Thursday, 14 January 2021

Our call to discipleship

Readings for Sunday, January 17, 2021

Second Sunday of Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 65.

It-Tieni Ħadd taż-Żmien ta’ Matul is-Sena


Reading I       1 Samuel 3:3b-10, 19

Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the LORD where the ark of God was. The LORD called to Samuel, who answered, “Here I am.” Samuel ran to Eli and said, “Here I am.  You called me.” “I did not call you, “  Eli said.  “Go back to sleep.” So he went back to sleep. Again the LORD called Samuel, who rose and went to Eli. “Here I am, “ he said.  “You called me.” But Eli answered, “I did not call you, my son.  Go back to sleep.” At that time Samuel was not familiar with the LORD, because the LORD had not revealed anything to him as yet. The LORD called Samuel again, for the third time. Getting up and going to Eli, he said, “Here I am.  You called me.” Then Eli understood that the LORD was calling the youth. So he said to Samuel, “Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply, Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.” When Samuel went to sleep in his place, the LORD came and revealed his presence, calling out as before, “Samuel, Samuel!” Samuel answered, “Speak, for your servant is listening.“  Samuel grew up, and the LORD was with him, not permitting any word of his to be without effect.

QARI I         mill-Ewwel Ktieb ta’ Samwel1 3:3b-10,19
F’dak iż-żmien, Samwel kien mimdud fit-tempju tal-Mulej, fejn kien hemm l-arka ta’ Alla. Il-Mulej sejjaħ: “Samwel!”. U dan wieġeb: “Hawn jien!”. U mar jiġri għand Għeli. “Hawn jien”, qallu, “għalfejn sejjaħtli?”. “Ma sejjaħtlekx”, wieġeb, “erġa’ mur imtedd”. U raġa’ mar jorqod. U ssokta l-Mulej isejjaħ: “Samwel!”. U Samwel qam u mar għand Għeli u qallu: “Hawn jien! Għalfejn sejjaħtli?”. “Ma sejjaħtlekx, ibni”, wieġeb, “erġa’ mur orqod”. Samwel kien għadu ma għarafx il-Mulej, u anqas kienet għadha ma ttgħarrfitlu l-kelma tal-Mulej. U ssokta l-Mulej isejjaħ: “Samwel!” għat-tielet darba. U dan qam, u mar għand Għeli, u qallu: “Hawn jien! Għalfejn sejjaħtli?”. U Għeli fehem li l-Mulej kien qiegħed isejjaħ iż-żagħżugħ. U qal lil Samwel: “Mur orqod. Jekk jerġa’ jsejjaħlek, wieġeb: ‘Tkellem, Mulej, għax il-qaddej tiegħek qiegħed jisma’’”. U Samwel mar jorqod f’postu.v U l-Mulej ġie, waqaf ħdejh, u sejjaħ bħal drabi oħra: “Samwel! Samwel!”. U Samwel wieġeb: “Tkellem, għax il-qaddej tiegħek qiegħed jisma’”. Samwel kiber, u l-Mulej kien miegħu, u ma ħalla ebda kelma milli qal tmur fix-xejn.  Il-Kelma tal-Mulej.
 

Responsorial Psalm       PSALM 40:2, 4, 7-8, 8-9, 10

I have waited, waited for the LORD,
    and he stooped toward me and heard my cry.
And he put a new song into my mouth,
    a hymn to our God.
R. Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.

Sacrifice or offering you wished not,
    but ears open to obedience you gave me.
Holocausts or sin-offerings you sought not;
    then said I, “Behold I come.”
R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

“In the written scroll it is prescribed for me,
to do your will, O my God, is my delight,
    and your law is within my heart!”
R. Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.

I announced your justice in the vast assembly;
    I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.
R. Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.

SALM RESPONSORJALI        Salm 39(40):2,4ab,7-8a,8b-9,10
R/. (8a.9a): Hawn jien, Mulej, ġej nagħmel ir-rieda tiegħek.
Ittamajt b’tama qawwija fil-Mulej;
hu niżel ħdejja u sama’ l-għajta tiegħi.
Qegħedli fuq fommi għanja ġdida,
għanja ta’ tifħir lil Alla tagħna. R/.

Int ma titgħaxxaqx b’sagrifiċċji u offerti;
imma widnejja inti ftaħtli;
ma tlabtnix vittmi tal-ħruq u tat-tpattija.
Imbagħad jien għedt: “Hawn jien, ġej”. R/.

“Fil-bidu tal-ktieb hemm miktub fuqi
li nagħmel ir-rieda tiegħek.
Alla tiegħi, dan jogħġobni;
il-liġi tiegħek ġewwa qalbi”. R/.

Xandart il-ġustizzja f’ġemgħa kbira;
xufftejja ma żammejthomx magħluqa.
Mulej, dan inti tafu. R/.


Reading II      1 Corinthians 6:13c-15a, 17-20
Brothers and sisters: The body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body;  God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? But whoever is joined to the Lord becomes one Spirit with him. Avoid immorality.  Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the immoral person sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.
 
QARI II       mill-Ewwel Ittra lill-Korintin 6:13c-15a,17-20
Ħuti, il-ġisem mhuwiex għaż-żína iżda għall-Mulej, u l-Mulej huwa għall-ġisem. U Alla qajjem il-Mulej u jqajjem lilna wkoll bil-qawwa tiegħu. Ma tafux li l-iġsma tagħkom huma membri ta’ Kristu? Min jingħaqad mal-Mulej hu ruħ waħda miegħu. Aħarbu ż-żína! Kull dnub li wieħed jagħmel hu ’l barra minn ġismu, iżda min jagħmel iż-żína jkun qiegħed jidneb kontra ġismu stess. Jew ma tafux li ġisimkom hu tempju tal-Ispirtu s-Santu, li jinsab jgħammar fikom, li għandkom minn Alla? Ma tafux li intom m’intomx tagħkom infuskom? Bil-għoli kontu mixtrija! Mela agħtu ġieħ lil Alla permezz ta’ ġisimkom. Il-Kelma tal-Mulej.


Gospel       John 1:35-42
John was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” — which translated means Teacher —, “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come, and you will see.” So they went and saw where Jesus was staying, and they stayed with him that day. It was about four in the afternoon. Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus. He first found his own brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah” — which is translated Christ —. Then he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John;  you will be called Cephas” — which is translated Peter.

EVANĠELJU         Qari skond San Ġwann 1:35-42
F’dak iż-żmien, Ġwanni kien hemm ma’ tnejn mid-dixxipli tiegħu. Ħares lejn Ġesù li kien għaddej minn hemm, u qal: “Araw il-Ħaruf ta’ Alla”. Iż-żewġ dixxipli semgħuh jgħid dan, u marru wara Ġesù. Ġesù dar u rahom mexjin warajh, u qalilhom: “Xi tridu?”. Iżda huma staqsewh: “Rabbi” – li tfisser, Mgħallem – “fejn toqgħod?”. Hu weġibhom: “Ejjew u taraw”. U marru miegħu u raw fejn kien joqgħod, u dakinhar baqgħu miegħu. Kien ħabta tal-erbgħa ta’ waranofsinhar. Wieħed mit-tnejn li semgħu x’kien qal Ġwanni u marru wara Ġesù kien Indrì, ħu Xmun Pietru. L-ewwel ma għamel mar isib lil ħuh Xmun, u qallu: “Sibna l-Messija” – li tfisser Kristu. U ħadu għand Ġesù. Ġesù ħares lejh u qallu: “Inti Xmun, bin Ġwanni. Inti tissejjaħ Kefa” – jew Pietru. Il-Kelma tal-Mulej.

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Gospel reflection by Fr Antony Kadavil  / Vatican News 
http://frtonyshomilies.com/


Everyone is called by God to be a witness for Christ

Introduction

The main theme of today’s Scripture readings is Divine vocation – that everyone is called by God to be a witness for Christ by doing something for others with his or her life, using his or her unique gifts and blessings. Hence, today’s readings remind us of our personal and corporate call to become witnesses for Jesus, the Lamb of God, by leading lives of holiness and purity.

Scripture lessons summarized:
 

The first reading describes how Yahweh called Samuel to His service and how the boy Samuel responded to Him, saying, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” Hence, God blessed him in the mission entrusted to him, and Samuel became an illustrious figure, ranking with Moses and David as a man of God. In the Responsorial Psalm (Ps 40), the psalmist sings, “Behold, I come to do Your will,” indicating that his vocation is to obey, to do what God commands him to do. In the second reading, St. Paul explains to the Corinthians that their Divine call is a call to holiness. Hence, they need to keep their bodies pure and souls holy, because by Baptism they have become parts of Christ’s Body and the temples of the Holy Spirit. 

