Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Christmas Dawn Mass Luke 2:1-20

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: William .......
To: Donald ......
Sent: Sun, 26 December, 2010 13:40:42
Subject: Holy Family mystery

Dear Father Donald,
Thank you for your Holy Family greetings and for sharing your reflections on the vast starlit sky of revelation! Truly there is an abundance for Lectio Divina, references drawing one ever deeper into the mystery of God-made-man. I have delighted in your explanatory pointers below. Sacra Pagina only makes a purely factual statement respecting 'first-born son', but I am loving this passage, an invitation to ever increasing delight in the "subtle intimations" such as you present within the Nativity story:
"The contrast between the angelic panoply and the earthly reality is sharp; no wonder Mary "turned these events over" in her heart, seeking to understand them. Nothing very glorious is suggested by the circumstances of the Messiah's birth. But that is Luke's manner, to show how God's fidelity is worked out in human events even when appearances seem to deny his presence or power. The reader is correct, therefore, to see subtle intimations of a greater reality in this humble recital".
When I come away from contemplating the Nativity, leaving the warmth of the scene, I stand for a moment and shiver, finding myself 'back in the world'... this invitation has helped me by reminding me that it was into the 'world' that Christ was born! Then, perhaps with home-sickness eased and emotion cleansed, I begin to "turn these events over" in my heart.
Thus, so much am I enjoying your reflections.
With warmest greetings
. . . . .  in Our Lord,
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Sunday, December 26, 2010 10:29 AM
Subject: Dawn on the Mass

Dear, William,
Thank you for your own personal Nativity Crib.
Three Masses and the abundance of Lectio Divina.

I have to confess my slow explanation of the special explanations.
La Verdiere and Navarre as below.
I keep the Blog in Draft for the moment.

Holy Family good wishes for you and Edith.

fr. Donald

Christmas Dawn Mass from the Glenstal Bible Missal.

The description of Jesus' actual birth (Luke 2:6-7) must be read in light of 2: 1-5.* Set in the vastness of imperial Rome and in the biblical context of the royal house of David, Jesus' birth is that of a poor man, a simple and humble event which contrasts with the political world about him. Consequently, Jesus' messianic royalty has nothing to do with wordly aspirations and ways of ruling (see 22:24-27)+.
* Luk 2:1  In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled.
Luk 2:2  This was the first enrollment, when Quirin'i-us was governor of Syria.
Luk 2:3  And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city.
Luk 2:4  And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,
Luk 2:5  to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
Luk 2:6  And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered.
Luk 2:7  And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
+ Luk 22:24  A dispute also arose among them, which of them was to be regarded as the greatest.
Luk 22:25  And he said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors.
Luk 22:26  But not so with you; rather let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves.
Luk 22:27  For which is the greater, one who sits at table, or one who serves? Is it not the one who sits at table? But I am among you as one who serves.
What is true of Jesus is also true of his disciples and the Church. Clearly affirmed in 22:24-27, this relationship is also inscribed in 2:7, which refers to Mary's 'first-born son' (prototokos). The designation 'first born son', prepares the reader for Jesus' presentation to the Lord as the first-born in 2:22-24 &. However, unlike the term 'only son' (monogenes, 7:12) &, it also leaves open the possibility and may actually imply that Mary had further children. This possibility may be excluded as a biological fact, but not as a theological statement. Mary would have further children, namely all who would come to be associated with her son after the passion-resurrection. In Lukan terms this is most clearly stated in the narrative of Paul's conversion: 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?' (Acts 9:4; 22:7; 26:14). In Acts 1:14, Mary herself is expressly singled out in the community of those who continued to give historical expression to the life of her son. The designation 'first-born son' is thus a statement about Jesus' relationship to his future followers. (E. La Verdiere SSS, Luke, New Testament Message 5, p.31)

2:22-24 &
Luk 2:22  And when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord
Luk 2:23  (as it is written in the law of the Lord, "Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord")
Luk 2:24  and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, "a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons."

7:12) &,
Luk 7:12  As he drew near to the gate of the city, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and a large crowd from the city was with her.

Acts 1:14
Act 1:14  All these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.


