SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT READINGS, MARCH 17, 2019 WITH POPE FRANCIS HOMILY

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Reading 1 GN 5:5-12, 17-18

The Lord God took Abram outside and said,
“Look up at the sky and count the stars, if you can.
Just so,” he added, “shall your descendants be.”
Abram put his faith in the LORD,
who credited it to him as an act of righteousness.

He then said to him,
“I am the LORD who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans
to give you this land as a possession.”
“O Lord GOD,” he asked,
“how am I to know that I shall possess it?”
He answered him,
“Bring me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old she-goat,
a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.”
Abram brought him all these, split them in two,
and placed each half opposite the other;
but the birds he did not cut up.
Birds of prey swooped down on the carcasses,
but Abram stayed with them.
As the sun was about to set, a trance fell upon Abram,
and a deep, terrifying darkness enveloped him.

When the sun had set and it was dark,
there appeared a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch,
which passed between those pieces.
It was on that occasion that the LORD made a covenant with Abram,
saying: “To your descendants I give this land,
from the Wadi of Egypt to the Great River, the Euphrates.”

Responsorial Psalm 27:1, 7-9, 13-14

R. (1a)  The Lord is my light and my salvation.
The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s refuge;
of whom should I be afraid?
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
Hear, O LORD, the sound of my call;
have pity on me, and answer me.
Of you my heart speaks; you my glance seeks.
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
Your presence, O LORD, I seek.
Hide not your face from me;
do not in anger repel your servant.
You are my helper: cast me not off.
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD with courage;
be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.

Reading 2 PHIL 3:17-4:1

Join with others in being imitators of me, brothers and sisters,
and observe those who thus conduct themselves
according to the model you have in us.
For many, as I have often told you
and now tell you even in tears,
conduct themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ.
Their end is destruction.
Their God is their stomach;
their glory is in their “shame.”
Their minds are occupied with earthly things.
But our citizenship is in heaven,
and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
He will change our lowly body
to conform with his glorified body
by the power that enables him also
to bring all things into subjection to himself.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters,
whom I love and long for, my joy and crown,
in this way stand firm in the Lord.

Verse Before The Gospel MT 17:5

From the shining cloud the Father’s voice is heard:
This is my beloved Son, hear him.

Gospel LK 9:28-36

Jesus took Peter, John, and James
and went up the mountain to pray.
While he was praying his face changed in appearance
and his clothing became dazzling white.
And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah,
who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus
that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem.
Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep,
but becoming fully awake,
they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.
As they were about to part from him, Peter said to Jesus,
“Master, it is good that we are here;
let us make three tents,
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
But he did not know what he was saying.
While he was still speaking,
a cloud came and cast a shadow over them,
and they became frightened when they entered the cloud.
Then from the cloud came a voice that said,
“This is my chosen Son; listen to him.”
After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone.
They fell silent and did not at that time
tell anyone what they had seen.
POPE FRANCIS Homily on the Transfiguration (2014)

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today the Gospel presents the Transfiguration. It is the second stage of the Lenten journey: the first was the temptation in the desert, last Sunday; the second, the Transfiguration. Jesus “took with him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain apart” (Mt 17:1). The mountain in the Bible represents a place close to God and an intimate encounter with Him, a place of prayer where one stands in the presence of the Lord. There up on the mount, Jesus is revealed to the three disciples as transfigured, luminescent and most beautiful. And then Moses and Elijah appear and converse with Him. His face is so resplendent and his robes so white that Peter, awe-struck, wishes to stay there, as if to stop time. Suddenly from on high the voice of the Father resounds proclaiming Jesus to be his most beloved Son, saying “listen to him” (v. 5). This word is important! Our Father said this to these Apostles, and says it to us as well: “listen to Jesus, because he is my beloved Son”. This week let us keep this word in our minds and in our hearts: “listen to Jesus!”. And the Pope is not saying this, God the Father says it to everyone: to me, to you, to everyone, all people! It is like an aid for going forward on the path of Lent. “Listen to Jesus!”. Don’t forget.

This invitation from the Father is very important. We, the disciples of Jesus, are called to be people who listen to his voice and take his words seriously. To listen to Jesus, we must be close to him, to follow him, like the crowd in the Gospel who chase him through the streets of Palestine. Jesus did not have a teaching post or a fixed pulpit, he was an itinerant teacher, who proposed his teachings, teachings given to him by the Father, along the streets, covering distances that were not always predictable or easy. Follow Jesus in order to listen to him. But also let us listen to Jesus in his written Word, in the Gospel. I pose a question to you: do you read a passage of the Gospel everyday? Yes, no… yes, no… half of the time … some yes, some no. It is important! Do you read the Gospel? It is so good; it is a good thing to have a small book of the Gospel, a little one, and to carry in our pocket or in our purse and read a little passage in whatever moment presents itself during the day. In any given moment of the day I take the Gospel from my pocket and I read something, a short passage. Jesus is there and he speaks to us in the Gospel! Ponder this. It’s not difficult, nor is it necessary to have all four books: one of the Gospels, a small one, with us. Let the Gospel be with us always, because it is the Word of Jesus in order for us to be able to listen to him.

From the event of the Transfiguration I would like to take two significant elements that can be summed up in two words: ascent and descent. We all need to go apart, to ascend the mountain in a space of silence, to find ourselves and better perceive the voice of the Lord. This we do in prayer. But we cannot stay there! Encounter with God in prayer inspires us anew to “descend the mountain” and return to the plain where we meet many brothers weighed down by fatigue, sickness, injustice, ignorance, poverty both material and spiritual. To these brothers in difficulty, we are called to bear the fruit of that experience with God, by sharing the grace we have received. And this is curious. When we hear the Word of Jesus, when we listen to the Word of Jesus and carry it in our heart, this Word grows. Do you know how it grows? By giving it to the other! The Word of Christ grows in us when we proclaim it, when we give it to others! And this is what Christian life is. It is a mission for the whole Church, for all the baptized, for us all: listen to Jesus and offer him to others. Do not forget: this week listen to Jesus! And think about the matter of the Gospel: will you? Will you do this? Then next Sunday you tell me if you have done this: that you have a little book of the Gospel in your pocket or in your purse to read in little stages throughout the day.

And now let us turn to our Mother Mary, and entrust ourselves to her guidance in pursuing with faith and generosity this path of Lent, learning a little more how to “ascend” with prayer and listen to Jesus and to “descend” with brotherly love, proclaiming Jesus.

(painting: Carl Heinrich Bloch, The Transfiguration)

FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT READINGS, MARCH 10, 2019 (WITH REFLECTION)

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FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT

Reading 1 DT 25:4-10

Moses spoke to the people, saying:
“The priest shall receive the basket from you
and shall set it in front of the altar of the LORD, your God.
Then you shall declare before the Lord, your God,
‘My father was a wandering Aramean
who went down to Egypt with a small household
and lived there as an alien.
But there he became a nation
great, strong, and numerous.
When the Egyptians maltreated and oppressed us,
imposing hard labor upon us,
we cried to the LORD, the God of our fathers,
and he heard our cry
and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression.
He brought us out of Egypt
with his strong hand and outstretched arm,
with terrifying power, with signs and wonders;
and bringing us into this country,
he gave us this land flowing with milk and honey.
Therefore, I have now brought you the firstfruits
of the products of the soil
which you, O LORD, have given me.’
And having set them before the Lord, your God,
you shall bow down in his presence.”

Responsorial Psalm 91:1-2,10-15

R. (cf. 15b)  Be with me, Lord, when I am in trouble.
You who dwell in the shelter of the Most High,
who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,
say to the LORD, “My refuge and fortress,
my God in whom I trust.”
R. Be with me, Lord, when I am in trouble.
No evil shall befall you,
nor shall affliction come near your tent,
For to his angels he has given command about you,
that they guard you in all your ways.
R. Be with me, Lord, when I am in trouble.
Upon their hands they shall bear you up,
lest you dash your foot against a stone.
You shall tread upon the asp and the viper;
you shall trample down the lion and the dragon.
R. Be with me, Lord, when I am in trouble.
Because he clings to me, I will deliver him;
I will set him on high because he acknowledges my name.
He shall call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in distress;
I will deliver him and glorify him.
R. Be with me, Lord, when I am in trouble.

