Sunday, January 15, 2017

2nd Epiphany 2017, Wisdom, Maturity, Grace

2nd Epiphany
Luke 2, 41-52

Jesus found in the Temple, Tissot, Brooklyn Museum
Every year his [Jesus’] parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they took him with them. Now after they had gone there and fulfilled the custom during the days of the feast, they set off on their way home. But the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know this; they thought he was among the company of the travelers. After a day’s journey, they missed him among their friends and relations. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him.

After three days, they found him in the Temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And those who heard him were amazed at his mature understanding and his answers.

And when they saw him, they were taken aback, and his mother said to him, “My child, why have you done this to us? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.”

And he said to them, “Why did you look for me? Did you not know that I must be and live in that which is my Father’s?”

But they did not understand the meaning of the words he spoke to them. And he went down with them again to Nazareth and followed them willingly in all things.

And his mother carefully kept all these things living in her heart. And Jesus progressed in wisdom, in maturity and grace [favor] in the sight of God and man.

2nd Epiphany
January 15, 2017
Luke 2, 41-52

Most parents of an adolescent know the feeling: you wake up one day, and the sweet child you knew has suddenly become a stranger. He or she has a mind of their own, with their own agenda. Where does this all come from?

James B. Janknegt
We all carry a 'young son' within us. It is our destiny, our karma, which we brought with us – our mission, our calling, our intentions for our life. It rises up in youth, sometimes dramatically, sometimes more quietly. It is often not so clear for us as it was for the young Jesus.

These promptings of destiny can continue to arise throughout life. Some can be fulfilled and disappear, while others arise only later. There are surprises, sometimes dismaying, as we hear what our inner 'young son' has to say to us.

Much about our own destiny we may not understand. But we need to follow it willingly. And, like Jesus's mother, we need to keep all these things in our hearts, so that we, too, can progress, in wisdom, in maturity and in grace.

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Sunday, January 8, 2017

1st Epiphany
Matthew 2: 1-12

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea—during the time of King Herod—behold: wise priest-kings from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
Albani Psalter
“Where is the one born here King of the Jews? We have seen his star rise in the east and have come to worship him.”
When King Herod heard this, he was deeply disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. And he assembled all the high priests and scribes of the people and inquired of them in what place the Christ was to be born.

And they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it was written by the prophet:

And you Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
Are by no means the least among the rulers of Judah;
For out of you shall come forth the ruler
Who will be shepherd over my people, the true Israel.”

Then Herod, secretly calling the Magi together again, inquired from them the
Herod consulting the Three Kings, Tissot
exact time when the star had appeared. He directed them to Bethlehem and said, “Go there and search carefully for the child, and when you find him, report to me, that I too may go and bow down before him.”

After they had heard the King, they went on their way, and behold, the star that they had seen rising went before them, and led them in its course over the cities until it stood over the place where the child was.

Evangeliar Altom√ľnster
Seeing the star, they were filled with [there awakened in them] an exceedingly great and holy joy.

Entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; they fell down before him and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and offered him their gifts: gold and frankincense and myrrh.

And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their country by another way.

1st Epiphany
January 6, 8, 2017
Matthew 2: 1-12

The three priest kings are on the watch for the appearance of a new kingly
artist unknown
being. And this kingly being shows himself to them at a distance. He appears in the realm above the earthly in the form of a star, which guides them to himself. They are overjoyed when the star of the one they love and revere leads them to a house with a mother and child.

They offer him the durable and radiant gold of their wisdom, the sweet frankincense of their devotion, and the bitter myrrh of healing. The child absorbs these spiritual components, which he then in turn, later, offers to the salvation of humankind.

We each have a star of destiny guidance. It shines above our heads at birth. It dives down into us at maturity, working from within, as inklings and intimations, as dreams and conscience.
artist unknown

Can we develop an eye for the destiny guidance, the star that lives in another? Do we feel a reverent joy when we glimpse it? Are we willing to offer our wisdom, our reverence, our capacity for healing in support of their path?

A traditional prayer from another part of the world says:
Journeying god,
pitch your tent with mine
so that I may not become deterred
by hardship, strangeness, doubt.
Show me the movement I must make
toward a wealth not dependent on possessions,
toward a wisdom not based on books,
toward a strength not bolstered by might,
toward a god not confined to heaven.
Help me to find myself as I walk in other's shoes.*

*Prayer song from Ghana, traditional, translator unknown

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Sunday, January 1, 2017

Holy Nights 2017, New Year, January 1, 2017

New Year's Day
January 1, 2017
The Gospel of John, 1:1-18
(translation by Adam Bittleston)

In the very beginning was the Word,
And the Word was with God,
And the Word was God.
He was with God in the very beginning.

