The Visitation

Scripture Reading
Mary set out in those days
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth. 
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Most blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy. 
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”
(Luke 1:39-45)

 

Scripture Study

1:41 leaped in her womb: Elizabeth’s experience parallels that of Rebekah in Gen 25. ● Both Luke and the Greek OT use the same verb (Gk. skirtaō) to describe children leaping or stirring in the womb. As Rebekah’s experience signaled the preeminence of Jacob over his older brother Esau (Gen 25:22–23), so the similar experience of Elizabeth was a sign that Jesus would be greater than his older cousin John (3:16; Jn 3:27–30).

1:42 Blessed are you: Elizabeth blesses Mary with words once spoken to Jael and Judith in the OT (Judg 5:24–27; Jud 13:18). ● These women were blessed for their heroic faith and courage in warding off enemy armies hostile to Israel. Victory was assured when both Jael and Judith assassinated the opposing military commanders with a mortal blow to the head. Mary will follow in their footsteps, yet in her case both the enemy destroyed and the victory won will be greater, for she will bear the Savior who crushes the head of sin, death, and the devil underfoot (Gen 3:15; 1 Jn 3:8) (CCC 64, 489).

1:43 mother of my Lord: This title reveals the twin mysteries of Jesus’ divinity and Mary’s divine maternity (CCC 449, 495). Note that every occurrence of the word Lord in the immediate (1:45) and surrounding context refers to God (1:28, 32, 38, 46, 58, 68). ● Mary’s divine motherhood was the first Marian dogma expounded by the Church. The Ecumenical Council of Ephesus (a.d. 431) defined her unique relationship to Christ and honored her with the title “Mother of God” (Gk. Theotokos). This was reaffirmed in 1964 at Vatican II (Lumen Gentium, 53).[1]

Scripture Reflection

Friends, today’s Gospel tells of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth. I’ve always been fascinated by Mary’s “haste” in this story of the Visitation. Upon hearing the message of Gabriel concerning her own pregnancy and that of her cousin, Mary “proceeded in haste into the hill country of Judah” to see Elizabeth.

Why did she go with such speed and purpose? Because she had found her mission, her role in the theo-drama. We are dominated today by the ego-drama in all of its ramifications and implications. The ego-drama is the play that I’m writing, I’m producing, I’m directing, and I’m starring in. We see this absolutely everywhere in our culture. Freedom of choice reigns supreme: I become the person that I choose to be.

The theo-drama is the great story being told by God, the great play being directed by God. What makes life thrilling is to discover your role in it. This is precisely what has happened to Mary. She has found her role—indeed a climactic role—in the theo-drama, and she wants to conspire with Elizabeth, who has also discovered her role in the same drama. And like Mary, we have to find our place in God’s story.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV. 

 

 

[1] Curtis Mitch, “Introduction to the Gospels,” in The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: The New Testament (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010), 106.

Enter the King of Glory

Scripture Reading

The LORD’s are the earth and its fullness;
the world and those who dwell in it.
For he founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.

Who can ascend the mountain of the LORD?
or who may stand in his holy place?
He whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean,
who desires not what is vain.

He shall receive a blessing from the LORD,
a reward from God his savior.
Such is the race that seeks for him,
that seeks the face of the God of Jacob.

(Psalm 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6)


Scripture Study

24:1–2. This first stanza (recording perhaps the words of a Levite or a temple servant on seeing the approach of pilgrims) echoes Genesis 1:1–10: God is the lord of all things because he created them (cf. Ex 9:29; Deut 10:14) and he set the earth upon the seas (in line with ancient eastern cosmogony: cf. Job 38:4–6; Ps 104:5); yet, at the same time God has made himself accessible in the temple. St Paul appeals to the opening words of this psalm, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it”, to show that there are no unclean foods, contrary to the view of some Christians of Jewish bent (cf. 1 Cor 10:25–26). These words show that all created things are good.

24:3–6. These verses would have come from an entrance rite at the temple: to a question put by visitors (v. 3), a Levite or porter replies by stating the conditions to be met if one is to receive the Lord’s blessing there (vv. 4–5). Unlike Psalm 15, where there is mention only of proper respect for one’s neighbor (referred to in a condensed way here), there is the additional requirement about not worshipping idols (“what is false”: v. 4). Verse 6 may come from a reply made by incoming pilgrims—identifying themselves as worshippers of the God of Israel.[1]

Scripture Reflection

The three parts of the psalm concern the central elements of faith, life, and worship. The psalm gives the inhabitants of the world a confession with which we may acknowledge how the world came to exist and whose we are. Existence in the world is possible because of the existence of the world. The world exists because the will and the work of the LORD have prevailed against the chaos of nonexistence to bring forth a benevolent and life-sustaining order.