Navarre Bible Comemmentary Luke 2

7.  "First-born son": it is usual for Sacred Scripture to refer to the first male child as "the first-born" whether or not there were other brothers (cf., for example, Exo_13:2  ; Exo_13:13  ; Num_15:8  ; Heb_1:6  ). The same practice is to be found in ordinary speech; take, for example, this inscription dating from approximately the same time as Christ was born, which was found near Tell-el-Jedvieh (in Egypt) in 1922, which states that a woman named Arsinoe died while giving birth to "her first-born son". Otherwise, as St. Jerome explains in his letter "Adversus Helvidium", 10, "if only He were first-born who was followed by other brothers, He would not deserve the rights of the first-born, which the Law lays down, until the other had been born"--which would be absurd, since the Law ordains that those first-born should be "ransomed" within a month of their birth ( Num_18:16  ).
  However, Jesus Christ is first-born in a much deeper sense independent of natural or biological considerations--which St. Bede describes in these words, summarizing a long tradition of the Fathers of the Church: "Truly the Son of God, who was made manifest in the flesh, belongs to a more exalted order not only because He is the Only-begotten of the Father by virtue of the excellence of His divinity; He is also first-born of all creatures by virtue of His fraternity with men: concerning this [His primogeniture] it is said: `For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the first-born among many brethren' ( Rom_8:29  ). And concerning the former [His being the Only-begotten] it is said `we have beheld His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father' ( Joh_1:14  ). Thus, He is only-begotten by the substance of the Godhead, and first-born through His assumption of humanity; first-born by grace, only-begotten by nature. This is why He is called brother and Lord; brother, because He is the first-born; Lord, because He is the Only-begotten" ("In Lucae Evangelium Expositio, in loc.").
  Christian Tradition teaches, as a truth of faith, that Mary remained a virgin after Christ's birth, which is perfectly in keeping with Christ's status as her first-born. See, for example, these words of the Lateran Council of 649: "If anyone does not profess according to the holy Fathers that in the proper and true sense the holy, ever-Virgin, immaculate Mary is the Mother of God, since in this last age not with human seed but of the Holy Spirit she properly and truly conceived the divine Word, who was born of God the Father before all ages, and gave Him birth without any detriment to her virginity, which remained inviolate even after His birth: let such a one be condemned" (Canon 3).  

   8-20.  At His birth Christ's divinity and His humanity are perfectly manifested: we see His weakness--the form of a servant ( Phi_2:7  )--and His divine power. Christian faith involves confessing that Jesus Christ is true God and true man.
  The salvation which Christ brought us is offered to everyone, without distinction: "Here there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free man, but Christ is all, and in all" (Colossians 3:11). That is why, even at His birth, He chose to manifest Himself to different kinds of people--the shepherds, the Magi and Simeon and Anna. As St. Augustine comments: "The shepherds were Israelites; the Magi, Gentiles. The first lived near-by; the latter, far away. Yet both came to the cornerstone, Christ" ("Sermo De Nativitate Domini", 202).  

Born in Bethlehem Gregory Great

29 DECEMBER   Christmas Season Night Office      
  First Reading
Colossians 1:1-14
          Responsory' Col1:12-13; Jas 1:17
Let us give thanks to God our Father, + because he has rescued us from the power of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of his beloved Son.
V. Every good and perfect gift comes to us from above, from the Fa­ther of light. t Because he has ...  
Second Reading
From a homily by Saint Gregory the Great (Hom. 8: PL 76, 1103-1105)
Born as an alien
  • In those days a decree was promulgated by Caesar Augustus that a census should be taken of the whole world. Why was a census of the whole world taken when the Lord was about to be born if not to give a clear indication that One was coming in a human body who would enroll his elect in eternal life? On the other hand, the prophet says of the wicked: Let them be blotted out from the book of the living, and not enrolled among the just.   
  • It was fitting for the Lord to be born in Bethlehem, because Bethlehem means the house of bread, and he himself said: I am the living bread which came down from heaven. The place where the Lord was born was named the house of bread because he who would refresh the minds of the elect with inner abundance was destined to appear there in the body.
  • The fact that his birth took place not in his parents' home but while they were travelling was undoubtedly to show that, in a certain sense, through his assumed humanity, he was born as an alien. I do not mean that he was an alien with regard to his power, but by reason of the nature he had taken upon himself. Of his power it is written: He came to his own, and indeed in his own nature he was born before the beginning of time, but in ours he came in time. Since therefore he appeared in time while remaining eternal, he descended as an alien.
  • God says through the prophet that all flesh is grass, but when the Lord became man he turned our grass into wheat, since he said of himself: Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain. Therefore he also lay in the manger as a newborn babe to refresh all believers, like holy animals, with the nourishment of his own body, and assuage their hunger for the food of eternal knowledge.
  • The angel announced the birth of a king, and choirs of angels sang and rejoiced with him, proclaiming: Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth. Before our Redeemer was born as a man we were at odds with the angels, being kept far from their glory and purity by our original fault and daily sins. For since our sins made us strangers to God, the angels of the city of God considered us excluded from their fellowship. On the other hand, when we recognized our King, the angels recognized us as fellow-citizens. They no longer dared to despise as weak and beneath them that which, in the King of Heaven, they worshiped above them. Nor, worshiping above them a God who is human, do they disdain human fellowship. Let us, therefore, who in the eternal foreknowledge are citizens of the city of God and equal to the angels, take care that no impurity defiles us. Human beings are called gods: for the honor of God, then, let us guard ourselves against sin, for whose sake God became man, who lives and reigns for all eternity. Amen.

