The writer of John’s Gospel mentions only seven miracles of Jesus and he calls them “signs.” Jesus is the divine spouse who invites us into a new covenantal relationship sealed by his blood on the cross and celebrated in the Eucharist. We find salvation in the person of Jesus. ~ Fr. Matt
This Sunday’s gospel shows our reluctance to leave the Christmas season behind. It tells of the third of the ‘manisfestations’ of Jesus associated with the Christmas season, the others being the Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord.
They key to understanding the place of today’s gospel in our liturgy is the statement that ‘He let his glory be seen.’ The Gospel of John contains seven major signs by which the true identity of Jesus, his glory, is made known. The transformation of water into wine tells us that Jesus brings a new time, a time of richness and fulfillment. An enormous amount of wine is provided. Although the ‘hour’ of Jesus, the hour of his death and resurrection, has not yet come, this sign is a pointer towards the ‘glory’ of Jesus.
The role of the mother of Jesus, who is addressed by Jesus as ‘Woman’, is significant. As in the stories of Jesus’ birth, so here in John, she collaborates with God’s ways in a humble and self-giving manner. She is the woman of the new covenant, as Eve was the woman of the old.
Let’s add depth and breath to our Baptismal promises. Let us reject pride, arrogance, self-sufficiency, injustice, apathy, indifference, self importance and willingly commit our lives to Christ. ~ Fr. Matt
Luke offers us a vision of the baptism of Jesus that differs in several ways from that of Mark. Luke paints a picture of people wondering about the messiah. He depicts a Jesus who, the last to be baptised by John, is praying when the Holy Spirit descends on him in bodily form like a dove. Then the heavenly voice speaks. After he is anointed Messiah, Jesus’ public ministry, his life as God’s faithful son confronting the darkness in the world, his life as God’s faithful servant confronting the reality of suffering in the world, begins. Note that not all of John’s disciples followed Jesus. What about us? Do we forget the link Luke draws between the Spirit and prayer in today’s gospel? Do we identify Jesus as God’s Son? Are we ready to welcome Jesus into our hearts at the start of this New Year? Are we ready to accept him as Lord of the year ahead and walk with him in his ways of prayer and service?
The story of the magi carries with it an extraordinary richness. In it the evangelist teaches us about the mission of the Son of God. Jesus is ‘made manifest’ (epiphany = manifestation) as Messiah not only for his own people, but for those who come ‘from the east’, for all the peoples of the earth. At the same time this is the Messiah heralded by the prophets. The Scriptures are fulfilled.
This Messiah is born into danger, as the cruel tyrant, known to history as ‘Herod the Great’, is the first to threaten his life. The gift of myrrh alludes to the death he is to suffer. The presentation of gifts from the peoples of the world completes the Christmas scene. The magi represent the nations, but also the age-old quest among the peoples of the earth for true wisdom. This wisdom is found in Christ.
In the struggles we have endured with Covid and our personal challenges we may want to curse the darkness that envelops us. As we begin a new year we need to tend to the divine light. We need to fan the flames of our faith through which we will survive and triumph. ~ Fr. Matt
Apart from the stories about Simeon and Anna and their impact on Mary and Joseph, today’s gospel focusses attention on the growth of the Christ-child to maturity and wisdom at the heart of his family. As a fully human child Jesus, like all of us, had to grow physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. He also grew in wisdom (the Greek word used by Luke includes insight, skill and intelligence). That is how he was able to bring benefit to others and glory to God. And the best way to grow like that is as a cherished person in a loving family given every opportunity to grow and develop. That is how we understand the achievement of Jesus who reveals the wholeness proper to each stage of human development. Look at your family with appreciation today and pray for all children to be nurtured and cherished, surrounded by peace, love, tenderness and care. Then pray blessings on your own children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and all the other members of your own family and those of your neighbours and friends.
We celebrate the Christ event. As the anointed was made flesh salvation reaches its ultimate clarity. What we celebrate as good news is not mere words but persons and events. ~ Fr. Matt
The movie “Raiders of the Lost Ark” made cinematic the portability of the where the Ten Commandments were housed. The Ark was a visible sign of the presence of God for the Hebrews. That title has been attributed to Mary as the one who brings the Son of God to us. ~ Fr. Matt
This year, rather than repeating one of the two stories of the Annunciation (which are read in years A and B) we meditate on the Visitation. The focus is on Mary. Notice how her greeting sets everything in motion. Notice how she is called blessed three times in this short passage. That is why Christians call her the Blessed Virgin. The reason is her total cooperation with the will of God in the birth of his Divine Son. Luke makes it clear to us that Mary has been raised up by God to perform an essential task in the history of salvation. And so today we stand once again at the threshold of our salvation story. We stand with Mary, open with her to God’s plan. Let us thank God for the gift of Mary, the blessed one who opens the way. Let us give thanks for the Coming King who comes to us through her, his hands full of compassion and mercy. Like John in his mother’s womb let us, too, leap for joy. Let the Spirit transform us and fill us with new life.