The psalm also announces that the LORD “comes” to us. The LORD stands at the door and knocks (Rev. 3:20). He has come to be present with us and for us. He comes as the victor who has prevailed against the chaos of unbeing and so is able to prevail against the chaos of evil. That is good news. Unless he were there for us with his blessing and righteousness, we would have nowhere to go to find help to sustain and set right our lives. Our existence depends on his creation; our blessing and righteousness depend on his coming.

This theme of advent has prompted the location and use of the psalm in the Christian year on the Sunday of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. On these occasions the psalm discloses the mystery of Mary’s child. The babe born in a stable is the king of glory. The man who enters the holy city only to be rejected and executed is the hidden king of glory. In him God comes to us and for us to bring blessing and righteousness.

– James Mays

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV. 

 

 

[1] James Gavigan, Brian McCarthy, and Thomas McGovern, eds., Psalms and the Song of Solomon, The Navarre Bible (Dublin; New York: Four Courts Press; Scepter Publishers, 2003), 99–100.

The Messenger

Scripture Reading

In the days of Herod, King of Judea,
there was a priest named Zechariah
of the priestly division of Abijah;
his wife was from the daughters of Aaron,
and her name was Elizabeth. 
Both were righteous in the eyes of God,
observing all the commandments
and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly. 
But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren
and both were advanced in years. 

Once when he was serving as priest
in his division’s turn before God,
according to the practice of the priestly service,
he was chosen by lot
to enter the sanctuary of the Lord to burn incense. 
Then, when the whole assembly of the people was praying outside
at the hour of the incense offering,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him,
standing at the right of the altar of incense. 
Zechariah was troubled by what he saw, and fear came upon him. 

But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah,
because your prayer has been heard. 
Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son,
and you shall name him John. 
And you will have joy and gladness,
and many will rejoice at his birth,
for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. 
He will drink neither wine nor strong drink. 
He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb,
and he will turn many of the children of Israel
to the Lord their God. 
He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah
to turn the hearts of fathers toward children
and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous,
to prepare a people fit for the Lord.” 

Then Zechariah said to the angel,
“How shall I know this? 
For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” 
And the angel said to him in reply,
“I am Gabriel, who stand before God.
I was sent to speak to you and to announce to you this good news. 
But now you will be speechless and unable to talk
until the day these things take place,
because you did not believe my words,
which will be fulfilled at their proper time.”
Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah
and were amazed that he stayed so long in the sanctuary. 
But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them,
and they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary. 
He was gesturing to them but remained mute.

Then, when his days of ministry were completed, he went home. 

After this time his wife Elizabeth conceived,
and she went into seclusion for five months, saying,
“So has the Lord done for me at a time when he has seen fit
to take away my disgrace before others.”
(Luke 1:5-25)

 

Scripture Study

The archangel St Gabriel gives Zechariah three reasons why he should rejoice over the birth of this child: first, because God will bestow exceptional holiness on him (v. 15); second, because he will lead many to salvation (v. 16); and third, because his whole life, everything he does, will prepare the way for the expected Messiah (v. 17).

In St John the Baptist two prophecies of Malachi are fulfilled; in them we are told that God will send a messenger ahead of him to prepare the way for him (Mal 3:1; 4:5–6). John prepares the way for the first coming of the Messiah in the same way as Elijah will prepare the way for his second coming (cf. St Ambrose, Expositio Evangelii sec. Lucam, in loc.; St Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on St Matthew, 17, 11, in loc.). This is why Christ will say, “What did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee’ ” (Lk 7:26–27).[1]

Scripture Reflection

In today’s Gospel, Luke tells us about John the Baptist’s parents. We see with utter clarity that John is a priestly figure. Zechariah, his father, is a temple priest and Elizabeth his mother is a descendant of Aaron the very first priest.

Now flash forward thirty years and see John emerging in the desert. The first question is, “Why is this son of a priest not working in the temple?” And the second is, “Why are the people going out from Jerusalem to commune with him?” The answer to the first is that he is engaging in a prophetic critique of a temple that has gone bad. And the answer to the second is that he is performing the acts of a purified temple priest out in the desert. His baptism was a ritual cleansing and a spur to repent, precisely what a pious Jew would have sought in the temple.

