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2023 Reflections

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(Posted from latest to oldest articles.)

March 26, 2023 - The Valley of Bones (Fifth Sunday of Lent) - Luis Dizon

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In Ezekiel 37, we are presented with a rather graphic vision of a valley full of dry bones. These bones represent the people of Israel: Spiritually dead and in exile.  God asks the prophet Ezekiel, “Son of man, can these bones live?”, to which he replies, “O Lord God, you know” (v. 3). The people appear to have no hope, because they say, “Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are clean cut off.” (v. 11). God’s response to them is that He will raise them up, as we see in our reading.

This vision refers to the immediate situation of the Jewish people, who are in exile in Babylon, and are being given hope that they will return to Israel. However, the image of dead bones points to a spiritual reality behind the geopolitical one: The people are spiritually dead because of their sin, and need to be made alive. Thus, God promises to them not just a national restoration, but also a spiritual one. As they return to the land of Israel, they will be cleansed of their sins receive God’s Spirit, which will guide them to obey God’s laws (Ezekiel 36:25-27).

The spiritual state of Israel reflects that of all humankind: We are all dead in our sins. We are all exiled from our heavenly home and are in need of saving. That salvation comes to us through Christ. This is why our Old Testament reading is paired with Jesus’ raising of Lazarus. We are taught that our own spiritual resurrection is realized through faith in Him, which is why He says, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)

The question “Do you believe this?” is posed to all of us, because we are all like the dead bones in Ezekiel’s vision. Only by faith and trust in Christ can we be brought to spiritual life, which is why we must cling to Him through all of our lives.

March 19, 2023 - Matters of the Heart (Fourth Sunday of Lent) - Luis Dizon

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There is a human tendency to look at outward appearances to determine a person’s worthiness for a task or a position, especially one of leadership. Physical strength, attractiveness, wealth, family connections, and personal charisma are the usual categories that we use when choosing a leader. Even in the ancient world, these traits were used to legitimize kings. A strong man who could vanquish foes in battle was seen as having the approval of Heaven. Recall how David’s predecessor, Saul, was chosen because he was said to be taller than the rest of the people (1 Samuel 10:23), and the remainder of his rule was justified by his ability to defeat Israel’s enemies in battle. Later on, however, he flagrantly disobeyed God by not killing the Amalekite king and their cattle, causing God to reject him as king (cf. 1 Samuel 15)

For God, however, the important things are not the externals. What matters is the heart. Piety, obedience, and trust in God are what He looks for. Saul had none of these qualities. Later on, when Samuel goes to Jesse’s sons, David was the one who had these traits the most. Scripture says that he was a man after God’s heart (Acts 13:22) This is why he is chosen to be king, despite his unassuming figure relative to his brothers. David’s kingship becomes important later on because out of his lineage comes Jesus, who is said to sit on the throne of David (Luke 1:32, Romans 1:3).

It is not wrong to cultivate external things like strength, beauty and charisma. Even David is said to have had these things. We must remember however, that these things are secondary to faith, and must be put in the service of faith, such as what David does in the Bible. Only by putting them in service of faith do they become worthwhile.

March 12, 2023 - Water From the Rock (Third Sunday of Lent) - Luis Dizon

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One of the recurring themes in the Bible is the persistent faithlessness of the people of Israel. Even after they had just witnessed God bring down ten plagues upon Egypt and parted the Red Sea, they still express doubt about God’s ability to provide for them. So God performs the miracle of causing water to flow from the rock, and yet even after this, the Israelites still grumbled. Because of this, the wilderness generation became the prime examples of lack of faith in Scripture. As the Psalmist says:

O that today you would listen to his voice!
Harden not your hearts, as at Meribah,
as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,
when your fathers tested me,
and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.
For forty years I was wearied of that generation
and said, “They are a people who err in heart,
and they do not regard my ways.”
Therefore I swore in my anger
that they should not enter my rest. (Psalm 95:7-11)

When we get to the New Testament, we learn that the rock which provided water was a type of Christ. St. Paul makes this point explicit when he states the following:

I want you to know, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same supernatural food and all drank the same supernatural drink. For they drank from the supernatural Rock which followed them, and the Rock was Christ. (1 Corinthians 10:1-4)

Jesus alludes to this Himself in John 4:14 when he spoke to the Samaritan woman in the Gospel reading. He told her: “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” Also, a number of early church fathers, such as St. Augustin have stated that just as Christ’s presence to the Israelites in the rock typifies His real presence in the Eucharist.