Reading 2 ROM 10:8-13

Brothers and sisters:
What does Scripture say?
The word is near you,
in your mouth and in your heart

—that is, the word of faith that we preach—,
for, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord
and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead,
you will be saved.
For one believes with the heart and so is justified,
and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.
For the Scripture says,
No one who believes in him will be put to shame.
For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek;
the same Lord is Lord of all,
enriching all who call upon him.
For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Verse Before The Gospel MT 4:4

One does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.

Gospel LK 4:1-13

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan
and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days,
to be tempted by the devil.
He ate nothing during those days,
and when they were over he was hungry.
The devil said to him,
“If you are the Son of God,
command this stone to become bread.”
Jesus answered him,
“It is written, One does not live on bread alone.”
Then he took him up and showed him
all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant.
The devil said to him,
“I shall give to you all this power and glory;
for it has been handed over to me,
and I may give it to whomever I wish.
All this will be yours, if you worship me.”
Jesus said to him in reply,
“It is written:
You shall worship the Lord, your God,
and him alone shall you serve.”

Then he led him to Jerusalem,
made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him,
“If you are the Son of God,
throw yourself down from here, for it is written:
He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,
and:
With their hands they will support you,
lest you dash your foot against a stone.”

Jesus said to him in reply,
“It also says,
You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.”
When the devil had finished every temptation,
he departed from him for a time.

REflECTION ON TODAY’S Gospel READING

The late Fr. Hilary Ottensmeyer gave a well-remembered homily on the first temptation  and, in his unique way, added a little narrative twist : “Let’s up the ante for Christ. ‘Turn these rocks into bread says,’ the Devil, ‘and we’ll feed all the starving children of the world.” What would our Blessed Lord do? History has an answer for that, I believe. During the second World War, a German bishop was preaching against the Nazis. The Nazis came to him and said, ‘You have a choice: Either sign this concordant with us and stop preaching against us, or we’ll kill all your Catholics.’ What do you think the bishop did? He signed the concordant and stopped preaching against them. Guess what happened? The Nazis killed his Catholics anyway, which goes to show, If you go to dine with devil, you need a LONG SPOON!”

Hilary was quite the relativistic thinker, which always made his homilies exciting. So too is Fr. Justin. After one homily, which I remember well, Justin was asked whether a certain land strip might be the actual Promised land. Justin answered, “The Promised land is whatever is beneath your feet, despite and through all the challenges that come with life.”

I like to tie these together; In Hilary’s homily, that cave of temptation was Justin’s promised land beneath the feet, despite a formidable advisory, despite a starving Christ, deprived of a soft bed and warmth. For the devil, be he a figure in a cave or a nazi stormtrooper, not taking that spoon is inconceivable; it’s the spoon of “winners;”  the spoon of “winning,” that will teleport you to a NEW promised land where the grass is always greener, where your belly will always be full, where manna will fall from the sky and you’ll never be wanting. Perhaps Christ remembered that he was born in a filthy cave, to immigrants who found no room at the inn. Now here he was, in a similar filthy cave, facing Hell himself.  Yet, that first cave gave birth to Unconditional Love and so also the second cave was occupied with Unconditional Love manifested in the form of the now adult Christ, who knew, despite appearances and even general comforts, that this was his promise land. With focus, he planted his feet there and kept that long spoon firmly in palm, by his side, determinedly resisting the Devil’s triptych of Hedonism, Egoism, and Martialism.

It’s an apt Gospel reading for the first Sunday of Lent. On the surface, it might be taken as a reading about self-denial. Of course there’s edification in that. However, it’s not so much about denial as realizing that the promised land isn’t even a physical place. Rather, it is a place of spirit and mind where Unconditional Love grits teeth and mantles clear-eyed vision that will resurrect through every Hell, seizing and holding the earth of that paradise beneath one’s feet.

(Paintings of the three temptations (( Hedonism, Egoism, Materialism)) © 2019, Alfred Eaker 

SUNDAY READINGS 24 FEBRUARY, 2019 WITH OSCAR ROMERO REFLECTION

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SEVENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

Reading 1 1 SM 26:2, 7-9, 12-13,22-23

In those days, Saul went down to the desert of Ziph
with three thousand picked men of Israel,
to search for David in the desert of Ziph.
So David and Abishai went among Saul’s soldiers by night
and found Saul lying asleep within the barricade,
with his spear thrust into the ground at his head
and Abner and his men sleeping around him.

Abishai whispered to David:
“God has delivered your enemy into your grasp this day.
Let me nail him to the ground with one thrust of the spear;
I will not need a second thrust!”
But David said to Abishai, “Do not harm him,
for who can lay hands on the LORD’s anointed and remain unpunished?”
So David took the spear and the water jug from their place at Saul’s         head,
and they got away without anyone’s seeing or knowing or awakening.
All remained asleep,
because the LORD had put them into a deep slumber.

Going across to an opposite slope,
David stood on a remote hilltop
at a great distance from Abner, son of Ner, and the troops.
He said: “Here is the king’s spear.
Let an attendant come over to get it.
The LORD will reward each man for his justice and faithfulness.
Today, though the LORD delivered you into my grasp,
I would not harm the LORD’s anointed.”

Responsorial Psalm 103″1-4, 8,10,12-13

R. (8a) The Lord is kind and merciful.
Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
He pardons all your iniquities,
heals all your ills.
He redeems your life from destruction,
crowns you with kindness and compassion.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
Merciful and gracious is the LORD,
slow to anger and abounding in kindness.
Not according to our sins does he deal with us,
nor does he requite us according to our crimes.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he put our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.

Reading 2 1 COR 15:45-49

Brothers and sisters:
It is written, The first man, Adam, became a living being,
the last Adam a life-giving spirit.
But the spiritual was not first;
rather the natural and then the spiritual.
The first man was from the earth, earthly;
the second man, from heaven.
As was the earthly one, so also are the earthly,
and as is the heavenly one, so also are the heavenly.
Just as we have borne the image of the earthly one,
we shall also bear the image of the heavenly one.

Alleluia JN 13;34

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I give you a new commandment, says the Lord:
love one another as I have loved you.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 6:27-38

Jesus said to his disciples:
“To you who hear I say,
love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
To the person who strikes you on one cheek,
offer the other one as well,
and from the person who takes your cloak,
do not withhold even your tunic.
Give to everyone who asks of you,
and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back.
Do to others as you would have them do to you.
For if you love those who love you,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners love those who love them.
And if you do good to those who do good to you,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners do the same.
If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners lend to sinners,
and get back the same amount.
But rather, love your enemies and do good to them,
and lend expecting nothing back;
then your reward will be great
and you will be children of the Most High,
for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

“Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give, and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you.”

OSCAR ROMERO: FROM POVERTY OF THE BEATITUDES, OUR STRENGTH .

What does Jesus do in the gospel account of the Beatitudes? How wonderful to be able to reflect with Jesus who came down the mountain!  The gospels use beautiful expressions that describe some profound ways of viewing Jesus. Let us behold Jesus as he comes down the mountain, as he comes down from the heights to mingle with the people: coming down from the mountain he began to address the people with the words that were proclaimed in the gospel:Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours.

In contrast to the four Beatitudes there appears a denunciation … a denunciation of the fact that there are poor people, that there are people who are hungry, that there are people who suffer. Those individuals are blessed because they suffer and weep and are hungry but why do these realities exist? Today’s gospel is wonderful as it points out the causes of these realities: Woe to you who are rich, because you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are filled now, for you will be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will grieve and weep . The voice of Jesus echoes the words of all the prophets of the Old Testament. How great are the prophets when they denounce those who join house to house and land to land in an attempt to become owners of the country.

The existence of poverty as a lack of what is necessary is an indictment. My brothers and sisters, those who say that the bishop, the Church, and the priests have caused the bad state of the country want to paper over the reality. Those who have created the evil are those who have made possible the hideous social injustice that our people live in. Thus, the poor have shown the Church the true way to go. A Church that does not join the poor in order to speak out on behalf of the poor and against the injustices committed against them, is not the true Church of Jesus Christ.

