2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time – Cycle A
Reflecting on John 1: 29-34
In this first post-Christmas week it’s fun to think about the dates the Church has chosen to remember the conception and birth of both Jesus and Mary. The Feast of the Annunciation is March 25th, so of course Jesus is born a perfect nine months later. Mary’s birthday of September 8th is a perfect nine months after her immaculate conception on December 8th. Ah, yes. Isn’t that how all pregnancies end, with a birth just exactly nine months later?
Since the real dates of these events are unknown, the Church used the opportunity to teach certain theologies. One of the loveliest moments in the liturgical calendar is the feast of the birth of John the Baptist, that key New Testament figure whom the Gospel lingers over again today. Since Mary visited Elizabeth when her cousin was six months pregnant and stayed three months until the birth (Luke 1:26-56), that puts the birth of John the Baptist (June 24th) right around the summer solstice. So, as the days begin to decrease the great herald comes into the world―that I may decrease, and he may increase―and as the days begin to increase (December 25th) the Light to the nations is born.
I love it when scripture and the liturgical year kiss.
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I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).
I am going to begin a new tradition, which I have been thinking about for a few years. Instead of celebrating my birthday, I plan to celebrate my conception day. After all, that’s when I first began to live! I have a friend who will turn 90 on November 18 this year. I plan to send her a Happy Conception Day card next month. Pregnancies may not be exactly timed from conception to birth, but what does that matter? I heard a long time ago that Japanese babies are considered one year old when they are born . . . so why not celebrate the beginning of our lives from conception?
Kathy, your reflections make God’s sense of timing very energizing. In line with what you said about the kissing of liturgy and scripture, I am always excited when I hear the Word proclaimed during Mass and it seems I’ve never heard it before. Year after year, I’ve heard the message and then suddenly, I hear it for the first time. If this isn’t God’s timing, I don’t know what is. Suddenly I am ripe for the Word of God to penetrate and be alive in me, to pierce my soul and move me. Why didn’t it happen three years ago when the same readings were proclaimed, or when I read the text in preparation for liturgy? Suddenly, it is as if the entire universe focuses on one phrase or one story, and it becomes clear to me that God is speaking to me. The ears of my heart and soul perk up and pay attention in the here and now. My resolution for 2011 is one word, LISTEN, listen to God, to myself, to others and to the universe.
The world suggests we make ourselves bigger, better, more, but John’s message, “that I may decrease, and he may increase,” is certainly a powerful attention getter. What a contradiction to the cultural message that infiltrates our every day. Other than losing weight, who wants to decrease? And yet, John reminds us to be who we are supposed to be, the one who points to the Light while standing in the shadow. Do I dare listen to John?
A lovely vision, a kiss between scripture and the liturgical year. Thanks, Kathy. It had never occurred to me to celebrate a day of conception, but I always sent flowers to my mother on my birthday, to thank her for giving me life. That was more important to me than receiving flowers from others on that day. At first it was a rose for every year, but there came a time that was just too extravagant! Age requires changes in many things.
Just to put a very contemporary spin on this thought: My daughter took advantage of her friend’s conception day to play a joke on her. She posted “Happy Conception Day” on her friend’s wall, and asked all the friends to Facebook the mom to thank her for bearing her friend for those nine months. It really was intended to be funny, but I LIKED the idea!
Scripture and Liturgy kiss – – beautiful and profound.
Happy Conception Day – – great idea!
Critique of the culture which is obsessed with self-magnification – – keen observation and prudent warning.