When Jesus saw the vast crowd,
his heart was moved with pity for them,
for they were like sheep without a shepherd;
and he began to teach them many things.

Mark 6
Third Week of Christmas: Jan. 5- 12, 2014

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Third Week of Christmas

On Sunday, the U.S. will celebrate the Epiphany of the Lord, although most of the world will celebrate it on Monday, January 6.

The Epiphany celebrates the light that has come into the darkness of the world and that our salvation was made known to the Gentiles. Outside of the US, the Second Sunday of Christmas is celebrated, with the beginning of John's Gospel and its poetic images of light and the Word.

The first readings are from the first letter of John about God's love for us, in Jesus. "In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins."

This week we begin to see the story of who Jesus is for us. He heals the sick. He feeds a vast crowd and "They all ate and were satisfied." And plenty was left over. He calms the sea: "Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!" He returns home to read about his mission from Isaiah: "to bring glad tidings to the poor. ... to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord." He heals a leper, saying he wants the man to be clean. John the Baptist tells his followers he is not the Christ. “He must increase; I must decrease.”

Sunday is the Baptism of the Lord. We hear the Lord say in the first reading from Isaiah, “Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased, upon whom I have put my spirit.” That is echoed in Luke's Gospel, after Jesus' baptism: “And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

This feast marks the end of the Christmas season and on Monday we begin Ordinary Time on the Church calendar.

 

Daily Prayer This Week

An epiphany is a discovery - an insight, a revelation. When the curtain opens on a stage, the story is presented to the audience. Matthew's telling of the journey of the sages from the East to discover and be shown the birth of Jesus is about an epiphany. It symbolically tells us that Jesus will be a light, a Savior, not only for the people of the promise, but for everyone - just as Isaiah foretold.

The Baptism of the Lord is also an epiphany. As Jesus enters into the waters muddied by the sins of us all, to become one with us, the sky is opened and he is revealed to be the beloved Son of God, our Savior.

During the week, as the story of Jesus' presence among us rolls out, we can rejoice and embrace the love he offers us. We are those who are in need of healing. We are at sea. We are the outcasts. We are hungry. We are poor, captives, oppressed and blind.

He has come and we have celebrated his coming. This week we can grow in our ability to live more aware of and grateful for his presence among as light in our darkness, as the one who loves us because we need his love.

We can find time each day to let these stories - and their rich images - into the background of our daily life. There will be moments this week when we will need courage, in the face of a feeling that a storm is too much for us. We can hear him assure us, "Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!" We might come face to face with an obsticle, perhaps our own ability to communicate well or our inability to be humble or transparent. We can pause - walking from one place to another - and ask for healing. We might be given the grace to say, "Lord, I've been blind. I haven't seen how my behavior has hurt my spouse or my children. Let me see your love for me. Forgive me, and heal me, so I can be freed from my agressive ways and be more sensitive, more attentive, more tender." The Lord will answer those kinds of prayers.

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