SUNDAY READINGS 17 FEBRUARY, 2019 WITH POPE FRANCIS’ “NEW SET OF BEATITUDES FOR THE 21ST CENTURY”

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Reading 1 jer 17:5-8

Thus says the LORD:
Cursed is the one who trusts in human beings,
who seeks his strength in flesh,
whose heart turns away from the LORD.
He is like a barren bush in the desert
that enjoys no change of season,
but stands in a lava waste,
a salt and empty earth.
Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD,
whose hope is the LORD.
He is like a tree planted beside the waters
that stretches out its roots to the stream:
it fears not the heat when it comes;
its leaves stay green;
in the year of drought it shows no distress,
but still bears fruit.

Responsorial Psalm 1:1-4, 6

R. (40:5a) Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
Blessed the man who follows not
the counsel of the wicked,
nor walks in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the company of the insolent,
but delights in the law of the LORD
and meditates on his law day and night.
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
He is like a tree
planted near running water,
that yields its fruit in due season,
and whose leaves never fade.
Whatever he does, prospers.
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
Not so the wicked, not so;
they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
For the LORD watches over the way of the just,
but the way of the wicked vanishes.
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.

Reading 2 1 cor 15:12, 16-20

Brothers and sisters:
If Christ is preached as raised from the dead,
how can some among you say there is no resurrection of the dead?
If the dead are not raised, neither has Christ been raised,
and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain;
you are still in your sins.
Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
If for this life only we have hoped in Christ,
we are the most pitiable people of all.

But now Christ has been raised from the dead,
the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

Alleluia lk 6:23

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Rejoice and be glad;
your reward will be great in heaven.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel lk 6:17, 20-26

Jesus came down with the twelve
and stood on a stretch of level ground
with a great crowd of his disciples
and a large number of the people
from all Judea and Jerusalem
and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon.
And raising his eyes toward his disciples he said:
“Blessed are you who are poor,
for the kingdom of God is yours.
Blessed are you who are now hungry,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who are now weeping,
for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you,
and when they exclude and insult you,
and denounce your name as evil
on account of the Son of Man.
Rejoice and leap for joy on that day!
Behold, your reward will be great in heaven.
For their ancestors treated the prophets in the same way.
But woe to you who are rich,
for you have received your consolation.
Woe to you who are filled now,
for you will be hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
for you will grieve and weep.
Woe to you when all speak well of you,
for their ancestors treated the false
prophets in this way.”
POPE FRANCIS : NEW SET OF BEATITUDES 

In his 2019 message, Francis stressed that politics must be used as a means of fighting violence and injustice by protecting a nation’s citizens and pursuing the common good, rather than private interests.

“Political office and political responsibility constantly challenge those called to the service of their country to make every effort to protect those who live there and to create the conditions for a worthy and just future,” he said, adding that if exercised “with basic respect for the life, freedom and dignity of persons, political life can become an outstanding form of charity.”

Referring to the late Vietnamese Cardinal François-Xavier Nguyễn Vãn Thuận, who spent 13 years in a Communist prison, nine in solitary confinement, and whose cause for beatification is currently open in the Vatican, Francis pointed to the “Beatitudes of the Politician” proposed by Vãn Thuận in his writings.

Offering eight beatitudes for good politicians, Vãn Thuận defined them as such:

  • Blessed be the politician with a lofty sense and deep understanding of his role.
  • Blessed be the politician who personally exemplifies credibility.
  • Blessed be the politician who works for the common good and not his or her own interest.
  • Blessed be the politician who remains consistent.
  • Blessed be the politician who works for unity.
  • Blessed be the politician who works to accomplish radical change.
  • Blessed be the politician who is capable of listening.
  • Blessed be the politician who is without fear.

In political life, “every election and re-election, and every stage of public life, is an opportunity to return to the original points of reference that inspire justice and law,” Francis said in his message, referring to Vãn Thuận’s beatitudes.

“One thing is certain: good politics is at the service of peace,” he said, adding that politics must both respect and promote fundamental human rights, “enabling a bond of trust and gratitude to be forged between present and future generations.”

Yet when politics is overcome by vice, it will “bring disgrace to public life and threaten social harmony” through the misappropriation of national funds, exploitation, denial of human rights, racism xenophobia, and the “plundering” of the earth’s goods for the sake of turning a quick profit, he said.

As he often points out, Francis said young people are especially at risk when political powers seek to protect the private interests of a select few rather than the whole, since they lack opportunities and can easily lose confidence in building a future.

If political life is grounded in law and a just relationship between all individuals, a society can be built on trust, he said, but cautioned that this trust can be difficult to achieve, above all in the political realm, where attitudes of “rejection” or nationalism can “call into question the fraternity of which our globalized world has such great need.”

“Today more than ever, our societies need artisans of peace who can be messengers and authentic witnesses of God the Father, who wills the good and the happiness of the human family,” he said.

Noting how 2018 marked the centenary of the end of the First World War, Francis stressed that amid widespread civilian destruction, “peace can never be reduced solely to a balance between power and fear.”

“To threaten others is to lower them to the status of objects and to deny their dignity,” he said, and condemned the arms trade and a culture of intimidation and in terrorism, which he said “contributes to the exile of entire populations who seek a place of peace.”

“Political rhetoric that tends to blame every evil on migrants and to deprive the poor of hope are unacceptable,” he said, adding that peace can only be built on respect for each person, regardless of their background, and on respect for the law and the common good.

Pointing to this year’s anniversary of the United Nations’ Declaration of Human Rights, adopted after the Second World War, the pope said that in tandem with rights is the recognition of duties, and the need to implement these rights as a means of preserving human dignity.

Peace, he said, is the result of “a great political project” founded on both mutual responsibility and interdependence. Calling the pursuit of peace “a challenge that demands to be taken up ever anew,” he said it requires a conversion of heart and soul to achieve.

Conversion happens at three levels, he said: making peace with oneself by rejecting inflexibility, anger and impatience; with others, including one’s family, friends and the poor; and with all of creation, recognizing a shared responsibility to protect the world and to be “citizens and builders of the future.”

(From crux now.com)

(painting : The 4 Woes of Luke. © Alfred Eaker, 2019)

SUNDAY READINGS FEBRUARY 10, 2019 with Reflection By Pope John Paul II

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Reading 1 IS 6:1-8

In the year King Uzziah died,
I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne,
with the train of his garment filling the temple.
Seraphim were stationed above.

They cried one to the other,
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts!
All the earth is filled with his glory!”
At the sound of that cry, the frame of the door shook
and the house was filled with smoke.

Then I said, “Woe is me, I am doomed!
For I am a man of unclean lips,
living among a people of unclean lips;
yet my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”
Then one of the seraphim flew to me,
holding an ember that he had taken with tongs from the altar.

He touched my mouth with it, and said,
“See, now that this has touched your lips,
your wickedness is removed, your sin purged.”

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying,
“Whom shall I send?  Who will go for us?”
“Here I am,” I said; “send me!”

Responsorial Psalm 138:1-5, 7-8

R. (1c) In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord.
I will give thanks to you, O LORD, with all my heart,
for you have heard the words of my mouth;
in the presence of the angels I will sing your praise;
I will worship at your holy temple
and give thanks to your name.
R. In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord.
Because of your kindness and your truth;
for you have made great above all things
your name and your promise.
When I called, you answered me;
you built up strength within me.
R. In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord.
All the kings of the earth shall give thanks to you, O LORD,
when they hear the words of your mouth;
and they shall sing of the ways of the LORD:
“Great is the glory of the LORD.”
R. In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord.
Your right hand saves me.
The LORD will complete what he has done for me;
your kindness, O LORD, endures forever;
forsake not the work of your hands.
R. In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord.

Reading 2 1 COR 15:1-11

I am reminding you, brothers and sisters,
of the gospel I preached to you,
which you indeed received and in which you also stand.
Through it you are also being saved,
if you hold fast to the word I preached to you,
unless you believed in vain.
For I handed on to you as of first importance what I also received:
that Christ died for our sins
in accordance with the Scriptures;
that he was buried;
that he was raised on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures;
that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve.
After that, Christ appeared to more
than five hundred brothers at once,
most of whom are still living,
though some have fallen asleep.
After that he appeared to James,
then to all the apostles.
Last of all, as to one born abnormally,
he appeared to me.
For I am the least of the apostles,
not fit to be called an apostle,
because I persecuted the church of God.
But by the grace of God I am what I am,
and his grace to me has not been ineffective.
Indeed, I have toiled harder than all of them;
not I, however, but the grace of God that is with me.
Therefore, whether it be I or they,
so we preach and so you believed.