And the picture becomes complete when Jesus arrives to be baptized and John says, “Behold the Lamb of God.” This is explicitly temple talk. He is saying that the one who is to be sacrificed has arrived. He is the fulfillment of priesthood, temple, and sacrifice. The priestly figure has done his work and now he fades away.

– Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV. 

 

 

[1] Saint Luke’s Gospel, The Navarre Bible (Dublin; New York: Four Courts Press; Scepter Publishers, 2005), 28–29.

A Righteous Man

Scripture Reading

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, 
but before they lived together, 
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame, 
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, 
“Joseph, son of David, 
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit 
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, 
because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel

which means “God is with us.”
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him 
and took his wife into his home.
(Matthew 1:18-24)

Scripture Study

The virginal conception of Jesus is the work of the Spirit of God. Joseph’s decision to divorce Mary is overcome by the heavenly command that he take her into his home and accept the child as his own. The natural genealogical line is broken but the promises to David are fulfilled; through Joseph’s adoption the child belongs to the family of David. Matthew sees the virginal conception as the fulfillment of Is 7:14.

1:18 Betrothed to Joseph: betrothal was the first part of the marriage, constituting a man and woman as husband and wife. The betrothal was followed some months later by the husband’s taking his wife into his home, at which time normal married life began.

1:19 A righteous man: as a devout observer of the Mosaic law, Joseph wished to break his union with someone whom he suspected of gross violation of the law. It is commonly said that the law required him to do so, but the texts usually given in support of that view, e.g., Dt 22:20–21 do not clearly pertain to Joseph’s situation. Unwilling to expose her to shame: the penalty for proved adultery was death by stoning; cf. Dt 22:21–23.

1:20 The angel of the Lord: in the Old Testament a common designation of God in communication with a human being. In a dream: see Mt 2:13, 19, 22. These dreams may be meant to recall the dreams of Joseph, son of Jacob the patriarch (Gn 37:5–41:19).

1:21 Jesus: in first-century Judaism the Hebrew name Joshua (Greek Iēsous) meaning “Yahweh helps” was interpreted as “Yahweh saves.”

1:23 God is with us: God’s promise of deliverance to Judah in Isaiah’s time is seen by Matthew as fulfilled in the birth of Jesus, in whom God is with his people.[1]

Scripture Reflection

Friends, today’s Gospel centers on the intriguing figure of Joseph. Joseph is one of the most beloved of the saints, featured in countless works of art and prominent in the devotional lives of many. We know almost nothing about him, yet some very powerful spiritual themes emerge in the accounts of Joseph. He had become betrothed to Mary and this union had been blessed by God. And then he finds that his betrothed is pregnant.

This must have been an emotional maelstrom for him. And at a deeper level, it is a spiritual crisis. What does God want him to do? Then the angel appears to him in a dream and tells him, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.” He realizes at that moment that these puzzling events are part of a much greater plan of God’s. What appears to be a disaster from his perspective is meaningful from God’s perspective.

Joseph was willing to cooperate with the divine plan, though he in no way knew its contours or deepest purpose. Like Mary at the annunciation, he trusted and let himself be led.

– Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV. 

 

 

[1] Donald Senior, John J. Collins, and Mary Ann Getty, eds., The Catholic Study Bible, 2nd Ed.: Notes, 2nd ed., vol. 2 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 1337–1338.

A Royal Son

Scripture Reading

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. 

The mountains shall yield peace for the people,
and the hills justice.
He shall defend the afflicted among the people,
save the children of the poor.

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.

May his name be blessed forever;
as long as the sun his name shall remain.
In him shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed;
all the nations shall proclaim his happiness.
(Psalm 72:1-2,3-4, 7-8,17)

 

