Note to readers: Liturgical entries on this blog are based on the traditional calendar of the Books of Common Prayer and the traditional one-year Eucharistic lectionary. If you follow a newer calendar or three-year lectionary, there are variations in names for some Sundays and in the readings.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Day or the Nativity of our Lord

The greatest mysteries of the faith are often the hardest to write on. What can any mortal, especially a rather pedestrian and jaded old guy like me, say that does justice to the awe-inspiring event of the Incarnation of God the Son. So I will just do two simple things.
First, let me cite a sentence (4 verses) from one of the Epistles for this day. Hebrews 1:1-4 says it wonderfully- God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.
Secondly, I would respond with phrase from A General Thanksgiving which was first included in the 1662 BCP. May we all bless or thank God for His "inestimable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ." Christmas has been many things over the centuries, but giving thanks to God for sending His only begotten Son into this fallen world to save us is the real purpose for the celebration.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Fourth Sunday in Advent

Although Christmas is very close, on Advent IV we continue the time of preparation. The Epistle for this day encourages us to rejoice. Why? Because "the Lord is near." These words refer to Christ. He is near in various ways. He is near because of His presence in the Eucharist. He is near where the Scriptures are read and the Gospel proclaimed in word and deed. He is near where two or three or more believers are gathered in His name. He is near wherever the Holy Spirit comes into human hearts and lives to bring repentance and faith, hope and love. And at this time of the year, the Lord is especially near as we get ready to celebrate His Incarnation and welcome Him anew.

Monday, December 15, 2014

December Ember Days

Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday of this week are the traditional December Ember Days. The Ember Days are days for prayer and fasting which over time became associated with ordinations. Their origins are not totally clear, but they may go back to ancient pagan agricultural observances around Rome. In the early third century, Roman Christians may have started adopting them to Christian use. Gradually, certain customs became established at Rome and spread throughout the Western  or Latin church. The name "Ember" may be a deformation of the Latin Quattuor Tempora, "Four Times/Seasons."

Originally, the December Ember Days were probably associated with sowing winter grain, but they soon became associated with prayer and fasting in preparation for Christmas. In addition, because of Advent emphasis on the ministry of John the Baptist, the days became an appropriate time to stress prayers for the ordained ministry of the Church. In our commercialized and often frantic Advent, these days can also be a good time to slow down and meditate on humanity's great need for redemption.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Third Sunday in Advent

For Advent III this year, my thoughts are drawn to the theme of ministry as expressed in the Collect and Epistle. The collect reads thus:
O Lord Jesus Christ, who at thy first coming didst send thy messenger to prepare thy way before thee; Grant that the ministers and stewards of thy mysteries may likewise so prepare and make ready thy way, by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at thy second coming to judge the world we may be found an acceptable people in thy sight, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

The Epistle is from 1 Corinthians iv. 1--5.
Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. For I know nothing against myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.
 
Of course, all Christians are called to ministry or service for Christ, and all too often we forget this, at least in practical daily speech and behavior. Every human being is called to serve his/her Creator. Every person baptized has been set aside and transformed in the name of the holy Trinity. Every person confirmed has been strengthened for ministry by the Holy Spirit.
 
Yet, from the days of Christ and the Apostles to the present, the ordained ministry has been set aside, dedicated, and given grace for special service. We fail in many ways. We do not always live as recipients of special graces and responsibilities. But ordained ministers have been, among other things, called and ordered as "stewards of the mysteries of God." These mysteries are the teachings of Christ's Gospel- from the Annunciation, Visitation, and Nativity to the Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension. And these mysteries become concrete and immediate for us in the sacred mysteries or sacraments, especially the Eucharist.
The clergy are called and ordained to honor, administer and share these mysteries with the whole people of God and to proclaim them to all people near and far. So during this Advent, and especially on the approaching Ember Days, let us pray that all the ordained and all men considering or approaching ordination may be constantly renewed by divine grace that they may be faithful stewards of God's mysteries.
 