Alleluia MT 4:19

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Come after me
and I will make you fishers of men.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 5:1-11

While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening
to the word of God,
he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret.
He saw two boats there alongside the lake;
the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets.
Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon,
he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore.
Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.
After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon,
“Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.”
Simon said in reply,
“Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing,
but at your command I will lower the nets.”
When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish
and their nets were tearing.
They signaled to their partners in the other boat
to come to help them.
They came and filled both boats
so that the boats were in danger of sinking.
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said,
“Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”
For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him
and all those with him,
and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee,
who were partners of Simon.
Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid;
from now on you will be catching men.”
When they brought their boats to the shore,
they left everything and followed him.
COME AFTER ME, AND I WILL MAKE YOU FISHERS OF MEN. A disciple of Christ is never a passive and indifferent observer. On the contrary, he feels responsible for transforming social, political, economic and cultural reality. By Pope John Paul II
By her very nature the Church is a missionary community. She is continually impelled by this missionary thrust which she has received from the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8). In fact, the Holy Spirit is the principal agent of the Church’s entire mission.As a consequence, the Christian vocation is also directed towards the apostolate, towards evangelization, towards mission. All baptized persons are called by Christ to become his apostles in their own personal situation and in the world: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you” (Jn 20:21). Through his Church Christ entrusts you with the fundamental mission of sharing with others the gift of salvation, and he invites you to participate in building his kingdom. He chooses you, in spite of the personal limitations everyone has, because he loves you and believes in you. This unconditional love of Christ should be the very soul of your apostolic work, in accord with the words of St Paul: “The love of Christ impels us” (2 Cor 5:14).

Being disciples of Christ is not a private matter. On the contrary, the gift of faith must be shared with others. For this reason the same Apostle writes: “If I preach the Gospel, this is no reason for me to boast, for an obligation has been imposed on me, and woe to me if I do not preach it!” (1 Cor 9:16). Moreover, do not forget that faith is strengthened and grows precisely when it is given to others.

The mission lands in which you have been called to work are not necessarily located in distant countries, but can be found throughout the world, even in the everyday situations where you are. In the countries of more ancient Christian tradition today there is an urgent need to call attention again to the message of Jesus by means of a new evangelization, since there are widespread groups of people who do not know Christ, or do not know him well enough; many, caught by the mechanisms of secularism and religious indifference, are far from him.

Proclaiming Christ means above all giving witness to him with one’s life. It is the simplest form of preaching the Gospel and, at the same time, the most effective way available to you. It consists in showing the visible presence of Christ in one’s own life by a daily commitment and by making every concrete decision in conformity with the Gospel. Today the world especially needs believable witnesses.

Therefore, testify to your faith through your involvement in the world. A disciple of Christ is never a passive and indifferent observer of what is taking place. On the contrary, he feels responsible for transforming social, political, economic and cultural reality.

You must have the courage to speak about Christ in your families and in places where you study, work or recreate, inspired with the same fervor the Apostles had when they said: “We cannot help speaking of what we have heard and seen” (Acts 4:20). Do not be afraid of presenting Christ to someone who does not yet know him. Christ is the true answer, the most complete answer to all the questions which concern the human person and his destiny. Without Christ the human person remains an unsolvable riddle.

Therefore, have the courage to present Christ! Certainly, you must do this in a way which respects each person’s freedom of conscience, but you must do it. Helping a brother or sister to discover Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life is a true act of love for one’s neighbor. So, do not be discouraged, because you are never alone. The Lord will not fail to accompany you, as he promised: “Know that I am with you always, until the end of the world” (Mt 28:20).

SUNDAY READINGS FEBRUARY 3, 2019 with homily by Fr. Andrew Greeley

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Reading 1 jer 1:4-5, 17-19

The word of the LORD came to me, saying:
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I dedicated you,
a prophet to the nations I appointed you.

But do you gird your loins;
stand up and tell them
all that I command you.
Be not crushed on their account,
as though I would leave you crushed before them;
for it is I this day
who have made you a fortified city,
a pillar of iron, a wall of brass,
against the whole land:
against Judah’s kings and princes,
against its priests and people.
They will fight against you but not prevail over you,
for I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD.

Responsorial Psalm 71: 1-6. 15-17

R. (cf. 15ab) I will sing of your salvation.
In you, O LORD, I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
In your justice rescue me, and deliver me;
incline your ear to me, and save me.
R. I will sing of your salvation.
Be my rock of refuge,
a stronghold to give me safety,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
O my God, rescue me from the hand of the wicked.
R. I will sing of your salvation.
For you are my hope, O Lord;
my trust, O God, from my youth.
On you I depend from birth;
from my mother’s womb you are my strength.
R. I will sing of your salvation.
My mouth shall declare your justice,
day by day your salvation.
O God, you have taught me from my youth,
and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds.
R. I will sing of your salvation.

Reading 2 1 cor 12:31-13:13

Brothers and sisters:
Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts.
But I shall show you a still more excellent way.

If I speak in human and angelic tongues,
but do not have love,
I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.
And if I have the gift of prophecy,
and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge;
if I have all faith so as to move mountains,
but do not have love, I am nothing.
If I give away everything I own,
and if I hand my body over so that I may boast,
but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind.
It is not jealous, it is not pompous,
It is not inflated, it is not rude,
it does not seek its own interests,
it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,
it does not rejoice over wrongdoing
but rejoices with the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails.
If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing;
if tongues, they will cease;
if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing.
For we know partially and we prophesy partially,
but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.
When I was a child, I used to talk as a child,
think as a child, reason as a child;
when I became a man, I put aside childish things.
At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror,
but then face to face.
At present I know partially;
then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.
So faith, hope, love remain, these three;
but the greatest of these is love.

Alleluia lk 4:18

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Lord sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor,
to proclaim liberty to captives.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel lk 4:21-30

Jesus began speaking in the synagogue, saying:
“Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
And all spoke highly of him
and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.
They also asked, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?”
He said to them, “Surely you will quote me this proverb,
‘Physician, cure yourself,’ and say,
‘Do here in your native place
the things that we heard were done in Capernaum.'”
And he said, “Amen, I say to you,
no prophet is accepted in his own native place.
Indeed, I tell you,
there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah
when the sky was closed for three and a half years
and a severe famine spread over the entire land.
It was to none of these that Elijah was sent,
but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon.
Again, there were many lepers in Israel
during the time of Elisha the prophet;
yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”
When the people in the synagogue heard this,
they were all filled with fury.
They rose up, drove him out of the town,
and led him to the brow of the hill
on which their town had been built,
to hurl him down headlong.
But Jesus passed through the midst of them and went away.

FR. ANDREW GREELEY ON TODAY’S Gospel READING (2004)

Background:
Jesus patently did not see himself as a political and military leader. Indeed his claims are in striking contrast of the messianic portrait in the reading from Jeremiah which is the first reading today. However, his claims were clearly offensive to his fellow townspeople. Indeed, he might have had less trouble with them if he announced, like several other populist leaders of his era, that he was proclaiming a holy war against the Romans and would lead a march on Jerusalem. As we saw last Sunday, however, his vision of the New Age was drastically different. So he was offensive to his neighbors both because he made and outrageous claim and because the claim was not, as they saw it, radical enough.
Story:
A famous novelist came back to his home town after many years. He had pledged to contribute two million dollars for a new hospital. Many of his friends from his school days were invited to a reception for him and his wife. Some of them ignored the invitation. Why only two million, they muttered. He could have paid for the whole hospital with all the money he has. The rest went to the party, but they were not particularly happy about the whole event. Who does this guy think he is? He’d been a quiet, unobtrusive little guy when he was in school, the kind of person you’d hardly notice. He generally was not invited anywhere. None of the women in his class would have considered dating him if they had been asked, only he never asked. They had heard rumors that his novels were about the town and about them. They believed the rumors of course, but since they hadn’t read any of his books, they didn’t know for sure. He had to find a freshman to take to the senior prom! So he’d made a lot of money on his novels? Why did that make him a big deal? OK give the money for the hospital, but you should have given more with all you have, but don’t show up in town and expect us to cheer for you. You’re not a big deal now and you never were. Nor were they impressed with the beautiful woman he had married. (They had known her as an obnoxious freshman.) Anyone can look beautiful if her husband has a lot of money. She was still cheap despite all their money. They didn’t join the receiving line, because they didn’t want to have to talk to either of them. However, he had the nerve to walk around the room and say hello to everyone and recall incidents from their school days which they never remembered. They tried to be polite but it was very hard. Then they went home and said to their children. He’s not a big deal. He never was.
 (painting : Leonardo da Vinci, Salvator Mundi, c.1500)