Thus, just as Christ satisfied the Israelites’ physical thirst in Exodus, so He also satisfies our spiritual hunger and thirst with Himself. We come to Him, trusting that He alone can vivify us with His life-giving water.

March 5, 2023 - Abraham’s Calling (Second Sunday of Lent) - Luis Dizon

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God’s calling of Abram is a pivotal moment in the Biblical narrative. After the first 11 chapters of Genesis describe the creation and fall of humanity, chapter 12 shifts gears and focuses on one obscure family, whose history marks the beginning of God’s plan to redeem the world. Here Abram (later renamed Abraham) is called out of Haran, a city in northern Syria, to emigrate to Canaan. God promises to make a nation out of Abram’s descendants, and to give them the land as their possession. This is the basis of the covenant that He will later make with him in Genesis 15 and 17.

God further states that Abraham’s offspring, the people of Israel, will become a source of blessing to the nations. This comes about in two ways. First, He gives Israel a law which they are to follow. In so doing, they are to become the model for other nations of what a godly people are like:

Behold, I have taught you statutes and ordinances, as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land which you are entering to take possession of it. Keep them and do them; for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? And what great nation is there, that has statutes and ordinances so righteous as all this law which I set before you this day? (Deuteronomy 4:5-8)

Second, out of Israel will come the Messiah, who is to be the Saviour of the world. Thus, the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promise to Abram comes through Christ, who is God’s blessing to the world by means of His salvific death and resurrection. All who believe in Christ and are baptized become Abraham’s spiritual offspring, as St. Paul states in Galatians:

Now before faith came, we were confined under the law, kept under restraint until faith should be revealed. So that the law was our custodian until Christ came, that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a custodian; for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. (Galatians 3:23-29)

By faith in Christ, we become children of Abraham and recipients of the blessing that God promised through him. Let us take hold of that promised blessing and invite others to share in it.

February 26, 2023 - Adam, Eve, and the Fall (First Sunday of Lent) - Luis Dizon

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One of the ongoing discussions that is taking place in theology is the question of how the story of Adam and Eve fits into our understanding of the world. Because of modern evolutionary theory, there is a tendency to simply dismiss that story as a myth. However, to do so would be to remove the foundation of the Christian narrative of history. Pope Pius XII recognized this when he released his papal encyclical on human origins, Humani Generis (1950). He affirmed that Adam and Eve were real historical persons, and that all human beings are descended from them:

When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled with that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church propose with regard to original sin, which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and which, through generation, is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own. (Pius XII, Humani Generis 37)

This understanding is reflected in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which also regards the Fall as a real event. It states the following:

The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man. Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents. (CCC 390)

When we read the other scripture readings for today, we see why it is necessary to affirm the historicity of Adam and Eve. First off, in the epistle reading, St. Paul affirms that the reason sin exists in the world is because of the original transgression of Adam (Romans 5:12-19). It is that first historical event that renders God’s redemptive plan as narrated in Scripture necessary. This is reinforced by St. Paul’s paralleling the disobedience of Adam with the obedience of Christ. For this reason, we refer to Christ as the Second Adam, who reverses what first Adam did.

When we go to the Gospel reading (Matthew 4:1-11), we see the temptation of Adam and Eve mirrored by the three temptations of Christ. The difference is that whereas Adam and Eve failed to resist that temptation, Christ succeeded. This is just one of several connections between Adam and Jesus. We also have St. Luke tracing His genealogy back to Adam, showing the biological connection between them (Luke 3:38). Also, in teaching about marriage and divorce, Jesus points to Adam and Eve as the model of how God intended marriage (Matthew 19:1-9). Here, He constructs an entire theology of marriage on the first couple.

Hence, much of the Christian faith depends on understanding the importance of the Adam and Eve story. How our first parents lived before the Fall reflects God’s original plan for humanity. Also, that Fall is the first chapter in the long saga of humanity trying to find its way back to God, which culminates in the cross of Christ, where God reaches out to provide that way back.

February 19, 2023 - Holiness to the Lord (Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time) - Luis Dizon

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The focus of this reading from Leviticus is on the theme of holiness. It begins with an affirmation that God is holy. The term literally means “set apart.” Although God has many attributes, Scripture puts a special emphasis on the holiness of God. That’s why we read that God is referred to three times as holy in Isaiah 6:3, and is reflected in the liturgy in the Sanctus. This affirmation is meant to invoke in us a sense of awe and reverence for God, and how unworthy we are to stand in His presence apart from His grace.