All things came into being through Him,
And without Him came into being nothing
That has come into being.

In him was Life,
And the Life was the Light of mankind.
The Light shines in the Darkness,
And the Darkness did not grasp it.

There came to be a man, sent from God,

His name Ioannes.
John Baptizes Jesus, Gerard David, Wiki Commons
He came for testimony,
That he should testify of the Light,
That all might have faith through him.

He was not the Light,
But came to testify of the Light.
For the Light that in truth endures,
That illumines every man,
Was coming into the World.

He was in the World,
And the World came into being through Him
Yet the World did not know Him.
He came to the separate,
Yet the separate men did not receive Him.

But those who received Him—
To them, He gave full power
To become children of God,
Those who have faith in His name.

They have their being
Not from the bloodsteams,
Not from the will of the flesh,
Not from the will of a man,
But from God.

And the Word became flesh,
And made his dwelling among us,
And we saw His glory,
Glory of one born from the Father alone,
With abundance of grace and truth.
Ioannes testified of Him, proclaiming,
That is He of whom I said:
He Who comes after me
Takes His place above me
Because He was before me.

From the abundance of His Being
We have all received
Grace upon grace.

The Law was given through Moses;
Grace and truth came into being
Through Jesus Christ.

God no-one has beheld ever;
The son Who is born of Him alone
And Who has His Being
At the Father’s breast,
Has come to lead our seeing.

New Year's Day
January 1, 2017
The Gospel of John, 1:1-18

We stand before a time of beginnings. Most notably, of course, this is the beginning of a New Year, which this year starts under the signature of the first day of the week, a Sunday, the day of the Resurrection. What will this new year bring?

Our own lives present us with possibilities to begin anew. Every new day, new month, new year are filled with possibilities, with choices. What will we choose?
Christ's coming sets in motion events that give all of humankind the possibility of creating something new. He is the ancestor of a new people, the Christ-folk. Those whom destiny or choice have led to Him can help create a new stream of humankind. Whoever receives Him are themselves born anew, out of grace and truth. They can choose to love out of the light of wisdom and freedom.

Christ says that He stands radiating peace in His relationship to the world. He can give us His peace. We are free, minute by minute, to choose the path of love, of wisdom and grace, with His peace. The possibility is there – what will we choose? In the words of Fra Giovanni Giocondo (1386-1456):

No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find
rest in today. Take heaven!

No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in
Salvatore Mundi, Andrea Previtale

this present little instant. Take peace!

The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it,
yet within our reach is joy. There is radiance and
glory in the darkness could we but see - and to see
we have only to look. I beseech you to look!

Life is so generous a giver, but we, judging its
gifts by the covering, cast them away as ugly,
or heavy or hard. Remove the covering and you
will find beneath it a living splendor, woven of
love, by wisdom, with power.

Welcome it, grasp it, touch the angel's hand that
brings it to you. Everything we call a trial, a
sorrow, or a duty, believe me, that angel's hand
is there, the gift is there, and the wonder of an
overshadowing presence. …
Courage, then, to claim it …..

And so, I greet you… with the prayer that for you now and forever,
the day breaks, and the shadows flee away.

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Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Day,

Christmas III
John 21: 15-25

Now is proclaimed the end of the entire gospel according to John in the 21st chapter:

After they had held their meal together, Jesus said to Simon Peter: “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than the others here?

Peter answered, “Lord you know that I am your friend”.
Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.”

And he said to him again, a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?

Peter answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I am devoted to you.”

Jesus said to him, “Shepherd my young sheep.”

He asked him a third time, “Simon, Son of John, Are you my friend?”

Peter was heartbroken that he could say to him the third time, ‘Are you my friend’, and he answered, “Lord, you know all things; therefore, you know that I am devoted to you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. Amen, the truth I say to you, when you were younger you girded yourself and walked wherever you wished. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands and
Another will gird you and lead you where you do not wish to go.”

He told him this to indicate the kind of death by which he would bring the divine to revelation. Then he said to him, “Follow me.”

But Peter, turning, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved, following him. He was the one who had leaned upon his breast at the supper and had asked, “Lord, who is it who betrays you?”  When Peter now saw him, his asked, “Lord, what of this man, what is his task?”

