Friday, December 30, 2011

THE COMMON OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

“The Ghent Altarpiece:
Virgin Mary (detail)”
by Jan van Eyck, 1426-29
THE COMMON OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY[1]
707 READING I FROM THE OLD TEXTAMENT


The LORD God then called to the man and asked him, “Where are you?”
He answered, “I heard you in the garden;
but I was afraid, because I was naked,
so I hid myself.”
Then he asked, “Who told you that you were naked?
You have eaten, then,
from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat!”
The man replied, “The woman whom you put here with me
she gave me fruit from the tree, and so I ate it.”
The LORD God then asked the woman,
“Why did you do such a thing?”
The woman answered, “The serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it.”

Then the LORD God said to the serpent:
“Because you have done this, you shall be banned
from all the animals
and from all the wild creatures;
on your belly shall you crawl,
and dirt shall you eat
all the days of your life.
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will strike at your head,
while you strike at his heel.”

The man called his wife Eve,
because she became the mother of all the living.
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Commentary on Gn 3:9-15, 20

 
Adam and Eve are confronted by God after having eaten the fruit which was forbidden to them from the Tree of Wisdom. Adam blames Eve, and Eve blames the serpent. Thus the identity of the serpent is now synonymous with the Devil. This passage, because of that linkage, can now be classified as the first prediction of the Messianic struggle with evil and ultimate victory.

Contained here is the scriptural evidence of Original Sin. The story is also called “The Fall,” as God’s human creation (personified in Adam and Eve) falls from grace and is condemned to suffer the struggle to regain the blessed state throughout history. Mankind has disobeyed God and defied his will. In doing so, sin and death enter the world.

CCC: Gn 3:9-10 399; Gn 3:9 410, 2568; Gn 3:11-13 400; Gn 3:11 2515; Gn 3:12 1607; Gn 3:13 1736, 2568; Gn 3:14-19 2427; Gn 3:15 70, 410, 489; Gn 3:20 489

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The LORD said to Abram:
"Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk
and from your father's house to a land that I will show you.

"I will make of you a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
so that you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you
and curse those who curse you.
All the communities of the earth
shall find blessing in you."

Abram went as the LORD directed him, and Lot went with him.
Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran.
Abram took his wife, Sarai, his brother's son Lot,
all the possessions that they had accumulated,
and the persons they had acquired in Haran,
and they set out for the land of Canaan.
When they came to the land of Canaan, Abram passed through the land
as far as the sacred place at Shechem,
by the terebinth of Moreh.
(The Canaanites were then in the land.)

The LORD appeared to Abram and said,
"To your descendants I will give this land."
So Abram built an altar there to the LORD who had appeared to him.
From there he moved on to the hill country east of Bethel,
pitching his tent with Bethel to the west and Ai to the east.
He built an altar there to the LORD and invoked the LORD by name.
Then Abram journeyed on by stages to the Negeb.
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Commentary on Gn 12:1-7

In this passage from Genesis we find the beginnings for God’s interaction with Abram.  In the previous chapter Abram’s father had come east out of modern day Iraq (Ur of the Chaldians). Now God calls Abraham and commands him with his nomadic family unit to go into Palestine.  Along the way Abram sets up altars for sacrifice in thanksgiving and prays to God for direction.

God greatly blesses the one he has called, pledging his constant support.  In return he asks him to leave behind all that he has known. “Jewish and Christian tradition sees the three things God requires Abram to give up as epitomizing the demands of faith: "Through these three departures—from country, kindred and father's house," according to Alcuin's interpretation, "is meant that we have to leave behind the earthly man, the ties of our vices, and the world under the devil's power" ("lnterrogationes in Genesim", 154).”[2]

CCC: Gn 12:1-4 145; Gn 12:1 59; Gn 12:2 762, 1669; Gn 12:3 706, 2676; Gn 12:3 LXX 59; Gn 12:4 2570
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When King David was settled in his palace,
and the LORD had given him rest from his enemies on every side,
he said to Nathan the prophet,
“Here I am living in a house of cedar,
while the ark of God dwells in a tent!”
Nathan answered the king,
“Go, do whatever you have in mind,
for the LORD is with you.”
But that night the LORD spoke to Nathan and said:
“Go, tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD:
Should you build me a house to dwell in?’

“It was I who took you from the pasture
and from the care of the flock
to be commander of my people Israel.
I have been with you wherever you went,
and I have destroyed all your enemies before you.
And I will make you famous like the great ones of the earth.
I will fix a place for my people Israel;
I will plant them so that they may dwell in their place
without further disturbance.
Neither shall the wicked continue to afflict them as they did of old,
since the time I first appointed judges over my people Israel.
I will give you rest from all your enemies.
The LORD also reveals to you
that he will establish a house for you.
Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me;
your throne shall stand firm forever.”
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Commentary on 2 Sm 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16
 

Within the historical books of the Old Testament (1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, 1 and 2 Maccabees), this passage is considered to have the most theological significance. Nathan’s Oracle, the establishment of the dynasty of King David, marks the beginning of the understanding of royal messianism, our first hint of the Messiah to come.

In this passage, Nathan is told to tell David that, while he would not build the Temple, his son (Solomon) would and that his (David’s) line would continue; “Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall stand firm forever.

CCC: 2 Sm 7 709; 2 Sm 7:14 238, 441

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David assembled all Israel in Jerusalem to bring the ark of the Lord
to the place which he had prepared for it.
David also called together the sons of Aaron and the Levites.

The Levites bore the ark of God on their shoulders with poles,
as Moses had ordained according to the word of the Lord.

David commanded the chiefs of the Levites
to appoint their kinsmen as chanters,
to play on musical instruments, harps, lyres, and cymbals,
to make a loud sound of rejoicing.

