Tuesday, February 2, 2010


“St. Ansgar”
Artist and Date


Biographical Information about St. Ansgar[1]

Readings for the Memorial of St. Ansgar

Readings and Commentary:


Isaiah 52:7-10

How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of him who brings glad tidings,
Announcing peace, bearing good news,
announcing salvation, and saying to Zion,
"Your God is King!"

Hark! Your sentinels raise a cry,
together they shout for joy,
For they see directly, before their eyes,
the LORD restoring Zion.
Break out together in song,
O ruins of Jerusalem!
For the LORD comforts his people,
he redeems Jerusalem.
The LORD has bared his holy arm
in the sight of all the nations;
All the ends of the earth will behold
the salvation of our God.

Commentary on
Is 52:7-10

At the time of its writing, the Prophet’s intent was to proclaim the joy of the return of the Jews from the Babylonian exile to Judah. He sees the event as salvation for the Hebrew people. God leads them back to the land he gave their fathers.
“These verses form the famous poem of the ‘messenger of peace’ who ‘brings good tidings.’ The ideas of the first oracle of this second part of the book (40:1-11) are repeated here very beautifully. The messenger's feet are praised - a symbol of his speed and surefootedness when crossing the mountains, which is where important news comes from (cf. 40:9). His message (v. 7) is described very significantly as involving ‘peace,’ which in Isaiah means safety in Israel after the hardships of exile; ‘good tidings’ or, more literally, ‘news of goodness and well-being,’ that is, genuine material and spiritual prosperity; and "salvation", which is permanent renewal on all levels. The three words read together mean the highest degree of happiness imaginable. The core of this message is the enthronement of God: ‘Your God reigns,’ similar to 40:9: ‘Behold your God.’”[4]
From a greater distance and depth of understanding, we see him announcing the coming of the Messiah and the salvation that comes to the New Jerusalem through Jesus Christ.


Psalm 96: 1-2a,2b-3, 7-8, 10

R. (3) Proclaim God's marvelous deeds to all the nations.

Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Sing to the LORD; bless his name.

R. Proclaim God's marvelous deeds to all the nations.

Announce his salvation, day after day.
Tell his glory among the nations;
among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.

R. Proclaim God's marvelous deeds to all the nations.

Give to the LORD, yon families of nations,
give to the LORD glory and praise;
give to the LORD the glory due his name!

R. Proclaim God's marvelous deeds to all the nations.

Say among the nations: The LORD is king.
He has made the world firm, not to be moved;
he governs the peoples with equity.

R. Proclaim God's marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Commentary on
Ps 96: 1-2a,2b-3, 7-8, 10

“Announce his salvation, day after day.” This song of praise to the Lord invites all humanity to participate in God’s salvation. “This psalm has numerous verbal and thematic contacts with Isaiah Chapters 40-55, as does Psalm 98. Another version of the psalm is 1 Chronicles 16:23-33.”[3]

CCC: Ps 96:2 2143

Mark 1:14-20

After John had been arrested,
Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the Gospel of God:
"This is the time of fulfillment.
The Kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the Gospel."

As he passed by the Sea of Galilee,
he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea;
they were fishermen.
Jesus said to them,
"Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men."
Then they left their nets and followed him.
He walked along a little farther
and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.
They too were in a boat mending their nets.
Then he called them.
So they left their father Zebedee in the boat
along with the hired men and followed him.
Commentary on
Mk 1:14-20

It is noteworthy to observe that all of the Gospel accounts show Jesus beginning his public ministry after the active ministry of St. John the Baptist has ended. The “Voice” decreases while the “Word” increases. We see the charismatic power of the Lord in the call of the first disciples from St. Mark’s Gospel. They follow him without inducement beyond his simple invitation to follow him. It is also notable that three of these first four, Simon, James, and John, develop the closest relationships with the Lord of all the disciples.

CCC: Mk 1:15 541, 1423, 1427; Mk 1:16-20 787

Throughout the history of the Church, starting with Jesus’ own ministry, there has been resistance, even violent resistance to the Gospel message.  When God sent his Son into the world, it was with the knowledge that the evil one offered an easier path and would create enmity within the world of man.  We see this at the time of Christ, with even St. John the Baptist’s arrest.  We see it throughout the history of Christianity.  One of the most dangerous times to proclaim the Gospel was the period into which St. Ansgar came.

He was born at the beginning of the ninth century (801), at time when the Scandinavian Vikings were exerting their power over northern coastal Europe.  The pagan Vikings were notoriously vicious, burning and pillaging without any exceptions, including churches.  St. Ansgar took upon himself the task of converting these fierce adversaries.  He suffered many setbacks, often seeing the work he had accomplished destroyed.  Yet he persevered in the faith, never faltering.  He used all of the gifts God had given him for Christ’s glory, and in the end achieved great success.

His lesson is not lost on us all these years later.  We see his heroic virtue and are heartened.  Even as our own society persecutes the Church (perhaps not burning our buildings, but attacking us nonetheless), we see the need to hear the call of Christ, inviting us to share the ministry to which he called his disciples and to which St. Ansgar was called.  We are encouraged by the great bishop’s example of perseverance in the face of overwhelming opposition and gain courage by seeing his ultimate victory.  He converted many in the pagan society to which he was drawn.  May we also have success with Christ as our banner and our strength.


[1] The picture is “St. Ansgar” Artist and Date are UNKNOWN
[2] Text of Readings is taken from the New American Bible, Copyright © Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Excerpts from the English translation of The Roman Missal © 1973, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved.
[3] See NAB footnote on Psalm 96
[4] The Navarre Bible: “Major Prophets”, Scepter Publishers, Princeton, NJ, © 2002, pp. 231

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