Posted by: fvbcdm | December 22, 2015

Feast of Saint Peter Canisius (21 December 2015)

I looked at my watch just as I began the gospel of this morning’s Mass here in the monastery. It was 7:32 a.m. The gospel reading for today describes Our Lady’s visit to her cousin, Elizabeth, and how the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leaped for joy when Our Lady greeted her elderly, pregnant cousin. That child whom Elizabeth was carrying was to be the great John the Baptist, who would say about Jesus: “He must increase; I must decrease.”

Thus I was able to point out to the Sisters that there is a connection today between our solar system and our scripture readings at Mass. Back in the days of the births of Saint John the Baptist and Our Lord, detailed records were not kept. As a result we don’t know for sure at what time of the year Our Lord was born, still less the exact date. So when the persecutions of the early Church ended and public celebrations of the mysteries of our faith could be held, the Church decided to use those words of John the Baptist as a means of fixing dates to the births of the two.  December 21 is the shortest day of the year because it is the day of the winter solstice. Today the sun reaches its southern limit relative to the earth, and begins its pilgrimage back toward the north. Then, in late June, it reverses itself and begins to move south again. Tomorrow the days will begin to increase, after having decreased since June. So we celebrate the birth of our Savior at the end of December when the days begin to increase and that of John the Baptist at the end of June when they begin to decrease.

And as we are contemplating the meeting of the two pregnant women: Our Lady, newly with child, and Elizabeth, six months along, we can reflect upon the connection of the incarnation with the Eucharist.  Had the Word, the Son of God, not taken upon himself a human body, he could not have changed bread and wine into his bodily presence.  And when I hold up the Sacred Host before each person approaching me for Communion and I say, “The Body of Christ,” it is well to remember that once, a few weeks after the Annunciation, the tiny body of Jesus, hidden in the virginal body of his mother, was once no bigger than that Host. Both are the Body of Christ. And so we apply to Our Divine Lord the title given him by the prophet Isaiah: Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.” Thank you for seeking God’s truth.  God bless you.  Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  This message was composed some years ago.

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