In the Gospel, John the Baptist claims that his vocation is to introduce Jesus to two of his own disciples as the “Lamb of God,” suggesting Jesus’ vocation to become a sacrificial lamb to atone for our sins. The disciples followed Jesus to his residence, accepting his invitation to “come and see.”  They stayed with him that day. Then Andrew brought his brother Simon to Jesus, presenting him to Jesus as the Messiah.  Thus, today’s Gospel also describes the call or vocation of the first apostles and challenges us to invite others to Christ by our Christian witnessing.


Life messages:

1) Our Christian vocation is to live and die like the Lamb of God.  (A) We live like the Lamb of God: (i) by leading pure, innocent, humble, selfless lives, obeying Christ’s commandment of love;(ii) by appreciating the loving providence and protecting care of the Good Shepherd for his Church;  (iii) by partaking of the Body and Blood of the Good Shepherd in the Holy Eucharist and deriving spiritual strength from the Holy Spirit through prayer and the Sacraments. (B) We are called to die like the Lamb of God: a) by sharing sacrificially our blessings of health, wealth, and talents with others in the family, parish, and community; b) by bearing witness to Christ in our illness, pain, and suffering through our graceful acceptance of all of it; c) by offering our sufferings for God’s glory, as penance for our sins, and for the conversion of sinners. 

2) Our call is to bear witness to the Lamb of God.  Doing this requires a personal experience of Jesus as our Lord and Savior. We get this personal experience of Jesus in our daily lives through the meditative reading and study of the Bible, through personal and family prayers, and through our active participation in the Eucharistic celebration. Once we have experienced the personal presence of Jesus in our daily lives, we will start sharing with others the Good News of love, peace, justice, tolerance, mercy, and forgiveness preached and lived by Jesus.

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Friday, 8 January 2021

 Readings for Sunday, January 10, 2021

The Baptism of the Lord  / Lectionary: 21

  Il-Ħadd fuq l-EpifanijaIl-Magħmudija   tal-Mulej

 

 Reading 1         ISAIAH 55:1-11 

Thus says the LORD: All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat; come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk! Why spend your money for what is not bread, your wages for what fails to satisfy? Heed me, and you shall eat well, you shall delight in rich fare. Come to me heedfully, listen, that you may have life. I will renew with you the everlasting covenant, the benefits assured to David. As I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander of nations, so shall you summon a nation you knew not, and nations that knew you not shall run to you, because of the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, who has glorified you. Seek the LORD while he may be found, call him while he is near. Let the scoundrel forsake his way, and the wicked man his thoughts; let him turn to the LORD for mercy; to our God, who is generous in forgiving. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD. As high as the heavens are above the earth so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts. For just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to the one who sows and bread to the one who eats, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; my word shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.

Qari I         mill-Ktieb tal-Profeta Iżaija 55:1-11

Hekk jgħid il-Mulej:Intom li bikom l-għatx, ejjew għall-ilma; intom ukoll li m’għandkomx flus. Ejjew, ixtru u kulu b’xejn, inbid u ħalib bla ħlas. Għaliex taħlu fluskom f’dak li mhuwiex ħobż, u ġidkom f’dak li ma jxebbax? Isimgħu minni, u tieklu tajjeb, u ruħkom titpaxxa b’ikel bnin. Agħtuni widen u ersqu lejja, isimgħu u tieħdu r-ruħ. Nagħmel patt magħkom għal dejjem, biex iseħħu l-favuri mwiegħda lil David. Ara, jien qegħedtu xhud fost il-ġnus, prinċep u leġiżlatur fuq il-popli. Int ġens li ma tafx bih issejjaħ;ġnus li ma jafukx jiġru lejk, minħabba fil-Mulej, Alla tiegħek, il-Qaddis ta’ Iżrael, għax lilek żejjen bil-ġieħ. Fittxu l-Mulej sakemm tistgħu ssibuh, sejħulu sakemm hu fil-qrib! Ħa jħalli triqtu l-midneb, u l-bniedem il-ħażin fehmietu; ħa jerġa’ lura għand il-Mulej u jħenn għalih, għand Alla tagħna għax hu jaħfer ħafna. Il-fehmiet tiegħi mhumiex fehmietkom, u t-triqat tiegħi mhumiex triqatkom, oraklu tal-Mulej. Għax daqskemm huma ogħla s-smewwiet mill-art, daqshekk ieħor huma triqati ’l fuq minn triqatkom, u l-fehmiet tiegħi mill-fehmiet tagħkom. Bħalma x-xita u s-silġ jinżlu mis-smewwiet, u ma jerġgħux lura mnejn ġew bla ma jsaqqu l-art, imma jġegħluha tnissel u tnibbet, u tagħti ż-żerriegħa ’l min jiżra’ u l-ħobż ’il min jiekol, hekk jiġri minn kelmti: hija toħroġ minn fommi, u ma terġax lura vojta, imma tagħmel dak li jogħġob lili, u ttemm dak li nkun bgħattha tagħmel”. Il-Kelma tal-Mulej..

 Responsorial Psalm       ISIAH 12:2-3, 4bcd, 5-6

God indeed is my saviour; I am confident and unafraid.  My strength and my courage is the LORD, and he has been my saviour. R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation. 

Give thanks to the LORD, acclaim his name; among the nations make known his deeds,proclaim how exalted is his name. R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.

Sing praise to the LORD for his glorious achievement; let this be known throughout all the earth. Shout with exultation, O city of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel! R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation. 

Salm Responsorjali        Iżaija 12:2-3,4bċd,5-6R/. (3): 

Kollkom ferħana timlew l-ilma mill-għejun tas-salvazzjoni.

Alla s-salvazzjoni tiegħi, jiena nittama u ma jkollix mniex nibża’. Għax qawwieti u għanjieti hu l-Mulej, għalija sar is-salvazzjoni. R/.

Roddu ħajr lill-Mulej, sejħu ismu, għarrfu lill-ġnus bl-għemejjel tiegħu, xandru li ismu huwa fl-għoli. R/. 

Għannu lill-Mulej għax għamel ħwejjeġ kbar; ħa jkun dan magħruf mal-art kollha. Aqbeż bil-ferħ, għanni, int li tgħammar f’Sijon, għax kbir hu f’nofsok il-Qaddis ta’ Iżrael? R/.

 Reading 2      1 John 5:1-9

Beloved:  Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God, and everyone who loves the Father loves also the one begotten by him. In this way we know that we love the children of God when we love God and obey his commandments. For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world. And the victory that conquers the world is our faith. Who indeed is the victor over the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? This is the one who came through water and blood, Jesus Christ, not by water alone, but by water and blood. The Spirit is the one who testifies, and the Spirit is truth. So there are three that testify, the Spirit, the water, and the blood, and the three are of one accord. If we accept human testimony, the testimony of God is surely greater. Now the testimony of God is this, that he has testified on behalf of his Son.

Qari II       mill-Ewwel Ittra ta’ San Ġwann Appostlu 5:1-9

Ħuti, kull min jemmen li Ġesù hu l-Messija hu mwieled minn Alla, u kull min iħobb lill-Missier iħobb lil min twieled minnu. Minn dan nafu li nħobbu lil ulied Alla, meta nħobbu ’l Alla u nagħmlu l-kmandamenti tiegħu. Għax din hi l-imħabba ta’ Alla, li nżommu l-kmandamenti tiegħu; u l-kmandamenti tiegħu mhumiex tqal; għax kull min hu mwieled minn Alla jegħleb lid-dinja. Din hi r-rebħa fuq id-dinja: il-fidi tagħna. Għax min hu dak li jegħleb lid-dinja, jekk mhux min jemmen li Ġesù hu l-Iben ta’ Alla? Dan huwa dak li ġie bl-ilma u d-demm, Ġesù Kristu; mhux bl-ilma biss, iżda bl-ilma u d-demm. U l-Ispirtu hu li jixhed, għax l-Ispirtu hu l-verità. Tlieta huma dawk li jixhdu: l-Ispirtu, l-ilma u d-demm, u t-tlieta jaqblu fix-xhieda tagħhom. Jekk aħna nilqgħu x-xhieda tal-bnedmin, ix-xhieda ta’ Alla hija aqwa; din hija xhieda li Alla jagħti dwar Ibnu. Il-Kelma tal-Mulej.

