire my ruin.

Let those who say “Aha!” turn back in their shame.

But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you. May those who long for your help always say, “God be glorified!”

Here I am, afflicted and poor. God, come quickly! You are my help and deliverer. LORD, do not delay!

Source: The New American Bible

Third Sunday of Ordinary Time

+Luke 1:1-4,4:14-21

‘This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen’

Jesus, with the power of the Spirit in him, returned to Galilee; and his reputation spread throughout the countryside. He taught in their synagogues and everyone praised him.

He came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day as he usually did. He stood up to read and they handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll he found the place where it is written:

The spirit of the Lord has been given to me,

for he has anointed me.

He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor,

to proclaim liberty to captives

and to the blind new sight,

to set the downtrodden free,

to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.

He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the assistant and sat down. And all eyes in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to speak to them, ‘This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.’


Nehemiah 8:2-6,8-10

All the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law

Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, consisting of men, women, and children old enough to understand. This was the first day of the seventh month. On the square before the Water Gate, in the presence of the men and women, and children old enough to understand, he read from the book from early morning till noon; all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law.

Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden dais erected for the purpose. In full view of all the people – since he stood higher than all the people – Ezra opened the book; and when he opened it all the people stood up. Then Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people raised their hands and answered, ‘Amen! Amen!’; then they bowed down and, face to the ground, prostrated themselves before the Lord. And Ezra read from the Law of God, translating and giving the sense, so that the people understood what was read.

Then Nehemiah – His Excellency – and Ezra, priest and scribe and the Levites who were instructing the people said to all the people, ‘This day is sacred to the Lord your God. Do not be mournful, do not weep.’ For the people were all in tears as they listened to the words of the Law.

He then said, ‘Go, eat the fat, drink the sweet wine, and send a portion to the man who has nothing prepared ready. For this day is sacred to our Lord. Do not be sad: the joy of the Lord is your stronghold.’


Psalm 18(19):8-10,15

The precepts of the Lord gladden the heart.

The law of the Lord is perfect,

it revives the soul.

The rule of the Lord is to be trusted,

it gives wisdom to the simple.

The precepts of the Lord gladden the heart.

The precepts of the Lord are right,

they gladden the heart.

The command of the Lord is clear,

it gives light to the eyes.

The precepts of the Lord gladden the heart.

The fear of the Lord is holy,

abiding for ever.

The decrees of the Lord are truth

and all of them just.

The precepts of the Lord gladden the heart.

May the spoken words of my mouth,

the thoughts of my heart,

win favour in your sight, O Lord,

my rescuer, my rock!

The precepts of the Lord gladden the heart.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Symbols of the Holy Spirit

694 Water. The symbolism of water signifies the Holy Spirit’s action in Baptism, since after the invocation of the Holy Spirit it becomes the efficacious sacramental sign of new birth: just as the gestation of our first birth took place in water, so the water of Baptism truly signifies that our birth into the divine life is given to us in the Holy Spirit. As “by one Spirit we were all baptized,” so we are also “made to drink of one Spirit.” Thus the Spirit is also personally the living water welling up from Christ crucified as its source and welling up in us to eternal life.

695 Anointing. The symbolism of anointing with oil also signifies the Holy Spirit, to the point of becoming a synonym for the Holy Spirit. In Christian initiation, anointing is the sacramental sign of Confirmation, called “chrismation” in the Churches of the East. Its full force can be grasped only in relation to the primary anointing accomplished by the Holy Spirit, that of Jesus. Christ (in Hebrew “messiah”) means the one “anointed” by God’s Spirit. There were several anointed ones of the Lord in the Old Covenant, pre-eminently King David. But Jesus is God’s Anointed in a unique way: the humanity the Son assumed was entirely anointed by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit established him as “Christ.” The Virgin Mary conceived Christ by the Holy Spirit who, through the angel, proclaimed him the Christ at his birth, and prompted Simeon to come to the temple to see the Christ of the Lord. The Spirit filled Christ and the power of the Spirit went out from him in his acts of healing and of saving. Finally, it was the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead. Now, fully established as “Christ” in his humanity victorious over death, Jesus pours out the Holy Spirit abundantly until “the saints” constitute – in their union with the humanity of the Son of God – that perfect man “to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”: “the whole Christ,” in St. Augustine’s expression.

