Monthly Archives: March 2019

The Solemnity of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ

Today, March 25th, is the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, the beginning of Jesus’ life in the womb of Mary. The Angel Gabriel came to Nazareth and invited Mary to become the mother of Jesus, who would “save his people from their sins.””Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to your word,” Mary answered. On this day we celebrate the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us. (John 1)

Today’s an important holy day that’s celebrated by all the ancient Christian churches from earliest times. It has links to other feast days. Today we celebrate Jesus conceived in Mary’s womb. Nine months from now, December 25, her pregnancy will end; we will celebrate the birth of Jesus on the feast of Christmas. 

Some ancient church calendars also saw today, March 25th. as the day Jesus was crucified. The day, then, marks the beginning and the end of Jesus’ earthly life. 

I remember a PBS special “What Darwin Never Knew” produced awhile ago by Nova. I don’t remember or understand a lot of the scientific material it contained, but its description of DNAs and embryonic development caught my attention.

According to scientists, embryos from different living beings–humans, animals, birds, fish– appear remarkably alike at an early stage of development, as if they were from the same source. Then, something triggers a different development in each species. Humans sprout arms and legs and begin human development.  Other species develop in their own way.

It’s a complex, fascinating path all living things take in their embryonic development. All creatures are on the same journey of life. All creation is on a journey to life.

“The Word was made flesh.” The Word of God became flesh in Mary’s womb. Early theologians, like St. Irenaeus, said the Word became truly human. He went through the same process of development within the womb as we do. After his birth he continued to develop “in wisdom and age and grace” as humans do. He faithfully followed the path of human development. 

The early theologians also said Jesus Christ assumed all that he would redeem. He took on himself human nature, but he also became “flesh” and took on himself the created world.  In his early embryonic journey Jesus Christ brought all creation to himself to redeem it.

“Blessed is the fruit of your womb,” Elizabeth says to Mary.(Luke 1,42) The time Jesus was in her womb was blessed. Even then, the Word of God  promised redemption to another infant in the womb, Elizabeth’s son John, who leaped for joy in Elizabeth’s womb.  

The Feast of the Annunciation is a time to renew our respect for life, from its beginning to its end. It’s a time to remember Mary, the Mother of Jesus and her acceptance and her respect for the life in her womb. We pray for the grace she had, who said yes to bringing the Word of God into this world.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women ad blessed is the fruit of your womb Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death.”

Readings for March 25-31

On Monday this week we celebrate the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord when, at the invitation of the angel,  Mary consented to become the mother of Jesus Christ. To help us understand the mysteries of faith, the church celebrates them as concretely as possible, and so this mystery of Jesus is celebrated on March 25th, 9 months before Christmas, December 25th, the traditional date of Jesus’ birth. In some ancient church calendars March 25th is also the day Jesus was crucified. All the major Christian churches celebrate this important feast.

The Roman Catholic calendar also suggests reflecting on the scripture readings on the meeting of Jesus with the Samaritan woman, from John’s gospel, some day this week. An important reading in the Lenten catechesis.

March 25 Mon THE ANNUNCIATION OF THE LORD

Solemnity

Is 7:10-14; 8:10/Heb 10:4-10/Lk 1:26-38 (545)

26 Tue Lenten Weekday5 Dn 3:25, 34-43/Mt 18:21-35 (238)

27 Wed Lenten Weekday

Dt 4:1, 5-9/Mt 5:17-19 (239)

28 Thu Lenten Weekday

Jer 7:23-28/Lk 11:14-23 (240)

29 Fri Lenten Weekday

Hos 14:2-10/Mk 12:28-34 (241)

30 Sat Lenten Weekday

Hos 6:1-6/Lk 18:9-14 (242)

Pss Prop 5 

The following readings may be used on any Lenten day this week, especially in Years B and C when the Gospel of the Samaritan Woman is not read on the Third Sunday of Lent: Ex 17:1-7/Jn 4:5-42 (236).

20

31 SUN FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT violet or rose Jos 5:9a, 10-12/2 Cor 5:17-21/Lk 15:1-3, 11-32 (33)or, from Year A, 1 Sm 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a/Eph 5:8-14/Jn 9:1-41 or 9:1, 6-9, 13-17, 34-38 (31) Pss IV

Veronica

The painting above of Veronica wiping the face of Jesus was done recently by Duk Soon Fwang, an artist whom I have always admired. I asked her the other day what inspired her to paint it.

