Today’s readings show us what it is like to be a prophet. As Jeremiah recounts his call, God warns him that he will need strength and perseverance to withstand the hostility he will face from “Judah’s kings and princes” and “its priests and people” (Jeremiah 1:18b). God also assures him that they “will not prevail over you, for I am with you” (1:19). The psalm reflects both of these struggles as well as deliverance from them (“salvation”).READ MORE
Scripture has always held God’s law to be the path to human happiness. In today’s first reading, Ezra the priest reads the scroll of the law to the people returned from exile. They weep—then are joyful. Israel’s relationship with God had always been defined by how they kept and lived God’s law. The author of Psalm 96 likewise praises the law of God as the source of wisdom, joy and enlightenment, purity and justice.READ MORE
Today’s first reading from Isaiah arises out of the ordeal of the people of Jerusalem and Judea as they anticipate the end of seventy years of exile in Babylon. Their sufferings and their oppression will end, and they are promised joy like that of a great wedding upon returning to their homeland.READ MORE
As we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord, we also honor our own baptism as our initiation into the Christian life and community. In the Gospel, the baptism of Jesus, with his immersion and then emergence from the water, points to his later submission to God at his death, and his emergence from the grave at his resurrection.READ MORE
In our celebration of the Epiphany, two interwoven themes are present in the readings today. God is beginning something new, and God gathers all of humanity to participate. For Isaiah, God’s bright light, manifested in the people of Israel, attracts and summons people from many nations to Jerusalem. In the letter to the Ephesians, God’s grace makes the Gentiles co-heirs and co-partners in the gospel. Matthew tells the story of the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel through the birth of Jesus, and simultaneously leading foreigners to share in these same promises. With the birth of Jesus, God chose a particular people, in a particular time and place, to enter most directly into the human story. Today’s readings teach that God did this in order to gather all people, all cultures, into unity with God. Like the magi, we are drawn into a journey toward God, becoming co-partners in God’s work.