Gospel       MARK 1:7-11

This is what John the Baptist proclaimed: “One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

Evanġelju        Qari skont San Mark 1:7-11

F’dak iż-żmien, Ġwanni l-Battista kien ixandar u jgħid: Ġej warajja min hu aqwa minni, li jien ma jistħoqqlix nitbaxxa quddiemu u nħoll il-qfieli tal-qorq tiegħu. Jiena għammidtkom bl-ilma, iżda huwa jgħammidkom bl-Ispirtu s-Santu”.  U ġara li f’dawk il-jiem ġie Ġesù minn Nazaret tal-Galilija, u tgħammed minn Ġwanni fil-Ġordan. U minnufih hu u tiela’ mill-ilma ra s-smewwiet jinfetħu, u l-Ispirtu bħal ħamiema nieżel fuqu; u mis-smewwiet instama’ leħen: “Inti ibni l-għażiż; fik sibt l-għaxqa tiegħi”.  Il-Kelma tal-Mulej.

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/Reflections for the 

Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

Fr. Antony Kadavil (Vatican News) reflects and comments that at his Baptism in the Jordan, Christ reveals himself to repentant sinners.

Introduction: The Christmas season, celebrating the self-revelation of God through Jesus, comes to an end with the feast of the Baptism of Our Lord. Christmas is the feast of God’s self-revelation to the Jews, and Epiphany celebrates God’s self-revelation to the Gentiles. At his Baptism in the Jordan, Christ reveals himself to repentant sinners. The Baptism of the Lord Jesus is the great event celebrated by the Eastern Churches on the feast of Epiphany because it is the occasion of the first public revelation of all the Three Persons in the Holy Trinity, and the official revelation of Jesus as the Son of God to the world by God the Father.  It is also an event described by all four Gospels, and it marks the beginning of Jesus' public ministry.  The liturgical season of Christmas comes to a conclusion this Sunday with the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord.

Homily anecdote: Identified with victims: When leprosy broke out among the people of the Hawaiian Islands in the middle of the 19th century, the government authorities responded by establishing a leper colony on the remote island of Molokai. The victims were snatched by force from their families and sent to this island to perish. However, moved by their terrible plight, a young Belgian priest, Damien De Veuster, asked permission from his superiors to minister to them. Straightaway he realized that there was only one effective way to do this, and that was to go and live among them. Having got permission, he went to Molokai. At first, he tried to minister to the lepers while maintaining a certain distance. But he soon realized that he had to live among them in order to gain their trust. As a result, he contracted leprosy himself. The reaction of the lepers was immediate and wholehearted. They embraced him and took him to their hearts. He was now one of them. There was no need, no point anymore, in keeping his distance. The lepers had someone who could talk with authority about leprosy, about brokenness, about rejection and public shame. Today’s Gospel tells us how, by receiving the baptism of repentance, Jesus became identified with the sinners whom he had come to save.

Exegesis: Origin of baptism: Neither John nor Jesus invented baptism.  It had been practiced for centuries among the Jews as a ritual equivalent to our Confession.  Until the fall of the Temple in 70 A.D., it was common for Jewish people to use a special pool called a Mikveh -- literally a "collection of water" – as a means of spiritual cleansing, to remove spiritual impurity and sin.  Men took this bath weekly on the eve of the Sabbath; women, monthly.  Converts were also expected to take this bath before entering Judaism.  The Orthodox Jews still retain the rite. John preached that such a bath was a necessary preparation for the cataclysm that would be wrought by the coming Messiah.  Jesus transformed this continuing ritual into the one single, definitive act by which we begin our life of Faith.  In effect, He fused His Divine Essence with the water and the ceremony.

A couple of questions: 1) Why did Jesus, the sinless Son of God, receive the "baptism of repentance" meant for sinners?  2) Why did Jesus wait for thirty years to begin his public ministry?  The strange answer for the first question given by the apocryphal book, The Gospel according to the Hebrews, is that Jesus received the baptism of John to please his mother and relatives.  In this humble submission, we see a foreshadowing of the “baptism” of his bloody death upon the cross.  Jesus’ baptism by John was the acceptance and the beginning of his mission as God’s suffering Servant.  He allowed himself to be numbered among sinners.  Jesus submitted himself entirely to his

Father’s will.  Out of love, He consented to His baptism of death for the remission of our sins. Many Fathers of the Church explain that Jesus received baptism to identify himself with his people, who, as a result of John's preaching, for the first time in Jewish history, became aware of their sins and of their need for repentance.  The Jews had the traditional belief that only the Gentiles who embraced Jewish religion needed the baptism of repentance, for, as God's chosen people, the Jewish race was holy.  Jesus might have been waiting for this most opportune moment to begin his public ministry.  The Fathers of the Church point out that the words which the Voice of the Heavenly Father speaks are similar to Psalm 2:17, revealing Jesus’ identity ("This is my beloved Son") and to Isaiah 42:1 referring to the "suffering servant" ("with whom I am well pleased"), revealing Jesus’ mission of saving mankind by His suffering and death.  

The turning point: Jesus’ baptism by John was a mystical experience that Jesus felt deep within his soul at the crucial turning point of his life. The opening of the Heavens with Holy Spirit, descending as a dove upon Jesus, and the Voice declaring of Him "…My beloved Son with Whom I am well pleased," are God's revelation to mankind of the Mystery that He is Triune.  The presence of the Triune God at this baptism, reveals Jesus’ true identity and mission. The Heavens’ opening also indicates that this was a moment of God’s powerful intervention in human history and in the life of His Son. His baptism by John was a very important event in the life of Jesus.  First, it was a moment of decision.  It marked the end of Jesus' private life which had prepared him for his public ministry.  Second, it was a moment of identification with his people in their God-ward movement initiated by John the Baptist (quality of a good leader).  Third, it was a moment of approvalJesus might have been waiting for a signal of approval from his Heavenly Father, and during his baptism Jesus got this approval of Himself as the Father's "beloved Son."  Fourth, it was a moment of convictionAt this baptism, Jesus received certainties (assurances) from Heaven about His identity, a) He was the "Chosen One" and the "beloved Son of God"; and the nature of His mission: b) his mission of saving mankind would be fulfilled, not by conquering the Romans, but by becoming the "suffering servant" of God, i.e., by the cross.  Fifth, it was a moment of equipmentWhen He descended on Jesus in the form of a dove (symbol of gentleness), the Holy Spirit equipped Jesus with the power of preaching the "Good News" (that God is a loving Father, Who wants to save all human beings from their sins through His Son Jesus), in contrast to the "axe" and "fire" preaching of John the Baptist about an angry God's judgment on sinners. 

Life messages: 1) The baptism of Jesus reminds us of our identity and mission.  First, it reminds us of who we are and Whose we are.  By Baptism we become the adoptive sons and daughters of God, brothers and sisters of Jesus, members of his Church, heirs of Heaven and temples of the Holy Spirit. We become incorporated into the Church, the Body of Christ, and made   sharers in the priesthood of Christ [CCC 1279].  Hence, "Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit and the door which gives access to the other Sacraments" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1213).  Most of us dipped the fingers of our right hand into the holy water font and blessed ourselves when we came into Church today.  Why?  This blessing is supposed to remind us of our Baptism.  And so, when I bless myself with Holy Water, I should be thinking of the fact that I am a child of God; that I have been redeemed by the Cross of Christ; that I have been made a member of God’s family and that I have been washed, forgiven, cleansed and purified by the Blood of the Lamb.

2) Jesus’ baptism reminds us of our mission:  a) to experience the presence of God within us, to acknowledge our own dignity as God’s children, and to appreciate the Divine Presence in others by honoring them, loving them and serving them in all humility; b) to live as the children of God in thought, word and action so that our Heavenly Father may say to each one of us what He said to Jesus: "You are my beloved son/daughter with whom I am well pleased"; c) to lead a holy and transparent Christian life and not to desecrate  our bodies (the temples of the Holy Spirit and members of Jesus' Body) by impurity, injustice, intolerance, jealousy or hatred; d) to accept both the good and the bad experiences of life as the gifts of a loving Heavenly Father for our growth in holiness; e) to grow daily in intimacy with God by personal and family prayers, by reading the Word of God, by participating in the Holy Mass, and by frequenting the Sacrament of Reconciliation; f) to be co-creators with God in building up the “Kingdom of God” on earth, a  Kingdom of compassion, justice and love, and to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.  