Although only God is perfectly holy (as we affirm in the Gloria), His people partake of that same holiness, albeit imperfectly. From this, we get the concept of the “saint.” Believers are referred to as saints. Although none of us fully embody that reality in this lifetime, we are called to strive to be as saintly in our conduct as we can, because as Hebrews 12:14 tells us, without holiness, “nobody can see the Lord.”

The rest of the chapter gives instructions on how to live a holy life, with the most important command being to love our neighbour as ourselves (verses 17-18). Likewise, Jesus in our Gospel reading on the Sermon on the Mount, further expounds on this theme of holy living, with an emphasis on our relations with others.

Thus, we are called to be saints, and by the aid of the Holy Spirit, we hope to become more saintly as time goes on, so that others would see our good works and glorify the Father (Matthew 5:16). Finally, we hope that at the end of all this, we would be allowed to see the Lord face to face in the beatific vision.

February 12, 2023 - Choosing the Good (Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time) - Luis Dizon

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Although this week’s missal reading from Sirach Chapter 15 only covers verses 15-20, it is worth reading verses 11-14 as well, since they provide some important context for this reading. This passage of Sirach is important because it presents to us the view of free will that predominated ancient Judaism, and which informed the authors of the New Testament.

Both free will and predestination are taught in Scripture, but how to relate the two is a complicated matter, and different theologians have resolved the issues in different ways. Nevertheless, some definite boundaries are definitely established for us. On the one hand, the necessity of grace and our inability to believe or do any good apart from it is affirmed. For example, St. Paul tells us that faith is something that is granted to us by God (Philippians 1:29), and that nobody can say that Jesus is Lord apart from the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3). Jesus Himself says that nobody can come to Him unless the Father draws him (John 6:44, 65). The Church has condemned the idea that anyone can come to God unaided by grace, first in the Council of Orange (529), and then in the Council of Trent (1547). As those two councils teach:

If anyone maintains that some are able to come to the grace of baptism by mercy but others through free will, which has manifestly been corrupted in all those who have been born after the transgression of the first man, it is proof that he has no place in the true faith. For he denies that the free will of all men has been weakened through the sin of the first man, or at least holds that it has been affected in such a way that they have still the ability to seek the mystery of eternal salvation by themselves without the revelation of God. (Council of Orange, canon 8)

If any one saith, that the grace of God, through Jesus Christ, is given only for this, that man may be able more easily to live justly, and to merit eternal life, as if, by free will without grace, he were able to do both, though hardly indeed and with difficulty; let him be anathema. (Council of Trent, Session VI, canon 2)

On the other hand, the Scriptures also teach the necessity of one’s free will to cooperate with God’s grace. This reading from Sirach is a prime example of this. There are also numerous commands for us to choose the good, which are meaningful only if the one hearing them is able to do something about the command being given. For example:

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live (Deuteronomy 30:19)

And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)

The Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms free-will when it says in the following paragraphs:

God’s free initiative demands man’s free response, for God has created man in his image by conferring on him, along with freedom, the power to know him and love him. the soul only enters freely into the communion of love. God immediately touches and directly moves the heart of man. He has placed in man a longing for truth and goodness that only he can satisfy. (CCC 2002)

The divine initiative in the work of grace precedes, prepares, and elicits the free response of man. Grace responds to the deepest yearnings of human freedom, calls freedom to cooperate with it, and perfects freedom. (CCC 2022)

Therefore, we affirm both the necessity of grace and the freedom of the will. Scripture and tradition teach both, and while it remains for cleverer minds to work out how the two harmonize with one another, we do not toss one or the other aside, or consider them to be contradictory.

February 5, 2023 - The God of Justice (Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time) - Luis Dizon

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In order to fully appreciate this Sunday’s reading from Isaiah, it’s worth reading the whole of chapter 58, as the 6 verses preceding the reading provide important context for the reading. In Isaiah 58:6, God refers to acts of justice as the “fast that I choose,” because in verses 1-5, He chastises His people for the hypocritical way in which they will engage in religious acts such as fasting and prayer, yet fight amongst themselves and ignore the plight of the poor. Thus God says that their acts of piety are of no avail to them:

Why have we fasted, and you see it not?

Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’

Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure,

and oppress all your workers.

Behold, you fast only to quarrel

and to fight and to hit with wicked fist.

Fasting like yours this day

will not make your voice to be heard on high. (Isaiah 58:3-4)

Instead of this hypocritical religiosity, God extols His people to act justly towards their neighbour, especially the poor among them. In Catholic social teaching, this is what we refer to as the corporal works of mercy: To feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, ransom the captive, and bury the dead.