Jesus said to him: If is my will that he remain until my coming, that does not affect your path. Follow me…”

From this day the story spread among the brethren that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until my coming, that does not affect your path.”

This is the disciple who here bears witness to these things and who has written all this. And we know that his testimony is true. There are also many other things that Jesus did. If they were to be written down one by one, I do not think that the world itself could contain the books that would have to be written.

Christmas III
Dec 25, 2016
John 21: 15-25

David Newbatt
At midnight, we heard about the great tree of Jesus's ancestry, rooted forty-two generations in the past and Joseph's protecting of the flower of that life. And then earlier this morning we heard the story of His birth, surrounded by the radiance of the heavenly Father's angels, reflected in the joyous hearts of the shepherds. This story wants to be re-enacted today, in the present, in every human heart.

And so now we hear the story of Christ and Peter, from the very end of all the Gospels. It is a story that points the way from the past, into the future. 

At the first Christmas, the Father's Love and Creative Power began the process of becoming human. He chose the body in which he would dwell. In this last reading of the day, from the end of John's Gospel, we hear the Risen Christ's threefold question to Peter: 'Do you love me?' We hear the high hope that Christ has for humanity. His hope is that He, the Being of Love, will become active in each of us. This is a hope that is still ever-present and faithfully carried in Christ's heart. For He has chosen the earthly bodies in which he would abide. 
The choice to respond is ours. His work of healing is a long range one. It carries us into the future, drenched with hope and grace. Later, another St. John, St. John of the Cross, converses with Christ:

"What is grace” I asked God.

 And He said,
 “All that happens.”
 Then He added, when I looked perplexed,
 “Could not lovers
say that every moment in their Beloved’s arms
was grace?
Existence is my arms,
though I well understand how one can turn
away from
until the heart has

*St. John of the Cross, "WHAT IS GRACE," in Love Poems from God, by Daniel Ladinsky, p. 321

Christmas Dawn 2016, Healing

Christmas II Luke 2: 1-20

Now is proclaimed the [middle of the Gospel[s], according to Luke in the second chapter.

Now it came to pass in those days that a proclamation went out from Caesar Augustus that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone set out to be enrolled, each to the town of his ancestors.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he belonged to the house and lineage of David. He went to be enrolled with Mary his betrothed. And Mary was with child. And it came to pass that while they were there, the time was fulfilled for her to be delivered. And she bore her son, her first-born. And she wrapped him in linen and placed him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.
Marie-Laure Viriot

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks in the night. And an angel of the Lord came upon them [appeared before them] and the light of the revelation of God shone about them. And great fear came upon them [they felt the fear of fears].
But the angel said to them,
“Do not be afraid; for I announce to you a great joy, which shall be for all men on earth: today is born unto you the Bringer of Healing, in the city of David,
Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign for you: you will find a little child wrapped in linen, lying in a manger.”
And suddenly around the angel was the fullness of the heavenly angelic hosts: their song of praise sounded forth to the highest:

God’s Spirit reveals itself in the heights
And brings peace to men of earth
In whose hearts good will dwells!

Marie-Laure Viriot
And as the angels withdrew from them into the heavens, the shepherds said to one another:
“Let us go to Bethlehem to see the fulfillment of the Word that has happened here, which the Lord let be proclaimed.”
And they came hastening and found both Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in the manger. And when they had seen, they made known the Word that was spoken to them concerning this child. [or, When they saw that, they understood what had been told them concerning this child.] And all who heard it were astonished about what the shepherds said.
But Mary treasured [preserved] all these words, pondering them [turning them over] in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God to everyone for everything they had heard and seen, which was just as it had been announced to them.

Christmas II
Dec 25, 2016
Luke 2: 1-20

Here on this Christmas morning, we hear the ever-present story of the first Christmas, the first Christ-Coming: the birth, the glory of angels, the shepherds' hastening to His presence. They pass along the angel's announcement. And Mary ponders it all in her heart.

This great event draws near to us every Christmas morning. We can feel Him, theCreative Word of God, drawing near. For the birth of Christ wants to become a reality in every human heart. We ask that we join in his new and present creating.

May our speech be filtered and warmed by His love. May He fortify our will, keep it good, so that we can devote ourselves in strength for the Healing Spirit's work in our present time.  May we do the work of healing what is ill, healing what is divided and broken. Like the shepherds, we can begin to understand. And like Mary, we can ponder and preserve the Creative Word of God, the Word of Wisdom and Love, within our hearts. So that when time is right, we can act, filled with His peace.