Bridge Between Liturgical Season

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2016/08/12 at 12:00 AM

• As you know, because we offer both the old Latin Mass and the Novus Ordo Mass here at St. Ann’s, we operate with two different liturgical calendars.
• When the liturgy was changed in the wake of Vatican II, the liturgical calendar was revised as well. And because the two forms of the Mass have different calendars, we occasionally find ourselves in two different liturgical seasons on the same Sunday. This is true today.
• In the new calendar the Season of Christmas ended last Sunday with the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord, and now we find ourselves in Ordinary Time. But in the Latin Mass we have now entered the Season after the Epiphany, which is really an extension of Christmastide.
• But even though the Christmas Season in the new liturgical calendar ended last Sunday, we still find the vestiges of Christmas lingering on today in our readings as we cling to themes we enjoyed in the Epiphany and Baptism of our Lord.
• Our first reading from Isaiah speaks of the “light to the nations” so that “salvation may reach to the ends of the earth,” which recalls the prominent themes of the Epiphany.
• And in our Gospel story today we have St. John the Baptist’s testimony to the Spirit descending upon Jesus like a dove, a clear reference to our Lord’s baptism.
• So why are we lingering with Christmas themes now that we are in Ordinary Time? Simply put, because Christmas is important! The Christmas Season is important to our Catholic faith because it is in the liturgies of the Christmas Season that we learn Who Jesus truly Is.
• You see, Christmas for Catholics is not simply the anniversary of our Lord’s birth. Christmas is the celebration that our Lord Jesus, veiled in human flesh, comes to us to dwell with us, to be one of us, so that He can save us from our sins.
• Christmas isn’t just an anniversary for us; it’s a mystery!
• So throughout the Christmas Season we see this gradual unfolding of the revelation of
the divinity of Christ. First, we see our God-Made-Man as a tiny baby, born in a cave and lying in a manger to be adored by His parents and local shepherds beckoned by an angel.
• But we learn very quickly that He is no ordinary babe. As we celebrate the major feasts of the Christmas Season we find that Jesus is indeed the Messiah of whose prophecies we heard throughout the season of Advent.
• Born of a virgin, Christ is revealed as the Light to All Nations in the Epiphany, as Magi from the East come to pay Him homage, following the light of a mighty star.
• This revelation in His Epiphany is repeated in His baptism and at the wedding feast of Cana – two other mysteries closely associated with the Epiphany.
• In seeing these revelations of the Word-Made-Flesh, in coming to the realization that God loves us so much that He became one of us, we are prepared for the Paschal Mystery, which is the mystery of our Lord’s passion, death, and resurrection.
• For Christ did not become man simply for the fun of it. He became man so that He might suffer and die for us, and thereby save us from our sins! As St. Augustine put it, Jesus became man so that men could become like God.
• As John the Baptist proclaims in our Gospel today, Jesus is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,” a proclamation so important that we proclaim it as well in triple fashion at every Mass.
• As the Son of God, Jesus has come to earth to be the Lamb of God, the One who will sacrifice Himself on Calvary for the forgiveness of our sins.
• So while today’s readings hearken back to Christmas, our Gospel also points us toward Holy Week, when we will see this Lamb slain. As such today’s Mass acts as a sort of transition between liturgical seasons.
• So the love incarnate revealed to us in the Christmas Season prepares us for the sacrificial love we’ll encounter at Easter.
• This love of God we see poured forth in the mystery of the Incarnation invites us to meditate more deeply on Who Jesus Is, and what the revelation of His love means to our lives.
• To be sure, the magnificent love we see in our Lord becoming man to save us from our sins calls us to a certain response and to a certain responsibility. In response we must first be inclined to give both thanks and praise to our Almighty God for this great, unmerited gift.
• Indeed, human history is all too clear that man has never deserved God’s love and mercy. Made in His image and likeness, we have all too often mired ourselves in the muck of human sinfulness. Yet God, in His unfathomable love, extends His mercy to us anyway.
• And thus our thanks to God and our praise of Him should know no bounds. For we can never repay the Lord for His goodness to us.
• But this inability to repay God’s mercy does put a responsibility upon us: that of doing our best to live a life of holiness. The daily dying to ourselves so that we might rise with Christ in holiness is our baptismal call.
• As St. Paul tells the Corinthians today, we are called to be holy. We are called to be holy so that we may be “a light to the nations, that [the Lord’s] salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” This is a demand that our beautiful Catholic faith makes upon us.
• Throughout the Christmas Season we received the manifestation of the Word-Made- Flesh. We are called to have faith in the divinity of Jesus; we are called to have faith in His power to save us.
• But as St. James tells us, faith without works is dead (cf. Jas 2:26). So what do we do to grow in holiness? What are the works necessary to keep our faith alive?
• First we must remember the highest commandments that Jesus Himself gave us: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” and “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt 22:37, 39).
• St. Teresa of Ávila teaches that the very best measure of one’s love for God is actually how one treats his neighbor. This is why the Church has always recommended to us the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
• And this is exactly why we’re filling this 40-foot container with food and other supplies for the folks in Jamaica! Doing so isn’t just beneficial for the poor in Jamaica; it’s also good for us and for our souls!
• But ever before we begin doing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, we must begin with prayer and worship. And as Catholics, we must frequent the sacraments.
• This is why Catholic are obliged to come to Mass every Sunday and to receive Holy Communion at least once a year. Holy Mother Church knows that worshiping our Lord in Mass and receiving Him in Holy Communion is necessary for our salvation.
• But underlying our worship and reception of the sacraments must be a deep, abiding, and personal love for God, which can only be formed in prayer.
• For it is in our prayer that God speaks to us and reveals Himself to us. It is in prayer that God gives Himself to us and we can fully give ourselves to Him, just as a bride entrusts herself to her bridegroom on their wedding night.
• It is in prayer that we share now in the divine intimacy that will find its completion only in the glories of heaven. So make time to pray everyday in order to strengthen your love for God.
• Dear brothers and sisters in Christ: our Lord has revealed Himself to us as both the Son of God and the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. Let us respond to Him by growing in holiness and loving Him as we should.
• By doing so, may we be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio.
To enable the audio, lease go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

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