They brought in the ark of God and set it within the tent
which David had pitched for it.
Then they offered up burnt offerings and peace offerings to God.
When David had finished offering up the burnt offerings and peace offerings,
he blessed the people in the name of the Lord.
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David assembles all of the 12 tribes and proposes to bring the ark into their midst. The Ark of the Covenant is recovered from Kiriath-jearim, of Judah where, according to the chronicler, it had been since Saul’s reign (1 Chronicles 13:1ff). David establishes the Levites (the traditional tribe of priests) to bring it in procession before the people and, recalling their desert tradition (Numbers 1:50) has it placed in a tent. Placed within the context of sacred history, this event changes the understanding and structure of the Hebrew peoples. They are united in God’s presence represented by the Ark of the Covenant; not simply because of its attributes thought to bring blessings to the people (2 Samuel 6:12).

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Thus says the wisdom of God:
"The Lord possessed me, the beginning of his ways,
the forerunner of his prodigies of long ago;
from of old I was poured forth,
at the first, before the earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no fountains or springs of water;
before the mountains were settled into place,
before the hills, I was brought forth;
while as yet the earth and fields were not made,
nor the first clods of the world.

"When the Lord established the heavens I was there,
when he marked out the vault over the face of the deep;
when he made firm the skies above,
when he fixed fast the foundations of the earth;
when he set for the sea its limit,
so that the waters should not transgress his command;
then was I beside him as his craftsman,
and I was his delight day by day,
playing before him all the while,
playing on the surface of his earth;
and I found delight in the human race."
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Commentary on
Prv 8:22-31

The author of Proverbs here reflects on the eternal nature of the plurality of persons in God. Wisdom here is used as a metaphor for Christ and the Holy Spirit, the first becoming incarnate and the second coming on the heels of the first. Concurrently we are reminded of the creative gift of the Triune God who delights in his people.


CCC: Prv 8:22-31 288
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Wisdom sings her own praises and is honored in God,
before her own people she proclaims her glory;
In the assembly of the Most High she opens her mouth,
in the presence of his power she declares her worth.

"From the mouth of the Most High I came forth
the first-born before all creatures.
I made that in the heavens there should arise
light that never fades
and mistlike covered the earth.
In the highest heavens did I dwell,
my throne on a pillar of cloud.

"Then the Creator of all gave me his command,
and he who formed me chose the spot for my tent,
Saying, 'In Jacob make your dwelling,
in Israel your inheritance
and among my chosen put down your roots.'
Before all ages, in the beginning, he created me,
and through all ages I shall not cease to be.
In the holy tent I ministered before him,
and in Zion I fixed my abode.
Thus in the chosen city he has given me rest,
in Jerusalem is my domain.
I have struck root among the glorious people,
in the portion of the LORD, his heritage
and in the company of the holy ones do I linger.

"Come to me, all you that yearn for me,
and be filled with my fruits;
You will remember me as sweeter than honey,
better to have than the honeycomb
my memory is unto everlasting@generations.
Whoever eats of me will hunger still,
whoever drinks of me will thirst for more;
Whoever obeys me will not be put to shame,
whoever serves me will never fail."
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Commentary on Sir 24:1-2, 8-12

“In this chapter Wisdom speaks in the first person, describing her origin, her dwelling place in Israel, and the reward she gives her followers. As in Proverbs 8 Wisdom is described as a being who comes from God and is distinct from him. While we do not say with certainty that this description applies to a personal being, it does foreshadow the beautiful doctrine of the Word of God later developed in St. John's Gospel (John 1:1-14). In the liturgy this chapter is applied to the Blessed Virgin because of her constant and intimate association with Christ, the Incarnate Wisdom.”[3] Verses 8-12 summarize the earlier description of Wisdom and serves as an introduction to the more complete description of Wisdom’s role with the people of God that follow.[4]

CCC: Sir 24 721
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The Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying:
Ask for a sign from the Lord, your God;
let it be deep as the nether world, or high as the sky!
But Ahaz answered,
"I will not ask! I will not tempt the Lord!"
Then Isaiah said:
Listen, O house of David!
Is it not enough for you to weary people,
must you also weary my God?
Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign:
the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son,
and shall name him Emmanuel,
which means "God is with us!"
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Commentary on Is 7:10-14; 8:10

In the first part of this reading King Ahaz is offered a sign by the Prophet Isaiah. However, Ahaz refuses the sign because it would indicate that God was intervening on the prophet’s side and he did not want to do that.

The sign that would be given in spite of the King’s refusal is the oracle we understand as referring to the perfect realization of the promise of a Davidic Dynasty in the birth of the Messiah – Christ Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary.

“The sign proposed by Isaiah was concerned with the preservation of Judah in the midst of distress (cf Isaiah 7:1517), but more especially with the fulfillment of God's earlier promise to David (2 Samuel 7:12-16) in the coming of Immanuel (meaning, "With us is God") as the ideal king (cf Isaiah 9:5-611:1-5). The Church has always followed St. Matthew in seeing the transcendent fulfillment of this verse in Christ and his Virgin Mother.”[8]

"The child, the son, is the most significant part of the sign. If the prophecy refers to the son of Ahaz, the future King Hezekiah, it would be indicating that his birth will be a sign of divine protection, because it will mean that the dynasty will continue. If it refers to another child, not yet known, the prophet's words would mean that the child's birth could manifest hope that 'God was going to be with us,' and his reaching the age of discretion (v. 16) would indicate the advent of peace; the child's birth would, then, be the sign that 'God is with us.'" [9]

CCC: Is 7:14 497
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The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom
a light has shone.
You have brought them abundant joy
and great rejoicing,
as they rejoice before you as at the harvest,
as people make merry when dividing spoils.
For the yoke that burdened them,
the pole on their shoulder,
and the rod of their taskmaster
you have smashed, as on the day of Midian.
For every boot that tramped in battle,
every cloak rolled in blood,
will be burned as fuel for flames.
For a child is born to us, a son is given us;
upon his shoulder dominion rests.
They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero,
Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.
His dominion is vast
and forever peaceful,
from David’s throne, and over his kingdom,
which he confirms and sustains
by judgment and justice,
both now and forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this!
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Commentary on Is 9:1-6

It is presumed by some scholars that this oracle of Isaiah was developed as a liturgical piece used to celebrate the ascension of a king to the throne of Israel. The Prophet, however, speaks here of the “ideal or ultimate” king, Emmanuel [Immanuel] (see Isaiah 7:14) not a historical person but a predicted future king (we of course see the Messiah in hindsight). The symbolism describes freedom from enslavement (The image of a yoked beast of burden is commonly used in this context) as the taskmaster (enslaver) is cast off.

