January 7, 2018: Epiphany of the Lord
Catholic Social Teaching: Solidarity
Visit the California Catholic website for their Because We are Catholic resources. How do activities in you community express similar sentiments of solidarity.? Where in your community can you publicize those activities to encourage others to join in solidarity?
First Reading: Isaiah 60:1-6
Psalm: 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13
Second Reading: Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6
Gospel: Matthew 2:1-12
Catechism of the Catholic Church
The Epiphany is the manifestation of Jesus as Messiah of Israel, Son of God and Savior of the world. The great feast of Epiphany celebrates the adoration of Jesus by the wise men (magi) from the East, together with his baptism in the Jordan and the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee. In the magi, representatives of the neighboring pagan religions, the Gospel sees the first-fruits of the nations, who welcome the good news of salvation through the Incarnation. The magi’s coming to Jerusalem in order to pay homage to the king of the Jews shows that they seek in Israel, in the messianic light of the star of David, the one who will be king of the nations. Their coming means that pagans can discover Jesus and worship him as Son of God and Savior of the world only by turning towards the Jews and receiving from them the messianic promise as contained in the Old Testament. The Epiphany shows that “the full number of the nations” now takes its “place in the family of the patriarchs”, and acquires Israelitica dignitas (is made “worthy of the heritage of Israel”). (528)
From the Daily Roman Missal, Introduction to the Epiphany of the Lord, Cycles A, B and C
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church:
At the beginning of its history, the people of Israel are unlike other peoples in that they have no king, for they recognize the dominion of Yahweh alone. It is God who intervenes on Israel’s behalf through charismatic individuals, as recorded in the Book of Judges. The people approach the last of these individuals, Samuel, prophet and judge, to ask for a king (cf. 1 Sam 8:5; 10:18-19). Samuel warns the Israelites about the consequences of a despotic exercise of kingship (cf. 1 Sam 8:11-18). However, the authority of the king can also be experienced as a gift of Yahweh who comes to the assistance of his people (cf. 1 Sam 9:16). In the end, Saul is anointed king (cf. 1 Sam 10:1-2). These events show the tension that brought Israel to understand kingship in a different way than it was understood by neighbouring peoples. The king, chosen by Yahweh (cf. Dt 17:15; 1 Sam 9:16) and consecrated by him (cf. 1 Sam 16:12-13), is seen as God’s son (cf. Ps 2:7) and is to make God’s dominion and plan of salvation visible (cf. Ps 72). The king, then, is to be the defender of the weak and the guarantor of justice for the people. The denunciations of the prophets focus precisely on the kings’ failure to fulfil these functions (cf. 1 Kg 21; Is 10:1-4; Am 2:6-8, 8:4-8; Mic 3:1-4). (377)
The prototype of the king chosen by Yahweh is David, whose humble origins are a favourite topic of the biblical account (cf. 1 Sam 16:1-13). David is the recipient of the promise (cf. 2 Sam 7:13-16; Ps 89:2-38, 132:11-18), which places him at the beginning of a special kingly tradition, the “messianic” tradition. Notwithstanding all the sins and infidelities of David and his successors, this tradition culminates in Jesus Christ, who is par excellence “Yahweh’s anointed” (that is, “the Lord’s consecrated one”, cf. 1 Sam 2:35, 24:7,11, 26:9,16; Ex 30:22-32), the son of David (cf. Mt 1:1-17; Lk 3:23-38; Rom 1:3).
