Here we are in Ordinary Time and we find Jesus beginning His public ministry with the calling of the apostles in the Gospel. The Entrance Antiphon for the Mass this weekend is: O sing a new song to the Lord; sing to the Lord, all the earth. In his presence are majesty and splendor, strength and honor in his holy place. (cf Psalm 96) We begin our Mass singing “He is the Lord” which is a reflection of this psalm: “Sing to the Lord with shouts of joy, let all creation rejoice! Come join the song of praise to our God! He is the Lord! He is the Lord!” (D. Haas)
Marvels of Mass
I would like to begin by saying a HUGE THANK YOU to all the parishioners who stepped up last week after the 11am and 5pm masses on Sunday to take down the Christmas décor in the gathering space and church. I still can’t believe that everything got done in such a short amount of time. It was purely because of all of the volunteers each doing their own little – or big – part and together, it all got done. Thank you! A special thank you to everyone who made multiple trips to the cages to put all of the boxes away!
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: ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’” (Matthew 3:17)
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 the Epiphany of the Lord should begin perhaps its own liturgical season, separate from Christmas and en-compassing the next three Sundays. The word ‘Epiphany’ is often referred to as a manifestation, or an experience of striking and sudden realization; its actual ety-mology comes from Greek and means ‘to appear.’
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.
Finally now in the 4th week of Advent, we hear about what we typi-cally think this season is about: Mary and Joseph find out that they’re having a child and not just any child, but one conceived “through the Holy Spirit… who will save his people from their sins.” Wow. Then so simply: “When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had com-manded him and took his wife into his home.” (Matthew 1:24)
In our opening song, “O Come, Divine Messiah” we finally start singing about Christ’s coming into the world:
During this 3rd week of Advent, the symbols of preparation and light continue as we now hear from John the Baptist again, but this time he’s in jail. (This is a good time to remember those who are incarcerated – they, too, are our brothers and sisters. Look for opportunities to participate in ministering to them in the gathering space.) He’s wanting to know if Christ is the one whom he was talking about – is Jesus the one who is to come? The short of it, yes, Jesus is the one.
Now at the 2nd week of Advent, we get introduced to one of the important players in the preparation for Christ’s coming, not as a child, but this time as He is getting ready to start His public ministry as the Son of God. It is John the Baptist. He’s out in the desert proclaiming that we all need to prepare: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.” Our opening song, “On Jordan’s Bank” gets us ready to hear about him:
Here we are at the beginning of another Church year. We have just celebrated Christ as the King of the Universe, and now we are joyful-ly waiting as we recollect His birth at Bethlehem so many years ago. This season is one of waiting, of preparing, of expectation. Some church figures compare it to an expectant couple as they are prepar-ing their home for the birth of a child – a lot of nesting going on! We’re preparing our homes for Christmas celebrations, and hopeful-ly we’re preparing our hearts for the coming of our Lord, too.
We’ve now reached the end of another liturgical year with the celebration of the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. Pope Pius XI established this solemni-ty in 1925, celebrating one aspect of Jesus’ identity as opposed to events in his life and death (the Birth, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, the Ascension, etc.) It is very interesting for this Mass that the Gospel is the story of the crucifixion, and in particular, the criminal who recognized Him as “the Christ”.