The oracle celebrates this future King and Messiah as one who brings Wisdom from God and peace for all times. The passage concludes identifying the source or lineage of this Christ as from David’s line and references his promised succession.

CCC: Is 9:5 2305
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Thus says the LORD:
The descendants of my people shall be renowned among the nations,
and their offspring among the peoples;
All who see them shall acknowledge them
as a race the LORD has blessed.
I rejoice heartily in the LORD,
in my God is the joy of my soul;
For he has clothed me with a robe of salvation,
and wrapped me in a mantle of justice,
Like a bridegroom adorned with a diadem,
like a bride bedecked with her jewels.
As the earth brings forth its plants,
and a garden makes its growth spring up,
So will the Lord GOD make justice and praise
spring up before all the nations.
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Commentary on Is 61:9-11

This selection provides the last verses of “Glad Tidings to the Lowly”; one of the songs of those returning from exile. Jesus quoted from the first part of this song (not included) when he announced the messianic kingdom had come (Luke 4:18-19). In these verses, the prophet sees the New Jerusalem coming forth as a light upon the world, bring salvation to the people and glory to God.

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The LORD says:
You, Bethlehem-Ephrathah,
too small to be among the clans of Judah,
From you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel;
Whose origin is from of old,
from ancient times.
(Therefore the Lord will give them up, until the time
when she who is to give birth has borne,
And the rest of his brethren shall return
to the children of Israel.)
He shall stand firm and shepherd his flock
by the strength of the LORD,
in the majestic name of the LORD, his God;
And they shall remain, for now his greatness
shall reach to the ends of the earth;
he shall be peace.
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Commentary on Mi 5:1-4a

The Prophet Micah, a contemporary of the Prophet Isaiah, speaks in the voice of God (“Thus says the Lord…”) prophesying that the Messiah will come from the Clan of Ephrathah.  At that time, this group was synonymous with the town of Bethlehem which was roughly 5 miles South of Jerusalem(see Joshua 15:59 and Ruth 4:11). The reference to the origin of the ruler as being “of old” is a reference to the ancient line of Kind David.


Eight centuries before Christ Micah foresees that Israel’s domination by foreign powers will end only with the Messiah. The intervening years are seen by the prophet as analogous to the labor pains of child birth. his prophecy is consistent with the Immanuel oracle from Isaiah 7:15. The passage concludes with the attributes of the future monarch concluding with the statement that he will not only bring peace but “he shall be peace” (even clearer in the Jerusalem translation “He himself will be peace”).
 
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Sing and rejoice, O daughter Zion!
See, I am coming to dwell among you, says the LORD.
Many nations shall join themselves to the LORD on that day,
and they shall be his people,
and he will dwell among you,
and you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you.
The LORD will possess Judah as his portion in the holy land,
and he will again choose Jerusalem.
Silence, all mankind, in the presence of the LORD!
For he stirs forth from his holy dwelling.
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Commentary on Zec 2:14-17

This selection from the Book of the Prophet Zechariah is seen as predicting the coming of the Messiah. It provides a rather unique glimpse at the messianic expectation – He comes to unify and bring security to the faithful. This passage also demonstrates the “true man, true God” essence of the Lord by first saying “I am coming to dwell among you” followed by “Silence, all mankind, in the presence of the Lord! For he stirs forth from his holy dwelling.”

CCC: Zec 2:14 722; Zec 2:17 2143
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708 READING I FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT
DURING THE SEASON OF EASTER


After Jesus had been taken up to heaven the apostles
returned to Jerusalem
from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem,
a sabbath day’s journey away.

When they entered the city
they went to the upper room where they were staying,
Peter and John and James and Andrew,
Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew,
James son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot,
and Judas son of James.
All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer,
together with some women,
and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.
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Commentary on Acts 1:12-14

This passage provides part of the introductory comments of St. Luke as he begins the Acts of the Apostles. Like any well written story, he connects the events that have just taken place in his first volume – The Gospel of Luke, with what will follow. In the first verses Jesus ascended and told them to expect the gift of the Holy Spirit. In this selection the disciples with Mary the Mother of Jesus and his extended family return to Jerusalem and enter the locked room. Important to recognize is the presence not just of the apostles but of Mary, ever faithful to her son.

"Here we see Mary as the spiritual center round which Jesus' intimate friends gather: tradition has meditated on this 'tableau', and found it to depict our Lady's motherhood over the whole Church, both at its beginning and over the course of the centuries." [10]

CCC: Acts 1:14 726, 1310, 2617, 2623, 2673
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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.”
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Commentary on Rv 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab

John’s Book of Revelation provides an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary who is Queen of Heaven. In the passage, the eschatological symbolism shows Mary giving birth to her son, Jesus. It also depicts Satan, who, knowing the nature of the Lord, puts forces in motion to destroy the child. This portrayal, with images taken from Genesis, and symbols of the twelve tribes of Israel, shows the Christ being born of Mary, and recalls her flight to Egypt. The dragon (which is the first symbol to be depicted) represents the secular governments at the time, Herod and Rome. The final verse of the passage proclaims Jesus as the Christ, his Anointed.

CCC: Rv 12 1138
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I, John, saw a new heaven and a new earth.
The former heaven and the former earth had passed away,
and the sea was no more.
I also saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem,
coming down out of heaven from God,
prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
"Behold, God's dwelling is with the human race.
He will dwell with them and they will be his people
and God himself will always be with them as their God.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes,
and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain,
for the old order has passed away."