SUNDAY JANUARY 27, 2019 READINGS WITH POPE FRANCIS HOMILY

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THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

Reading 1 NEH 8:2-6, 8-10

Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly,
which consisted of men, women,
and those children old enough to understand.
Standing at one end of the open place that was before the Water Gate,
he read out of the book from daybreak till midday,
in the presence of the men, the women,
and those children old enough to understand;
and all the people listened attentively to the book of the law.
Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform
that had been made for the occasion.
He opened the scroll
so that all the people might see it
— for he was standing higher up than any of the people —;
and, as he opened it, all the people rose.
Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God,
and all the people, their hands raised high, answered,
“Amen, amen!”
Then they bowed down and prostrated themselves before the LORD,
their faces to the ground.
Ezra read plainly from the book of the law of God,
interpreting it so that all could understand what was read.
Then Nehemiah, that is, His Excellency, and Ezra the priest-scribe
and the Levites who were instructing the people
said to all the people:
“Today is holy to the LORD your God.
Do not be sad, and do not weep”—
for all the people were weeping as they heard the words of the law.
He said further: “Go, eat rich foods and drink sweet drinks,
and allot portions to those who had nothing prepared;
for today is holy to our LORD.
Do not be saddened this day,
for rejoicing in the LORD must be your strength!”

Responsorial Psalm 19:8-10, 15

R. (cf John 6:63c) Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul;
The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
The command of the LORD is clear,
enlightening the eye.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever;
The ordinances of the LORD are true,
all of them just.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
Let the words of my mouth and the thought of my heart
find favor before you,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.

Reading 2 1 COR 12:12-30

Brothers and sisters:
As a body is one though it has many parts,
and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body,
so also Christ.
For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body,
whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons,
and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.Now the body is not a single part, but many.
If a foot should say,
“Because I am not a hand I do not belong to the body, ”
it does not for this reason belong any less to the body.
Or if an ear should say,
“Because I am not an eye I do not belong to the body, ”

it does not for this reason belong any less to the body.
If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be?
If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?
But as it is, God placed the parts,
each one of them, in the body as he intended.
If they were all one part, where would the body be?
But as it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I do not need you, ”
nor again the head to the feet, “I do not need you.”
Indeed, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker
are all the more necessary,
and those parts of the body that we consider less honorable
we surround with greater honor,
and our less presentable parts are treated with greater propriety,
whereas our more presentable parts do not need this.
But God has so constructed the body
as to give greater honor to a part that is without it,
so that there may be no division in the body,
but that the parts may have the same concern for one another.
If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it;
if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.

Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it.
Some people God has designated in the church
to be, first, apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers;
then, mighty deeds;
then gifts of healing, assistance, administration,
and varieties of tongues.
Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers?
Do all work mighty deeds? Do all have gifts of healing?
Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?

Alleluia LK 4:18

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Lord sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor,
and to proclaim liberty to captives.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 1:1-4; 4:14-21

Since many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the events
that have been fulfilled among us,
just as those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning
and ministers of the word have handed them down to us,
I too have decided,
after investigating everything accurately anew,
to write it down in an orderly sequence for you,
most excellent Theophilus,
so that you may realize the certainty of the teachings
you have received.

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit,
and news of him spread throughout the whole region.
He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all.

He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up,
and went according to his custom
into the synagogue on the sabbath day.
He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah.
He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.

Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down,
and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.
He said to them,
“Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

POPE FRANCIS’ HOMILY CLOSING MASS WORLD YOUTH DAY 2019 (PANAMA): “We may possess everything, but if we lack the passion of love, we will have nothing. Let us allow the Lord to make us fall in love!”

“The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them: ‘Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing’” (Lk 4:20-21). With these words, the Gospel presents the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. It started in the synagogue that saw him grow up; he was in the midst of neighbours and people he knew, and perhaps even some of his childhood “catechists” who had taught him the Law. It was an important moment in the life of the Master: the child who was educated and grew up in that community, stood up and took the floor to proclaim and put into action God’s dream. A word previously proclaimed only as a future promise, but now, on the lips of Jesus alone, could be spoken in the present tense, as it became a reality: “Today it has been fulfilled”.

Jesus reveals the now of God, who comes to meet us and call us to take part in his now of “proclaiming good news to the poor… bringing liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, setting at liberty those who are oppressed, announcing the year of the Lord’s favour” (Lk 4:18-19). This is the now of God. It becomes present with Jesus: it has a face, it is flesh. It is a merciful love that does not wait for ideal or perfect situations to show itself, nor does it accept excuses for its appearance. It is God’s time, that makes every situation and place both right and proper. In Jesus, the promised future begins and becomes life. When? Now. Yet not everyone who was listening felt invited or called. Not all the residents of Nazareth were prepared to believe in someone they knew and had seen grow up, and who was now inviting them to realize a long-awaited dream. Not only that, but “they said, ‘Is not this Joseph’s son?’” (Lk 4:22).

The same thing can also happen with us. We do not always believe that God can be that concrete and commonplace, that close and real, and much less that he can become so present and work through somebody like a neighbour, a friend, a relative. We do not always believe that the Lord can invite us to work and soil our hands with him in his Kingdom in that simple and blunt a way. It is hard to accept that “God’s love can become concrete and can almost be experienced in history with all its painful and glorious vicissitudes” (BENEDICT XVI, General Audience, 28 September 2005).

Often we too behave like the neighbours in Nazareth: we prefer a distant God: nice, good, generous but far-off, a God who does not inconvenience us. Because a close and everyday God, a friend and brother, demands that we be concerned with our surroundings, everyday affairs and above all fraternity. God chose not to reveal himself as an angel or in some spectacular way, but to give us a face that is fraternal and friendly, concrete and familiar. God is real because love is real; God is concrete because love is concrete. Indeed, this “concrete manifestation of love is one of the essential elements in the life of Christians” (BENEDICT XVI, Homily, 1 March 2006).

We can also run the same risks as the neighbours at Nazareth, when within our communities the Gospel seeks to be lived concretely. We begin to say: But these young people, aren’t they the children of Mary, Joseph, aren’t they the brothers and sisters of so and so? Are these not the youngsters we saw grow up? That one over there, wasn’t he the one who kept breaking windows with his ball? What was born as prophecy and proclamation of the kingdom of God gets domesticated and impoverished. Attempts to domesticate the word of God occur daily.

You too, dear young people, can experience this whenever you think that your mission, your vocation, even your life itself, is a promise far off in the future, having nothing to do with the present.

As if being young were a kind of waiting room, where we sit around until we are called. And in the “meantime”, we adults or you yourselves invent a hygienically sealed future, without consequences, where everything is safe, secure and “well insured”. A “make-believe” happiness. So we “tranquilize” you, we numb you into keeping quiet, not asking or questioning; and in that “meantime” your dreams lose their buoyancy, they begin to become flat and dreary, petty and plaintive (cf. Palm Sunday Homily, 25 March 2018). Only because we think, or you think, that your now has not yet come, that you are too young to be involved in dreaming about and working for the future.

One of the fruits of the last Synod was the enrichment that came from being able to meet and above all to listen to one another. The enrichment of intergenerational dialogue, the enrichment of exchange and the value of realizing that we need one another, that we have to work to create channels and spaces that encourage dreaming of and working for tomorrow, starting today. And this, not in isolation, but rather side by side, creating a common space. A space that is not simply taken for granted, or won in a lottery, but a space for which you too must fight.

You, dear young people, are not the future but the now of God. He invites you and calls you in your communities and cities to go out and find your grandparents, your elders; to stand up and with them to speak out and realize the dream that the Lord has dreamed for you. Not tomorrow but now, for wherever your treasure is, there will your heart also be (cf. Mt 6:21). Whatever you fall in love with, it will win over not only your imagination, it will affect everything. It will be what makes you get up in the morning, what keeps you going at times of fatigue, what will break open your hearts and fill you with wonder, joy and gratitude. Realize that you have a mission and fall in love; that will decide everything (cf. PEDRO ARRUPE, S.J., Nada es más práctico). We may possess everything, but if we lack the passion of love, we will have nothing. Let us allow the Lord to make us fall in love!

