Tag Archives: Christmas

God’s mercy reaches us

Let Your goodness Lord appear to us, that we,
made in your image, conform ourselves to it.
In our own strength
we cannot imitate Your majesty, power, and wonder
nor is it fitting for us to try.
But Your mercy reaches from the heavens
through the clouds to the earth below.
You have come to us as a small child,
but you have brought us the greatest of all gifts,
the gift of eternal love
Caress us with Your tiny hands,
embrace us with Your tiny arms
and pierce our hearts with Your soft, sweet cries.

a Christmas Prayer attributed to Saint Bernard

Presentation of the Lord

A mosaic of Mary and Joseph presenting the child Jesus to Simeon decorates the chapel of the Jesuit infirmary in Rome June 8. The Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments is establishing an office to promote the development and use of appropriate liturgical art, architecture and music. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) (Nov. 14, 2012) See CONGREGATION-ART Nov. 14, 2012.

A mosaic of Mary and Joseph presenting the child Jesus to Simeon decorates the chapel of the Jesuit infirmary in Rome. (CNS photo/Paul Haring, 2012)

Today’s feast brings to the end the Christmas cycle: 40 days ago we celebrated the Incarnation on Christmas Day. This feast has another name: the Byzantine Church calls it the Encounter of Our Lord. Western Catholics will call it Candlemas.

Why celebrate the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple? What impact does it have for us?

Look to Luke’s Gospel in which we see the honoring of the requirement of the Moasic Law for a mother’s purification forty days after giving birth. She comes to the Temple for prayer and re-incorporation into the community of faith. At this time child birth made the woman unclean to for a period of time. The Church uses the appearance of Joseph and Mary for these rituals to underline the paradox that God, author of the Law, here submits to the Law.

It is important to note that St. Luke records this particular observance of the Law. “The Church uses the appearance of Joseph and Mary for these rituals to underline the paradox that God, author of the Law, here submits to the Law.” Also biblically tied into the Temple visit was the recognition of Israel’s first-born sons who, when Egypt, were killed prior to the Exodus event; hence by tradition parents were bound to present an offering to claim their child.

Luke also reveals to us the prophetic utterance of Simeon and Anna who recognize and encounter the child Jesus as the glory of Israel, the light of revelation for all people. This encounter realizes the revelation of Jesus as the foretold Messiah — a fulfillment of an expectation.

Love — you feel it

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The Christmas Octave

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St Stephen

st-stephenThe Second Day of Christmas gives us a rather unique liturgical memorial: the death of the first martyr, Saint Stephen. Today’s saint is renown for his singular devotion to the Lord through adoration and service; he believed the unity of truth of the Good News given by Jesus; Stephen is recalled by the Church as being a deacon (see the Acts).

What is revealed to us in sacred Scripture is that Stephen became the first Christian to be killed for his faith in Jesus Christ. A predicted outcome by the Lord. Persecution was received as a consequence to living the intensity life and holiness proposed the Lord Jesus. The Church recognized that persecution as a clear sign that one is on the right path: if you follow in Jesus’ footsteps, you will meet the same fate He did. Saint Stephen gave his witness to Jesus and the Truth of the Gospel, but Stephen’s executions didn’t accept his testimony.

The Acts of the Apostles reveals that they “stopped their ears and rushed upon him” (7:57). What does stopped their ears mean? They would not listen to the reasonableness of the Good News. Convicted by truth, Stephen didn’t compromise and thus fulfilled the prophetic utterance that we read about in today’s Gospel. Historically, it was Saul as a young man, full of zeal for something other than holiness; Saul, later Paul, helped the executioners stone Stephen to death. Remarkably, Stephen died praying for his murderers.

Are we convicted by the Truth of the Incarnation? Can we follow and do what Saint Stephen did?

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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