3) This is the day for us to remember the graces we have received in Baptism and to renew our Baptismal promisesOn the day of our Baptism, as Pope John Paul II explains, "We were anointed with the Oil of Catechumens, the sign of Christ's gentle strength, to fight against evil.  Blessed water was poured over us, an effective sign of interior purification through the gift of the Holy Spirit.  We were then anointed with Chrism to show that we were thus consecrated in the image of Jesus, the Father's Anointed One.  The candle lighted from the Paschal Candle was a symbol of the light of Faith which our parents and godparents must have continually safeguarded and nourished with the life-giving grace of the Spirit."  This is also a day for us to renew our Baptismal promises, consecrating ourselves to the Holy Trinity and “rejecting Satan and all his empty promises," which our profane world is constantly offering us through its mass-media of communication.  Let us ask Our Lord today to make us faithful to our Baptismal promises.  Let us thank Him for the privilege of being joined to His mission of preaching the "Good News" by our transparent Christian lives of love, mercy, service and forgiveness.  /////////////////////////////////////////

Friday, 1 January 2021

 READINGS FOR

 Sunday, January 3, 2021


The Epiphany of the Lord
Lectionary: 20

L-Epifanija tal-Mulej -
Solennità

 


Reading I       ISAIAH 60:1-6
Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem!  Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you. See, darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds cover the peoples; but upon you the LORD shines, and over you appears his glory. Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your shining radiance. Raise your eyes and look about; they all gather and come to you: your sons come from afar, and your daughters in the arms of their nurses. Then you shall be radiant at what you see, your heart shall throb and overflow, for the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you, the wealth of nations shall be brought to you. Caravans of camels shall fill you, dromedaries from Midian and Ephah; all from Sheba shall come bearing gold and frankincense, and proclaiming the praises of the LORD.

QARI I        mill-Ktieb tal-Profeta Isaija 60, 1-6

Qum! Ħa jiddi wiċċek! Id-dawl tiegħek wasal! Jiddi fuqek sebħ il-Mulej! Ara d-dlamijiet jiksu l-art, u sħab iswed il-popli: iżda fuqek jiddi l-Mulej, u s-sebħ tiegħu jfiġġ fuqek. Il-ġnus għad jimxu fid-dawl tiegħek, u s-slaten fid-dija tas-sebħ tiegħek. Għolli u dawwar għajnejk madwarek u ara: ilkoll miġbura ġejjin għandek. Uliedek ġejjin mill-bogħod, u bnietek iġorruhom fuq id-dirgħajn. Imbagħad tħares u wiċċek jiddi, u tħabbat u timtela qalbek, għax fuqek taqa’ l-kotra tal-ġid tal-ibħra, u l-għana tal-ġnus jiġi għandek. Imrieħel ta’ iġmla għad jgħattuk, l-iġmla żgħar ta’ Midjan u Għefa; ilkoll minn Seba jiġu, mgħobbija bid-deheb u l-inċens, u jxandru t-tifħir tal-Mulej. Il-Kelma tal-Mulej


Responsorial Psalm       PSALM 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13
O God, with your judgment endow the king,
and with your justice, the king's son;
He shall govern your people with justice
and your afflicted ones with judgment.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

Justice shall flower in his days,
and profound peace, till the moon be no more.
May he rule from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

The kings of Tarshish and the Isles shall offer gifts;
the kings of Arabia and Seba shall bring tribute.
All kings shall pay him homage,
all nations shall serve him.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

For he shall rescue the poor when he cries out,
and the afflicted when he has no one to help him.
He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor;
the lives of the poor he shall save.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.


SALM RESPONSORJALI       Salm 71 (72), 1-2.7-8.10-11,12-13
R/. (ara 11): Il-ġnus kollha tal-art jagħtuk qima, Mulej

O Alla, agħti lis-sultan il-ħaqq tiegħek,
il-ġustizzja tiegħek lil bin is-sultan,
biex jiġġudika l-poplu tiegħek bil-ġustizzja,
u bil-ħaqq l-imsejknin tiegħek. R/.

Tħaddar f’jiemu l-ġustizzja,
u sliem kotran sa ma jintemm il-qamar.
Isaltan minn baħar sa baħar,
u mix-xmara sa truf l-art. R/.

Is-slaten ta’ Tarsis u tal-gżejjer jagħtuh ir-rigali,
is-slaten ta’ Seba u ta’ Saba għotjiet iġibulu.
Iqimuh is-slaten kollha,
il-ġnus kollha lilu jaqdu. R/.

Għax hu jeħles lill-fqir li jsejjaħlu,
u lill-imsejken li m’għandux min jgħinu.
Iħenn għad-dgħajjef u għall-fqajjar;
il-ħajja tal-fqajrin isalva. R/.


Reading II       EPHESIANS 3:2-3a, 5-6
Brothers and sisters: You have heard of the stewardship of God's grace that was given to me for your benefit, namely, that the mystery was made known to me by revelation. It was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

QARI II         mill-Ittra ta’ San Pawl Appostlu lill-Efesin 3, 2-3a. 5-6
Ħuti, intom smajtu bil-pjan tal-grazzja li Alla tani għall-ġid tagħkom, jiġifieri, li permezz ta’ rivelazzjoni għarrafni l-misteru. Dan hu l-misteru li fil-ġenerazzjonijiet l-imgħoddija ma kienx mgħarraf lill-bnedmin bħalma issa ġie rrivelat lill-appostli qaddisa tiegħu u lill-profeti fl-Ispirtu, jiġifieri, li l-pagani huma msejħa biex ikollhom sehem mill-istess wirt, ikunu membri tal-istess ġisem, ikollhom sehem mill-istess wegħda, fi Kristu Ġesù permezz tal-Evanġelju. Il-Kelma tal-Mulej

Gospel       MATTHEW 2:1-12
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, "Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage." When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet: And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel." Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star's appearance. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage." After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.

EVANĠELJU       Qari skond San Mattew  2, 1-12
Meta twieled Ġesù f’Betlehem tal-Lhudija, fi żmien is-sultan Erodi, xi maġi mil-Lvant ġew Ġerusalemm jistaqsu: “Fejn hu dak li twieled sultan tal-Lhud? Għax rajna l-kewkba tiegħu tielgħa, u ġejna nqimuh”. Is-sultan Erodi sama’ bihom, u tħawwad hu u Ġerusalemm kollha miegħu. Ġabar flimkien il-qassisin il-kbar u l-kittieba kollha tal-poplu, u ried jaf mingħandhom fejn kellu jitwieled il-Messija. U huma qalulu: “F’Betlehem tal-Lhudija, għax hekk inkiteb mill-profeta: “U int, Betlehem, art ta’ Ġuda, le, m’intix l-iżgħar fost il-bliet il-kbar ta’ Ġuda, għax minnek joħroġ mexxej li jirgħa l-poplu tiegħi Iżrael”. Erodi mbagħad sejjaħ lill-maġi bil-moħbi, u tkixxef bir-reqqa kollha mingħandhom iż-żmien li fih dehritilhom il-kewkba; bagħathom Betlehem u qalilhom: “Morru, staqsu sewwa għat-tifel, u meta ssibuh ejjew għiduli, ħalli jien ukoll niġi nqimu”. Dawk, wara li semgħu lis-sultan, telqu, u ara, il-kewkba li kienu raw tielgħa bdiet miexja quddiemhom sakemm waslet u waqfet fuq il-post fejn kien hemm it-tifel. Kif raw il-kewkba mtlew b’ferħ kbir tassew. Meta mbagħad daħlu d-dar u raw lit-tifel ma’ ommu Marija, inxteħtu fl-art iqimuh; fetħu t-teżori tagħhom u offrewlu rigali deheb, inċens u mirra. Imbagħad, billi kienu mwissijin f’ħolma biex ma jerġgħux imorru għand Erodi, telqu lura lejn arthom minn triq oħra. Il-Kelma tal-Mulej


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Gospel Commentary  -  

God’s gentle light shines in humble love
 

Full text of Pope Francis' homily at the Epiphany Mass 06/01/2019

Epiphany: this word indicates the manifestation of the Lord, who, as Saint Paul tells us in Ephesians 3:6, makes himself known to all the nations, today represented by the Magi. In this way, we see revealed the glory of a God who has come for everyone: every nation, language and people, zand who are welcomed and loved by him. It is symbolized by the light, which penetrates and illumines all things.

Yet if our God makes himself known for everyone, it is even more surprising how he does so. The Gospel speaks of a hum of activity around the palace of King Herod once Jesus appears as a king. The Magi ask: “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews?” (Mt 2:2). They will find him, but not where they thought: not in the royal palace of Jerusalem, but in a humble abode in Bethlehem. We saw this same paradox at Christmas where the Gospel speaks of the census of the entire world taken in the days of the Emperor Augustus, when Quirinius was governor (cf. Lk 2:2). But none of the great men of that time realized that the King of history was being born in their own time. Again, when Jesus, some thirty years of age, made himself known publicly, preceded by John the Baptist, the Gospel once more solemnly situates the event, listing all the “magnates” of the time, the great secular and spiritual powers: Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate, Herod, Philip, Lysanias, the high priests Annas and Caiaphas. And it concludes by saying that, at that time, “the word of God came to John, the son of Zechariah, in the wilderness” (Lk 3:2). To none of the magnates, but to a man who had withdrawn to the desert. Here is the surprise: God does not need the spotlights of the world to make himself known.