Octave of Christmas, Day 5. Nunc Dimittis

Wednesday, December 29
Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas
----- Forwarded Message ----
From: Nivard ...
Sent: Tue, 28 December, 2010 17:14:38
Subject: Octave of Christmas, Day 5. Nunc Dimittis

Presentation: Circumcision: Epiphany???
Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the Temple to present him to the Lord.      
   Mary, the living temple brought Jesus to the temple of stones to present her Child and the Father’s to Simeon the priest, to be offered back to God. This is an unheard-of new presence of God in Jesus.  
   Thus we have three steps of God’s presences in ascending order: 

   1. The Temple of stones in Jerusalem. This sums up the Old Testament.  

   2. Mary is the living temple. The Son of God makes human nature itself the house in which he dwells,  

   3. The Church is the spiritual temple of God’s presence.  Acts shows Mary as the living connection between the earthly life of Jesus and the Mystery of the Church as Body of Jesus.

Almighty and unseen God, the coming of your light into our world has made the darkness vanish. Teach us to proclaim the birth of your Son Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever.  
Bidding Prayer:                        Father, we thank you for the joy you have given us in the birth of your Son. Make us also welcome the pin pricks that shape us into the likeness of this same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
 Prayer after Communion,
    Father of love and mercy, grant that our lives may always be founded on the power of this holy mystery. We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Holy Innocents Saint Bernard

The Holy Innocents, Martyrs
Feast Day
December 28th

Giotto di Bondone
No. 21 Scenes from the Life of Christ
Massacre of the Innocents
1304-06 -- Fresco
Cappella Scrovegni (Arena Chapel), Padua

 Gospel Reading
 Matthew 2:13-18
First Reading
From the book of Exodus (1:8-16.22)

Night Office Reading (Saint Bernard).
From a sermon on the Feast by Saint Bernard (PL 183,129-131)
Blessed is he who came in the name of the Lord! For the holy One born of Mary did not come in vain, but spread abroad abundantly the name and grace of holiness. Thence surely came the holiness of Stephen, of John, and of the Innocents. It is well for us that these three feasts are associated with the birthday of the Lord, for besides helping us to maintain our devotion, their coming one after another, as a kind of escort makes the fruit of our Lord's birth more evident.
In these three solemnities, three kinds of holiness can be seen, and I think it would be hard to find among humans a fourth. In blessed Stephen we have a martyr both in will and deed; in blessed John we have the will alone; in the blessed Innocents the deed alone.
As for the Innocents, who could have any doubt about their reward? Surely, no one who believes that children born again in Christ receive divine adoption can doubt that these children slain for Christ are crowned among the martyrs. Otherwise, why did tilt: Child who was born to help us, not to hurt us, allows these babes of his own age to be killed on his account? Since he could certainly have prevented their murder with a mere nod, he must have had some better thing in store for them. Therefore, as baptism suffices for a child's salvation even though he receives it without any act of will on his part, so also did the involuntary martyrdom of these children suffice to sanctify them.
Stephen was a martyr in human eyes. His willingness to suffer appears most clearly in the fact that on the point of death he was more concerned for his persecutors than for himself. John was a martyr in the sight of the angels who, being spiritual themselves, could see the spiritual proofs of his dedication.
But these, these Innocents, are clearly your own martyrs, O God; because they do not seem either to humans or angels to have earned any reward, your special favor to them is shown with greater clarity. Out of the mouths of children and of babes you have received perfect praise. The angels sang: Glory to God in the highest and peace to people of good will. That indeed is magnificent but I dare to say not perfect praise, which will be found only when he comes who said: Let the little children come to me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Then, through the mystery of God's goodness, there will be peace even for people who cannot use their will.

Responsory see Wis 4:14.15; Rom 8:28
The Lord took them quickly * from the midst of wickedness,
- for God's grace and mercy are with his elect, and he watches over his holy ones.
By turning everything to this good
God works together with those who love him, - for God's grace ...