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December 18, 1987     The Message
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December 18, 1987
 

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December 18, 1987 ,:Commentary The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 5 Mass Readings By FATHER DONALD DILGER Wh,E00t is the meaning of Annunciations in Gospels? Mass Readings for Sunday, Dec. 20, 1987 Luke 1:26-38 -- Fourth Sunday o Advent Last week the gospel reading told us much about John the Baptizer. The Gospel of John carefully subordinated the Baptizer to Jesus by declaring that he was not the light, not the Christ, not the Prophet, not Elijah. Today we are in the Gospel of Luke and see the same pattern. There are two annunciations in Luke's first chapter: one to Zachary, the other to Mary. It is obvious that Luke -ineant to draw a parallel between John and Jesus but that he carefully subordinates John to Jesus. This is clear from three points. Both Zachary and Mary ask for some assurance. Both receive an answer but poor old Zachary is struck dumb. Not so in the case of Mary. The second point of subor- dination is in the manner of conception. The con- ception of John the Baptizer comes about in a natural way. The act of God is in restoring fertility to an old and childless couple. The act of God in the case of Mary goes beyond this. She is to con- ceive as a virgin through a creative act of the Holy Spirit. The third point is the kind of child to be born. The son of Zachary and Elizabeth is to be great in the sight of the Lord and go before the Lord in the spirit and power of Elijah the great prophet. The son of Mary will not only be great but will be called the Son of the Most High and the Son of God. But there is another annunciation in the gospels. It is found in the Gospel of Matthew (1:18-25). In Matthew the annunciation is made to Joseph, not to Mary. Matthew is very intent on showing that Jesus is Son of David, that is a descendant of King David and therefore Messiah or Annointed King. (The word "Messiah" is derived from the Hebrew verb "to annoint.") To do so he stresses the Davidic descent of Joseph. In Matthew, Joseph is greeted with the term "Son of David" by an angel in a dream. The family tree of Jesus is traced by "Son of David" by an angel in a dream. The family tree of Jesus is traced by Matthew down through Joseph not as the natural father but as the father who accepted Jesus as son and bestowed the name Jesus on him. This acceptance and naming by Joseph makes Jesus a Son of David. The em- phasis is on Joseph. In Luke's annunciation scene the emphasis is on Mary. It is she who is told to name Jesus. Here, too, the author mentions that she is engaged to a man named Joseph of the House of David and states that "the Lord God will give him the throne of David his ancestor." Even the family tree of Jesus in Luke is traced, not through Mary, but through Joseph (Luke 3:23). (The reader may be in- trigued by comparing the family tree of Jesus in Luke with that in Matthew and notice the great dif- ferences, especially at the point of who was the father of Joseph. Matthew and Luke do not agree on this. The boy Jesus might well have asked: "Just who is my grandpa?") However, the em- phasis in Luke is on Mary. The annunciation is made to her and that is for his own theological reasons. Luke is more sensitive to women than both Mark and Matthew. He is especially sensitive to the image of Mary in his gospel. In this he is closer to the Gospel of John where Jesus works his first miracle at his mother's request and only in the Gospel of John is the Mother of Jesus at the foot of the cross. But to return to Luke: Luke's sensitivity toward women. Only in Luke do we find the rais- ing to life of the son of a widow "the only son of his mother." (7:11-17); the woman who annoints the feet of Jesus and bathes them with her tears of repentance (7:36-50); and the women weeping over Jesus on the road to the crucifixion (23:28-31). Luke omits the healing of the Canaanite woman's daughter with its coarse statement to the woman: "...it is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs." (Mark 7:27) As to Luke's sensitivity toward Mary: In the Gospel of Mark (3:31-35) Jesus is. told that his mother and brothers are present and asking for him. Jesus replies: "Who are my mother and my brothers?" Then looking at those who sat around him he said: "Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother." Luke very significantly changes Mark. In Luke, when Jesus is told that his mother and brothers are waiting to see him, he