When we listen to that list of distinguished personages, we might be tempted to turn the spotlight on them. We might think that it would have been better had the star of Jesus appeared in Rome, on the Palatine Hill, where Augustus ruled over the world; then the whole empire would immediately have become Christian. Or if it had shone on the palace of Herod, he might have done good rather than evil. But God’s light does not shine on those who shine with their own light. God “proposes” himself; he does not “impose” himself. He illumines; he does not blind. It is always a very tempting to confuse God’s light with the lights of the world. How many times have we pursued the seductive lights of power and celebrity, convinced that we are rendering good service to the Gospel! But by doing so, have we not turned the spotlight on the wrong place, because God was not there. His kindly light shines forth in humble love. How many times too, have we, as a Church, attempted to shine with our own light! Yet we are not the sun of humanity. We are the moon that, despite its shadows, reflects the true light, which is the Lord. He is the light of the world (cf. Jn 9:5). Him, not us.

The light of God shines on those who receive it. Isaiah (cf. 60:2), tells us that that light does not prevent the darkness and the thick clouds from covering the earth, but shines forth on those prepared to accept it. And so, the prophet addresses a challenging summons to everyone: “Arise, shine” (60:1). We need to arise, to get up from our sedentary lives and prepare for a journey. Otherwise, we stand still, like the scribes that Herod consulted; they knew very well where the Messiah was born, but they did not move. We also need to shine, to be clothed in God who is light, day by day, until we are fully clothed in Jesus. Yet to be clothed in God, who like the light is simple, we must first put aside our pretentious robes. Otherwise, we will be like Herod, who preferred the earthly lights of success and power to the divine light. The Magi, instead, fulfil the prophecy. They arise and shine, and are clothed in light. They alone see the star in the heavens: not the scribes, nor Herod, nor any of the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

In order to find Jesus, we also need to take a different route, to follow a different path, his path, the path of humble love. And we have to persevere. Today’s Gospel ends by saying that the Magi, after encountering Jesus, “left for their own country by another road” (Mt 2:12). Another road, different from that of Herod. An alternative route than that of the world, like the road taken by those who surround Jesus at Christmas: Mary and Joseph, the shepherds. Like the Magi, they left home and became pilgrims on the paths of God. For only those who leave behind their worldly attachments and undertake a journey find the mystery of God.

This holds true for us too. It is not enough to know where Jesus was born, as the scribes did, if we do not go there. It is not enough to know that Jesus was born, like Herod, if we do not encounter him. When his place becomes our place, when his time becomes our time, when his person becomes our life, then the prophecies come to fulfilment in us. Then Jesus is born within us. He becomes the living God for me. Today we are asked to imitate the Magi. They do not debate; they set out. They do not stop to look, but enter the house of Jesus. They do not put themselves at the centre, but bow down before the One who is the centre. They do not remain glued to their plans, but are prepared to take other routes. Their actions reveal a close contact with the Lord, a radical openness to him, a total engagement with him. With him, they use the language of love, the same language that Jesus, though an infant, already speaks. Indeed, the Magi go to the Lord not to receive, but to give. Let us ask ourselves this question: at Christmas did we bring gifts to Jesus for his party, or did we only exchange gifts among ourselves?

If we went to the Lord empty-handed, today we can remedy that. The Gospel, in some sense, gives us a little “gift list”: gold, frankincense and myrrh. Gold, the most precious of metals, reminds us God has to be granted first place; he has to be worshiped. But to do that, we need to remove ourselves from the first place and to recognize our neediness, the fact that we are not self-sufficient. Then there is frankincense, which symbolizes a relationship with the Lord, prayer, which like incense rises up to God (cf. Ps 141:2). Just as incense must burn in order to yield its fragrance, so too, in prayer, we need to “burn” a little of our time, to spend it with the Lord. Not just in words, but also by our actions. We see this in the myrrh, the ointment that would be lovingly used to wrap the body of Jesus taken down from the cross (cf. Jn 19:39). The Lord is pleased when we care for bodies racked by suffering, the flesh of the vulnerable, of those left behind, of those who can only receive without being able to give anything material in return. Precious in the eyes of God is mercy shown to those who have nothing to give back. Gratuitousness!

In this Christmas season now drawing to its close, let us not miss the opportunity to offer a precious gift to our King, who came to us not in worldly pomp, but in the luminous poverty of Bethlehem. If we can do this, his light will shine upon us.On the Feast of the only perfect Family that ever lived on this earth, all parents might examine themselves and see how well they are fulfilling the grave responsibility which God has placed on them. As they heard during their marriage ceremony: "children are a gift from God to you."  Children serve as the joy of their parents’ young years and the help and comfort of their old age, but above and beyond that, they are a gift for which their parents are accountable before God, as they must, in the end, return these, His children, to Him.  Let us pray for the grace of caring for one another in our own families, for each member of the parish family, and for all families of the universal Church. May God bless all our families in the New Year.
 

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Saturday, 26 December 2020

 
First Sunday in the Christmas Octave
The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
Lectionary: 17

Il-Ħadd fost l-Ottava tal-Milied
Il-Familja Mqaddsa ta’ Ġesù, Marija u Ġużeppi



Reading 1           GENESIS 15:1-6; 21:1-3
The word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying: “Fear not, Abram! I am your shield; I will make your reward very great.” But Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what good will your gifts be, if I keep on being childless and have as my heir the steward of my house, Eliezer?” Abram continued, “See, you have given me no offspring, and so one of my servants will be my heir.” Then the word of the LORD came to him: “No, that one shall not be your heir; your own issue shall be your heir.” The Lord took Abram outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars, if you can. Just so,” he added, “shall your descendants be.” Abram put his faith in the LORD, who credited it to him as an act of righteousness. The LORD took note of Sarah as he had said he would; he did for her as he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time that God had stated. Abraham gave the name Isaac to this son of his whom Sarah bore him.

Qari I            mill-Ktieb ta’ Ġenesi 15, 1-6; 21, 1-3
F’dak iż-żmien, ġiet il-kelma tal-Mulej lil Abram f’dehra u qallu: “La tibżax, Abram! Jiena tarka għalik; ħlasek ikun kbir ħafna”. U Abram qallu: “Sidi Mulej, x’se tagħtini, għax se nibqa’ bla tfal, u l-werriet ta’ dari se jkun Eligħeżer ta’ Damasku”. U Abram żied jgħid: “Ara, int lili ma tajtnix nisel, u qaddej dari se jiritni”. U ara, waslitlu l-kelma tal-Mulej u qallu: “Ma jirtekx dan, imma wieħed ħiereġ mill-ġewwieni tiegħek, hu għad jirtek”. U ħarġu barra u qallu: “Ħares sewwa lejn is-smewwiet u għodd il-kwiekeb, jekk għandek ħila tgħoddhom”. U żied jgħidlu: “Hekk għad ikun nislek”. U hu emmen fil-Mulej, u dan għaddhulu b’ġustizzja. U l-Mulej żar lil Sara bħalma kien qalilha, u għamel magħha dak li kien wegħedha. U Sara tqalet u wildet iben lil Abraham fi xjuħitu, fiż-żmien li kien qallu Alla. U Abraham semma ’l ibnu li twelidlu, li kienet wilditlu Sara, Iżakk. Il-Kelma tal-Mulej


Responsorial Psalm            PSALM 105:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9
Give thanks to the LORD, invoke his name;
make known among the nations his deeds.
Sing to him, sing his praise,
proclaim all his wondrous deeds.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.

Glory in his holy name;
rejoice, O hearts that seek the LORD!
Look to the LORD in his strength;
constantly seek his face.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.

You descendants of Abraham, his servants,
sons of Jacob, his chosen ones!
He, the LORD, is our God;
throughout the earth his judgments prevail.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.

He remembers forever his covenant
which he made binding for a thousand generations
which he entered into with Abraham
and by his oath to Isaac.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.

 
Salm Responsorjali          Salm 104 (105), 1b-2.3-4.5-6.8-9
R/. (7a.8a): Jaħweh hu Alla tagħna! Jiftakar għal dejjem fil-patt tiegħu

Faħħru l-Mulej u xandru ismu,
għarrfu lill-ġnus bl-għemejjel tiegħu.
Għannulu u doqqulu,
xandru l-għeġubijiet tiegħu kollha. R/.

