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  Word To Life


Sunday Scripture Readings, Jan. 2, 2011

By Sharon K. Perkins
Catholic News Service


January 2, Epiphany of the Lord

Cycle A Readings:

1) Isaiah 60:1-6

Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-13

2) Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6

Gospel: Matthew 2:1-12

I was recently at the funeral of a dear family friend who had lived a long life, rich with family, friends and a deeply rooted faith. The gathering included the deceased's children, grandchildren and friends from more than 50 years' acquaintance, and, as funerals are wont to do, it provided a bittersweet occasion for much storytelling and outpouring of emotion.

From the stories told and retold from the wake service all the way through the burial, there emerged a recurrent theme that was not unexpected and yet still surprisingly powerful when spoken aloud: that this gentleman and his wife had profoundly and lavishly devoted their lives to others in ways that extended far beyond their immediate family circle.

Although the couple of modest means had experienced their measure of life's difficulties, their family home was a beacon of love and integrity that drew others to its welcoming light. Their surviving children understood their parents' generosity, rejoiced in it and carried the legacy forward into their own families.

In today's readings, it is apparent that Jerusalem, the ancient city of God, is intended to be the same kind of beacon of hope to the world. The great gift of Christ's birth is not an entitlement for Israel only, to be hoarded or withheld by the elite; nor is it an earthly power to be feared, suppressed and extinguished, as Herod attempted to do. Rather, as St. Paul describes it, the grace of the Incarnation is to be poured out for the benefit of all peoples, and we who have witnessed it are but the privileged stewards and proclaimers of that gift.

The friend we buried last week could have reserved his time and talents for his children only; they could have resented his liberality to those outside the family. But all who knew him were made richer, and the father's beacon was made even brighter because his God-given gifts were both acknowledged and shared.

QUESTIONS:

Have you ever been tempted to hoard or withhold your blessings out of selfishness or fear? How can the meaning of Christ's birth for all peoples encourage you to live more generously?

SCRIPTURE TO BE ILLUSTRATED:

"Nations shall walk by your light" (Isaiah 60:3).

END



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