Saint Lucy- December 13

Lucy from Syracuse in Sicily was a young Christian martyred in the Diocletian persecutions of 304 A.D. Although there may be some truth in other stories about her, they mostly seem to be legends which became more elaborate over the centuries. She was soon included among lists of early martyrs, and became especially popular in Italy and later Scandinavia. Because of her name (related to lux, "light"), and because of her feast date in December, her celebration has often become a feast of lights. The 1662 English Book of Common Prayer retained her feast as a minor feast or "black-letter day." The 1928 American Book of Common Prayer does not mention her by name, but it still uses December 13 to determine the occurrence of the winter Ember Days.
May we always give thanks for the martyrs, known and unknown, who have given their lives because of their faith in Christ. Even when we do not know the details, they have passed on the light of Christ.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Second Sunday in Advent

In the Book of Common Prayer, the Second Sunday in Advent emphasizes the importance of Holy Scripture. On occasions, I have been asked by people from other backgrounds if Anglicans believe in sola Scriptura, which is usually translated as "only Scripture." The answer is that it depends on what the slogan means. In a sense, no one depends on "only Scripture" in its most literalistic meaning. There are always other factors such as prior knowledge of language, grammar, history, personal experience, or philosophical and theological presuppositions. Furthermore, all Christian groups acknowledge that true understanding and acceptance of Scripture depends upon divine grace and the working of the Holy Spirit. In addition, we are all indebted to other Christians who have taught us and witnessed to us so that in some sense we cannot separate Scripture from the universal Church. Anglicans of all parties have in varying degrees stressed the teachings of the ancient Church, and we do not think that we constantly have to come up with new interpretations of every passage. Thus, there is a sense in which Anglicans do not stress sola Scriptura in the same way as some groups of Christians.

Having pointed out certain limitations of the slogan, there is a sense in which we Anglicans value the idea of sola Scriptura. We do believe in the primacy of Scripture. It contains God's self-revelation, and it is the supreme authority for all generations of Christians. Despite some difficult passages, the general teachings of the Bible are clear. Thoughtful believers of different times and backgrounds agree on the basics, and even those Christians who say that they do not accept tradition or creeds still come up with summaries of Scripture that are very similar to the ancient Creeds. As Anglicans, we affirm the supremacy of the Bible and affirm that Scripture contains all things necessary to salvation.


 For further thoughts on the topic, please consult previous posts- http://bcpanglican.blogspot.com/2012/12/second-sunday-in-advent.html and  http://bcpanglican.blogspot.com/2011/12/second-sunday-in-advent.html

Sunday, November 30, 2014

First Sunday in Advent

As I thought of Advent I, I was struck by a Morning Prayer lesson from Isaiah.  Indeed, although there are a few lessons from other prophets, most of the Old Testament lessons during Advent are from Isaiah. An important Advent theme occurs in today's selection: divine judgment.
In Isaiah 28:14-16, we read these words-
Wherefore hear the word of the Lord, ye scornful men, that rule this people which is in Jerusalem. Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves: Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.

Advent is a time to remember that divine righteousness means that there is divine judgment against sin. The leaders of Judah during the sixth century B.C. were corrupt. They  were in league with death and hell. So they were about to experience divine wrath as a consequence. Isaiah still hoped that some people would turn from evil, and he also hoped for future redemption. Nevertheless, the corruption was real and deep, and there would be difficult times before things got better. Isaiah's words apply to some degree throughout human history, but there is a special application in our day and age. Traditional Christian beliefs and values have declined in many places, even among supposedly Christian leaders. For convenience, profit, popularity and other reasons, many people have made agreements with death and hell. So before we rush headlong into holiday celebrations, we need to pause, contemplate divine righteousness, and turn from sin.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Ordering of Priests

God willing, a friend will be ordained to the Anglican priesthood on Saturday, 15 November 2014. Of course, he has been and  will be in my prayers. While reflecting on his ordination this morning, I decided to re-read The Form and Manner of Ordering Priests as published with the 1928 American BCP. The entire service is full of good theology and beautiful words. One could spend a lot of time meditating on the text, but I decided to concentrate on a couple of selections from the Bishop's charge to the Ordinand(s) (1928 BCP, pp. 539-541). These selections stress the responsibilities of the priest and the divine grace needed to fulfill the priestly calling.