Ftaħru bl-isem qaddis tiegħu;
tifraħ il-qalb ta’ dawk li jfittxu l-Mulej.
Ħabirku biex tagħrfu l-Mulej u l-qawwa tiegħu,
fittxu ’l wiċċu l-ħin kollu. R/.

Ftakru fil-ħwejjeġ kbar li għamel,
fl-għeġubijiet u l-ġudizzji tiegħu.
Nisel Abraham, il-qaddej tiegħu,
ulied Ġakobb, il-maħtur tiegħu. R/.

Jiftakar għal dejjem fil-patt tiegħu,
fil-kelma li ta għal elf nisel,
fil-patt li għamel ma’ Abraham,
fil-wegħda li ħalef lil Iżakk.
R/.

Reading 2            HEBREWS 11:8, 11-12, 17-19

Brothers and sisters: By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; he went out, not knowing where he was to go. By faith he received power to generate,  even though he was past the normal age --and Sarah herself was sterile-- for he thought that the one who had made the promise was trustworthy. So it was that there came forth from one man, himself as good as dead, descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sands on the seashore. By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac,  and he who had received the promises was ready to offer his only son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac descendants shall bear your name.” He reasoned that God was able to raise even from the dead, and he received Isaac back as a symbol.

Qari II             mill-Ittra lil-Lhud 11, 8.11-12.17-19
Ħuti, kienet il-fidi li ġagħlet lil Abraham jobdi s-sejħa ta’ Alla, meta dan qallu biex imur f’art li kien se jagħtih b’wirt; u telaq, bla ma kien jaf fejn kien sejjer. Kienet ukoll il-fidi li biha Sarah, mara mdaħħla fiż-żmien, setgħet titqal, għax hija għarfet li ta’ kelmtu kien dak li għamlilha l-wegħda. Kien għalhekk li minn bniedem wieħed, li kien tista’ tgħid mejjet, twieldu nies bil-kotra daqs il-kwiekeb tas-sema u daqs ir-ramel ta’ xatt il-baħar, li ħadd ma jista’ jgħoddu. Kienet il-fidi li ġagħlet lil Abraham joffri ’l Iżakk meta Alla ġarrbu; u kien se joffri lil ibnu l-waħdieni sewwasew dak li kien ħa l-wegħdiet, hu li Alla kien qallu: “Minn Iżakk int għad ikollok nisel”. Huwa fehem li Alla kellu s-setgħa saħansitra li jqajjem mill-mewt; u, fis-sens ta’ tixbiha, ħadu tabilħaqq lura mill-mewt. Il-Kelma tal-Mulej


 Gospel           LUKE 2:22-40
When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses,  They took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord, and to offer the sacrifice of a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons, in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord. Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. He 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: “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for 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.” There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer. And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.  When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.

Evanġelju           Qari skont San Luqa  2, 22-40
Wara li għalqilhom iż-żmien għall-purifikazzjoni tagħhom skont il-Liġi ta’ Mosè, Marija u Ġużeppi ħadu lil Ġesù Ġerusalemm biex jippreżentawh lill-Mulej, kif hemm miktub fil-Liġi tal-Mulej: “Kull tifel li jitwieled l-ewwel, jiġi kkonsagrat lill-Mulej” – u biex joffru b’sagrifiċċju par gamiem jew żewġ bċieċen, kif jingħad ukoll fil-Liġi tal-Mulej. F’Ġerusalemm kien hemm wieħed, jismu Xmun, raġel ġust u tajjeb, li kien jistenna l-faraġ ta’ Iżrael u li kellu l-Ispirtu s-Santu fuqu. L-Ispirtu s-Santu kien nebbħu li ma kienx se jara l-mewt qabel ma jara l-Messija tal-Mulej. Mar mela fit-tempju, imqanqal mill-Ispirtu, u xħin il-ġenituri daħlu bit-tarbija Ġesù biex jagħmlulu dak li kienet trid il-Liġi, huwa laqgħu fuq dirgħajh, bierek lil Alla u qal: “Issa, o Sid, tista’ tħalli l-qaddej tiegħek imur fis-sliem, skont kelmtek, għaliex għajnejja raw is-salvazzjoni tiegħek li int ħejjejt għall-popli kollha, dawl biex idawwal il-ġnus, u glorja tal-polpu tiegħek Iżrael”. Missieru u ommu baqgħu mistagħġba b’dak li kien qiegħed jingħad fuqu. Xmun berikhom, u qal lil ommu Marija: “Ara, dan se jġib il-waqgħa u l-qawmien ta’ ħafna f’Iżrael; se jkun sinjal li jmeruh, – u inti wkoll, sejf jinfidlek ruħek! – biex jinkixfu l-ħsibijiet moħbija fil-qlub ta’ ħafna”.Kien hemm ukoll waħda profetissa, Anna, bint Fanwel, mit-tribù ta’ Aser. Kienet imdaħħla ħafna fiż-żmien; wara xbubitha kienet għamlet seba’ snin miżżewġa, u mbagħad romlot. Sa ma kellha erbgħa u tmenin sena ma kienet titwarrab qatt mit-tempju, lejl u nhar taqdi lil Alla fis-sawm u t-talb. Dak il-ħin stess waslet, u bdiet trodd ħajr lil Alla u titkellem fuq it-tarbija ma’ dawk kollha li kienu jistennew il-fidwa ta’ Ġerusalemm. Meta temmew kull ma kellhom jagħmlu skont il-Liġi tal-Mulej reġgħu lura lejn il-Galilija fil-belt tagħhom ta’ Nazaret. U t-tifel baqa’ jikber u jissaħħaħ, mimli bl-għerf. U l-grazzja ta’ Alla kienet fuqu. Il-Kelma tal-Mulej

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Gospel Commentary  -  From Vatican News

Reflections for the Feast of Holy Family

On the Feast of the Holy Family we offer all the members of our own families on the altar for God’s blessing.

Starter anecdote: Grandparents are a treasure: Pope Francis said that as a child, he heard a story of a family with a mother, father, many children and a grandfather. The grandfather, suffering from Parkinson’s illness, would drop food on the dining table, and smear it all over his face when he ate. His son considered it disgusting. Hence, one day he bought a small table and set it off to the side of the dining hall so the grandfather could eat, make a mess and not disturb the rest of the family. One day, the Pope said, the grandfather’s son came home and found one of his sons playing with some wood.  “What are you making?” he asked his son. “A table,” the son replies. “Why?” the father asks. “It’s for you, Dad, when you get old like grandpa, I am going to give you this table.” Ever since that day, the grandpa was given a prominent seat at the dining table and all the help he needed in eating by his son and daughter-in-law. “This story has done me such good throughout my life,” said the Pope, who celebrated his birthday on December 17. “Grandparents are a ,” he said. “Often old age isn’t pretty, right? There is sickness and all that, but the wisdom our grandparents have is something we must welcome as an inheritance.” A society or community that does not value, respect and care for its elderly members “doesn’t have a future because it has no memory, it’s lost its memory,” Pope Francis added. (http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2013/11/19/grandparents-are-a-treasure-says-pope-francis/)

Introduction: On the last Sunday of the year, we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family.  We are here to offer all the members of our own families on the altar for God’s blessing.

Scripture lessons summarized: The first reading is a commentary on the fourth commandment: "Honour your father and your mother." Ben Sirach has many good things to say about living properly according to the Torah.  Sirach reminds children of their duty to honour their parents – even when it becomes difficult. He also mentions the five-fold reward which God promises to those who honour their father and mother. The first reward is “riches,” and the second is long life: “Whoever reveres his father will live a long life.” Forgiveness of sins and God’s prompt answer to prayers are the fourth and fifth rewards. He reminds children that God blesses them if they obey revere and show compassion to their father. Paul, in the letter to the Colossians, advises us that we should put on love and remain thankful in our relationships with one another. Paul’s advice is part of the "Household Code" – the rules for members of the Christian family. Though its details date to Paul’s time, the underlying message of being careful with one another – attentive, gentle, and merciful – is timeless. Paul teaches that children should learn and practice noble qualities -- like compassion, kindness, forgiveness, and sharing -- in the warmth of the family. In a truly holy family all members are respected, cherished, nurtured, and supported, united in the bond of love. Today’s Gospel describes how Joseph presented Mary and the Child Jesus in the Temple for the ritual of the mother's purification and the Child's "presentation."

Rights and duties of parents and children: Although more emphasis is given in the first two readings on the obligation of children to their parents, there is a profound lesson here for parents too. "Like father like son" is an old saying, and very often true. If the parents fail to do what is right and just in the sight of God, they can hardly complain if their children turn out disobedient to God and to them. The young learn more from example than from precept. If parents give their children the example of a life of obedience to the laws of God and their country, the children will in turn carry out their duties to God, to their parents and to their fellowman.

