Sister Rea McDonnell, SSND, offers daily reflections on the Liturgical Readings for each day. If you wish to share your own reflections or have comments or questions, please feel free to email Sister Rea. For information about Sister Rea's publications, visit our online gift shop.
Why do we have a Jewish blessing for our first reading? Perhaps because the leader, Moses, is told by God to let Aaron and his descendants do the blessing. Perhaps our leader, Jesus, passes on the duties of blessing us to his mother. "May God bless us in all mercy," we sing in the psalm. Paul tells us that the great blessing is the Spirit who entitles us to call God Abba, our father; the Spirit who makes us co-heirs with Jesus. A Christmas scene for the gospel, in which Mary treasures everything in her heart, and ponders them.
Pray Aaronís blessing, holding up each one whom you love. Please too hold up the Sisters of our new Atlantic-Midwest province, begun today.
May God bless you and keep you.
May God make Godís face shine upon you and be gracious to you.
May God lift up Godís face upon you and give you peace.
Thank you for your radiant face, Lord Jesus, made available through the lovely face of Mary. You resemble her in looks; may we resemble you and her in our faith, our love, our hope.
This is the feast of Gregory Nazianzan (and his brother Basil). Today I quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church in which Gregory, in #2670, offers a surprising reason for the incarnation which we continue to celebrate. "If the Spirit should not be worshiped, how can He [sic] divinize me through Baptism?" WE are becoming divine, a life long process, to be sure, but we are on the way. We are told that the priest should pray this quietly, but pray it he does in every Eucharist as he pours water into wine: "By this mystery of water and wine, may we come to share the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity."
Take in that offertory prayer. Let it rumble around your mind and heart. Then call your priest and ask him to proclaim that wondrous prayer very loudly at every offertory. What incredible news! What a marvelous commingling of humanity and divinity!
Thank you, Jesus, thank you, for mingling so deeply with us in order to make us divine. We are already Godís children and what you will make of us, we can only imagine! Thank you!
"Beloved, we are Godís children now. What we will be has not yet been revealed. When he [Christ] is revealed we will be like him." So we learn from the first letter of John. What we learn in Johnís gospel from John the Baptizer is that Jesus baptizes us in the Holy Spirit. Plunges us, immerses us in the Holy Spirit. A disciple, from the Latin discipula, is a learner.
A way to learn and to contemplate is to return time and again to the same concept, image, experience. Yesterday we learned that we are in the process of becoming divine, and 1 John repeats the sounding joy! "May we come to share the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity."
Open us to learn, Jesus, how precious we are in Godís eyes. Make us like you, and more: live in us today, Jesus. Let everyone look up and see no longer us, but only you. Let us see you.
In 1 John we learn that if we are born of God [and we are!] we do not sin. Yet we do sin. How can this be? In Johnís day sin was two-fold: sin which means missing the mark which we do seven times 70 times a day, and sin with a high hand, or rebellion which we probably cannot do since we are born of God. Theologians call this our "fundamental option." When we submitted to Christís grasping hold of us, we were born in the Holy Spirit. We opted in a fundamental way to belong to God. We will often miss the mark (as did Jesus with his impatience with his disciples, his disgust with the religious authorities, his calling Peter Satan) but we are always aimed toward God, our center.
Sin for an early Christian meant missing the mark or rebellion. Augustine made a two fold distinction: sins of weakness, sins of malice. Now we have venial and mortal as our categories. Discuss sin with Jesus. Ask him to teach you the paradox of how we are, and will be so long as we live, loved sinners.
You are the center of our lives. We will always love you, we will always serve you, but only by your grace and your Spirit at work in our lives. Thank you for plunging us into your Spirit.
In our continuous reading of Johnís gospel, yesterday we were invited by Jesus to come and see where he lives. It seems like 2000 years ago the disciples get the invitation, but because we have a living Word dwelling with us and within us, that invitation is extended through time and space to us. Jesus is slowly building a community of disciples, and the first letter of John tells us how that community would continue and grow through the centuries. "We have heard from the beginning that we should love one another....We know that we have passed from death to life because we love one another." Will we come and see more deeply with whom Jesus continues to live?
Respond to Jesusí invitation to be a disciple, to come and see where he lives now, and to stay with him. Will you walk with him through death to life? Will you love the others around you? Or at least pray for the grace to love? Do that now as you contemplate each person in your circle.
We need your love poured into our hearts, your Holy Spirit, Jesus, if we are to love others as you have already loved us. Give us a new infusion of your Spirit, your love in action, in service.
The letter of John is drawing to a conclusion and in our continuous reading for some reason the liturgists have skipped some powerful messages. "Our love consists in this: not that we have loved God, but that God has first loved us..... Perfect love casts out fear." As we leave the horrors of 2005 behind, a year of tsunami, earthquake and hurricane, a year when many expected the end of the world and were afraid, we rest in Godís love, the only perfect love, which casts out fear. In the gospel, John the Baptizer promises that we will be baptized by Jesus with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the perfect love of Father and Son. We are immersed in Spirit.
Check over your current fears. Ask the Spirit to show you any that you keep hidden out of denial or shame. Pray: "Holy Spirit, donít let me deny my fear but you bring it into the light of Godís perfect love, Godís perfect love for me." Rest in Godís love.
We trust you and your great love, God, our Father and Mother and so much more! You are love, and we who live in love, live in you and you in us. Make our love a little more fervent in response to our first being loved by you.
Tomorrow is the feast of the Epiphany. We will have no feast of Jesusí baptism on a Sunday, but we have heard of it often these days in our daily gospels. We associate Epiphany or manifestation with the Three Wise Men of Matthewís gospel, but the early church also saw Jesus manifested in his baptism (Mark) and in todayís gospel, the wedding feast of Cana. This first of Jesusí signs recorded in Johnís gospel "revealed his glory." Mary plays an important role in this experience of abundance (180 gallons of wine!). From the beginning of our SSND congregation her words have been directed to us School Sisters, and of course to every Christian: "Do whatever he tells you."
What is Jesus telling you to do right now? Is it as simple, ordinary as filling jars with water? Is it heroic, difficult? Undoubtedly it has to do with the "duties of your state of life." Going to work, washing the kitchen floor, driving the children, caring for your health etc. What is he asking of you right now? Listen.
How abundantly you give us the good things of life, Jesus! How you rejoice in weddings, dancing and wine! Bless all married people with abundant joy. Thank you for your Mother.
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