Sunday 5 February 2017, 5th Sunday Ordinary Time
This Feast Day Celebration was incorporated into the first Sunday of February.
• Isaiah 58:7-10 • Psalm 112 • •1 Corinthians 2:1-5 • Matthew 5:13-16•
[__01__] There is a natural connection between light and movement. Not only GREEN traffic signals, but also other lights call forth movement, progress.
[►] Knowing there is daylight, we rise and move.
[►] Benjamin Franklin was speaking of the benefit of brightness in his famous phrase, “early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”
[►] The one-hundred and nineteenth psalm: “a lamp to my feet is your word, and a light to my path.” (PS.119:105)
Light is a movement and leads to movement. However, you and I do not control the light – whether naturally (the sun rises and sets its with its own timer) and the light of faith or of God may shine upon us even when we are turned in the opposite direction.
We do not control the light.
[__02__] We are called to see the light and be the light.
First, we are called the see the light, then we can be the light.
At Christmas, in Bethlehem the shepherd and 3 kings come to see the light.
In this case, a very bright light attracts followers, disciples. Sometimes, the light will follow us, it may find us.
[►] In late September 2015, the crowds of people were growing. There was a very important person in New York City. It was not my sister-in-law, but she had also landed at Kennedy Airport at was in town for the weekend to visit a friend.
As she exited the apartment building with her friend on East 76th Street (or this vicinity), on a Friday evening, a long and very secure motorcade had been traveling from the airport into the city with NYPD and FBI and Secret Service. This was the papal motorcade on its way to St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Had she intended to encounter the motorcade, she could never have come close to Pope Francis in person, in his car, with all his security.
A bright light will find us, attract us.
Are we open to and aware of the light of wisdom, the light of knowledge, the light of God which calls us to love God and love our neighbor? … even to love the neighbor who may not know us or return our love immediately?
[__03__] This Sunday, we also celebrate solemnly (define “solemn?”) the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes which is on February 11 on our church calendar.
The Our Lady of Lourdes feast day commemorates the apparitions, the appearances in 1858 of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Bernadette of Soubirous in France.
The light found Bernadette.
[► poverty, simplicity] Bernadette was a young peasant woman from a family without means or wealth and very little education.
[► firewood, grotto] One day, gathering firewood, in her daily chores, Bernadette saw a vision in a cave. This was the grotto or cave of Massabielle.
[► image, who?, je’suis] Who or what was the vision or image? Bernadette of Soubirous described and reported a “beautiful lady.” Everyone nodded and said OK and no one posted any photos.
The incident would have been forgotten, except that Bernadette had been informed by the beautiful lady of her identity. Bernadette was told, “I am the Immaculate Conception.”
“Je’suis l’Immaculee Concepcion.”
This is the inscription above the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the icon above the altar.
[► LIGHT = Immaculate Conception] Bernadette saw a light, was attracted to the light and now was proclaiming faith in doctrine of the Immaculate Conception.
Bernadette was Catholic, her family were believers and surely they attended the __5:30 pm, 7:00 onpm, 7:30 am, 9:30 am, 11:30 am __ Mass every Saturday / Sunday.
[► what was the I.C.?] In 1858 and for centuries, Catholics associate the Blessed Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary with the Immaculate Conception.
In fact, in 1854, a few years earlier, the Immaculate Conception had become an official teaching of the Catholic Church.
Would Bernadette have been aware of this? She did not have wi-fi … she did not have an education … she did not read newspapers. So, how did Bernadette know about the Immaculate Conception?
It was Bernadette’s faith and persistence in this statement that indicated the revelation and knowledge had come from God.
This enabled Bernadette to see the light and to be the light in the darkness.
[__04__] We believe in the Immaculate Conception because we believe in the light, the life, and the power and energy of God in our lives.
That is, in the Immaculate Conception, we believe that Mary was conceived free from original sin so that Jesus himself could also be conceived and born free from original sin.
So, in this case, Mary was not simply forgiven from sin – in a sacrament such as baptism or penance & reconciliation – but was kept free from sin. She was conceived body and soul without sin.
This is the analogy made by John Duns Scotus, a scholar who wrote about the Immaculate Conception:
[► CANYON RIM] Suppose 2 people are walking on the edge of a cliff or the rim of a canyon.
One, the first of the two, falls and is later rescued. He is rescued, healed. This is everyone in the world, you, me. We fall into sin and need to be rescued, saved.
The second person on the edge, however, does not fall. The person is prevented from falling. Though subject to gravity, she does not fall. This is our Blessed Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary.
And, we believe that God kept her free from falling and sinning to show not her power but his power.
And, this is also to remind us that when we follow God, when we see the light, he is the lamp for our feet and the light for our path to prevent our fall.
That is, by following the light – by seeing the light and being the light – we are listening to the Holy Spirit in our consciences so that we are not only recovering – and we are recovering – but also avoiding the traps, the canyons, the edge.
And, with the intercecession of our Savior and Blessed Mother, we can stay in balance, and moving forward.
Our Lady of Lourdes Pray for Us.[__fin__]