These works of mercy do not replace fasting and prayer, however, nor make them unnecessary. It is important for the life of the believer to have both, because piety without justice is hypocritical, whereas justice without piety is godlessness. This is the essence of Jesus’ teaching in the Gospel reading, when He commands us to be salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16). It also accords with the teaching of St. James, who says:

If any one thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this man’s religion is vain. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:26-27)

Thus, this passage teaches us that our God is a God of justice. He demands not merely ceremonial acts of piety, but a piety that is expressed in justice for those in need. This is the essence of true religion, and the surest sign that ours is a living faith.

January 29, 2023 - The Faithful Remnant (Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time) - Luis Dizon

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The prophet Zephaniah lived in Judah during the late stages of the monarchical period. He wrote his book during the reign of King Josiah (Zeph. 1:1), who was one of Judah’s righteous kings who enacted religious reforms in accordance with the Law. Despite this, however, there was still much wickedness in the land, and after Josiah died, the people once again disobeyed the Lord, and this disobedience ultimately led to their exile at the hands of the Babylonians.

It is against this disobedience that Zephaniah spoke out. He prophesied that the proud and exalted (meaning the rulers of the land) would be removed from Zion, leaving only the poor and humble (Zeph. 3:11-13). This is precisely what we read happened in 2 Kings 24:14, where it says that after Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon, took away all the mighty men and royal officials, “none remained, except the poorest people of the land.”

Those that did remain in the land, however, are described by the prophet as more faithful to the Lord, and they did not act unjustly or dishonestly. These, he declares, will be blessed by God with peace and security, as they will not be disturbed by the tumults and wars that afflict the land. They would keep the faith until the exiles finally returned to Israel during the Persian period, when they would finally rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple.

This accords with the theme of the epistle and Gospel readings as well, which focus on God preferring the poor, weak and humble over the rich, mighty and wise, because they are the ones who entrust themselves to the Lord. Those who remain faithful to Him in humility and sincerity will obtain His blessings, and will be spared from His punishments on the day of wrath. In a world that privileges worldly wealth and power, we must be the faithful remnant who continue to live out these virtues, and thus be preserved when that day comes.

January 22, 2023 - Light out of Darkness (Third Sunday of Ordinary Time) - Luis Dizon

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If the Old Testament reading seems familiar, it is because Isaiah 9 is also the Old Testament reading that was read during Christmas (Isaiah 9:1-6). However, this reading includes verse 1, and omits verses 6-7. The omission of verses 6-7 from this reading makes the passage less focused on the child who is to be born, and more on the light and deliverance of God’s people, who walk in darkness and will experience a great light.

The inclusion of verse 1 is significant for the geographical references it makes. Naphtali and Zebulun are both northern tribes, which broke away from the southern kingdom of Judah to form the northern kingdom of Israel. Their territory is located around the west side of the Sea of Galilee. At the time this passage was written, they were at war with Judah, which is mentioned in Isaiah 7-8. Because of this, they are painted in the preceding chapters as the antagonists.

Despite this, however, God still has a plan for the northern kingdom. God continued to send prophets to the north (such as Elijah and Amos) right up to when they were taken captive by Assyria. In our reading, Isaiah declares that although the people in the land walk in darkness, they will once again see the light, and turn back towards God.

Finally, there is an interesting reference to “Galilee of the Nations.” This refers to the east shore of the Sea of Galilee, which lay beyond the territory of Israel. By naming this territory alongside Zebulun and Naphtali, we are being informed that God’s plan of redemption extends beyond Israel to encompass the gentile nations.

This brings us to our Gospel reading (Matthew 4:12-23). There, Jesus is shown beginning His public ministry in Galilee, where Zebulun and Naphtali once resided. By quoting Isaiah in connection with Jesus’ ministry, Matthew is letting us know that Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophecy in question. Jesus fulfills Isaiah’s prophecy by bringing light, not just to Israel, but to the nations. In order to walk in that light, we must respond to Jesus’ call: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

January 15, 2023 - Light to the Nations (Second Sunday of Ordinary Time) - Luis Dizon

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This Sunday’s reading is the second of the “Servant Songs” in Isaiah (the first one is in Isaiah 42:1-7). Each successive song adds to the details shared in the previous song(s), and here, we glean something about the identity of the Servant of the Lord.