The One who sat on the throne said,
"Behold, I make all things new."
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Commentary on Rv 21:1-5a

In this selection from St. John’s Revelation, John has a vision of the “New Heaven” and the "New Earth,” after Christ begins his reign at God’s right hand. The "New Jerusalem," is the image of God’s Church, viewed as the bride with Christ the bridegroom. In the "New Jerusalem" (the Church), God dwells, and there he will show his tender mercy (“He will wipe every tear from their eyes”). The old order is washed away: “Behold, I make all things new”(see also Isaiah 43:18ff, 2 Corinthians 5:17, and Galatians 6:15).
CCC: Rv 21:1-22:5 117; Rv 21:1-2 756; Rv 21:1 1043; Rv 21:2-4 677; Rv 21:2 757, 1045, 2016; Rv 21:3 756, 2676; Rv 21:4 1044, 1186; Rv 21:5 1044
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709 RESPONSORIAL PSALM


R. (see 1a) My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior.

“My heart exults in the LORD,
my horn is exalted in my God.
I have swallowed up my enemies;
I rejoice in my victory.”
R. My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior.

“The bows of the mighty are broken,
while the tottering gird on strength.
The well-fed hire themselves out for bread,
while the hungry batten on spoil.
The barren wife bears seven sons,
while the mother of many languishes.”
R. My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior.

“The LORD puts to death and gives life;
he casts down to the nether world;
he raises up again.
The LORD makes poor and makes rich,
he humbles, he also exalts.”
R. My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior.

“He raises the needy from the dust;
from the dung heap he lifts up the poor,
To seat them with nobles
and make a glorious throne their heritage.”
R. My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior.
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“A hymn attributed to Hannah, the mother of Samuel, as her thanksgiving to God because she has borne a son despite her previous sterility. She praises God as the helper of the weak (1 Samuel 2:1-2), who casts down the mighty and raises up the lowly (1 Samuel 2:3-5), and who alone is the source of true strength (1 Samuel 2:8-10); the hymn ends with a prayer for the king (1 Samuel 2:10). This canticle has several points of resemblance with our Lady's Magnificat.”[5]

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R. (15:9d) You are the highest honor of our race.

Blessed are you, daughter, by the Most High God,
above all the women on earth;
and blessed be the LORD God,
the creator of heaven and earth.
R. You are the highest honor of our race.

Your deed of hope will never be forgotten
by those who tell of the might of God.
R. You are the highest honor of our race.
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Commentary on Judith 13:18bcde, 19

This short hymn of praise from Judith (who at the time of its writing represented the faithful people) is predictive of the blessed role Mary will play in human salvation. In the story immediately preceding these verses Judith offers to sacrifice herself for salvation of the people and is here found praiseworthy for her willingness to do so.

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R. (11) Listen to me, daughter; see and bend your ear.
or:
R. The bridegroom is here; let us go out to meet Christ the Lord.

Hear, O daughter, and see; turn your ear,
forget your people and your father's house.
So shall the king desire your beauty;
for he is your lord, and you must worship him.
R. Listen to me, daughter, see and bend your ear.
or:
R. The bridegroom is here; let us go out to meet Christ the Lord.

All glorious is the king's daughter as she enters;
her raiment is threaded with spun gold.
In embroidered apparel she is borne in to the king;
behind her the virgins of her train are brought to you.
R. Listen to me, daughter; see and bend your ear.
or:
R. The bridegroom is here; let us go out to meet Christ the Lord.

They are borne in with gladness and joy;
they enter the palace of the king.
The place of your fathers your sons shall have;
you shall make them princes through all the land.
R. Listen to me, daughter; see and bend your ear.
or:
R. The bridegroom is here; let us go out to meet Christ the Lord.
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Commentary on Ps 45:11-12, 14-15,16-17

Psalm 45 is a Royal Psalm originally sung in honor of the King’s marriage to a queen (of foreign extraction). Seen as an image of Christ as bridegroom and Church as bride we see the love that seals that bond. The reference to the “virgins of her train” will then be a reference to those who consecrate themselves to the Lord as religious or as consecrated virgins.

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R. (2) Blessed be the name of the Lord for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Praise, you servants of the LORD,
praise the name of the LORD.
Blessed be the name of the LORD
both now and forever.
R. Blessed be the name of the Lord for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.

From the rising to the setting of the sun
is the name of the LORD to be praised.
High above all nations is the LORD;
above the heavens is his glory.
R. Blessed be the name of the Lord for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Who is like the LORD, our God, who is enthroned on high
and looks upon the heavens and the earth below?
R. Blessed be the name of the Lord for ever..
or:
R. Alleluia.

He raises up the lowly from the dust;
from the dunghill he lifts up the poor
To seat them with princes,
with the princes of his own people.
R. Blessed be the name of the Lord for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.
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Commentary on Ps 113:1b-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7

A song of praise and thanksgiving, Psalm 113, in this selection, focuses appropriately on servants of the Lord and how these leaders are lifted up from “the lowly”.

CCC: Ps 113:1-2 2143
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R. (49) The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.
or:
R. O Blessed Virgin Mary, you carried the Son of the eternal Father.

"My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior."
R. The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.
or:
R. O Blessed Virgin Mary, you carried the Son of the eternal Father.

"For he has looked upon his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name."
R. The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.
or:
R. O Blessed Virgin Mary, you carried the Son of the eternal Father.

"He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit."
R. The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.
or:
R. O Blessed Virgin Mary, you carried the Son of the eternal Father.

"He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty."
R. The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.
or:
R. O Blessed Virgin Mary, you carried the Son of the eternal Father.