Exegesis:
The context: Today’s Gospel describes the presentation of the Baby Jesus in the Temple.  The Feast of the Presentation of Jesus (celebrated formally on February 2), is a combined feast, commemorating the Jewish practice of the purification of the mother after childbirth and the presentation of the Child in the Temple. It is known as the “Hypanthe” feast or Feast of the Purification of Mary (by the offering two pigeons in the Temple), the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord (by prayers and a sacrifice offered in the Temple to redeem or buy the firstborn male child back from the Lord), the Feast of Candlemas (because candles are blessed for liturgical and personal use) and the Feast of Encounter (because the New Testament, represented by the Baby Jesus, encountered the Old Testament, represented by Simeon and Anna).

Purification and redemption ceremonies: The Gospel describes how Joseph, as the head of the Holy Family of Nazareth, presented Mary and the Baby Jesus in the Temple of God for the mother’s purification and the Child’s “redemption.” The Mosaic Law (Numbers 18:15) taught that since every Jewish firstborn male child belonged to Yahweh, the parents had to “buy back” (redeem), the child by offering a lamb or turtledoves as a sacrifice in the Temple. In addition (Leviticus 12:2-8), every mother had to be purified after childbirth by prayers and an offering made to God in the Temple. Joseph kept these laws as an act of obedience to God.

The encounter with Simeon and Anna
:  By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the old, pious and Spirit-filled Simeon and Anna had been waiting in the Temple for the revelation of God’s salvation. Simeon recognized Jesus as the Lord’s anointed one, and in his prayer of blessing he prophesied that Jesus was meant to be the glory of Israel and the light of revelation to the Gentiles. While he blessed Mary, he warned her that her child would be “a sign of contradiction,” and that she would be “pierced with a sword.” Simeon was prophesying both the universal salvation that would be proclaimed by Jesus and the necessity of suffering in the mission of the Messiah. 

Influence of the Holy Family on Jesus: We know that the family of Jesus was steeped in Scripture. Mary’s prayer, the Magnificat, is rich in Old Testament quotations. We know that Jesus’ family had a deep life of piety that included pilgrimages and prayer to the angels. Both Mary and Joseph received the guidance of Heaven’s messengers. From Jesus’ adulthood, we can also glimpse the prayer life He learned from His parents. He prayed the morning offering of pious Jews (Mk 12:29-30). He prayed spontaneously. He took time to pray alone. Yet, He also prayed with His friends. Jesus fasted and marked the holy days. All these habits He probably acquired from His home life in Nazareth. We know that work was important to Jesus’ family. In adulthood, Jesus was called not just “Joseph’s son,” but “the carpenter’s son.” Joseph was skilled in a trade that was highly regarded in his day, and he trained Jesus in the same craft. We can conclude from Jesus’ preaching that Mary was industrious and frugal in keeping a house. It was likely from her example that Jesus drew many of His favorite stories: a woman finding just the right cloth to patch a piece of clothing, a woman setting aside leaven for tomorrow’s baking, a widow searching her house for a lost coin. Hard work, struggling to paythe bills, taking long road trips, praying simple devotions — all of this we learn from the real Gospels. (mikeaquilina.com).

Life Messages:   1) We need to learn lessons from the Holy Family: By celebrating the Sunday following Christmas as the Feast of the Holy Family, the Church encourages us to look to the Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph for inspiration, example and encouragement.   They were a model family in which both parents worked hard, helped each other, understood and accepted each other, and took good care of their Child so that He might grow up not only in human knowledge but also as a Child of God. Jesus brought holiness to the family of Joseph and Mary as Jesus brings us holiness by embracing us in His family. The Catechism of the Catholic Church gives the following advice to the parents: "Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. 

They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule.  The home is well-suited for education in the virtues. This requires an apprenticeship in self-denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery - the preconditions of all true freedom. Parents should teach their children to subordinate the 'material and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones.'" The CCC adds: “Parents have a grave responsibility to give good example to their children.” (CCC #2223).

2) Marriage: a Sacrament of holiness. The Feast of the Holy Family reminds us that, as the basic unit of the universal Church, each family is called to holiness. In fact, Jesus Christ has instituted two Sacraments in His Church to make society holy – the Sacrament of priesthood and the Sacrament of marriage.  Through the Sacrament of priesthood, Jesus sanctifies the priest as well as his parish. Similarly, by the Sacrament of marriage, Jesus sanctifies not only the spouses but also the entire family. The husband and wife attain holiness when they discharge their duties faithfully, trusting in God, and drawing on the presence and power of the Holy Spirit through personal and family prayer, meditative reading of the Bible, and devout participation in Holy Mass.  Families become holy when Christ Jesus is present in them. Jesus becomes truly present in the parish Church through the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass.  Similarly, Jesus becomes truly present in a family when all the members live in the Christian spirit of sacrifice. This happens when there is mutual understanding, mutual support and mutual respect.   There must be proper care and respect given by children to their parents and grandparents, even after they have grown up and left home.

 3) We need to make the family a confessional rather than a courtroom.  A senior Judge of the US Supreme Court recently congratulated the bride and groom in a marriage with a pertinent piece of advice: “See that you never convert your family into a courtroom; instead let it be a confessional. If the husband and wife start arguing like attorneys in an attempt to justify their behavior, their family becomes a court of law and nobody wins.  On the other hand, if the husband and the wife -- as in a confessional -- are ready to admit their faults and try to correct them, the family becomes a Heavenly one.” Thus, we can avoid the dangers we watch in dysfunctional families as presented on TV in the shows like Married with Children, The Simpson’s, Everyone Loves Raymond and Malcolm in the Middle.

4) Every Holy Mass in which we participate is our presentation. Although we were officially presented to God on the day of our Baptism, we present ourselves and our dear ones on the altar before God our Father through our Savior Jesus Christ at every Holy Mass. Hence, we need to live our daily lives with the awareness both that we are dedicated people consecrated to God and that we are obliged and empowered by His grace to lead holy lives.

5) Let us extend the boundaries of our family: The homeless man or woman today in the streets of big cities, fighting the cold and the snow, is part of our family. The drug addict in a den, or living in fear and aloneness this day, is member of our family. The sick person, dying, alone, dirty and maybe even obnoxious, is a member of our family. The person sitting in the prison cell for whatever reason is also a child of God, and as such, according to St. John, is a member of our family. All these, as well as the cherished intimate members of our family, are “family valuables,” and, as such, are worthy of safekeeping and reverence.

On the Feast of the only perfect Family that ever lived on this earth, all parents might examine themselves and see how well they are fulfilling the grave responsibility which God has placed on them. As they heard during their marriage ceremony: "children are a gift from God to you."  Children serve as the joy of their parents’ young years and the help and comfort of their old age, but above and beyond that, they are a gift for which their parents are accountable before God, as they must, in the end, return these, His children, to Him.  Let us pray for the grace of caring for one another in our own families, for each member of the parish family, and for all families of the universal Church. May God bless all our families in the New Year. (Fr. Antony Kadavil).

 
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Thursday, 17 December 2020

The meaning of Mary's Yes!

 Sunday, December 20, 2020

Fourth Sunday of Advent
Lectionary: 11

Ir-Raba’ Ħadd tal-Avvent


Reading 1       2 SAMUEL 7:1-5, 8B-12, 14A, 16
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. And when your time comes and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins, and I will make his kingdom firm. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall stand firm forever.'”

Qari I        mit-Tieni Ktieb ta’ Samwel 7, 1-5.8b-12.14a.16
Meta s-Sultan David mar joqgħod f’daru, u l-Mulej serrħu mill-għedewwa kollha ta’ madwaru, is-sultan qal lil Natan il-profeta: “Issa, ara jien qiegħed f’dar taċ-ċedru, u l-arka ta’ Alla qiegħda f’nofs ta’ tinda!”. U qal Natan lis-sultan: “Kull ma għandek fi ħsiebek li tagħmel, mur agħmlu, għax il-Mulej miegħek”. Imma dak il-lejl stess ġiet il-kelma tal-Mulej lil Natan u qallu: “Mur għid lill-qaddej tiegħi David: ‘Dan jgħid il-Mulej: Se tibnili int dar biex noqgħod fiha? Ara, jiena ħadtek mill-mergħat minn wara l-imrieħel biex tkun prinċep fuq il-poplu tiegħi Iżrael. Dejjem kont miegħek f’kull ma kont tidħol għalih; u meta int qridt l-għedewwa tiegħek kollha minn quddiemek. Issa jiena nibnilek isem kbir jixbah l-ismijiet il-kbar li hawn fid-dinja. Nagħmel post għall-poplu tiegħi Iżrael, u nqiegħdu hemm fejn jgħammar bla biża’, u ma jgħakksuhx iżjed il-ħżiena bħalma għamlu sa minn dejjem, jiġifieri sa minn meta qajjimt l-imħallfin fuq il-poplu tiegħi Iżrael; u nserrħek mill-għedewwa tiegħek kollha. Lilek imbagħad il-Mulej jagħtik kelma li jibnilek dar. U meta inti ttemm żmienek, u tkun striħajt ma’ missirijietek, jiena nqajjem nislek warajk, nisel ħiereġ mill-ġewwieni tiegħek, u nsaħħaħ is-saltna tiegħu. Jiena nkun għalih missier, u hu jkun għalija iben. Il-familja tiegħek u s-saltna tiegħek jibqgħu sħaħ għal dejjem quddiemi. It-tron tiegħek jibqa’ sħiħ għal dejjem’”.

