Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Octave Day of the Nativity of the Lord
Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God

Light to the Gentiles by Greg Olsen

Luke 2:16-21

Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE)
16 And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child; 18 and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Jesus Is Named

21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
Cited in the Catechism:  In promulgating the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Blessed John Paul II explained that the Catechism "is a statement of the Church's faith and of catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition and the Church's Magisterium."  He went on to "declare it to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion" (Fidei Depositum). Passages from this Gospel reading are cited in the Catechism, paragraph 94, 486, 525, 527 and 2599.
Commentary
2:16. The shepherds hasten because they are full of joy and eager to see the Saviour. St Ambrose comments: “No one seeks Christ half-heartedly” (Expositio Evangelii sec. Lucam, in loc.). Earlier on, the evangelist observed that our Lady, after the Annunciation, “went in haste” to see St Elizabeth (Lk 1:39). A soul who has given God entry rejoices that God has visited him and his life acquires new energy.

2:19. In very few words this verse tells us a great deal about our Lady. We see the serenity with which she contemplates the wonderful things that are coming true with the birth of her divine Son. She studies them, ponders them and stores them in the silence of her heart. She is a true teacher of prayer. If we imitate her, if we guard and ponder in our hearts what Jesus says to us and what he does in us, we are well on the way to Christian holiness and we shall never lack his doctrine and his grace. Also, by meditating in this way on the teaching Jesus has given us, we shall obtain a deeper understanding of the mystery of Christ, which is how “the Tradition that comes from the apostles makes progress in the Church, with the help of the Holy Spirit. There is a growth in insight into the realities and words that are being passed on. This comes about in various ways. It comes through the contemplation and study of believers who ponder these things in their hearts. It comes from the intimate sense of spiritual realities which they experience. And it comes from the preaching of those who have received, along with their right of succession in the episcopate, the sure charism of truth” (Vatican II, Dei Verbum, 8).

The circumcision of Jesus
2:21. On the meaning and rite of circumcision, see the note on Lk 1:59. “Jesus” means “Yahweh saves” or “Yahweh is salvation,” that is, Saviour. This name was given the Child not as the result of any human decision but in keeping with the commandment of God which the angel communicated to the Blessed Virgin and to St Joseph (cf. Lk 1:31; Mt 1:21).

The Son of God became incarnate in order to redeem and save all men; so it is very fitting that he be called Jesus, Saviour. We confess this in the Creed: “For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven.” “There were indeed many who were called by this name […]. But how much more appropriate it is to call by this name our Saviour, who brought light, liberty and salvation, not to one people only, but to all men, of all ages—to men oppressed, not by famine, or Egyptian or Babylonian bondage, but sitting in the shadow of death and fettered by the galling chains of sin and of the devil” (St Pius V, Catechism, 1, 36).

Source: The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries. Biblical text from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and by Scepter Publishers in the United States. We encourage readers to purchase The Navarre Bible for personal study. See Scepter Publishers for details.

"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." St Jerome