First, the Servant is referred to as “Israel” (v. 3). Contemporary Judaism, following the medieval interpreter Rashi, uses this as evidence that the Servant metaphorically refers to the Jews as a nation. However, this interpretation conflicts with v. 5, which says that the Servant is tasked with bringing Israel back to God. How can Israel bring Israel back to God? An alternate interpretation is necessary, which harmonizes these details:

The apparent identification of the Servant with Israel seems to imply that in [verse] 5 Israel has a mission to Israel which is impossible. It must be noted however that Israel is here qualified as the means of the glorification of Yahweh. It was in view of the Messiah that Israel was chosen and by the Messiah that Israel glorified Yahweh. Thus Israel here is not the people but the Messiah. In an analogous sense an absolute monarch can say ‘L’Etat, c’est moi’.[1]

In other words, the Servant, as the Messiah, represents Israel as its king, and thus may be called “Israel.” The Messiah is the true Israel, who fulfills all that is promised to the nation as a whole.

Another important detail regarding the Servant concerns his work. As already stated, He is to bring Israel back to God. This means that even if the Jewish people go astray from God’s path, they will not remain astray forever. This accords with what we read in St. Paul, who teaches the eventual salvation of Israel:

And even the others, if they do not persist in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. For if you have been cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural branches be grafted back into their own olive tree.

Lest you be wise in your own conceits, I want you to understand this mystery, brethren: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles come in, and so all Israel will be saved (Romans 11:23-26a)

Finally, we see the Servant’s ministry extending beyond the Jews to the rest of the world, as taught in verse 6. Even in Isaiah, we already see glimpses of the universal mission of God, whom scripture says “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). Regardless of our nationality or origins, we are the beneficiaries of God’s redemption, so long as we cling to faith in His Servant, the Messiah Jesus.

[1] E. Power, “Isaias,” in A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture, ed. Bernard Orchard and Edmund F. Sutcliffe (Toronto, ON: Thomas Nelson, 1953), 566.

January 8, 2023 - The Light of Israel (Epiphany) - Luis Dizon

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This passage of Isaiah is addressed to the Jews exiled in Babylon. Here, the prophet predicts a future where the Jewish people would be gathered from all of the nations they were scattered in and brought to Zion. Then, the light of Israel would arise and give light to the nations, who would walk in that light, and give homage to Israel.

A partial fulfillment of this passage came when the King Cyrus of Persia decreed that the Jews would be allowed to return to their land and rebuild their temple. The glory of Israel would not be seen then, however. Even after the second temple was built, it lacked the glory of the first temple, where God Himself dwelt, whose presence was represented by the Ark of the Covenant. Thus, the passage would await a fuller fulfillment at the coming of Christ.

Traditionally, the passage has been interpreted as being fulfilled when the Magi came to worship the child Jesus, hence its association with the Feast of the Epiphany. We can readily see this from many details in the text. For example, the constant references to light, radiance and rising all point towards the star that shone over Bethlehem. Also, the nations are said to bring gold and frankincense to Israel (v. 6). The reference to Midian and Ephah can also be an indication that the Magi originated there. Also, the reference to kings in v. 3 has led to the interpretation that the Magi were kings. Whatever the case, it is not hard to see how the coming of the Magi would fulfill this prophecy.

This Old Testament scripture shows us how the events of the Nativity were foretold hundreds of years in advance. Today, we walk in the light of God’s glory in Christ, who is the Light of the World (John 8:12). Just as the Magi were guided by the star during Epiphany, may we also continue to be guided by His light.

January 1, 2023 - The Aaronic Blessing (Solemnity of the Mother of God) - Luis Dizon

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 The “Aaronic Blessing,” as it is traditionally called, is a prayer which the Levitical priests prayed over the people of Israel in the Old Covenant. It was an invocation wherein God’s blessings are declared over the people. Even though it is usually declared over a whole group, the blessing is worded is such a way that it is as though each individual is personally receiving the blessing (the word “you” in Hebrew is in the singular). This teaches us that God desires to bless each of His children personally, since our relationship with Him is personal.

Included in the words of the blessing is the petition that God would shine His face upon His people. This metaphor is common in ancient near eastern texts, and can be found in numerous places in Scripture. For example, Psalm 44:3 states, “for not by their own sword did they win the land, nor did their own arm save them, but your right hand and your arm, and the light of your face, for you delighted in them.” Likewise, Psalm 80:3 reads: “Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved!”

Finally, we read in verse 27 that the Lord’s name is to be invoked by the Israelites. God’s name (YHWH) is very important. This is why His name appears three times in the blessing, for it reminds the people to whom they belong and who is the source of all their provision. This is the same name which Jesus taught us to pray that it should be kept holy in the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9).

As we enter the New Year and celebrate the solemnity of the Mother of God, this reading reminds us of the blessings that God has poured out upon us in the past year, and continues to do so in the year ahead. We trust in Him to continue blessing us, and ask Him for an ever greater measure of His grace.