She told me she liked Veronica, the woman who shoved her way through the crowd, braved the Roman soldiers, took off her head covering and gave it to Jesus to wipe his face, on the way to his death. What courage she had!

Duk Soon wanted to capture the moment when Jesus responded as her hand reached out to him. Some picture his face imprinted on her veil, she said, but she wanted to see his face as he looked at Veronica. 

It’s not important what Jesus looks like, Duk Soon continued, it’s what he did that counts,  but she found she could not paint his face as a white man, as most western artists do. To her his face is the face of a hardworking Mexican immigrant.

She couldn’t paint his eyes, at first, but then she painted them. Jesus sees the woman who wiped his face. “I was in need and you reached out to me.”

Artists have their way of exploring the mysteries of God. 

I’m interested in the gospel accounts of the Passion of Jesus. How did they come about? Some want to see them only as factual accounts of what happened then. Indeed, this isn’t a made up story; Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate.

But the story of Veronica, though it didn’t make it into the gospels, is a reminder there were other influences behind the gospels. There were eyewitnesses to the Passion of Jesus; scribes who wrote their stories, apologists who made a point from it, thinkers who saw God’s great designs in it. There were also mystics, artists and ordinary people who saw the human story in the story of Jesus.

 There had to be a Veronica.

The Rich Man and Lazarus

The rich man in St. Luke’s parable today is so absorbed in himself and his “good” life that he sees nothing else, not the poor man at his door nor his own inevitable death. The scriptures, like Psalm 49, often point to the same blindness: “In his riches, man lacks wisdom; he is like the beasts that are destroyed.”

The warning is not just for the rich, however. The same psalm calls for “people both high and low, rich and poor alike” to listen. A small store of talents and gifts can be just as absorbing and make us just as shortsighted as a great store of riches. Whether we have much or little, we have to see the poor at our gate.

We also have to see a life beyond this one as our destiny and what we do and how we live here will count there. There will be a judgment.

But Jesus‘ parable offers another reminder. God has given us a sign in his resurrection from the dead that we have been called to share in his risen life. A great gift has been given, greater than anything we have here.  Yet as the sign of Jonah indicates, some will not believe the sign Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, gives to us. 

May God give us grace to believe in it.

Going Up To Jerusalem

“We” are going up to Jerusalem, Jesus tells his disciples in Matthew’s gospel today and they follow him. They’re weak and human, but together they’ll be  renewed by God’s grace. 

We’re on our way  to Jerusalem too. I may think that Lent is a personal journey I make for 40 days to be renewed in faith, but it’s more than that. Lent is a time we’re renewed by God together. 

The disciples were far from perfect on the journey described in the gospel. Look how weak they are in the story told today. The mother of James and John wanted to get her two sons a good place in the kingdom Jesus promised. “Command that these two sons of mine sit, one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom.” She’s looking for power and prestige for her sons and for herself.

Jesus reminds her that his followers are not to be served, but to serve. Serving others won’t make them rich; it will cost them, for “the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” 

The other disciples are indignant when they hear about the mother’s request, but she wont be the last to look for human gain in the gospel. A lot of people think following Jesus brings success.  That’s why Jesus’ words are so important to hear during Lent. Faith doesn’t bring power and success. Following Jesus is about serving others. Serving others is a good part of the  cross we bear.

Make me one who serves,

like you, O Lord.

At the table of life,

let me bend down to wash the feet of others;

help me give life to them.

March 19, 2019


All is well here.

The path is much different than I would have imagined a few months ago.

I am joyfully suprised.

It is a good place to be.

I realize that I had no idea what humility even meant.

It seems that any of my interest in art, literature, writing, words, etc, has evaporated, like the morning dew meeting the rising sun.

It’s almost as if I’m not interested in anything.

I am alive.

And that is beyond interest.

Maybe that’s detachment. Freedom. Liberty. Uninterested love. Love for the sake of love. For the sake of God.

Let’s keep walking. We are never alone. Climb on.


—Howard Hain

3/19/19

Solemnity of Saint Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary