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Parish Update 1/3/21

Dear Parish Family,

“Christ yesterday and today, the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega.  All time belongs to him and all the ages.  To him be glory and power through every age and for ever.”     ~Easter Vigil Liturgy

A link to today’s Mass can be found here:   https://youtu.be/Q6zq6XEul7I

A very blessed and Happy New Year to you!!

Pam

The Epiphany of the Lord  
 
First Reading:  Isaiah 60:1-6

 
Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem!  Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds cover the peoples; but upon you the LORD shines, and over you appears his glory. Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your shining radiance. Raise your eyes and look about; they all gather and come to you: your sons come from afar, and your daughters in the arms of their nurses. Then you shall be radiant at what you see, your heart shall throb and overflow, for the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you, the wealth of nations shall be brought to you. Caravans of camels shall fill you, dromedaries from Midian and Ephah; all from Sheba shall come
bearing gold and frankincense, and proclaiming the praises of the LORD.  

Responsorial Psalm:  Ps 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13  

R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
O God, with your judgment endow the king,
and with your justice, the king’s son;
He shall govern your people with justice
and your afflicted ones with judgment.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
Justice shall flower in his days,
and profound peace, till the moon be no more.
May he rule from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
The kings of Tarshish and the Isles shall offer gifts;
the kings of Arabia and Seba shall bring tribute.
All kings shall pay him homage,
all nations shall serve him.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
For he shall rescue the poor when he cries out,
and the afflicted when he has no one to help him.
He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor;
the lives of the poor he shall save.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.  

Second Reading:  Ephesians 3:2-3, 5-6  

Brothers and sisters:
You have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for your benefit,
namely, that the mystery was made known to me by revelation. It was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

Gospel:  Matthew 2:1-12  

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews?
We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet:
And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel.”
Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search diligently for the child.
When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage.”
After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.


An Act of Spiritual Communion


My Jesus, I believe that You are present
in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,
and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally,
I ask You to come spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You, trusting that you are already there and I unite myself wholly to You.

Never permit me to be separated from You.  Amen.

Homily

“Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.”  Matthew 2:1-12

    The history of western civilization is filled with stories of royalty, and dynasties who dictated the course of events for millions through the centuries.  Very often these stories have been marked by tragedy – there were the Romanovs of Russia for example who were blind to the suffering of their people, led them into war and were powerless to counteract a revolution; by greed – the excesses of Louis XV of France, symbolized in the sprawling wealth of Versailles, contrasted with the poverty and injustice that led to the French revolution; and yet these dynasties remain a fascinating subject to many.  Even in the democratic United States we have our own royalty of a sort, certainly there were the Kennedys, and there are many sports figures like Patrick Mahomes, or Drew Brees.

    Our Liturgy today is crafted around a theme that Matthew proposes to us: Who is our true King?”  Matthew weaves history and faith into a scenario providing us with the answer of Jesus, the light of the nations.

    In the first reading Isaiah’s vision of the restored Jerusalem where all the world will come for instruction is fulfilled in today’s gospel.  Key to the prophet’s message is the failure of earthly rulers.  Israel’s kings failed; their kingdoms were based on the illusion, the belief, that they were self-sufficient, they had no need of God.  They sought after earthly wealth and power, sure that if they had these, they had need of nothing more.  But in this reading God gives riches of a different kind, and the nations of the world come to worship God – with all the pomp and splendor that marks a restored temple.

    Matthew’s gospel draws on Isaiah, as well as the other Hebrew scriptures, to proclaim that they are fulfilled in Jesus.  The encounter of the astrologers from the east and Herod draws a powerful contrast.  The shallow worldly Herod, renowned in history for his cruelty and violence, meets the astrologers, who give life to the prophecies expressed in all the Hebrew Scriptures but especially here in Isaiah.  The contrast sets up the question, “Who is the true king?”

    This Christmas season just past was also filled with contrasts.  There was the commercialism of our world, the reshaping of a religious feast into an opportunity for profit, and the often-difficult clash of emotions between joy and sadness, the celebration of light in these the darkest days of the year.

    Perhaps we are not so far away or different from Matthew’s original audience.  They, like us, needed to hear God’s promise coming true in Jesus, the hopes of a searching world fulfilled.  Where there is shallowness, greed, cruelty, now truth has broken through.

    This story should give us pause to wonder about the gifts we give to others, the gifts we give to God, and the attitude in which we give them.  Matthew’s story of the magi’s search for the Christ and the gifts they give to honor him call us to realize the opportunities we have to honor Christ in the treasures we are able to give to others – the treasures we give from the depths of ourselves.

   In this Eucharist we bring not gold, frankincense and myrrh, but ourselves and the fruits of our work.  God accepts our gifts and in return gives us Jesus to bring us light, and sends us out to be light for others.  When we live out this epiphany vision, we become God’s epiphany for the world.  We become stars to guide others to Christ.  May the love of God be manifested in the gifts of love and compassion we seek to give to others.

    At the age of 13, her world darkened. Her happiness disappeared; she no longer found joy in her classes where she excelled or in playing her beloved clarinet; she was becoming more and more withdrawn. By the time her family and friends realized she was struggling, she was very sick. At school, counselors and therapists confronted her about her detachment; her friends collectively decided that she was not worth their concern. Everything and everyone she turned to for love and acceptance were missing when she most needed it. Something “broke” inside of her. She didn’t care if she lived or died.
 

   So, desperate for a change, she transferred to another school – a Catholic high school. She was the daughter of a non-practicing Methodist and a non-practicing Presbyterian. They left the decision of church and religion to her and her siblings – as long as they identified as “some sort of Christian.” She didn’t know whether she believed in God or not.
  

   “I found I was searching for something that refused to make itself known,” she remembers. “If God existed, I concluded, God was not interested in my soul. God did not include me, but my too-cool-for-religion friends did. That is, until they didn’t.”

    At her new school, signs of God were pretty much everywhere she looked. That first day she felt like an invader. She wasn’t interested in a new beginning; she simply wanted to put in her time. She wasn’t interested in new friends, either. She was far from convinced that she would succeed in this new school – she just knew that her last school left her defeated.

    But that’s when the unexpected happened.

    “It took time and patience, but new friends found me. They did not give up on the moody and disconnected new student. Nothing was easy, but I was taught how to assimilate. It was a new form of love I had not yet known….

    “I was 18 years old when I was baptized into the Catholic Church. The first person I was introduced to on my first day of class stood next to me at the baptismal font as my chosen godmother. Since then, I have decided that my faith lies in my journey. I do not fear a lack of acceptance because I know God has a plan in motion. With God, I am no longer an outsider looking in. With God, I have found my missing community. [From “Through the Motions: My Patient Journey With Depression” by Nicole Bazis, America, November 28, 2016.]

    Today’s solemnity of the Epiphany centers on the journey that every one of us travels, the journey that is ultimately a search for God: finding God in our life’s meaning, finding God in belonging to family and community; finding God in the satisfaction of doing good. As the magi experienced, God sets “stars” ahead of us – for this student, the star was a group of teachers and classmates who would not let her be lost to the darkness of her depression.  The understanding and support of family and friends, the forgiveness we extend and receive, the meaning we come to know in giving and serving those in need, are all “epiphanies” of God’s presence in our own Bethlehem. In the new year before us, may our hearts and spirits behold these many epiphanies in which we re-discover the love of “Emmanuel” – God in our midst.