For Jesus, there is no “meantime”, but only a merciful love that wants to enter into and win over our hearts. He wants to be our treasure, because he is not a “meantime”, an interval in life or a passing fad; he is generous love that invites us to entrust ourselves. He is concrete, close, real love. He is festive joy, born of opting for and taking part in the miraculous draught of hope and charity, solidarity and fraternity, despite the paralyzed and paralyzing gaze born of fear and exclusion, speculation and manipulation.

Brothers and sisters, the Lord and his mission are not a “meantime” in our life, something temporary; they are our life! In a special way throughout these days, Mary’s fiat has been whispering like a kind of music in the background. She not only believed in God and in his promises as something possible, she believed God himself and dared to say “yes” to taking part in this now of the Lord. She felt she had a mission; she fell in love and that decided everything.

As in the synagogue of Nazareth, the Lord stands up again among us his friends and acquaintances; he takes the book and says to us “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Lk 4:21).

Do you want to live out your love in a practical way? May your “yes” continue to be the gateway for the Holy Spirit to give us a new Pentecost for the world and for the Church.

SUNDAY READINGS 20, JANUARY, 2019 WITH THE MARRIAGE FEAST AT CANA BY FULTON J. SHEEN

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Reading 1 IS 62:1-5 

For Zion’s sake I will not be silent,
for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet,
until her vindication shines forth like the dawn
and her victory like a burning torch.Nations shall behold your vindication,
and all the kings your glory;
you shall be called by a new name
pronounced by the mouth of the LORD.
You shall be a glorious crown in the hand of the LORD,
a royal diadem held by your God.
No more shall people call you “Forsaken, ”
or your land “Desolate, ”
but you shall be called “My Delight, ”
and your land “Espoused.”
For the LORD delights in you
and makes your land his spouse.
As a young man marries a virgin,
your Builder shall marry you;
and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride
so shall your God rejoice in you.

Responsorial Psalm 96:1-3, 7-10 

R. (3) Proclaim his marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Sing to the LORD; bless his name.
R. Proclaim his marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Announce his salvation, day after day.
Tell his glory among the nations;
among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.
R. Proclaim his marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Give to the LORD, you families of nations,
give to the LORD glory and praise;
give to the LORD the glory due his name!
R. Proclaim his marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Worship the LORD in holy attire.
Tremble before him, all the earth;
Say among the nations: The LORD is king.
He governs the peoples with equity.
R. Proclaim his marvelous deeds to all the nations.

Reading 2 1 COR 12:4-11

Brothers and sisters:
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit;
there are different forms of service but the same Lord;
there are different workings but the same God
who produces all of them in everyone.
To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit
is given for some benefit.
To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom;
to another, the expression of knowledge according to the
same Spirit;
to another, faith by the same Spirit;
to another, gifts of healing by the one Spirit;
to another, mighty deeds;
to another, prophecy;
to another, discernment of spirits;
to another, varieties of tongues;
to another, interpretation of tongues.
But one and the same Spirit produces all of these,
distributing them individually to each person as he wishes.

Alleluia 2 THES 2:14

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
God has called us through the Gospel
to possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel JN 2:1-11 

There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee,
and the mother of Jesus was there.
Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.
When the wine ran short,
the mother of Jesus said to him,
“They have no wine.”
And Jesus said to her,
“Woman, how does your concern affect me?
My hour has not yet come.”
His mother said to the servers,
“Do whatever he tells you.”
Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings,
each holding twenty to thirty gallons.
Jesus told the them,
“Fill the jars with water.”
So they filled them to the brim.
Then he told them,
“Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.”
So they took it.
And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine,
without knowing where it came from
— although the servers who had drawn the water knew —,
the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him,
“Everyone serves good wine first,
and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one;
but you have kept the good wine until now.”
Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee
and so revealed his glory,
and his disciples began to believe in him.

THE MARRIAGE FEAST AT CANA (FROM ‘THE WORLD’S FIRST LOVE’) BISHOP FULTON J. SHEEN , 1952

Everyone is interested in a marriage. If the human heart does not have enough love in its heart, it seeks out those who are in love. The most famous marriage in history was at Cana, because Our Blessed Lord was present there.

A marriage in the East was always a time of great rejoicing. The bridegroom went to the home of the bride, and in those days it was never the bride who kept the bridegroom waiting, but rather the bridegroom, as in the parable, who kept the bride waiting. The bride was veiled, from head to foot, to symbolize her subjection as a wife. Both partners fasted the whole day before the marriage and confessed their sins in prayer as on the Day of Atonement. Ceremonies began at twilight, for it was a custom in Palestine, no less than in Greece: To bear away The bride from home at blushing shut of day.

The Cana marriage is the only occasion in Sacred Scripture where Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is mentioned before Him. It is very likely that it was one of her relatives who was being married, and possible that she was present at the wedding before Him. It is a beautiful and a consoling thought that Our Blessed Lord, Who came to teach. sacrifice, and urge us to take up our cross daily, should have begun His public life by assisting at a marriage feast.

Sometimes these Eastern marriages lasted for seven days, but in the case of the poorer people, for only two. Whatever was the case, at Cana, at some period of the entertainment the wine suddenly ran out. This was very embarrassing because of the passionate devotion of the Eastern people to hospitality, and also because of the mortification it offered to the wedded pair. It is permitted us to conjecture why the wine should have failed. This was a wine country, and it is very likely that the host laid in an abundant supply. The explanation for the deficiency is probably the fact that Our Blessed Lord did not come alone. He brought with Him His disciples, and this apparently threw a heavy burden upon the store of wine. Our Lord and His disciples had already been journeying for three days and had covered a distance of ninety miles. The disciples were thus so hungry, and so thirsty, that it was a wonder that the food did not give out as well as the wine. Since wine was a symbol of mirth and health to the people, it was important that their need be filled-as an old Hebrew proverb put it: “Where wine is want- ing, doctors thrive.”

One of the most amazing features of this marriage is that it was not the wine servant, whose business it was to service the wine, who noticed the shortage, but rather Our Blessed Mother. (She notes our needs before we ourselves feel them.) She made a very simple prayer to her Divine Son about the empty wine pots when she said: “They have no wine.” Hidden in the words was not only a consciousness of the power of her Divine Son, but also an expression of her desire to remedy an awkward situation. Perhaps the Blessed Mother had already seen Our Lord work many miracles in secret-although He had not yet worked a single one in public. For if there had not already been a consciousness of the truth that He was the Son of the Omnipotent God, she would not have asked for a miracle. Some of the greatest miracles of the world have similarly been done through the influence of a mother: “The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.”

The answer of Our Blessed Lord was, “Woman what is that to me? My hour is not yet come.”

Note that Our Lord said: “My hour is not yet come.” Whenever Our Blessed Lord used that expression, “hour,” it was in relation to His Passion and His Death. For example, the night that Judas crossed the brook of Cedron to blister His lips with a kiss, Our Lord said: “This is your hour and the powers of darkness.” A few hours before, when seated at His Last Supper on earth and anticipating His Death, He said: “Father, the hour is come. Glorify Thy Son with the glory that He had with Thee before the foundations of the world were laid.” Earlier, when a crowd attempted to take His Life by stoning, Scriptures say: “His hour was not yet come.” Our Blessed Lord was obviously, at Calla, saying that the hour in which He was to reveal Himself had not yet come according to His Father’s appointment. And yet, implicit in Mary’s statement was a re- quest that He actually begin it. Scriptures tell us: “So in Calla of Galilee, Jesus began His miracles, and made known the glory that was within Him, so that His disciples learned to believe in Him.” (John 2:11.) In our own language, Our Lord was saying to His Blessed Mother: “My dear Mother, do you realize that you are asking me to proclaim my Divinity-to appear before the world as the Son of God, and to prove my Divinity by my works and my miracles? The moment that I do this, I begin the royal road to the Cross. When I am no longer known among men as the son of the carpenter, but as the Son of God, that will be my first step toward Calvary. My hour is not yet come; but would you have me anticipate it? Is it your will that I go to the Cross? If I do this, your relationship to me changes. You are now my mother. You are known everywhere in our little village, as the ‘Mother of Jesus.’ But if I appear now as the Saviour of men, and begin the work of Redemption, your role will change too. Once I undertake the salvation of mankind, you will not only be my mother, but you will also be the mother of everyone whom I redeem. I am the Head of humanity; as soon as I save the body of humanity you, who are the mother of the Head, become also the mother of the body. You will then be the universal mother, the new Eve, as I am the new Adam.