First, there is the following paragraph on the responsibilities of the priestly office:
"Ye have heard, Brethren, ... of what dignity, and of how great importance this Office is, whereunto ye are called. And now again we exhort you, in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye have in remembrance, into how high a Dignity, and to how weighty an Office and Charge ye are called: that is to say, to be Messengers, Watchmen, and Stewards of the Lord; to teach, and to premonish, to feed and provide for the Lord's family; to seek for Christ's sheep that are dispersed abroad, and for his children who are in the midst of this naughty world, that they may be saved through Christ for ever."

In addition to Ordinands, all clergy and laity need to take these words to heart. Every priest has the serious responsibility to care for souls, souls that are tempted in a fallen world and need the salvation offered by Christ in Word and Sacrament. All to often, the world leads us to consider ordained ministry as simply another profession, but we need to remember that it is a far higher spiritual responsibility.

Secondly, all human beings, including priests, are both weak and sinful, and no one can fulfill the responsibilities of the priesthood without divine grace and assistance.
"Forasmuch then as your Office is both of so great excellency, and of so great difficulty, ye see with how great care and study ye ought to apply yourselves...Howbeit, ye cannot have a mind and will thereto of yourselves; for that will and ability is given of God alone: therefore ye ought, and have need, to pray earnestly for his Holy Spirit. And seeing that ye cannot by any other means compass the doing of so weighty a work, pertaining to the salvation of man, but with doctrine and exhortation taken out of the Holy Scriptures, and with a life agreeable to the same; consider how studious ye ought to be in reading and learning the Scriptures....
and that ye will continually pray to God the Father, by the mediation of our only Saviour Jesus Christ, for the heavenly assistance of the Holy Ghost..."


Priests, like all Christians, need to be firmly rooted in Scripture and prayer. Without such a foundation, they are not open to the grace they need to fulfill their vocation. Furthermore, it is a great help to each priest when his superiors, colleagues, and parishioners are likewise rooted in Scripture and prayer. So let us pray for God's grace for ordinands, all clergy, and the whole people of God that they may fulfill their callings .


Saturday, November 01, 2014

All Saints Day

For a general comment on this day, see the post for 2010 (http://bcpanglican.blogspot.com/2010/10/all-saints-day-1-november.html).  This morning, I was particularly impressed by the liturgical epistle- Revelation 7: 2ff:
AND I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel. After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and peoples, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four living creatures, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. 
The underlined words point us to key aspect of All Saints Day. On this day we commemorate and give thanks for those known and unknown Christians across times, places, ethnic backgrounds, languages, and so forth who have remained faithful to Christ and continue to sing His praises. May we be among that fellowship, now and forever.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Holy Cross Day

As a church observance, Holy Cross Day (14 September) has roots in the fourth century when the Emperor Constantine's mother decided to look for Christ's cross. While one may doubt if the remnants of that cross could or can be identified, and while one can reject certain medieval rites associated with crosses, it is appropriate to remember Christ's cross on this day and throughout the year. Holy Cross Day was retained as a minor observance or "black-letter day" in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. Furthermore, commemorating the cross accords well with the fact that the cross is at the core of Christian doctrine and has always been the central Christian symbol.

So on this day, may we focus on the instrument used by God for our redemption. Although crucifixion is truly horrible, Christ has transformed the cross. May we truly glory in the cross of Christ "towering o'er the wrecks of time."

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Septuagesima

This Sunday begins the old custom of a pre-Lenten season. From the sixth century until the 1960's, calendars in the Western Church called the third Sunday before Lent "Septuagesima," the Latin for "seventy."  The names of this Sunday and the following two seem to be based on a rough approximation of the number of days before Easter.