Scripture Study

72:1. “Justice” or “righteousness” is an attribute connected with the saving power of God (cf. Ps 9:4, 7; 19:9; etc.). Use is made of expressions “king” and “royal son”, which mean the same thing, to underline the principle of dynastic legitimacy.
72:2–4. The king shares in God’s saving power, which comes from on high (v. 3; cf. Is 45:8; 55:12), when he cries out in defense of the poor (vv. 3–4).
72:5–8. A reign as good as the one described here should last forever; it falls like rain to make the earth fruitful. Its fruits are righteousness (v. 7; cf. Hos 6:3). Instead of “may he live” (v. 5), which is how the Septuagint translates it, the Hebrew text says “may they fear thee”; the Greek text has made the correction to improve the sense. The desires expressed about the extent of the kingdom are in line with the boundaries mentioned in the promises (cf. Zech 9:10; Sir 44:22)—from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean, and from the Euphrates to the ends of the earth (cf. Gen 15:18).
72:15–17. These acclamations serve to round off the prayer for the king, desiring that he should continue to be prayed for (v. 15), that the country should have good things in plenty during his reign (v. 16) and that he himself would be praised the world over (v. 17; cf. Gen 12:3).[1]

Scripture Reflection

Psalm 72 is a prayer for the anointed king asking that God bring about his rule on earth through the reign of the king. It looks and hopes for a new era created by God through the person of the king. But Christians have always known that they can pray this psalm in its fullness only for the heir of David who was Jesus of Nazareth.

Through him the God of the universe has already bestowed righteousness, peace, and victory upon those who find in him the nearness of the reign of God. For them, the prayer is a form of petition for the consummation of the kingdom of God. The conclusion of the psalm turns its attention to the One who alone does marvelous things. It reminds the reader that it is the God of Israel who alone will be forever praised and whose glory will fill the whole earth.

– James L. Mays

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV. 

 

 

[1] James Gavigan, Brian McCarthy, and Thomas McGovern, eds., Psalms and the Song of Solomon, The Navarre Bible (Dublin; New York: Four Courts Press; Scepter Publishers, 2003), 246–248.

From the Father

Scripture Reading
Jesus said to the Jews:
“You sent emissaries to John, and he testified to the truth. 
I do not accept testimony from a human being,
but I say this so that you may be saved. 
John was a burning and shining lamp,
and for a while you were content to rejoice in his light. 
But I have testimony greater than John’s. 
The works that the Father gave me to accomplish,
these works that I perform testify on my behalf
that the Father has sent me.”
(John 5:33-36)

Scripture Study

John the Baptist bore witness that Jesus was the Son of God (1:34). Although Jesus had no need to have recourse to any man’s testimony, not even that of a great prophet, John’s testimony was given for the sake of the Jews, that they might recognize the Messiah. Jesus can also point to another testimony, better than that of the Baptist—the miracles he has worked, which are, for anyone who examines them honestly, unmistakable signs of his divine power, which comes from the Father; Jesus’ miracles, then, are a form of witness the Father bears concerning his Son, whom he has sent into the world.

Jewish legal tradition required two or three witnesses to sustain a claim in court (Deut 19:15). Jesus has a list of witnesses beyond the required number: (1) John the Baptist (5:33), (2) his miracles (5:36), (3) the Father (5:37), (4) the Scriptures (5:39), (5) and Moses (5:46) all bear witness to his divine authority and mission.[1]

Scripture Reflection

Today’s Gospel Jesus says that his Father’s works testify to his identity. Jesus’ words are the Father’s words and his deeds are the Father’s deeds. His story is the Father’s story.

Nature speaks of God, the philosophers say true things about God, the arts can reflect him, lives of the saints can indicate him—but Jesus is the icon.

We sense in this passage, if I can put it this way, the humility of the Logos: “The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works.” Neither the words nor the deeds of Jesus are “his own.” They are received from the Father. The Trinitarian theological tradition respects this when it speaks of the Son as the interior word of the Father and as having received everything from the Father.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV. 

 

 

 

[1] Curtis Mitch, “Introduction to the Gospels,” in The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: The New Testament (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010), 172.

I Will Praise You Lord

Scripture Reading

I will extol you, O LORD, for you drew me clear
and did not let my enemies rejoice over me.
O LORD, you brought me up from the nether world;
you preserved me from among those going down into the pit.

Sing praise to the LORD, you his faithful ones,
and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger lasts but a moment;
a lifetime, his good will.
At nightfall, weeping enters in,
but with the dawn, rejoicing.

“Hear, O LORD, and have pity on me;
O LORD, be my helper.”
You changed my mourning into dancing;
O LORD, my God, forever will I give you thanks.
(Psalm 30:2, 4, 5-6, 11-12, 13)

Scripture Study

30:1–3. The entire canticle reflects a thanksgiving liturgy in the temple after recovery from an illness that threatened the psalmist’s life.

