Monday, December 31, 2018

Mary, Mother of God


January 1 is the Solemnity (Holy Day) of Mary, Mother of God.  To call Mary the “Mother of God” must not be understood as a claim for Mary’s motherhood of divinity itself, but in the sense that Mary was mother of Jesus, who is truly God.  The Council of Ephesus in 431—long before the schisms with the Eastern churches and the Protestants—proclaimed “Mother of God” a theologically correct title for Mary. 

So far from being a cause of division, the common confession of Mary as “Mother of God” should unite all Christians, and distinguish Christian orthodoxy from various confusions of it, such as Arianism (the denial that Jesus was God) or Nestorianism (in which Mary mothers only the human nature of Jesus but not his whole person).

Two themes are present in the Readings for this Solemnity: (1) the person of Mary, and (2) the name of Jesus.   Why the name of Jesus? Prior to the second Vatican Council, the octave day of Christmas was the Feast of the Holy Name, not Mary Mother of God.  The legacy of that tradition can be seen in the choice of Readings for this Solemnity.  (The Feast of the Holy Name was removed from the calendar after Vatican II; St. John Paul II restored it as an optional memorial on January 3.  This year, it will be an optional mass on Thursday.)

1.  The First Reading is Numbers 6:22-27

Epiphany: The Mystery of the Magi (The Mass Readings Explained)

This week's video is now out for the Epiphany.  Happy New Year Everyone.

Catholic Productions' notable quote from this week's video:

"...[T]hink about this for a second, the star in the heavens, which is kind of like the book of creation, so the Magi are reading the book of creation and it gives them some guidance, but then the other is the city of Bethlehem which they read about in the book of the Scriptures. So these two books, the book of creation and the book of the Scriptures, need to be read together in order for the Magi to find the Christ child, in order for them to find the one who has been born, the King of the Jews. So the book of nature gets them so far, it gets them to Jerusalem, but they need the Scriptures to finally locate the true Messiah, to locate the King."



Saturday, December 29, 2018

Readings for the Feast of the Holy Family


The Sunday within the octave of Christmas is always dedicated to contemplation of the Holy Family, giving us the opportunity to meditate on the way in which the family structure, established by God and perfectly mirrored in the Holy Family, reflects His own familial nature (as Father, Son, and Spirit) and shows us the truth about ourselves and our deepest longings for love, acceptance, and communion with other persons.

The Readings for this beautiful feast provide the celebrant with two options for a set of Readings: the standard Readings for the feast (ABC): Sirach 3:2-14; Psalm 128; Col 2:12-21; and Matt 2:13-23.  Then, there are the optional alternative readings for Year C: 1 Sam 1:20-28; Ps 84 (selections); 1 John 3:1-2, 21-24; and Luke 2:41-52.  The Readings are chosen as a thematic whole, so it is best not to “mix and match” between the two sets of Readings.  [Strangely, the USCCB website provides both sets of Readings except for the Gospel, for which they give only the Year C alternative (Luke 2:41-52).]  In what follows, I will provide comments on all the Reading options, both ABC and C.  (See here for the full readings options: https://bit.ly/2BKn3Ia)

1.  The First Reading (ABC) is Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14:

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Readings for the Christmas Masses


The Christmas Solemnity has distinct readings for four separate masses:  Vigil, Midnight, Dawn, and Day.  The Readings for these Masses are stable from year to year (ABC), so my comments below are largely the same as previous years.  There’s such a wealth of material here to meditate on, that not everything can be covered.  In fact, there is almost an entire biblical theology in the sequence of readings of these four masses.  In what follows, I am going to offer just a few brief comments on the more salient points.

Christmas Vigil Mass

1. Reading 1 Is 62:1-5:

Mary, Queen Mother of the Crown Prince: The 4th Sunday of Advent




The Fourth Sunday of Advent marks a switch in focus from John the Baptist (on the previous two Sundays) to the events immediately leading up to the birth of Christ.

The Readings for this Sunday focus on Jesus’ royalty: his descent from the line of Davidic kings.  As we will see, this royal status also accrued to his mother Mary, and this is the basis for the practice of Marian veneration in the Catholic Church.  In fact, the first instance of Marian veneration by another human being takes place in this Sunday’s Gospel.

1. Our First Reading is from the prophet Micah, 5:1-4a:

Monday, December 17, 2018