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Chris (email link at the bottom of each page)

The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

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Romans 8:28–30 • Psalm 12(13) • Matthew 1:1–16, 18–23

Readers of the Bible are tempted to skip the first sixteen verses of Matthew’s Gospel.  After all, it’s just a long list of names!  Although, in recent years, there has been a renewed interest in tracing one’s family tree, genealogies are often viewed as superfluous by a generation that prides itself on being future-oriented and forward-looking. To ancient peoples, however, genealogies were of immense importance.  Genealogies were the means by which Bible- time Jews traced their ancestry right back to Abraham, thus reassuring themselves of their position as rightful heirs of God’s covenant promises.

Matthew’s opening phrase ‘An account of the genealogy...’ reads, literally, ‘the book of the genesis. . . ’ , an expression that echoes Genesis 2:4 in' the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) and would have been very familiar to Matthew’s original readers.  By employing this phrase in connection with the Messiah, Matthew sets Jesus in the context of what God had been doing from the earliest days.

Matthew’s genealogy is constructed around three key periods in Israel’s history. Abraham and David recall two crucial covenants (Gen. 12:1ff; 2 Sam. 7:12ff) that significantly shaped Jewish identity.  The Babylonian Exile (referred to in yerses 1 1—12) called into serious question these covenant promises – since the land was lost and the House of David no longer ruled.  So, after their return from exile, the Jews eagerly awaited the coming of a Messiah who would fulfil the promises given to Abraham and David. Against this backdrop Matthew announces the ‘genesis’ of the one who would bnn'g to fruition these promises: .‘Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham’.

The genealogy climaxes with the mention of Joseph.  Tradition suggests that Mary, too, was of the House of David.  But since lineage was established by the male line, in order for Jesus to be proclaimed a true ‘son of David’ Joseph had formally to adopt him.  In verse 18, the word translated ‘birth’ is the same as that used in verse 1 (literally, ‘genesis’). The story that follows is not so much a birth story, but an extension of the genealogy which establishes Jesus’s rightful place in the messianic line.

‘At the foot of the cross Mary became our mother.  Just before he died, Jesus gave his mother to St John, and St John to his mother.  And so, all of us become her children.’  (St Theresa of Kolkata)

Chris

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Mary's "Yes"

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Luke 1:26–38
 
Mary prays her yes to God
 
Mary’s fiat, her yes, her consent to God’s will, meant that in the fulness of time God’s son was born of a woman (Galatians 4:4), so that we could become sons and daughters of God.
 
Today we contemplate Mary, our Mother in faith, the Mother of us all.  She is the perfect model of Christian faith, the example of what it means to give oneself wholeheartedly to God’s will.
 
St Teresa of Calcutta said, “Mary showed complete trust in God by agreeing to be used as an instrument in his plan of salvation.  She trusted him in spite of her nothingness because he knew he who is mighty could do great things in her and through her.
 
"Once she said “yes” to him she never doubted.  She was just a young woman, but she belonged to God and nothing nor anyone could separate her from him."
 
We too are called to give birth to Christ and, like Mary, we do so through the path of learning to be responsive, receptive and obedient to the Holy Spirit.  Just as Mary’s “yes” opened the door of our salvation, so too our “yes” to God opens the gate which leads to an ever-deeper experience of living a life in the power of the Holy Spirit.
 
Lord, we give thanks and praise for Mary, the new Eve, for through her the way was opened for the Word to become flesh and dwell among us.
 
Chris
 
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Our Father

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Matthew 6:7–15
 
Our Father by Jesus on sunrise
 
We address God as ‘Father’ – as ‘Abba’ in Aramaic.  This was unthinkable, even abhorrent, for a faithful Jew in Jesus’s day.
 
Only Jesus could cross the threshold of divne holiness, for by his cross and resurrection he made purification for our sins and brought us into the Father’s presence.
 
How comforting and consoling are these words from the writer of the Hebrews, in which Christ says, “Here am I, and the children God has given me” (2:13).
 
The Holy Spirit works to stretch and expand our hearts and minds so that they can grasp the amazing truth that we are children of the Father, sons and daughters of the Living God.
 
We who call God ‘Our Father’ because he is Our Father in heaven.  We don’t approach him lightly or nonchalantly or irreverently but in profound wonder that we are privileged to know God, the Creator, as a father who loves and cares for us.
 
”Our awareness of our status as slaves would make us sink into the ground and our earthly condition would dissolve into dust, if the authority of our Father himself and the Spirit of his Son had not impelled us to this cry, “Abba Father!"
 
‘When would a mortal dare call God “Father” if our innermost being were not animated by power from on high?’ (St Peter Chrysologus)
 
Chris
 
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The Annunciation

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Luke 1:26-38
 
God chose a young and innocent virgin in a small hamlet in Israel to be the Mother of God.  It is remarkable fact that God’s plan for salvation required the consent of a human being — Mary’s “yes” to God was the most momentous and profound ever spoken in human history.  
 
The challenge we face with today’s reading, from what is referred to as Luke’s Infancy Narrative, is that we are so familiar with it that we fail to see that there is so much treasure to be found in it.
 
Our minds must bow humbly before the mystery that we contemplate today.  Along with the saints we confess that our knowledge and understanding are limited and if we are to touch God’s mystery, we need to pray and ask for the light of the Holy Spirit.
 
If we pray, “Lord, open the eyes of my heart; show me in a new and fresh way the wonder and glory of the salvation unfolding before my eyes in today’s reading”, God will answer.
 
We join our prayer today to the prayer of Antipater of Bostra:
 
"Rejoice, you that are full of grace; the Lord is with you.  Rejoice, that you are the first and only one to conceive a babe free from sin.  Rejoice, that you bring into the world the beginning of life.  Rejoice, O Virgin Mother."
 
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