“To indicate the role that you will play in Redemption, I now bestow upon you that title of universal motherhood; I call you-Woman. It was to you that I referred when I said to Satan that I would put enmity between him and the Woman, between his brood of evil and your seed, Which I am. That great title of Woman I dignify you with now. And I shall dignify you with it again when my hour comes and when I am unfurled upon the Cross, like a wounded eagle. Weare in this work of Redemption together. What is yours is mine. From this hour on, we are not just Mary and Jesus, we are the new Adam and the new Eve, beginning a new humanity, changing the water of sin into the wine of life. Knowing all this, my dear Mother, is it your will that I anticipate the Cross and that I go to Calvary?” Our Blessed Lord was presenting to Mary not merely the choice of asking for a miracle or not; rather He was asking if she would send Him to His death. He had made it quite plain that the world would not tolerate His Divinity-that if He turned water into wine, some day wine would be changed into blood. The answer of Mary was one of complete cooperation in the Redemption of Our Blessed Lord, as she spoke for the last time in Sacred Scripture. Turning to the wine steward she said, “Whatso- ever He shall say to you, that do ye.” (John 2:5.) What a magnificent valedictory! As Our Blessed Lord had said that He had come on earth to do His Father’s Will, so Mary bade us do the Will of her Divine Son. “Whatsoever He shall say to you, that do ye.” The waterpots are filled, are brought to Our Blessed Lord, and then, in the magnificent lines of the poet, Richard Crashaw, “The unconscious waters saw their God, and blushed.” The first lesson from Calla is: “Aid yourself and Heaven will aid you.” Our Lord could have produced wine out of nothing, as He had made the world from nothing, but He willed that the wine servants bring their pots and fill them with water. We must not expect God to transform us without our bringing something to be transformed. In vain do we say: “O Lord, help me overcome my evil habits or let me be sober, pure, and honest.” What good are these prayers unless we bring at least our own efforts? God will, indeed, make us peaceful and happy again, but only on condition that we bring the water of our own feeble efforts. We are not to remain passive, while awaiting the manifestation of God’s power; there must be the indispensable gesture of our own liberty, even though it brings to God something as unspirited as the routine waters of our insipid lives! Collaboration with God is essential if we are to be.; come the sons of God.The second lesson of Cana is that Mary intercedes to gain us what we need, without our always knowing our needs. Neither the wine steward nor the diners knew that the wine was failing; therefore, they could not ask for help. In like manner, if we do not know what our soul needs, how can we put such needs in our prayers? Often we do not know what is vital to our lives: St. James tells us that we do not ask aright, but seek to satisfy only our carnal and egotistic desires.

Surely we could go to Our Lord, as the wine steward, as the diners could have gone to Our Lord. But they did not go, and some of us would not go at all; or, if we did go, we would not always ask for the right thing. There are so few of us who know the reason for our unhappiness. We pray for wealth, to “break the bank,” to win the Irish Sweepstakes; we ask for peace of mind, and then dash off to a psychoanalytic couch-when we should ask for peace of soul, be on our knees bemoaning our sins and asking pardon. So few of us know that we need God. Weare at the end of our strength and even of our hope; and we do not know that we ought to be asking for Divine strength and Divine Love.

That is where devotion to Mary comes in. The people at the table did not know what they needed to maintain the joy of the marriage feast, even when the Lord was in their midst. There are many of us who would not come to Our Lord, unless we had someone who knows our needs better than we know ourselves, and who will ask Our Lord for us. This role of Mary makes her acceptable to everyone. Those at the marriage table did not need to know she was the Mother of the Son of God in order to receive the benefit of her Divine Son. But one thing is certain-no one will ever call on her without being heard, nor without being finally led to her Divine Son, Jesus Christ, for Whose Sake she alone exists-for Whose Sake she was made pure -and for Whose Sake she was given to us.

The Marriage Feast of Cana also reveals how Mary makes up for our battered and weak wills; she does this by substituting herself for us. It is very hard for us to receive a Divine Favor unless we desire it. Until we love and serve God, we are inert and dead. It is impossible for most of us to ask for a soul-healing, for so few of us know that we are wounded. Mary comes into this crisis of life, to substitute for us in the same way that a mother substitutes for a sick child. The child cannot tell the mother its need. There may be a pin pricking it, it may be hungry, or it may be sick. The child may cry, but it is as vague a com- plaint as our own adult cries when we are lUlhappy and fearful, worried and frustrated. The mother in such a circumstance carries the child to the doctor. The mother thus puts herself in the place of the child, who does not have the knowledge to know what is best for it, or cannot will to do anything to help itself. She “doubles,” as it were, for the freedom of the child. Thus does the mother dispose the child to receive what is best for it. And as the mother knows the needs better than the babe, so the Blessed Mother understands our cries and worries, and knows them better than we know ourselves. As the baby needs the doctor, so the Blessed Mother knows we need her DiVine Son. As Our Lord mediates between us and the Heavenly Father, so the Blessed Mother mediates between us and Our Divine Lord. She fills our empty pots, she supplies the elixir of life, she prevents the joys of life from ebbing away. Mary is not our salvation-let us not be absurd on that. The mother is not the doctor, and neither is Mary the Saviour. But Mary brings us to the Saviour!

Three years now pass, and all that Our Blessed Lord told His Mother at Cana is fulfilled. The hour is come, the wine has changed to blood. He has worked His miracles and men have crucified Him. Unfurled on either side of Him, as if to put Him in their class, are two thieves. The world will allow only the mediocre to live. It hates the very wicked, like the thieves, because they disturb its possessions and security. It also hates the Divinely Good, it hates Our Blessed Lord, because He disturbs its conscience, its heart, and its evil desires.

Our Blessed Lord now looks down from His Cross to the two most beloved creatures that He has on earth, John and His Blessed Mother. He picks up the refrain of Cana, and addresses Our Blessed Mother with the same title He gave her at the marriage feast. He calls her, “Woman.” It is the second Annunciation. With a gesture of His dust- filled eyes and His thorn-crowned head, He looks longingly at her, who had sent Hir:n willingly to the Cross, who is now standing beneath it as a cooperator in His Redemption and He says: “Behold thy son.” Then, turning to John, He does not call hin1 John; to do that would have been to address hin1 as the son of Zebedee and no one else. But, in his anonymity, John stands for all of us-Our Lord thus says to His beloved disciple: “Son, behold thy mother.”

Here is the answer, after all these years, to the mysteri- ous words in the Gospel of the Incarnation which stated that Our Blessed Mother laid her “first born” in the manger. Did that mean that Our Blessed Mother was to have other children? It certainly did, but not according to the flesh. Our Divine Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is the only Son of Our Blessed Mother by the flesh. But Our Lady was to have other children, not according to the flesh, but according to the spirit!

(painting: Paolo Veronese ‘ Wedding feast at Cana,’ 1563)

READINGS FOR JANUARY 13, 2019; BAPTISM OF THE LORD with Fr. Andrew Greeley homily

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Reading 1 IS 42:1-4, 6-7

Thus says the LORD:
Here is my servant whom I uphold,
my chosen one with whom I am pleased,
upon whom I have put my spirit;
he shall bring forth justice to the nations,
not crying out, not shouting,
not making his voice heard in the street.
a bruised reed he shall not break,
and a smoldering wick he shall not quench,
until he establishes justice on the earth;
the coastlands will wait for his teaching.

I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice,
I have grasped you by the hand;
I formed you, and set you
as a covenant of the people,
a light for the nations,
to open the eyes of the blind,
to bring out prisoners from confinement,
and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.

Responsorial Psalm 29: 1-4, 9-10

R. (11b)  The Lord will bless his people with peace.
Give to the LORD, you sons of God,
give to the LORD glory and praise,
Give to the LORD the glory due his name;
adore the LORD in holy attire.
R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.
The voice of the LORD is over the waters,
the LORD, over vast waters.
The voice of the LORD is mighty;
the voice of the LORD is majestic.
R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.
The God of glory thunders,
and in his temple all say, “Glory!”
The LORD is enthroned above the flood;
the LORD is enthroned as king forever.
R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.

