Lectionary Reflection: Easter: The Resurrection of the Lord

Acts: 10:34a, 37-43; Psalm 118: 1-2, 16-17, 22-23; Col: 3:1-4;1 Cor: 5:6b-8; John: 20:1-9.

Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us, therefore, celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth

(1 Cor 5:6b-8).

Easter Sunday is the culmination of the Christian year. Although Jesus had been “put to death” by being “hung on a tree,” we celebrate the fact that God “raised him on the third day and made him manifest” (Acts 10:39-40) in a series of highly intimate acts. For here God has not only vindicated the poor and the oppressed by the resurrection of His beloved Son, He has brought them into His presence, even “eating and drinking with him after he rose from the dead” (Acts 10:39-41). Indeed, in the resurrection of Jesus Christ we see the embodiment of the praise found in the Psalm: “O give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His steadfast love endures for ever!” (Ps 118:1). Continue reading

Lectionary Reflection: Epiphany: Is 60:1-6; Ps 72:1-13; Eph 3:2-3a, 5-6; Mt 2:1-12

Botticelli, "Adoration of the Magi" (1475/6)

The word ‘Epiphany’ means ‘manifestation’ or ‘showing,’ and on this solemnity we celebrate the manifestation of Christ to all peoples, races, and nations, who are symbolized by the three magi who visit the Holy Family shortly after Christ’s nativity. In fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, the magi offer gold, frankincense, and myrrh. We have here a complete symbolic theology: the three kings give gold, which symbolizes the heart’s offering of love, in homage of Christ’s Incarnation; frankincense, which symbolizes the mind’s offering of adoration, in homage to Christ’s divinity; and myrrh, which symbolizes the body’s offering of penance, in homage to Christ’s humanity. In this respect, the magi bridge the Old and New Testaments. Although the three magi are not partakers of the covenant that God made with the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, they arrive to adore the Messiah. Indeed, the tribute of these gentile kings, which had been prophesied in Isaiah and the Psalms, takes on a special meaning in St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, where their gifts are symbols of a much deeper mystery, that the gentiles would be coheirs, members of the same body, and partners in the promise of Jesus Christ through the Gospel.

We have over the years accounted these ancient astrologers wise men. Continue reading

Lectionary Reflection: All Saints: Rev 7:2-4, 9-14; Ps 24:1bc-2, 3-4ab, 5-6; 1 Jn 3:1-3; Mt 5:1-12a

THE FEAST OF ALL SAINTS

Today we celebrate the great multitude of saints who have gone before us, who are now living, and who are to come. We celebrate the saints who live in Christ because they did not fear to die with Him. We celebrate those blessed men and women who conquered the world and conquered themselves. The saints of the first three centuries of the Church were principally martyrs, and the Feast of All Saints was originally the feast of the dedication of the Pantheon, the Roman temple of Agrippa that had been previously been dedicated to the pagan gods. In the first decade of the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV translated the relics of several martyrs from the catacombs to the Pantheon and on May 14, A.D. 610 dedicated it as a new basilica to St. Mary and the Martyrs. As several churches commemorated All Saints Day on other days of the year, Pope Gregory IV fixed the date of the feast to November 1 in A.D. 835.

We see in our readings this great multitude of saints but, what is more important, we see what makes them great in the sight of the Lord. We see with St. John the Revelator those marked with the Tau on their foreheads, of every nation and tribe, of every people and tongue, standing before the throne of God with the Lamb in their midst. Continue reading

Lent 2 – Genesis 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18; Psalm 116: 10, 15, 16-17, 18-19; Romans 8:31b-34; Mark 9:2-10

Lest we think that Lenten discipline should begin easily and gradually build to climax, the Church sets the binding of Isaac before us on the second Sunday of Lent. Among the many “tests” to which God puts His faithful in Scripture, this is perhaps the most frightening. Nor does our reading from the Epistle mitigate its force. If St. Paul reminds us that God spared Abraham the task, the apostle does so to emphasize that God did not spare Himself, and so handed His own Son over for us all. Who can imagine the passions that surged forth when our father heard the voice of the angel? All that was lost is found, and found to be blessèd. And yet even the great waves of consolation that surged over Abraham are but tiny currents on the surface of his undisturbed, oceanic faith.

In the Gospel, Peter, James, and John are led, as Scripture says of Abraham, to a great “height.” Tradition identifies this mountain as Mount Tabor, a large mesa Continue reading