696 Fire. While water signifies birth and the fruitfulness of life given in the Holy Spirit, fire symbolizes the transforming energy of the Holy Spirit’s actions. The prayer of the prophet Elijah, who “arose like fire” and whose “word burned like a torch,” brought down fire from heaven on the sacrifice on Mount Carmel. This event was a “figure” of the fire of the Holy Spirit, who transforms what he touches. John the Baptist, who goes “before [the Lord] in the spirit and power of Elijah,” proclaims Christ as the one who “will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” Jesus will say of the Spirit: “I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!” In the form of tongues “as of fire,” the Holy Spirit rests on the disciples on the morning of Pentecost and fills them with himself The spiritual tradition has retained this symbolism of fire as one of the most expressive images of the Holy Spirit’s actions. “Do not quench the Spirit.”

697 Cloud and light. These two images occur together in the manifestations of the Holy Spirit. In the theophanies of the Old Testament, the cloud, now obscure, now luminous, reveals the living and saving God, while veiling the transcendence of his glory – with Moses on Mount Sinai, at the tent of meeting, and during the wandering in the desert, and with Solomon at the dedication of the Temple. In the Holy Spirit, Christ fulfills these figures. The Spirit comes upon the Virgin Mary and “overshadows” her, so that she might conceive and give birth to Jesus. On the mountain of Transfiguration, the Spirit in the “cloud came and overshadowed” Jesus, Moses and Elijah, Peter, James and John, and “a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!'” Finally, the cloud took Jesus out of the sight of the disciples on the day of his ascension and will reveal him as Son of man in glory on the day of his final coming.

698 The seal is a symbol close to that of anointing. “The Father has set his seal” on Christ and also seals us in him. Because this seal indicates the indelible effect of the anointing with the Holy Spirit in the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders, the image of the seal (sphragis) has been used in some theological traditions to express the indelible “character” imprinted by these three unrepeatable sacraments.

699 The hand. Jesus heals the sick and blesses little children by laying hands on them. In his name the apostles will do the same Even more pointedly, it is by the Apostles’ imposition of hands that the Holy Spirit is given. The Letter to the Hebrews lists the imposition of hands among the “fundamental elements” of its teaching The Church has kept this sign of the all-powerful outpouring of the Holy Spirit in its sacramental epicleses.

700 The finger. “It is by the finger of God that [Jesus] cast out demons.” If God’s law was written on tablets of stone “by the finger of God,” then the “letter from Christ” entrusted to the care of the apostles, is written “with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts.” The hymn Veni Creator Spiritus invokes the Holy Spirit as the “finger of the Father’s right hand.”

 

701 The dove. At the end of the flood, whose symbolism refers to Baptism, a dove released by Noah returns with a fresh olive-tree branch in its beak as a sign that the earth was again habitable.When Christ comes up from the water of his baptism, the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, comes down upon him and remains with him. The Spirit comes down and remains in the purified hearts of the baptized. In certain churches, the Eucharist is reserved in a metal receptacle in the form of a dove (columbarium) suspended above the altar. Christian iconography traditionally uses a dove to suggest the Spirit.

 

Second Sunday of Ordinary Time

+John 2:1-11

‘My hour has not come yet’ – ‘Do whatever he tells you’

There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee. The mother of Jesus was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited. When they ran out of wine, since the wine provided for the wedding was all finished, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ Jesus said ‘Woman, why turn to me? My hour has not come yet.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ There were six stone water jars standing there, meant for the ablutions that are customary among the Jews: each could hold twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, ‘Fill the jars with water’, and they filled them to the brim. ‘Draw some out now’ he told them ‘and take it to the steward.’ They did this; the steward tasted the water, and it had turned into wine. Having no idea where it came from – only the servants who had drawn the water knew – the steward called the bridegroom and said, ‘People generally serve the best wine first, and keep the cheaper sort till the guests have had plenty to drink; but you have kept the best wine till now.’