"He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever."
R. The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.
or:
R. O Blessed Virgin Mary, you carried the Son of the eternal Father.
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We are given a selection from the Magnificat, the beautiful Canticle of Mary. Her song of thanksgiving and humility captures the saintliness that has become synonymous with our image of Mary the Mother of God, the Queen of Heaven, and the Mother of the Church. In her dedication of the service she offers to God as vessel of the Messiah she sets the stage for the humble birth of Jesus.

CCC: Lk 1:46-55 722, 2619, 2675; Lk 1:46-49 2097; Lk 1:48 148, 971, 2676, 2676; Lk 1:49 273, 2599, 2807, 2827; Lk 1:50 2465; Lk 1:54-55 706; Lk 1:55 422
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710 READING II FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT

First Option

Brothers and sisters:
Through one man sin entered the world,
and through sin, death,
and thus death came to all men, inasmuch as all sinned.

For if, by the transgression of the one,
death came to reign through that one,
how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace
and of the gift of justification
come to reign in life through the one Jesus Christ.
In conclusion, just as through one transgression
condemnation came upon all,
so, through one righteous act,
acquittal and life came to all.
For just as through the disobedience of the one man
the many were made sinners,
so, through the obedience of the one,
the many will be made righteous.
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Commentary on Rom 5:12, 17-19

This selection recalls the original sin of Adam and Eve recorded in Genesis 3:1-7. Though this action, says St. Paul, sin entered the world although before the Law of Moses, sin was not defined and therefore “…sin is not accounted when there was no law.”.  Just as sin entered through on man, it is washed away through Jesus Christ “… acquittal and life came to all.”

CCC: Rom 5:12-21 388; Rom 5:12 400, 402, 602, 612, 1008; Rom 5:18-19 605; Rom 5:18 402; Rom 5:19-21 1009; Rom 5:19-20 411; Rom 5:19 397, 402, 532, 615, 623
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Second Option

Brothers and sisters:
We know that all things work for good for those who love God,
who are called according to his purpose.
For those he foreknew he also predestined
to be conformed to the image of his Son,
so that he might be the firstborn
among many brothers and sisters.
And those he predestined he also called;
and those he called he also justified;
and those he justified he also glorified.
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Commentary on Rom 8:28-30

St. Paul here outlines the call to a life in Christ. He reflects that God so loves his children that he called some individuals to participate in his redemptive plan at a deeper level. Because Christ existed eternally those called to him were carefully chosen or elected from the beginning of time to be called to salvation. These “elect”, because of their unwavering service to God will also be glorified. The Church recognizes this call to holiness.  It also recognizes that while all are called, those who accept this call must do it from the heart (on-going conversion) in order to be justified and glorified.  Created with free will, many will choose an easier path.  This passage is among several that are central to the Calvinist idea of predestination. (Note: This reading used on the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary clearly points to her glorious vocation and the honored place she has in heaven and on earth).

CCC: Rom 8:26-39 2739; Rom 8:28-30 1821, 2012; Rom 8:28 313, 395; Rom 8:29 257, 381, 501, 1161, 1272, 2790
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Third Option

Brothers and sisters:
When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son,
born of a woman, born under the law,
to ransom those under the law,
so that we might receive adoption as sons.
As proof that you are sons,
God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts,
crying out, “Abba, Father!”
So you are no longer a slave but a son,
and if a son then also an heir, through God.
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Commentary on Gal 4:4-7


God sent his Son, born of a woman.” This passage, taken as part of the Gospel proclaimed by St. Paul, provides the Galatians with the important fact that Mary gave birth to Jesus. He did not mystically appear to us. Jesus is (was) true man: meaning he went through the biological birth process. It also means that Mary, the Mother of God, went through the difficult physical process of giving birth.


St. Paul goes on to remind us that, through this action, we are all adopted by God and are entitled to call God our Father, “Abba,” a familial term of endearment (translated into American usage as “daddy”).


CCC: Gal 4:1-7 1972; Gal 4:4-5 422; Gal 4:4 484, 488, 527, 531, 580, 702; Gal 4:5-7 1265; Gal 4:6 683, 689, 693, 742, 1695, 2766
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Fourth Option

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in Christ
with every spiritual blessing in the heavens,
as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world,
to be holy and without blemish before him.
In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ,
in accord with the favor of his will,
for the praise of the glory of his grace
that he granted us in the beloved.

In him we were also chosen,
destined in accord with the purpose of the One
who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will,
so that we might exist for the praise of his glory,
we who first hoped in Christ.
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Commentary on Eph 1:3-6, 11-12

Paul speaks to the Ephesians about their adoption by God as sons and daughters. He relates, in typical Pauline fashion, the omnipotence and timelessness of God’s knowledge and actions. The emphasis in this selection is “chosen.” We were chosen (“…to be holy and without blemish before him”) to accomplish His will, just as he chose the Blessed Virgin Mary to be the unblemished vessel of our Savior Jesus Christ.

CCC: Eph 1:3-14 2627, 2641; Eph 1:3-6 381, 1077; Eph 1:3 492, 1671; Eph 1:4-5 52, 257; Eph 1:4 492, 796, 865, 1426, 2807; Eph 1:5-6 294; Eph 1:6 1083
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712 GOSPEL


The Book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ,
the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Abraham became the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers.
Judah became the father of Perez and Zerah,
whose mother was Tamar.
Perez became the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
Ram the father of Amminadab.
Amminadab became the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
Salmon the father of Boaz,
whose mother was Rahab.
Boaz became the father of Obed,
whose mother was Ruth.
Obed became the father of Jesse,
Jesse the father of David the king.

David became the father of Solomon,
whose mother had been the wife of Uriah.
Solomon became the father of Rehoboam,
Rehoboam the father of Abijah,
Abijah the father of Asaph.
Asaph became the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat the father of Joram,
Joram the father of Uzziah.
Uzziah became the father of Jotham,
Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah.
Hezekiah became the father of Manasseh,
Manasseh the father of Amos,
Amos the father of Josiah.
Josiah became the father of Jechoniah and his brothers
at the time of the Babylonian exile.