30:4–5. The range of focus of the previous verses is extended by noticing how God acts: his “favor” far exceeds his “anger” (v. 5; cf. Is 54:7–8).

30:6–10. Divine anger really consists in his “hiding his face”, leaving man on his own (v. 7) when he thinks he can fend for himself (v. 6). The psalmist himself experienced this, but he reacted in time and had recourse to God (vv. 8–10) and put this argument to him—that his death would serve no purpose because if he were to die he could not praise him. Life only makes sense because he can praise the Lord, the source of all good. “If life didn’t have as its aim to give glory to God, it would be detestable—even more, loathsome” (St J. Escrivá, The Way, 783).

30:11–12. “Dancing” and being attired “with goodness”, as against mourning and penance, are external expressions, probably in a liturgical context, of the joy that accompanies praise; a joy that wells up inside “my soul” (literally “glory”, perhaps in the sense of physical health) and then is voiced (v. 12).

In Christian liturgy this psalm is said in the Easter Vigil, after the reading of Isaiah 54:5–14, which proclaims the consolation and rescue of Jerusalem after God had momentarily abandoned it. In this context the psalm reveals its prophetic meaning, insofar as it proclaims what God did when he raised Jesus Christ after he tasted death.[1]

Scripture Reflection

The psalmist’s earlier untroubled life is attributed to the royal pleasure of God. His distress comes when the LORD hides his face. His restoration is a change worked by the LORD. He sees his previous attitude as a mistaken reading of God’s favor, for he said in his self-confidence what should be said only in complete dependence on God: “I shall never be moved.”  Now he sees his life as a vocation of thanksgiving to the LORD. Correlating the course of life so directly with the sovereignty of God is, of course, risky. All sorts of distortions and misreadings are possible. But there is a strong faith in the providence of God here. Prayer and praise, if they are to be authentic and vigorous, must have actual life as their subject and not hover carefully in generalities above the earth. Life must be experienced in relation to God, sought and received as from the LORD’s hand.

– James Mays

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV. 

 

 

[1] James Gavigan, Brian McCarthy, and Thomas McGovern, eds., Psalms and the Song of Solomon, The Navarre Bible (Dublin; New York: Four Courts Press; Scepter Publishers, 2003), 116–117.

Attachments

Scripture Reading

At that time,
John summoned two of his disciples and sent them to the Lord to ask,
“Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” 
When the men came to the Lord, they said,
“John the Baptist has sent us to you to ask,
‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?’”
At that time Jesus cured many of their diseases, sufferings, and evil spirits;
he also granted sight to many who were blind. 
And Jesus said to them in reply,
“Go and tell John what you have seen and heard:
the blind regain their sight,
the lame walk,
lepers are cleansed,
the deaf hear, the dead are raised,
the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. 
And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”
(Luke 7:18-23)

Scripture Study

In answer to John’s question, Are you the one who is to come?—a probable reference to the return of the fiery prophet of reform, Elijah, “before the day of the Lord comes, the great and terrible day” (Mal 3:19)—Jesus responds that his role is rather to bring the blessings spoken of in Is 61:1 to the oppressed and neglected of society (Lk 7:22; cf. Lk 4:18).

Blessed is the one who takes no offense at me: this beatitude is pronounced on the person who recognizes Jesus’ true identity in spite of previous expectations of what “the one who is to come” would be like.[1]

Scripture Reflection

Today we celebrate the feast of St. John of the Cross, the great 16th-century teacher on spirituality and a Doctor of the Church. John famously said that the soul is like a pane of glass. When it is clean and clear, the light of God shines through it, but when it is smudged with attachments, it blocks the divine light.

What did he mean by attachments? Attachments are anything in this world, including your own life, that you are convinced you cannot live without. Money, fame, power, privilege, the esteem of others, material things, your own survival—any of these become attachments when we cling to them in order to protect or foster our egos. They become our masters and we become their prisoners.

So what do we do? How do we move from attachment to freedom? We have to realize that everything is a gift. Your being, your life, your body, your powers of mind and will and imagination, your accomplishments—all of it is a gift from a gracious God. When we realize this, we know that nothing is owed us; we have no great status to defend. Then we can live in gratitude.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV. 

 

 

[1] Donald Senior, John J. Collins, and Mary Ann Getty, eds., The Catholic Study Bible, 2nd Ed.: Notes, 2nd ed., vol. 2 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 1450.