This was the first of the signs given by Jesus: it was given at Cana in Galilee. He let his glory be seen, and his disciples believed in him.


Isaiah 62:1-5

The bridegroom rejoices in his bride

About Zion I will not be silent,

about Jerusalem I will not grow weary,

until her integrity shines out like the dawn

and her salvation flames like a torch.

The nations then will see your integrity,

all the kings your glory,

and you will be called by a new name,

one which the mouth of the Lord will confer.

You are to be a crown of splendour in the hand of the Lord,

a princely diadem in the hand of your God;

no longer are you to be named ‘Forsaken’,

nor your land ‘Abandoned’,

but you shall be called ‘My Delight’

and your land ‘The Wedded’;

for the Lord takes delight in you

and your land will have its wedding.

Like a young man marrying a virgin,

so will the one who built you wed you,

and as the bridegroom rejoices in his bride,

so will your God rejoice in you.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Marriage in the Lord

1612 The nuptial covenant between God and his people Israel had prepared the way for the new and everlasting covenant in which the Son of God, by becoming incarnate and giving his life, has united to himself in a certain way all mankind saved by him, thus preparing for “the wedding-feast of the Lamb.”

1613 On the threshold of his public life Jesus performs his first sign – at his mother’s request – during a wedding feast. The Church attaches great importance to Jesus’ presence at the wedding at Cana. She sees in it the confirmation of the goodness of marriage and the proclamation that thenceforth marriage will be an efficacious sign of Christ’s presence.

1614 In his preaching Jesus unequivocally taught the original meaning of the union of man and woman as the Creator willed it from the beginning permission given by Moses to divorce one’s wife was a concession to the hardness of hearts.106 The matrimonial union of man and woman is indissoluble: God himself has determined it “what therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder.”

1615 This unequivocal insistence on the indissolubility of the marriage bond may have left some perplexed and could seem to be a demand impossible to realize. However, Jesus has not placed on spouses a burden impossible to bear, or too heavy – heavier than the Law of Moses. By coming to restore the original order of creation disturbed by sin, he himself gives the strength and grace to live marriage in the new dimension of the Reign of God. It is by following Christ, renouncing themselves, and taking up their crosses that spouses will be able to “receive” the original meaning of marriage and live it with the help of Christ. This grace of Christian marriage is a fruit of Christ’s cross, the source of all Christian life.

1616 This is what the Apostle Paul makes clear when he says: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her,” adding at once: “‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one. This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the Church.”

1617 The entire Christian life bears the mark of the spousal love of Christ and the Church. Already Baptism, the entry into the People of God, is a nuptial mystery; it is so to speak the nuptial bath which precedes the wedding feast, the Eucharist. Christian marriage in its turn becomes an efficacious sign, the sacrament of the covenant of Christ and the Church. Since it signifies and communicates grace, marriage between baptized persons is a true sacrament of the New Covenant.


Psalm 95

Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD; cry out to the rock of our salvation.

Let us greet him with a song of praise, joyfully sing out our psalms.

For the LORD is the great God, the great king over all gods,

Whose hand holds the depths of the earth; who owns the tops of the mountains.

The sea and dry land belong to God, who made them, formed them by hand.

Enter, let us bow down in worship; let us kneel before the LORD who made us.

For this is our God, whose people we are, God’s well-tended flock. Oh, that today you would hear his voice:

Do not harden your hearts as at Meribah, as on the day of Massah in the desert.

There your ancestors tested me; they tried me though they had seen my works.

Forty years I loathed that generation; I said: “This people’s heart goes astray; they do not know my ways.”

Therefore I swore in my anger: “They shall never enter my rest.”

Source: The New American Bible

 

 

Baptism of the Lord

+Luke 3:15-16,21-22

‘Someone is coming who will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire’

A feeling of expectancy had grown among the people, who were beginning to think that John might be the Christ, so John declared before them all, ‘I baptise you with water, but someone is coming, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to undo the strap of his sandals; he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire. Now when all the people had been baptised and while Jesus after his own baptism was at prayer, heaven opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily shape, like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on you.’