immediately replies: "My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it." While Mark seems to exclude Mary and his brothers from being disciples of Jesus, Luke declares them to be so. Thus also at the Pentecost scene in Acts 1:14, Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and his brothers are among the 120 disciples gathered to pray. In Luke's theology Mary is a disciple of Jesus already during the ministry. He goes beyond this in the annunciation scene and makes her the FIRST disciple. She not only hears the word of God but she does it: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done to me according to your word." Now what lesson is in this for us? We live in a male-dominated society and a male-dominated Church. Luke reminds us that at the center of our faith, next to Jesus as his first disciple, stands not man but a woman. Mary is the first of all those faithful women who are so important in all four gospels. It is a woman to whom the word of God is first proclaimed and who is first to accept it. As Mary is the first to hear and accept the incarnation of Jesus, so it is the holy women at the tomb who are the first to hear and to announce the resurrec- tion of Jesus. Those women brought the word of the gospel to the men: Mary brings the WORD of the gospel to all. May our Church learn from this gospel that women are of equal dignity with men and sometimes even superior. Other rdings for Dec. 20: H Samuel 7:1-16; Romans 18:25-27. cb. Vatican Letter Christmas in Rome is time to pray and eat By JOHN THAVIS flowers beneath a statue of the season was officially under tors in this pageant, but not the past the stable, while angels fly NC News Service crowned Madonna Dec. 8, he way. only ones. St. Peter's has the overhead and an imitation fire sent a ceremonial signal to Rome's yuletide begins with biggest Christmas tree, the big- burns alongside the manger. VATICAN CITY (NC) -- Rome's tradition-minded a day off-- the feast of the Ira- gest "presepio," or nativity But churches are not the only When Pope John Paul II laid population: The Christmas maculate Conception -- and scene, and thebiggestmidnight places that re-create Christ's  ends with the kind of meal that Mass. But in the narrow streets birth. A bakery not far from takes all day to eat. Praying and across the Tiber River, tradi- where St. Peter was martyred eating are the common tions, albeit of less grandeur, exhibits a manger scene made denominators for much of what thrive, entirely of bread, baked to a goes on in between, too. The "presepio" ties much of golden brown and dusted light- 'Tis the season of "panet- the Roman Christmas together, ly with powdered sugar to give Funeral Homes tone," an Italian Christmas Taking the kids to see miniature a snow-like effect. A few fruit com00 , r. bar full of almonds and ches is an Italian equivalent of eye-stopping reations for'hur- pistachios; of duck-in visits to seeing Santa at the shopping ried shoppers . .............. Convenient Locations CENTRAL CHAPEL I elaborate church nativity mall. Here, Santa stil! plays se- scenes and pilgrimages to Piaz- cond fiddle to ' Bambino RECENTLY., ROME added a za Navona, where the crib Gesu," the baby Jesus. variable to its Christmas equa- figurines are sold by the The "presepio" tour is usual- tion when it legalized store nigh!, Mass, the papal Urbi et the flashing lights, running buy anything from silk ties tO Orbi blessing and deep-fried water and other special effects corkscrews --2-"but not religious artichokes -- in that order, are best viewed in the darkened vestments, because the city's The pope and the Vatican chapels. In the Jesuit Church of many ecclesiastical clothing have always been the main ac- the Gesu, a tiny brook meanders shops have resisted the trend. Rome's bishops have not oORNAMENT$ )J I OAKTREE.VILLAGE I criticized Sunday opening, i: : CHRISTMAS TREES '.1 ] , perhaps because they know WREATHS .... !!il APARTMENTS J shoppers cannot stroll a single :*' FrAIIYurHljdayShppingNee00iii] I 310 Rotherwood I block without passing a church, chapel or oratory. Sunday or [ [ " g 1 Bdrm. from_ $190 I | stop in for a moment, if just to light a candle. Some take a 12]OHwy.57S.! i m B L -qm ?'.::'1 [1 2 Bdrm. from $270 | longer break and listen to week- 'i.'.'.::::" .... 254-0741 'i'?:i:i":::'??i::. WQ,h,nglon L I J ilJI iil'| 3 Bdrm. from $350 | ..... -- - -- - - '" I Water and Hot Water furnished I day Advent talks at downtown 'i,;.'i',:'::.:ri' .:'::'-':'.'..':  !i] churches. "::'":';:": ........... ";"":"::" I ASKABOUT OUR CURRENT SPECIAL I Piazza Navona, where many ! I SEE VA TICAN page 12