After the Babylonian exile,
Jechoniah became the father of Shealtiel,
Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
Zerubbabel the father of Abiud.
Abiud became the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor,
Azor the father of Zadok.
Zadok became the father of Achim,
Achim the father of Eliud,
Eliud the father of Eleazar.
Eleazar became the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary.
Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ.

Now 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 be with child and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,
which means “God is with us.”
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Commentary on Mt 1:1-16, 18-23

Beginning with Abraham, this passage from Matthew’s Gospel traces the ancestry of Jesus through thirty eight generations. From a scriptural standpoint this family tree was necessary, especially the final 14 generations (twice 7 the perfect number) from the birth of King David on. The oracles of the prophets that the Lord fulfilled in his birth spoke of the Messiah as coming from the stump of Jesse (King David’s Father) and of being of the house and line of David. The lineage described insures that the Gospel reader will know that Jesus indeed fulfilled what had been promised by God.

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OR Short Form: 

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 be with child and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,
which means “God is with us.”
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Commentary on Mt 1: 18-23

Following the genealogy, St. Matthew presents a shortened narrative about the nativity of Jesus (relative to those in Mark and Luke). While more is said of St. Joseph’s encounter with the messenger from God, the story of Mary’s virginal conception through the Holy Spirit is described. In the account of St. Matthew a sense of fulfillment is communicated most clearly as he quotes Isaiah as predicting the conception of Christ in Isaiah 7:14.

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When the magi had departed, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt,
and stay there until I tell you.
Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”
Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night
and departed for Egypt.
He stayed there until the death of Herod,
that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled,
Out of Egypt I called my son.

When Herod had died, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream
to Joseph in Egypt and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel,
for those who sought the child’s life are dead.”
He rose, took the child and his mother,
and went to the land of Israel.
But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea
in place of his father Herod,
he was afraid to go back there.
And because he had been warned in a dream,
he departed for the region of Galilee.
He went and dwelt in a town called Nazareth,
so that what had been spoken through the prophets
might be fulfilled,
He shall be called a Nazorean
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Commentary on Mt 2:13-15, 19-23
 

The story of the Holy Family fleeing to Egypt is provided in St. Matthew’s Gospel. Angelic messengers are sent to keep Jesus from harm, and guide St. Joseph, the father of Jesus. (The verses 16-18 which are omitted in this reading tell the story of the slaughter of the Holy Innocents in Bethlehem whose feast we celebrated on December 28.) The actions that follow accomplish the task of saving Jesus from Herod. It is also reminiscent of Moses’ flight from Egypt and subsequent return which triggered the salvation event – the Exodus.
 
The account also mentions that all that happens is in accordance with what has been prophetically revealed. The first reference, indicating that the Messiah was to be called out of Egypt, is a reference to Hosea 11:1. The second reference is less clear as there is no specific Old Testament biblical reference to Nazareth. It is possibly a confusion with the term “neser.” The Old Testament texts are Isaiah 11:1, where the Davidic king of the future is called "a bud" (neser) that shall blossom from the roots of Jesse, and Judges 13:5, 7 where Samson, the future deliverer of Israel from the Philistines, is called one who shall be consecrated (a nazir) to God.

 
CCC: Mt 2:13-18 530; Mt 2:13 333; Mt 2:15 530; Mt 2:19 333
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While Jesus was speaking to the crowds,
his mother and his brothers appeared outside,
wishing to speak with him.
Someone told him, "Your mother and your brothers are standing outside,
asking to speak with you."
But he said in reply to the one who told him,
"Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?"
And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said,
"Here are my mother and my brothers.
For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father
is my brother, and sister, and mother."
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Commentary on Mt 12:46-50


In this selection from St. Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus emphasizes the importance of the family of faith over the biological family. It is likely a parallel to the situation found in Mark 3:21. It is important to note that the Catholic Church holds that Mary bore only one child, Jesus. The reference in this passage to “…your brothers” (the word “brethren” is used in most other translations) refers to kinsmen, other relatives of the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph. Similarly, other scriptural references to Jesus’ relatives find this same interpretation issue. The Aramaic term for brother/sister referred to relationships within the extended family (see notes on Mark 3:31ff). In apocryphal literature, specifically the History of Joseph the Carpenter, it is indicated that Mary was Joseph’s second wife, his first having died previously.  From this union, the document explains, Joseph had four sons and two daughters; Judas, Justus, James, and Simon. The names of the two daughters were Assia and Lydia. This is one more possibility driving the language of the Gospel.

In Galatians 1:19 we find: “But I did not see any other of the apostles, only James the brother of the Lord.” “James the brother of the Lord: not one of the Twelve, but a brother of Jesus (see note on Mark 6:3). He played an important role in the Jerusalem church (see note on Galatians 2:9), the leadership of which he took over from Peter (Acts 12:17). Paul may have regarded James as an apostle.” [7]


To further support this point, logic tells us that if Mary had other biological children, Jesus would not have entrusted her to St. John as he hung upon the cross. (John 19:26-27)


Jesus’ initial indication that the disciples are his family is clarified by the statement: “…whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother." Through his acceptance of the will of God, Jesus provides a natural continuation of our adoptive status as his brothers and sisters (Romans 8:29 ; 1 John 3:1).
CCC: Mt 12:49 764, 2233
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In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”
But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?”
And the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God.”
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.
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Commentary on Lk 1:26-38
 
This passage, from St. Luke’s Gospel, is the story of Mary being informed by the Archangel Gabriel that she has been chosen for the great privilege of bearing the Savior of the World. St. Mary graciously accepts this honor, although with very human fear, indicating that her free will is at play. This response makes her obedience to God’s will more powerful. It is proposed that, with this acceptance, Mary entered into a vow of perpetual virginity because of the demands of Isaiah 7:14 : “Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel."