Isaiah 40:1-5,9-11

The glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all mankind shall see it

‘Console my people, console them’

says your God.

‘Speak to the heart of Jerusalem

and call to her

that her time of service is ended,

that her sin is atoned for,

that she has received from the hand of the Lord

double punishment for all her crimes.’

A voice cries, ‘Prepare in the wilderness

a way for the Lord.

Make a straight highway for our God

across the desert.

Let every valley be filled in,

every mountain and hill be laid low.

Let every cliff become a plain,

and the ridges a valley;

then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed

and all mankind shall see it;

for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’

Go up on a high mountain,

joyful messenger to Zion.

Shout with a loud voice,

joyful messenger to Jerusalem.

Shout without fear,

say to the towns of Judah,

‘Here is your God.’

Here is the Lord coming with power,

his arm subduing all things to him.

The prize of his victory is with him,

his trophies all go before him.

He is like a shepherd feeding his flock,

gathering lambs in his arms,

holding them against his breast

and leading to their rest the mother ewes.

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 103

Of David. 1 Bless the LORD, my soul; all my being, bless his holy name!

Bless the LORD, my soul; do not forget all the gifts of God,

Who pardons all your sins, heals all your ills,

Delivers your life from the pit, surrounds you with love and compassion,

Fills your days with good things; your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The LORD does righteous deeds, brings justice to all the oppressed.

His ways were revealed to Moses, mighty deeds to the people of Israel.

Merciful and gracious is the LORD, slow to anger, abounding in kindness.

God does not always rebuke, nurses no lasting anger,

Has not dealt with us as our sins merit, nor requited us as our deeds deserve.

As the heavens tower over the earth, so God’s love towers over the faithful.

As far as the east is from the west, so far have our sins been removed from us.

As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on the faithful.

For he knows how we are formed, remembers that we are dust.

Our days are like the grass; like flowers of the field we blossom.

The wind sweeps over us and we are gone; our place knows us no more.

But the LORD’S kindness is forever, toward the faithful from age to age. He favors the children’s children

of those who keep his covenant, who take care to fulfill its precepts.

The LORD’S throne is established in heaven; God’s royal power rules over all.

Bless the LORD, all you angels, mighty in strength and attentive, obedient to every command.

Bless the LORD, all you hosts, ministers who do God’s will.

Bless the LORD, all creatures, everywhere in God’s domain. Bless the LORD, my soul!

Source: The New American Bible

Epiphany of the Lord

+Matthew 4:12-17,23-25

The people that lived in darkness have seen a great light

Hearing that John had been arrested, Jesus went back to Galilee, and leaving Nazareth he went and settled in Capernaum, a lakeside town on the borders of Zebulun and Naphtali. In this way the prophecy of Isaiah was to be fulfilled:

‘Land of Zebulun! Land of Naphtali!

Way of the sea on the far side of Jordan,

Galilee of the nations!

The people that lived in darkness has seen a great light;

on those who dwell in the land and shadow of death

a light has dawned.’

From that moment Jesus began his preaching with the message, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.’

He went round the whole of Galilee teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom and curing all kinds of diseases and sickness among the people. His fame spread throughout Syria, and those who were suffering from diseases and painful complaints of one kind or another, the possessed, epileptics, the paralysed, were all brought to him, and he cured them. Large crowds followed him, coming from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judaea and Transjordania.


1 John 3:22-4:6

The Son of God has come and given us the power to know the true God

Whatever we ask God,

we shall receive,

because we keep his commandments

and live the kind of life that he wants.

His commandments are these:

that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ

and that we love one another

as he told us to.

Whoever keeps his commandments

lives in God and God lives in him.

We know that he lives in us

by the Spirit that he has given us.

It is not every spirit, my dear people, that you can trust;

test them, to see if they come from God,

there are many false prophets, now, in the world.