Responsorial Psalm      PSALM 89:2-3, 4-5, 27, 29
The promises of the LORD I will sing forever;
through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness.
For you have said, “My kindness is established forever”;
in heaven you have confirmed your faithfulness.
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

“I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
I have sworn to David my servant:
Forever will I confirm your posterity
and establish your throne for all generations.”
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

“He shall say of me, ‘You are my father,
my God, the Rock, my savior.’
Forever I will maintain my kindness toward him,
and my covenant with him stands firm.”
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

Salm Responsorjali        Salm 89 (89), 2-5.27.29
R/. (2): It-tjieba tal-Mulej irrid dejjem ngħanni
F’kull żmien ixandar fommi l-fedeltà tiegħek.
Għax jien għedt:
“Tjubitek tibqa’ sħiħa għal dejjem;
bħas-smewwiet int wettaqt il-fedeltà tiegħek”. R/.

“Għamilt patt mal-magħżul tiegħi,
ħlift lil David, il-qaddej tiegħi:
Jien nagħmel li nislek jibqa’ għal dejjem,
li f’kull żmien jibqa’ sħiħ it-tron tiegħek”. R/.

“Hu jsejjaħli: ‘Int missieri
u Alla tiegħi, fortizza u salvazzjoni tiegħi!’.
It-tjieba tiegħi nżommha fuqu għal dejjem,
u l-patt tiegħi miegħu jibqa’ sħiħ”. R/.

Reading 2        ROMANS 16:25-27
Brothers and sisters: To him who can strengthen you, according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret for long ages but now manifested through the prophetic writings and, according to the command of the eternal God, made known to all nations to bring about the obedience of faith, to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ be glory forever and ever.

Qari II       mill-Ittra lir-Rumani 16, 25-27
Ħuti, lil Alla li għandu l-qawwa li jwettaqkom fl-Evanġelju li nħabbar jien, jien u nxandar lil Ġesù Kristu, skont ir-rivelazzjoni tal-misteru li kien moħbi fis-skiet tal-eternità; lil dan li Alla issa rrivelalna dan il-misteru, u għarrfu lill-ġnus bil-kitba tal-Profeti,  skont l-ordni tiegħu, Alla ta’ dejjem, biex iwassalhom għall-ubbidjenza tal-fidi; lil dan Alla, waħdu fl-għerf, il-glorja għal dejjem ta’ dejjem b’Ġesù Kristu. Ammen.  Il-Kelma tal-Mulej

Gospel       LUKE 1:26-38
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.

Evanġelju       Qari skont San Luqa 1, 26-38
F’dak iż-żmien, Alla bagħat l-anġlu Gabrijel f’belt tal-Galilija, jisimha Nazaret, għand xebba, mgħarrsa ma’ raġel jismu Ġużeppi mid-dar ta’ David. Dix-xebba kien jisimha Marija. L-anġlu daħal għandha u qalilha: “Sliem għalik, mimlija bil-grazzja, il-Mulej miegħek”. Hi tħawdet ħafna għal dan il-kliem, u bdiet taħseb bejnha u bejn ruħha x’setgħet qatt tfisser din it-tislima. Iżda l-anġlu qalilha: “Tibżax, Marija, għax int sibt grazzja quddiem Alla. Ara, int se tnissel fil-ġuf u jkollok iben u ssemmih Ġesù. Hu jkun kbir, u jkun jissejjaħ Bin l-Għoli. Il-Mulej Alla jagħtih it-tron ta’ David missieru, u jsaltan għal dejjem fuq dar Ġakobb, u ma jkunx hemm tmiem għas-saltna tiegħu”. Iżda Marija qalet lill-anġlu: “Kif ikun dan, ladarba ma nagħrafx raġel?”. Wieġeb l-anġlu u qalilha: “L-Ispirtu s-Santu jiġi fuqek, u l-qawwa tal-Għoli tixħet id-dell tagħha fuqek. U għalhekk dak li jitwieled minnek ikun qaddis, u jissejjaħ Bin Alla. Ara, l-qariba tiegħek Eliżabetta, fi xjuħitha, hi wkoll nisslet iben fil-ġuf, u ġa għandha sitt xhur dik li għaliha kienu jgħidu li ma jistax ikollha tfal, għax għal Alla ma hemm xejn li ma jistax isir”. Imbagħad qalet Marija: “Ara, jien il-qaddejja tal-Mulej: ħa jsir minni skont kelmtek!” U l-anġlu telaq minn quddiemha. Il-Kelma tal-Mulej

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Gabriel’s Announcement to Mary

This reflection is taken from Werner Bible Commentary  material which has renderings of Hebrew and Greek and Bible translations in other languages into English to serve mainly for comparison purposes. In no way are their efforts intended to slight or detract from the conscientious labours of other translators and writers or their abilities and understanding of the ancient languages.


In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary. She lived in Nazareth, a city of Galilee, and was engaged to Joseph from the royal house of David. (Luke 1:26, 27) Through the prophet Nathan, David had been divinely promised that his royal line would continue in existence, and this provided the basis for the Messianic hope, the coming of a king greater than David. (2 Samuel 7:8-16; compare Acts 2:30, 31.)

According to the literal reading of the Greek text, the angel greeted her with the words, “Rejoice, highly favoured one, the Lord [is] with you.” (See the Notes section below for additional comments.) To be addressed as exceedingly favoured and having God’s attentive care greatly perplexed Mary, causing her to wonder just what this greeting signified. Gabriel reassured her with the words, “fear not,” informed her of having found favour with God, and then told her that she would give birth to a son, to be named Jesus. This son would be great, “be called Son of the Most High,” receive from God the throne or royal authority of his ancestor David, and “reign over the house of Jacob forever.” His kingdom would never come to an end. (Luke 1:28-33)

Unlike Zechariah who responded to Gabriel’s announcement with doubt, Mary only raised the question as to how this would come about as she was unmarried and not intimate with a man. The angel explained to her that this would be made possible through the operation of holy spirit or the “power of the Most High.” Because the conception would result from the mighty working of divine power, the son to be born would be “called holy, [the] Son of God.” (Luke 1:34, 35)

It may well be that, for the first time, Mary learned from Gabriel that her relative Elizabeth, who had long been barren, was in the sixth month of her pregnancy and would give birth to a son. Elizabeth’s pregnancy, as Gabriel indicated, proved that nothing would be impossible with God. (Luke 1:36, 37)

Mary’s response proved to be one of remarkable faith. No virgin had ever conceived through the direct working of God’s mighty power, and she must have known that she would never be able to convince others of having maintained her virginity. Yet, with full trust in the Most High and his care for her and the son to be born, she declared her willingness to be God’s servant, letting everything take place according to what Gabriel had told her. At that point, the angel departed. (Luke 1:38)
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Notes: 
>> As a greeting, the Greek term chaíro (“rejoice”) expressed an implied wish for the happiness or well-being of the person being addressed. It functioned much like the Hebrew shalóm (“peace”), which also conveyed the thought of well-being, and may have been the expression Gabriel used.

>> Jesus’ future kingship is described in a way that accommodated common Messianic expectations. The reality, although including an everlasting rule over the “house of Jacob” or Israel, is far grander. Mary, however, would not at that time have been able to grasp a description in terms unfamiliar to her. (Luke 1:32, 33)

>> In Luke 1:35, “holy spirit” and “power of the Most High” are parallel expressions, as are also the words “come upon” and “overshadow.” It should be noted that Mary would not have understood Gabriel’s words to mean anything other than what she knew about God’s spirit from the “holy writings” that were read in the synagogue. Those “holy writings” confirm that “holy spirit” is God’s power, dynamically at work in a holy or pure way for the accomplishment of his will.

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