The failure of kingship on the historical level does not lead to the disappearance of the ideal of a king who, in fidelity to Yahweh, will govern with wisdom and act in justice. This hope reappears time and again in the Psalms (cf. Ps 2, 18, 20, 21, 72). In the messianic oracles, the figure of a king endowed with the Lord’s Spirit, full of wisdom and capable of rendering justice to the poor, is awaited in eschatological times (cf. Is 11:2-5; Jer 23:5-6). As true shepherd of the people of Israel (cf. Ezek 34:23-24, 37:24), he will bring peace to the nations (cf. Zech 9:9-10). In Wisdom Literature, the king is presented as the one who renders just judgments and abhors iniquity (cf. Prov 16:12), who judges the poor with equity (cf. Prov 29:14) and is a friend to those with a pure heart (cf. Prov 22:11). There is a gradual unfolding of the proclamation of what the Gospels and other New Testament writings see fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth, the definitive incarnation of what the Old Testament foretold about the figure of the king. (378)
Peace is the goal of life in society, as is made extraordinarily clear in the messianic vision of peace: when all peoples will go up to the Lord’s house, and he will teach them his ways and they will walk along the ways of peace (cf. Is 2:2-5). A new world of peace that embraces all of nature is the promise of the messianic age (cf. Is 11:6-9), and the Messiah himself is called “Prince of peace” (Is 9:5). Wherever his peace reigns, wherever it is present even in part, no longer will anyone be able to make the people of God fearful (cf. Zeph 3:13). It is then that peace will be lasting, because when the king rules according to God’s justice, righteousness flourishes and peace abounds “till the moon be no more” (Ps 72:7). God longs to give peace to his people: “he will speak of peace to his people, to his saints, to those who turn to him in their hearts” (Ps 85:9). Listening to what God has to say to his people about peace, the Psalmist hears these words: “Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss” (Ps 85:11). (490)
By their seeking, their action the magi acknowledged the profound message of Jesus’s birth. He came not for just the chosen few, but offering the opportunity for all people to live as co-heirs and co-partners in the promise of Christ Jesus through the Gospel. A two part paradigm of faith combining gift and action. Co-heirs in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and co-partners anchored in the Gospel. Do we live wanting the eternal perks of heirship, an inheritance of spiritual bloodlines, without actively participating as partners to live forth the Gospel in the world? With that mentality, we live with a gimme, gimme attitude never willing to give a hand in gratitude. A me, me attitude, never raising one’s eyes to look about seeing people from near and far embracing the collective promise, living forth the light, proclaiming the praises of the Lord, bringing their gifts to set at the feet of Jesus. In the humbleness of the nativity’s manager or the anguishing foot of the cross providing a backdrop relived in countless scenarios through the centuries. Leaders may not know this reality and like magi ascertaining the brilliance but needing guidance, the prophetic words however piercing need to be proclaimed. Never acting in cooperation to silence justice, but following the light and giving our best gifts as a token of our sincere appreciation.
As 2018 dawns, as each day dawns, will we act to see justice flower? Realizing the journey of a bloom forming, transcending to petals opening, to the brilliance of a flower radiating God’s commitment and our tenacity to actualize Gospel precepts beyond our lives into the fabric of the world. A profound synergistic peace from living as heirs, working as partners for all the magi sought. We may be riding in a car instead of on a camel, but we journey the same path, yearn to follow the same star, offer homage to our Lord, not give credence or cooperate with injustice and have faith to venture in a new direction when called forth by the Holy Spirit.
Individual Reflection: Isaiah 60:1-6
January 18th to 25th is Week of Prayer for Christian Unity:
Might your parish or social justice group host a prayer service or if an event is happening at another church encourage people from your parish attend. After the event how can collaboration on service and justice concerns in the community be strengthened ?
Family Reflection: Matthew 2:1-12
As the magi journeyed to Bethlehem, as a family one Sunday journey to a church other than the parish you normally attend for Mass. Take time to learn of the historical significance of the parish, the various statues and artwork. What ministry opportunities did you hear announced or see in the bulletin that might be adaptable to strengthen the fiber of solidarity at your home parish?
Prayer: January 8th is the Baptism of the Lord. Reflect on your baptismal promises and how they affirm your faith to follow the star and pay homage to Jesus.
Blogs to Visit:
As we reflect upon Mary’s presence in the mysteries of the Rosary, we are blessed to know her. For her journey, a timeless trek, calls us to surrender, continuing conversion, humbleness and justice now.
Weekly lectionary reflections, for faith sharing groups, parish bulletins, newsletters or personal prayer, from the synergy of the Word we hear and the rich tradition of Catholic Social Teaching.
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How we do Catholic Social Teaching.
Creation sustainability ministry resources in the spirit of the St Francis Pledge.
Social Ministry Resources Engaging Parishes: Monthly and liturgical seasons resources for use with parish websites, bulletins and newsletters
List one or two upcoming events, legislative action alerts or social justice websites
By Barb Born January 1, 2018 The reflection maybe used in parish bulletins, newsletters or for faith sharing groups without copyright concern.