In many liturgical scholars’ thoughts, this feast of the Epiphany of the Lord should begin perhaps its own liturgical season, separate from Christmas and encompassing the next three Sundays. The word ‘Epiphany’ is often referred to as a manifestation, or an experience of striking and sudden realization; its actual etymology comes from Greek and means ‘to appear’. This weekend, with the Three Kings, we have the first of these ‘epiphanies’. The Three Kings symbolize people gathered from the non-Jewish parts of the world at the time to proclaim the importance of the birth of this Holy Chil
Marvels of Mass
This weekend we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord. Some years, such as last year, we do not celebrate this feast on a Sunday due to how the days fall in the liturgical calendar. The Gospel tells us of Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist in the River Jordan. After the baptism, “a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased.’” (Luke 3:22)
Our opening song, “When Jesus Comes to Be Baptized”, speaks of this baptism. The tune is one we know to the words of an Advent song – “On Jordan’s Bank”. The tune is called Winchester New.
Today’s liturgical feast of the Holy Family honors Jesus; his mother, Mary; and his foster father, Saint Joseph; and their model as a family for all Christians. It was instituted in 1893 by Pope Leo XIII with the date of the feast to fall on the Sunday within the Octave of the Epiphany (January 7 – 13). With the revision of the Roman calendar in 1969, the feast is now celebrated within the Octave of Christmas – meaning, it always falls on the Sunday following Christmas.
Each year on the 4th Sunday of Advent, we hear some reference to the visitation of the angel Gabriel to Mary, announcing that she has conceived and will bear a son. This year we hear of it through Mary’s visit to Elizabeth. “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant [John the Baptist] leaped in [Elizabeth’s] womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb (Jesus)” (Luke 1:41-42) We sing of Elizabeth’s proclamation in our song at the presentation of the gifts, “Hail Mary: Gentle
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!
Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near.” (Philippians 4: 4-5)
On Saturday, December 8th, we celebrated the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, which is the patronal feast of the Catholic Church in the United States of America. This feast was celebrated in the Eastern church as early as the seventh century. Some theology on this feast day from the Catechism:
We begin our liturgy this week with the song “Table of Plenty”. This text is a wonderful gathering together of all who have come to the church today to pray – “God will provide for all that we need, here at the table of plenty…come and sit at my [God’s] table where saints and sinners are friends. I [God] wait to welcome the lost and lonely to share the cup of my love.” Just spend a moment and meditate on that text. God is welcoming all of us, in any stage of life, to come to His table – the sinners, the saints, the lost, the lonely and later on in the text, the poor and the sorrowful.
Today we celebrate the Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, more commonly referred to as Christ the King. This feast always occurs on the last Sunday of the liturgical year. It’s a fairly new feast day in the liturgical calendar, being instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925.
If you are reading this reflection after attending Mass this weekend, you’re probably wondering why in the world we sang a song from the Advent section of the hymnal when Advent doesn’t start for two weeks! Good question! At the end of our liturgical year, the readings always point to the end of time when Christ will return triumphantly to earth.