You can tell the spirits that come from God by this:

every spirit which acknowledges that Jesus the Christ has come in the flesh

is from God;

but any spirit which will not say this of Jesus

is not from God,

but is the spirit of Antichrist,

whose coming you were warned about.

Well, now he is here, in the world.

Children,

you have already overcome these false prophets,

because you are from God and you have in you

one who is greater than anyone in this world;

as for them, they are of the world,

and so they speak the language of the world

and the world listens to them.

But we are children of God,

and those who know God listen to us;

those who are not of God refuse to listen to us.

This is how we can tell

the spirit of truth from the spirit of falsehood.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The mysteries of Jesus’ infancy

527 Jesus’ circumcision, on the eighth day after his birth, is the sign of his incorporation into Abraham’s descendants, into the people of the covenant. It is the sign of his submission to the Law and his deputation to Israel’s worship, in which he will participate throughout his life. This sign prefigures that “circumcision of Christ” which is Baptism.

528 The Epiphany is the manifestation of Jesus as Messiah of Israel, Son of God and Savior of the world. The great feast of Epiphany celebrates the adoration of Jesus by the wise men (magi) from the East, together with his baptism in the Jordan and the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee. In the magi, representatives of the neighboring pagan religions, the Gospel sees the first-fruits of the nations, who welcome the good news of salvation through the Incarnation. The magi’s coming to Jerusalem in order to pay homage to the king of the Jews shows that they seek in Israel, in the messianic light of the star of David, the one who will be king of the nations. Their coming means that pagans can discover Jesus and worship him as Son of God and Savior of the world only by turning towards the Jews and receiving from them the messianic promise as contained in the Old Testament. The Epiphany shows that “the full number of the nations” now takes its “place in the family of the patriarchs”, and acquires Israelitica dignitas (is made “worthy of the heritage of Israel”).

529 The presentation of Jesus in the temple shows him to be the firstborn Son who belongs to the Lord. With Simeon and Anna, all Israel awaits its encounter with the Savior-the name given to this event in the Byzantine tradition. Jesus is recognized as the long-expected Messiah, the “light to the nations” and the “glory of Israel”, but also “a sign that is spoken against”. The sword of sorrow predicted for Mary announces Christ’s perfect and unique oblation on the cross that will impart the salvation God had “prepared in the presence of all peoples”.

530 The flight into Egypt and the massacre of the innocents make manifest the opposition of darkness to the light: “He came to his own home, and his own people received him not.” Christ’s whole life was lived under the sign of persecution. His own share it with him. Jesus’ departure from Egypt recalls the exodus and presents him as the definitive liberator of God’s people.


Psalm 2

Why do the nations protest and the peoples grumble in vain?

Kings on earth rise up and princes plot together against the LORD and his anointed:

“Let us break their shackles and cast off their chains!”

The one enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord derides them,

Then speaks to them in anger, terrifies them in wrath:

“I myself have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.”

I will proclaim the decree of the LORD, who said to me, “You are my son; today I am your father.

Only ask it of me, and I will make your inheritance the nations, your possession the ends of the earth.

With an iron rod you shall shepherd them, like a clay pot you will shatter them.”

And now, kings, give heed; take warning, rulers on earth.

Serve the LORD with fear; with trembling bow down in homage, Lest God be angry and you perish from the way in a sudden blaze of anger. Happy are all who take refuge in God!

Source: The New American Bible

Holy Family

+Luke 2:41-52

Mary stored up all these things in her heart

Every year the parents of Jesus used to go to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up for the feast as usual. When they were on their way home after the feast, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem without his parents knowing it. They assumed he was with the caravan, and it was only after a day’s journey that they went to look for him among their relations and acquaintances. When they failed to find him they went back to Jerusalem looking for him everywhere.

Three days later, they found him in the Temple, sitting among the doctors, listening to them, and asking them questions; and all those who heard him were astounded at his intelligence and his replies. They were overcome when they saw him, and his mother said to him, ‘My child, why have, you done this to us? See how worried your father and I have been, looking for you.’