In St. Luke’s story of the Annunciation, the Archangel Gabriel comes to Mary and tells her she will bear a son and names him Jesus (the eternal implication of this statement is made clear in the greeting which presupposes knowledge of Mary’s entire existence). Mary confirms the title “Virgin” given by the author as she questions Gabriel saying: “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” Even though she does not understand, Mary accepts her role and is told that the Holy Spirit will be the agent of the life within her. She then utters those amazing words: "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word."

This announcement is parallel to Zechariah’s news about John the Baptist (Luke 1:5-23), which is also delivered by the Angel Gabriel. This passage clearly identifies Jesus as Son of David and Son of God, thus linking it with the messianic predictions from the Old Testament.

 

 
CCC: Lk 1:26-38 497, 706, 723, 2571; Lk 1:26-27 488; Lk 1:26 332; Lk 1:28-37 494; Lk 1:28 490, 491; Lk 1:31 430, 2812; Lk 1:32-33 709; Lk 1:32 559; Lk 1:34 484, 497, 505; Lk 1:35 437, 484, 486, 697; Lk 1:37-38 494; Lk 1:37 148, 269, 273, 276; Lk 1:38 64, 148, 510, 2617, 2677, 2827, 2856 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Mary set out
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.”

And Mary said:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.”
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Commentary on Lk 1:39-47

The story of Mary’s meeting with Elizabeth following the annunciation by Gabriel that she would carry the Son of God proclaims the coming of the Lord and the faith of Mary before the nativity event. We note that Elizabeth is first to identify Jesus as Lord as she says” …how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” She not only professes the identity of the infant but foreshadows Mary’s leadership standing, elevating the stature of her much younger cousin with reverence. Elizabeth continues her praise of Mary by establishing that her (Mary’s) faith had allowed her to accept even the incredible role God had offered her.

In response we hear Mary’s humility as she begins with the opening verse of the Magnificat “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior.”

CCC: Lk 1:41 523, 717, 2676; Lk 1:43 448, 495, 2677; Lk 1:45 148, 2676; Lk 1:46-55 722, 2619, 2675; Lk 1:46-49 2097
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In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus
that the whole world should be enrolled.
This was the first enrollment,
when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town.
And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth
to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem,
because he was of the house and family of David,
to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
While they were there,
the time came for her to have her child,
and she gave birth to her firstborn son.
She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger,
because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields
and keeping the night watch over their flock.
The angel of the Lord appeared to them
and the glory of the Lord shone around them,
and they were struck with great fear.
The angel said to them,
“Do not be afraid;
for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy
that will be for all the people.
For today in the city of David
a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord.
And this will be a sign for you:
you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes
and lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel,
praising God and saying:
“Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
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Commentary on Lk 2:1-14


The nativity narrative from St. Luke’s Gospel begins by relating the birth of Jesus to civil rulers in place at the time. Attempts to develop an exact date for the Lord’s birth based upon these references has been problematic since there are inconsistencies (see NAB footnote on Luke 2:1-2). Of importance is the understanding at the time that Caesar Augustus was known in secular chronicles as “savior and god.” St. Luke contrasts this civil figure with the true Savior and God, Jesus.


What follows in the story provides a number of prophetic fulfillments. The Lord’s birth in Bethlehem was predicted by Isaiah (Isaiah 44:28-45:1). His humble birth and the virtuous attributes he demonstrated confirmed that his coming was the one predicted by prophets, angels, and heavenly heralds. As the angels proclaim emphatically, the coming of the babe in swaddling clothes brings the offer of God’s peace to the world.


CCC: Lk 2:6-7 525; Lk 2:7 515; Lk 2:8-20 486, 525; Lk 2:8-14 333; Lk 2:10 333; Lk 2:11 437, 448, 695; Lk 2:14 333, 559, 725
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The shepherds said to one another,
“Let us go, then, to Bethlehem
to see this thing that has taken place,
which the Lord has made known to us.”
So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph,
and the infant lying in the manger.
When they saw this,
they made known the message
that had been told them about this child.
All who heard it were amazed
by what had been told them by the shepherds.
And Mary kept all these things,
reflecting on them in her heart.
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Commentary on Lk 2:15b-19


The message, given to the shepherds by choirs of angels that they in turn brought to Mary was: “For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger." (Luke 2 11-12) This encounter with the shepherds further reinforces Mary’s faith, the acceptance of her child’s role as explained to her by the Archangel Gabriel when this wonderful and tragic journey began. She keeps and reflects in her heart about her son many times in his short life among us.


CCC: Lk 2:19 2599
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Simeon came in the Spirit into the temple;
and when the parents brought in the child Jesus
to perform the custom of the law in regard to him,
he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:

“Lord, now let your servant go in peace;
your word has been fulfilled:
my own eyes have seen the salvation
which you prepared in the sight of every people,
a light to reveal you to the nations
and the glory of your people Israel.”

The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him;
and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother,
“Behold, this child is destined
for the fall and rise of many in Israel,
and to be a sign that will be contradicted
(and you yourself a sword will pierce)
so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
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Commentary on Lk 2:27-35

At the time Jesus is presented at the temple as required by strict Jewish Law, we find Simeon. He does two important things here – he affirms the nativity story with his profession of faith that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the one who came for all so that all might be renewed in Christ and in God the Father. (“…my own eyes have seen the salvation which you prepared in the sight of every people, a light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people Israel.”)

