I’ve been pondering recently things people say to make others (or themselves) feel better, yet are not necessarily true.
- “I believe everything happens for a reason, God knows best.” – While God does know best, He doesn’t cause our actions. That’s why we have free will; to freely choose (which presupposes the ability to choose wrongly) to do His will or not.
- “He (or she) is in a better place.” – While that may be true, it isn’t necessarily true; a loved one may very well be in heaven, but they also might be in hell. They also may be spending a little time being purified before entering heaven, i.e. purgatory.
Although it’s not a statement offered to make others feel good, the equally annoying “death comes in threes” also irritates me. It’s heard around funeral homes and people who work with those near death. It’s just not true – ANY TIME someone dies, you can group them together with the next two to die or the previous one and preceding one, or the two previous. Mathematically “death comes in threes” is just as true as “death comes in twos” or “death comes in fours,” etc. The only true statement about deaths is that death comes in ones.
Thus endeth my current rant on thoughtful sentiments.
Today the Church celebrates the baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ by the Precursor, John. Liturgically, this is the final day of the Christmas season. In the East the feast is known as Theophany. This awesome and mysterious event in the life of Christ shows forth the divine manifestation of the sacred Trinity.
As recorded by the Evangelist Mark:
It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (Mk 1:9-11)
God chose to provide this clear and convincing showing to those who witnessed it. There likely would have been a crowd gathered for the baptisms John was performing. What a privilege it was to witness the manifestation of the Trinity and the declaration of Jesus as the Son of God! Here is the Messiah, the Son of God, here is the Father’s voice – the only occasion in the New Testament when we hear Him speak. Here is the Holy Spirit descending upon Jesus in the form of a dove.
Why is it that this is the solitary occasion for the people to hear the Father? I believe it further underscores the authority of the Son. That is, the Father spoke today to declare the Son’s authority and oneness with Him and the Holy Spirit. For the remainder of the time the Son would spend on earth He alone, would speak for the Father. His words would be the Father’s words.
Thank you, life-giving Trinity – for deeming us worthy to see your resplendent glory this day; the very manifestation of your mystery and your divinity, and your unity!
Higher in honor than the cherubim, infinitely more glorious than the seraphim . . .
The Dormition of the Theotokos is the Eastern title of the great feast celebrated today – in the West it is referred to as the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The dormition (falling-asleep) of the Theotokos (God-Bearer) is the commemoration of our Lord taking Mary’s body into heaven.
Falling asleep is a euphemism for death – it is widely held in the East that upon Mary’s death she was taken bodily to heaven.
Incidentally in the West, there are competing scholarly opinions as to whether Mary actually died before being assumed into heaven.
It probably doesn’t much matter whether she died or not. What does matter is that God deemed her body to be taken to heaven, which is an enormous privilege!
Can you guess who else might be bodily in heaven? Sacred Scripture suggests that both Elijah & Enoch are there as well. As such, we know that only four bodies are in heaven:
- Our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ
- Mary, the Mother of God
- The glorious prophet Elijah, and
- “the one who walked with God,” Enoch
Peace to you on this great feast!
Go to Mass today, even if it’s not obligatory ~~ it’s just a good thing to do!
Today marks the beginning of World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany. Today pilgrims will begin to arrive for a week-long festival of activities.
If you sound out phonetically the German word Koln, you will notice that it sounds just like the English word “Cologne.” My lovely wife (of German ancestry) pointed this out to me. Indeed it’s true, sometimes I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer!
In any regard, there is TONS of great info about World Youth Day at Amy Welborn’s site, give it a look here.
Expect a bonus entry later today regarding the other important event commemorated today.