‘Why were you looking for me?’ he replied. ‘Did you not know that I must be busy with my Father’s affairs?’ But they did not understand what he meant.

He then went down with them and came to Nazareth and lived under their authority.

His mother stored up all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom, in stature, and in favour with God and men.


+1 Samuel 1:20-22,24-28

This is the child I prayed for: he is made over to the Lord.

Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son, and called him Samuel ‘since’ she said ‘I asked the Lord for him.’

When a year had gone by, the husband Elkanah went up again with all his family to offer the annual sacrifice to the Lord and to fulfil his vow. Hannah, however, did not go up, having said to her husband, ‘Not before the child is weaned. Then I will bring him and present him before the Lord and he shall stay there for ever.’

When she had weaned him, she took him up with her together with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour and a skin of wine, and she brought him to the temple of the Lord at Shiloh; and the child was with them. They slaughtered the bull and the child’s mother came to Eli. She said, ‘If you please, my lord. As you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you, praying to the Lord. This is the child I prayed for, and the Lord granted me what I asked him. Now I make him over to the Lord for the whole of his life. He is made over to the Lord.’

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(128):1-5

O blessed are those who fear the Lord.

O blessed are those who fear the Lord

and walk in his ways!

By the labour of your hands you shall eat.

You will be happy and prosper.

O blessed are those who fear the Lord.

Your wife will be like a fruitful vine

in the heart of your house;

your children like shoots of the olive,

around your table.

O blessed are those who fear the Lord.

Indeed thus shall be blessed

the man who fears the Lord.

May the Lord bless you from Zion

all the days of your life!

O blessed are those who fear the Lord.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Fourth Sunday of Advent

+Luke 1:39-45

Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord?

Mary set out and went as quickly as she could to a town in the hill country of Judah. She went into Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. Now as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She gave a loud cry and said, ‘Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord? For the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy. Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.’


+Micah 5:1-4

He will stand and feed his flock with the power of the Lord

The Lord says this:

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,

the least of the clans of Judah,

out of you will be born for me

the one who is to rule over Israel;

his origin goes back to the distant past,

to the days of old.

The Lord is therefore going to abandon them

till the time when she who is to give birth gives birth.

Then the remnant of his brothers will come back

to the sons of Israel.

He will stand and feed his flock

with the power of the Lord,

with the majesty of the name of his God.

They will live secure, for from then on he will extend his power

to the ends of the land.

He himself will be peace.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Mary – “Blessed is she who believed”

148 The Virgin Mary most perfectly embodies the obedience of faith. By faith Mary welcomes the tidings and promise brought by the angel Gabriel, believing that “with God nothing will be impossible” and so giving her assent: “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word.” Elizabeth greeted her: “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” It is for this faith that all generations have called Mary blessed.

149 Throughout her life and until her last ordeal when Jesus her son died on the cross, Mary’s faith never wavered. She never ceased to believe in the fulfillment of God’s word. And so the Church venerates in Mary the purest realization of faith.


Psalm 79(80):2-3,15-16,18-19

A psalm of Asaph. O God, the nations have invaded your heritage; they have defiled your holy temple, have laid Jerusalem in ruins.

They have left the corpses of your servants as food for the birds of the heavens, the flesh of your faithful for the beasts of the earth.

They have spilled their blood like water all around Jerusalem, and no one is left to bury them.

We have become the reproach of our neighbors, the scorn and derision of those around us.

How long, LORD? Will you be angry forever? Will your rage keep burning like fire?

Pour out your wrath on nations that reject you, on kingdoms that do not call on your name,

For they have devoured Jacob, laid waste his home.

Do not hold past iniquities against us; may your compassion come quickly, for we have been brought very low.

Help us, God our savior, for the glory of your name. Deliver us, pardon our sins for your name’s sake.

Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?” Before our eyes make clear to the nations that you avenge the blood of your servants.

Let the groans of prisoners come before you; by your great power free those doomed to death.

Lord, inflict on our neighbors seven fold the disgrace they inflicted on you.

Then we, your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; through all ages we will declare your praise.