The second of Simeon’s actions is to predict to Mary the difficulty her Son will encounter in his ministry (“…to be a sign that will be contradicted”) and the pain it will cause Mary herself “(and you yourself a sword will pierce)”

CCC: Lk 2:26-27 695;  Lk 2:32 713; Lk 2:34 575, 587; Lk 2:35 149, 618
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Each year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the feast
of Passover,
and when he was twelve years old,
they went up according to festival custom.
After they had completed its days, as they were returning,
the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem,
but his parents did not know it.
Thinking that he was in the caravan,
they journeyed for a day
and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances,
but not finding 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 all who heard him were astounded
at his understanding and his answers.
When his parents saw him,
they were astonished,
and his mother said to him,
“Son, why have you done this to us?
Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.”
And he said to them,
“Why were you looking for me?
Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
But they did not understand what he said to them.
He went down with them and came to Nazareth,
and was obedient to them;
and his mother kept all these things in her heart.
And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor
before God and man.
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Commentary on Lk 2:41-52

This narrative from St. Luke’s Gospel tells the only story from the Gospels of Jesus growing up as a boy, part of the family with Mary and Joseph. (There are numerous stories found in the apocryphal gospels that attribute miraculous abilities and acts to the young Jesus but these are felt to be of a tradition similar to the boyhood stories of other ancient heroes such as Cyrus and Alexander). In this account Jesus is discovered after three days (possibly symbolic to the three days in the tomb) at the Temple, engaged in discourse with “teachers”, implying he was in the outer halls of the temple – this would have been completely consistent with Jewish Law.

We note that he is listening and answering questions and is not presuming upon his station to brag or put himself forward. Finding him, we are told that Jesus asked “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” This statement connotes a familiarity with God the Father, for the first time identifying that relationship over the role fulfilled by St. Joseph.

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While Jesus was speaking,
a woman from the crowd called out and said to him,
"Blessed is the womb that carried you
and the breasts at which you nursed."
He replied, "Rather, blessed are those
who hear the word of God and observe it."
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Commentary on Lk 11:27-28

This short saying of Jesus is not a contradiction of the woman who blesses Mother Mary; rather it is an assertion by the Lord that the message is more important, in his eyes, than that biological relationship. Mary is more blessed because she heard “the word of God” (see also Luke 1:28-29 and Luke 1:42-45). This passage is consistent in meaning with Luke 8:19-21.

"In the course of her Son's preaching she [Mary] received the words whereby, in extolling a Kingdom beyond the concerns and ties of flesh and blood, he declared blessed those who heard and kept the word of God (cf. Mark 3:35; Luke 11:27-28) as she was faithfully doing (cf. Luke 2:19, 51)" (Lumen gentium, 58)[6].

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There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee,
and the mother of Jesus was there. ,
Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.
When the wine ran short,
the mother of Jesus said to him,
"They have no wine."
And Jesus said to her,
"Woman, how does your concern affect me?
My hour has not yet come."
His mother said to the servers,
"Do whatever he tells you."
Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings,
each holding twenty to thirty gallons.
Jesus told them,
"Fill the jars with water."
So they filled them to the brim.
Then he told them,
"Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter."
So they took it.
And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine,
without knowing where it came from
(although the servers who had drawn the water knew),
the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him,
"Everyone serves good wine first,
and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one;
but you have kept the good wine until now."
Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee
and so revealed his glory,
and his disciples began to believe in him.
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Commentary on Jn 2:1-11

 
St. John gives us the story of Jesus' first revelatory action following his Baptism by St. John the Baptist in the Jordan. He and his disciples are invited to a wedding and the wine runs out. Jesus’ mother lets her son know that the time has come for his revelation, even though Jesus does not think so.
 
Ironically the stone water jars were there for the ceremonial cleansing, the very Hebrew custom John the Baptist used in his call to repentance. The Hebrew custom was symbolic (as was St. John's invitation to be baptized in the Jordan), the Lord would later make Baptism efficacious as sins were forgiven. We also note the Hebrew Numerology applied to this scene. The number 6 represents one less than the perfect number 7. It was not yet Jesus time. The water became wine, not his blood which was yet to be poured out for the salvation of mankind.
 
The final statement in this story: “…his disciples began to believe in him,” is the only time in the Gospel of St. John where there was any doubt about the Lord’s true identity on their part.

CCC: Jn 2:1-12 2618; Jn 2:1-11 1613; Jn 2:1 495; Jn 2:11 486, 1335

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Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother
and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas,
and Mary Magdalene.
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved
he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son."
Then he said to the disciple,
"Behold, your mother."
And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.
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Commentary on Jn 19:25-27

Here is Jesus’ last address to his mother. Although the address sounds unnecessarily formal ("Woman, behold, your son.") this would have been considered a polite address in biblical times. The reference, “Woman”, is possibly to Genesis 3:15 which describes the mother of the Messiah as the “woman” whose offspring conquers the devil (CCC 726, 2618)[4]. The Lord, nearing the end of his life commends the care of his mother to the disciple whom he loved. It is presumed this is done because Jesus has no brothers of sisters. In this instance, while it can be assumed that this disciple is St. John, the author, this tender consignment of the care of the Lord’s mother is seen as iconic, that is she is given into the care of all of the disciples whom Jesus loves. Seeing her Son dying upon the cross is one of the seven sorrows the Blessed Mother endured in faith.

CCC: Jn 19:25-27 726, 2618; Jn 19:25 495; Jn 19:26-27 501, 964, 2605; Jn 19:27 2677, 2679
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[1] The picture is “The Ghent Altarpiece: Virgin Mary (detail)” by Jan van Eyck, 1426-29
[2] The Navarre Bible: “Pentateuch”, Scepter Publishers, Princeton, NJ, © 2003, pp. 86
[3] See NAB footnote on Sirach 24:1-27
[4] Jerome Biblical Commentary, Prentice Hall, Inc., © 1968, 33:56, pp. 549
[5] See NAB footnote on 1 Samuel 2:1
[6] The Navarre Bible, Gospels and Acts, Scepter Publishers, Princeton, NJ, © 2002, pp. 431
[7] The Navarre Bible, Gospels and Acts, Scepter Publishers, Princeton, NJ, © 2002, pp. 101
[8] See NAB footnote on Isaiah 7: 10ff
[9] The Navarre Bible: “Major Prophets”, Scepter Publishers, Princeton, NJ, © 2002, pp.73
[10] The Navarre Bible, Gospels and Acts, Scepter Publishers, Princeton, NJ, © 2002, pp 722

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