We gather together today singing “Let us go to the altar of God, the God of our gladness and joy! Let us enter the courts of the house of the Lord and sing to the glory of God.” It was just a few weeks ago that we heard this song by the angels singing of the glory of God at His birth! Hopefully our voices are joining with the angels in praise of God as we gather in prayer!
Marvels of Mass
This Sunday’s readings revolve around hearing and answering God’s call in our life.
Our music selections reflect this, especially in our song during the presentation of gifts and preparation of the altar. “Here I Am, Lord” is a good text for reflection: “Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord? I have heard you calling in the night. I will go, Lord, if you lead me.” (D. Schutte)
This weekend we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord. The Gospel tells us of Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist in the River Jordan. After the baptism, “a voice came from the heavens, saying: ‘You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased.’” (Mark 1:11)
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.
In many liturgical scholars’ thoughts, this feast of Epiphany should perhaps be its own liturgical season, separate from Christmas, but more encompassing than just one Sunday with the appearance of our beloved Three Kings. 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’.
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 of the visitation of the angel Gabriel to Mary, announcing that she has conceived and will bear a son. “Hail, full of grace! (remember the Holy Day we celebrated on December 8th of Mary’s own Immaculate Conception within her mother’s womb? This is a reference to that belief. She was born with-out the stain of original sin.) The Lord is with you.” Mary’s response: “May it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)
“Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus… May the God of peace make you perfectly holy and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body, be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ….” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-24)
On Tuesday, December 8th, we celebrate 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:
This weekend we celebrate the 2nd Sunday of Advent with the Gospel speaking of John the Baptist as he’s proclaiming the coming of Christ – the one whom he is not even worthy to carry his sandals.
Today we begin a new liturgical year and we’re in Cycle B. We hear from the Gospel of Mark almost in its entirety during this year with a few other Gospel writings added in (Mark’s Gospel is rather short in comparison to the others.) One of the main themes of every Advent is presented in the readings today – Be watchful! Be alert! I think we can add to that – Be pre-pared! As we await Christ’s coming as a commemoration of his birth in Bethlehem, we also await his Second Coming at the end of time.