Source: The New American Bible

Third Sunday of Advent

+Luke 3:10-18

‘Someone is coming who will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire’

When all the people asked John, ‘What must we do?’ he answered, ‘If anyone has two tunics he must share with the man who has none, and the one with something to eat must do the same.’ There were tax collectors too who came for baptism, and these said to him, ‘Master, what must we do?’ He said to them, ‘Exact no more than your rate.’ Some soldiers asked him in their turn, ‘What about us? What must we do?’ He said to them, ‘No intimidation! No extortion! Be content with your pay!’

A feeling of expectancy had grown among the people, who were beginning to think that John might be the Christ, so John declared before them all, ‘I baptise you with water, but someone is coming, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to undo the strap of his sandals; he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing-fan is in his hand to clear his threshing-floor and to gather the wheat into his barn; but the chaff he will burn in a fire that will never go out.’ As well as this, there were many other things he said to exhort the people and to announce the Good News to them.


Zephaniah 3:14-18

The Lord, the king of Israel, is in your midst

Shout for joy, daughter of Zion,

Israel, shout aloud!

Rejoice, exult with all your heart,

daughter of Jerusalem!

The Lord has repealed your sentence;

he has driven your enemies away.

The Lord, the king of Israel, is in your midst;

you have no more evil to fear.

When that day comes, word will come to Jerusalem:

Zion, have no fear,

do not let your hands fall limp.

The Lord your God is in your midst,

a victorious warrior.

He will exult with joy over you,

he will renew you by his love;

he will dance with shouts of joy for you

as on a day of festival.

The New American Bible

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

The baptism of Jesus

535 Jesus’ public life begins with his baptism by John in the Jordan.John preaches “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins”. A crowd of sinners – tax collectors and soldiers, Pharisees and Sadducees, and prostitutes- come to be baptized by him. “Then Jesus appears.” The Baptist hesitates, but Jesus insists and receives baptism. Then the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, comes upon Jesus and a voice from heaven proclaims, “This is my beloved Son.” This is the manifestation (“Epiphany”) of Jesus as Messiah of Israel and Son of God.

536 The baptism of Jesus is on his part the acceptance and inauguration of his mission as God’s suffering Servant. He allows himself to be numbered among sinners; he is already “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”. Already he is anticipating the “baptism” of his bloody death. Already he is coming to “fulfill all righteousness”, that is, he is submitting himself entirely to his Father’s will: out of love he consents to this baptism of death for the remission of our sins. The Father’s voice responds to the Son’s acceptance, proclaiming his entire delight in his Son. The Spirit whom Jesus possessed in fullness from his conception comes to “rest on him”. Jesus will be the source of the Spirit for all mankind. At his baptism “the heavens were opened” – the heavens that Adam’s sin had closed – and the waters were sanctified by the descent of Jesus and the Spirit, a prelude to the new creation.

537 Through Baptism the Christian is sacramentally assimilated to Jesus, who in his own baptism anticipates his death and resurrection. The Christian must enter into this mystery of humble self-abasement and repentance, go down into the water with Jesus in order to rise with him, be reborn of water and the Spirit so as to become the Father’s beloved son in the Son and “walk in newness of life”:

Let us be buried with Christ by Baptism to rise with him; let us go down with him to be raised with him; and let us rise with him to be glorified with him.

Everything that happened to Christ lets us know that, after the bath of water, the Holy Spirit swoops down upon us from high heaven and that, adopted by the Father’s voice, we become sons of God.


Isaiah 12

The rejoicing of a redeemed people

On that day, you will say: I give you thanks, O LORD; though you have been angry with me, your anger has abated, and you have consoled me.

God indeed is my savior; I am confident and unafraid. My strength and my courage is the LORD, and he has been my savior.

With joy you will draw water at the fountain of salvation,

and say on that day: Give thanks to the LORD, acclaim his name; among the nations make known his deeds, proclaim how exalted is his name.

Sing praise to the LORD for his glorious achievement; let this be known throughout all the earth.

Shout with exultation, O city of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel!

Source: The New American Bible