Reading 2 ACTS 10:34-38

Peter proceeded to speak to those gathered
in the house of Cornelius, saying:
“In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.
Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly
is acceptable to him.
You know the word that he sent to the Israelites
as he proclaimed peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all,
what has happened all over Judea,
beginning in Galilee after the baptism
that John preached,
how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth
with the Holy Spirit and power.
He went about doing good
and healing all those oppressed by the devil,
for God was with him.”

Alleluia MK 9:7

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The heavens were opened and the voice of the Father thundered:
This is my beloved Son, listen to him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 3: 15-16, 21-22

The people were filled with expectation,
and all were asking in their hearts
whether John might be the Christ.
John answered them all, saying,
“I am baptizing you with water,
but one mightier than I is coming.
I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

After all the people had been baptized
and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying,
heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him
in bodily form like a dove.
And a voice came from heaven,
“You are my beloved Son;
with you I am well pleased.”

ANDREW GREELEY HOMILY ON THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD

Background:

The baptism of Jesus was a problem for his followers, as we have said before. John’s disciples could always lord it over the disciples of Jesus: “Our master baptized your master, nah, nah, nah!” It also creates a problem for those hyper-orthodox Catholics today who so emphasize the divinity in Jesus that there is little room for his humanity. They are also boxed in by the phrase that Jesus grew in wisdom, age, and grace. Any suggestion that God might grow scares them. An authentic Christology, however, which sees Jesus like the rest of us in all things save sin, sees no problem in his listening to the Baptist and going through a ceremony of renewal and rededication before he began his public life. Did Jesus learn anything from the Baptist? If, like all humans, he grew in understanding and maturity, the only appropriate answer is that of course he did.

Jesus had peculiar taste in friends. You put the whole crowd together and they were not as smart as one of the third rate philosophers in Rome. Maybe some of them could read and write. They were perhaps street smart, but you were going to announce the nearness of the kingdom of God would you surround yourself with folks that wouldn’t make assistant precinct captain? They were utterly insensitive to Jesus’ spiritual message and interested only in the power and prestige they were going to have in his kingdom (which they didn’t understand at all). One of them was a thief and ten of them cowards. Surely, even if he had decided to limit is choice to Galilee Jesus could have done better? Why these sluggards and nerds? Why indeed? And why do we pretend that our leaders today are better than they were? Patently the first Pope and the first bishops (if we want to use that analogy) were not sacred persons, but inept, often stupid human beings? Why do have to pretend that their successors are any better? Why should they be immune from criticism? Have we missed the point somewhere along the line that the leaders of the church and the followers in the church are fragile, imperfect human beings and that Jesus chose them precisely because he wanted a human church. If he wanted something better, he should have turned it over not to the philosophers in Rome but to the Seraphim

Story:

(a story for those who object to the humanity of Jesus) Once upon a time a family moved into a new house. It was a very nice house with a lot more room than in their old house. However, it was also strange and when it came time to go to bed, the three children were very sleepy. They didn’t like their rooms because they were unfamiliar and they didn’t like the house because it was not their old house and they didn’t like anything because they were so tired. Well, finally they fell asleep and had terrible nightmares. Then they woke up and were frightened and angry. Their parents didn’t come to the room to tuck them in again. This made them more frightened and angry. So they stormed down stairs and discovered that both their parents had fallen asleep in the front room, their mother on the couch and their father on an easy chair. The kids were shocked and dismayed. What good were parents who grew so tired when they moved to a new house that they forgot their kids and just fell asleep. Their parents were not perfect. So they woke their mommy up and shouted at her. Why did you go to sleep on us mommy? Because I’m human she said and I get tired. Even Jesus got tired. Yeah said the kids but he wasn’t our mommy!

(Painting: Leonardo da Vinci, Baptism of Christ, 1475)

READINGS FOR JANUARY 6, 2019; FEAST OF THE EPIPHANY WITH HOMILY BY FR. ANDREW GREELEY

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THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD

Reading 1 IS 60:1-6

Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem!  Your light has come,
the glory of the Lord shines upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth,
and thick clouds cover the peoples;
but upon you the LORD shines,
and over you appears his glory.
Nations shall walk by your light,
and kings by your shining radiance.
Raise your eyes and look about;
they all gather and come to you:
your sons come from afar,
and your daughters in the arms of their nurses.Then you shall be radiant at what you see,
your heart shall throb and overflow,
for the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you,
the wealth of nations shall be brought to you.
Caravans of camels shall fill you,
dromedaries from Midian and Ephah;
all from Sheba shall come
bearing gold and frankincense,
and proclaiming the praises of the LORD.

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

R. (cf. 11)  Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
O God, with your judgment endow the king,
and with your justice, the king’s son;
He shall govern your people with justice
and your afflicted ones with judgment.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
Justice shall flower in his days,
and profound peace, till the moon be no more.
May he rule from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
The kings of Tarshish and the Isles shall offer gifts;
the kings of Arabia and Seba shall bring tribute.
All kings shall pay him homage,
all nations shall serve him.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
For he shall rescue the poor when he cries out,
and the afflicted when he has no one to help him.
He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor;
the lives of the poor he shall save.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

Reading 2 EPH 3:2-3,5-6

Brothers and sisters:
You have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace
that was given to me for your benefit,
namely, that the mystery was made known to me by revelation.
It was not made known to people in other generations
as it has now been revealed
to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit:
that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body,
and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

Alleluia MT 2:2

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
We saw his star at its rising
and have come to do him homage.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 2:1-12

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,
in the days of King Herod,
behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
“Where is the newborn king of the Jews?
We saw his star at its rising
and have come to do him homage.”
When King Herod heard this,
he was greatly troubled,
and all Jerusalem with him.
Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people,
He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea,
for thus it has been written through the prophet:
And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
since from you shall come a ruler,
who is to shepherd my people Israel.”

Then Herod called the magi secretly
and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance.
He sent them to Bethlehem and said,
“Go and search diligently for the child.
When you have found him, bring me word,
that I too may go and do him homage.”
After their audience with the king they set out.
And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them,
until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star,
and on entering the house
they saw the child with Mary his mother.
They prostrated themselves and did him homage.
Then they opened their treasures
and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,
they departed for their country by another way.

FR. ANDREW GREELEY HOMILY ON TODAY’S Gospel READING

Background:

In this year’s readings the whole story of the Epiphany is told. Next week we read the story of the second manifestation of the Divinity of Jesus at his Baptism and the following Sunday – “Cana Sunday” we witness the third manifestation at the Marriage Feast in Cana. Today we hear about the first manifestation to the “Magi” (astrologers is probably a good name for them, though it misses the attempts of these men to produce a science of the stars). Despite our tradition of Caspar, Beltassar, and Melchior, the Greeks and the Russians hold that there were twelve kings. Since there were twelve tribes of Israel and twelve apostles, they argue that their had to be twelve kings. Our tradition of three is based on the fact that three gifts were mentioned. No matter how many of them there were, they were men who, as the carol says, had the courage to follow their star.

Story:

Once upon a time there lived in Bethlehem a woman named Babushka. She kept the cleanest and neatest house in town and was also the best cook. She heard rumors of three kings coming across the desert but paid no attention to them because she had so much work to do. Then she heard the sounds of drums and pipes and a cavalcade of riders. She looked out the window and there were three richly dressed kings coming towards her house. They told her that they had come to honor the little prince who had been born in Bethlehem and they needed food and lodging. Babushka cooked a wonderful meal for them, remade all the beds, and wore herself out. The next morning the kings begged her to come with them so she too might see the little prince. Babushka said she would follow after them as soon as she finished the dishes. She cleaned the house again and then took out of a cabinet the toys of her own little prince who had died so long ago. She had no more need of them and would give them to the new little prince. She put them in a basket and sat down for a moment’s rest before she followed the wise men. Hours later she woke up, grabbed the basket, and rushed into town. But the kings were gone and so was the little prince and his parents. Ever after, it is said, Babushka has followed after them. Whenever she finds a new born babe, she looks to see if he is the little prince. Even if he (or in our days she too) is not there, Babushka leaves a toy for the child. I think she probably found the prince early on, but we still should learn from her lesson: we should never let the important interfere with the essential.

(art by James Tissot)