(We celebrated the Solemnity of the Epiphany today, January 6, and also chose this day to officially welcome Frs Ray Roh and Stephen Coffey as full members of the Camaldolese Congregation, after the three year trial period. Our brothers from Incarnation in Berkeley were also in attendance. What joy!) There are two aspects of this feast of the Epiphany. The first is the most obvious perhaps and gets highlighted in both of the first two readings. The fire of Judaism is breaking out of its container; the energy of Judaism is spilling over the sides of its vessel. There is that unique revelation, the specific intuition of the Hebrew tribe: the intuition of monotheism––that God is one; the revelation of covenant––that the Divine wants to be in relationship with us, a relationship like a marriage, Lover to Beloved; along with (as Fr. Scott mentioned the other day) the strong ethical sense of the Hebrew Scriptures. Now, however, we followers of Jesus believe that in the teaching of the gospel that intuition has grown to its universal appeal and universal application, articulated in a way that everyone can understand and everyone can belong, not depending on blood line or outward rituals, but depending only on enough poverty of Spirit to allow the love of God to be poured into one’s heart and pour back out like a stream of living water. Besides the prophecy of Isaiah which we hear today––Nation shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn…(Is 60:3)––I remember that verse that Bruno loved so much from Isaiah 49: ‘It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel. I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation shall reach to the ends of the earth’! The prophets, especially Isaiah, have been hinting at this universality, and now in Jesus that intuition becomes a reality. And the wild thing is that (as Scott has again pointed out this week), not only that kernel of revelation and intuition, ironically it is really under Christianity that the Hebrew Scriptures themselves too become so widely universally known because the followers of Jesus retained the entire Jewish Bible––more books than even Jews recognize––as the foundation for our own. But there’s another side to it. The strongest image of this feast is of these three wise men coming to visit this child bearing their gifts. Not only are these men symbols of the Jewish revelation breaking out of its container, and the rest of the world, spiritual seekers outside...

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giving birth to God (part II)


Posted By on Jan 1, 2017

(cyprian) The Church does something a little strange on this day. Liturgically speaking, some years ago we changed this feast from the Circumcision of Jesus to the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God. But officially in the Catholic Church New Year’s Day is also the World Day of Peace, and it’s advertised as such on the Vatican website as well as the USCCB one. It’s almost as if we pick something for sacred was well as the secular calendar. As a matter of fact, this is actually the 50th anniversary of the World Day of Peace; it was declared first by Pope Paul VI in 1967, inspired by John XXIII’s encyclical Pacem in Terris. And just as in Gaudium et Spes the Church resolutely addressed “not only… all who call upon the name of Christ, but the whole of humanity as well,” so Paul VI addressed his first World Day of Peace message not simply to Catholics but to all people. And his words are just as timely now. “Peace is the only true direction of human progress,” he wrote, “and not the tensions caused by ambitious nationalisms,” not the “conquests by violence, nor repressions which serve as mainstay for a false civil order.” Peace is the only true direction of human progress. (You might also say, peace is the only direction of truly human progress.) Pope Paul also warned about the danger of believing “that international controversies could only be resolved “by means of deterrent and murderous forces” instead of by the ways of reason and “negotiations founded on law, justice, and equity.” In the intervening fifty years, every pope since has done the same thing that Paul VI did, used this as an occasion to issue a letter to the whole world, making declarations and giving teachings based on Catholic social doctrine, addressing over the years, for example, support for the United Nations, human rights, women’s rights, labor unions, economic development, the right to life, international diplomacy, peace in the Holy Land, globalization, terrorism, and even the environment, as Pope Benedict did in his message of 2009 (“If You Want Peace Protect the Environment”). It’s almost as if you could read through these fifty messages for the World Day of Peace and get a summary of Catholic social thought. The odd thing about it is that the way the Church has laid out the liturgical calendar we don’t actually celebrate the World Day of Peace liturgically. We celebrate Mary the Mother of God instead. (As a matter of fact, the Ordo, without a hint of irony, says that we are expressly forbidden from using the Mass for the...

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