Change Your Mind – Change Your Behavior

Scripture Reading

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people:
“What is your opinion? 
A man had two sons. 
He came to the first and said,
‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ 
The son said in reply, ‘I will not,’
but afterwards he changed his mind and went. 
The man came to the other son and gave the same order. 
He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir,’ but did not go. 
Which of the two did his father’s will?” 
They answered, “The first.” 
Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you,
tax collectors and prostitutes
are entering the Kingdom of God before you. 
When John came to you in the way of righteousness,
you did not believe him;
but tax collectors and prostitutes did. 
Yet even when you saw that,
you did not later change your minds and believe him.”
(Matthew 21:28-32)

 

Scripture Study

21:28–32 The parable of the Two Sons explains the preceding question about John the Baptist’s authority (21:25). The sons (21:28) represent two groups of people: the first are sinners who repent at the preaching of John (21:32); the second are Israel’s leaders, who refuse the Baptist’s message, even when tax collectors and harlots (21:32) respond to him (Lk 7:29–30). By following John’s way of righteousness (21:32), the former sinners do the will of the father (21:31).[1]

Scripture Reflection

Friends, today’s Gospel highlights the repentance of a son who changed his mind and obeyed his father. This is the way of Jesus. He wants a total renovation of our lives. He wants us to get to the roots of our sin and dysfunction, addressing not just the symptoms, but the deep causes.

Perhaps your relational life or sexual life are dysfunctional. Jesus wants to root out the problem and not just change the behavior. Perhaps, your professional life has become tainted by sin: Jesus wants to cut to the roots of it, in your pride or your fear or your ambition. Perhaps there is a pattern of violence in your behavior: Christ wants to get to the envy or the greed that lies behind it. Change your heart and turn to God.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV. 

 

 

[1] Curtis Mitch, “Introduction to the Gospels,” in The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: The New Testament (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010), 45.

Our Lady

Scripture Reading

God’s temple in heaven was opened,
and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple.

A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun,
with the moon under her feet,
and on her head a crown of twelve stars.
She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth.
Then another sign appeared in the sky;
it was a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns,
and on its heads were seven diadems.
Its tail swept away a third of the stars in the sky
and hurled them down to the earth.
Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth,
to devour her child when she gave birth. 
She gave birth to a son, a male child,
destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod.
Her child was caught up to God and his throne.
The woman herself fled into the desert
where she had a place prepared by God.

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
“Now have salvation and power come,
and the Kingdom of our God
and the authority of his Anointed.”
(Revelation 11:19; 12:1-6, 10)

Scripture Study

11:19 ark of his covenant: The throne of God in the heavenly temple. From its base issue divine judgments symbolized by violent thunderstorms and earthquakes (4:5; 16:17–18).

12:1–6 The woman of Revelation 12 is both an individual person and a collective symbol. She is Mary, the Mother of the Messiah and the spiritual mother of his disciples (Jn 19:26–27). But she also represents the faithful of Israel, crying out for the Messiah (Rev 12:2), as well as the Church, attacked by the devil for witnessing to Jesus (12:17) (CCC 501, 507, 1138). Jer 13:18) (CCC 489). The vision speaks of the Mother of our Savior, depicting her in heaven, not on earth, as pure in body and soul, as equal to an angel, as one of heaven’s citizens, as one who brought about the Incarnation of God. She has nothing in common with this world and its evils but is exalted and worthy of heaven, despite her descent from our mortal nature (Oecumenius, Commentary on the Apocalypse 6, 19).

12:10 Now the salvation: Heaven celebrates the expulsion of the devil and his angels. This is not the fall of the angels at the dawn of time (12:4), but the defeat of evil at the turning point of salvation history, when Christ mounted the Cross and cast out the ruler of this world (Jn 12:31–32; Col 2:15).[1]

Scripture Reflection

On a symbolic level, the early Church identified itself with the heavenly Queen. It also identified the mother of Jesus as the heavenly Queen. After all, Mary was the first believer in the Good News. So, she was the first member of the Church. As the proto-member, she represents all who followed her, as disciples of her Son. If the Church saw itself in the cosmic struggle with the Evil One to make the Messiah present to the world, it could also see its first member in that role. It is no wonder that, by the time Constantine freed the Church from persecution, believers pictured Mary as the Queen. What a wonderful example of discipleship we celebrate today with the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV. 

 

 

[1] The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: The New Testament (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010), 506–507.