One New Testament lesson for Morning Prayer is St. Matthew 5:1-16. This selection contains the Beatitudes which can inspire extensive meditations. This time, I will focus on St. Matthew 5:13:  Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

Christ's followers are called upon to have the character of salt in the world. Salt is a flavor, a nutrient and a preservative. It is to be hoped that Christians can be all three in the world. We know better than to expect the whole world to be salt, but Christ's followers should add to the quality of earthly life for those around us. And if we are not thinking and acting in ways that add something, we have lost our purpose, become useless and are ready to be discarded. May we look at ourselves and allow God's grace to make us saltier.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Fifth Sunday after Epiphany

One of the New Testament lessons for Morning Prayer is St. Luke 12:35-48: Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not. Then Peter said unto him, Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even to all? And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath. But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

Like many of the readings for the latter half of the Epiphany season, this one contains practical spiritual advice about the Christian mission while waiting for the Lord. We are reminded of Christ's expectations. We are not to be passive or lazy in our waiting. We are to be vigilant, carry on with our work and be prepared. We have been given great grace and our Lord expects much of us.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Presentation of Christ (Epiphany 4)

This Sunday has several different names. It is the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany, but this year, Epiphany 4 falls on 2 February; so it is also the Feast commemorating the Presentation of Christ in the Temple on the fortieth day after His Birth. Another name is the Purification of Saint Mary the Virgin- which in the Middle Ages also became known as Candlemas because of the custom of blessing ecclesiastical candles on this date.

As in recent posts, my emphasis is on the New Testament Lesson for Morning Prayer. The selection is Galatians 4:1-7: Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

This passage reminds us that even Christ grew up under the Law, and His Presentation at the Temple is one example of His perfect fulfillment of the whole Law to redeem those under the Law. As Gentile believers, many modern Christians may not realize that we are subject to the Law. But we are still under the Law, subject to God's natural and moral Law. Of course, we do not fulfill these divine requirements; we sin and fall short repeatedly. So our only hope is to be adopted as God's sons and daughters through the gracious work of Christ and the Holy Spirit. In other words, we are not redeemed through the Law; we are redeemed through living faith in the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Third Sunday after Epiphany

The New Testament lesson for Morning Prayer continues the theme of Christ's manifestations to the world. In St. John 4:1-14, we have the beginning of the story of the Samaritan woman at the well. Of course, the Samaritans were people with a general belief in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but over the years they had mixed ethnically, culturally and religiously with pagan neighbors. So loyal Jews viewed them with suspicion. This encounter is even more unusual. Here the Samaritan is an woman, and contact with women outside the immediate family was usually avoided by rabbis. Furthermore, as this woman speaks about her life, we learn that she was not a paragon of virtue.

The key to our selection is in St. John 4:11-14:  The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

In these words, our Lord manifests His identity. He has come to a  bring a new message which surpasses the divine revelation to the patriarchs such as Jacob. Jesus presents Himself as the living water who can satisfy humanities deepest longs forever. This is a message for all, even people of lowly status, questionable theology and dubious morals. No matter what our problems, may we welcome Christ as our living water!

Conversion of St. Paul

Saturday, 25 January, is the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. The event commemorated is important even from a secular historical point of view because Paul's conversion led to the spread of the Christian message to the Gentile world. For all Gentile Christians and for all thinking Christians, the work of the Apostle Paul is of basic importance. There is much that can be said about Paul's work and writings, but I would focus briefly on the New Testament lesson for Morning Prayer. In II Corinthians 12:1-9, Paul writes about some of his own experiences and mentions his "thorn in the flesh" (12: 7). And in II Cor. 12: 9, the Apostle cites the Lord's response to his prayers:  "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness."

This response can be seen as a motto for Paul's mission. It all depends upon the grace of God which overcomes all of Paul's human weakness. Indeed, this is the very message of the cross- God's grace is sufficient to express divine power through worldly weakness. The same can be said about the life and mission of every faithful Christian. We are all weak in many ways, but God's grace is sufficient to transform our weaknesses into opportunities to express divine power.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Second Sunday after Epiphany

One of the New Testament lessons for Morning Prayer on the Second Sunday after Epiphany is from I Corinthians 12:12-31. The first three verses of this selection apply the common Epiphany theme of baptism to the Christian community, the Body of Christ. I Cor. 12:12-14 says, "For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many." 

Our Baptisms have made us members of Christ's one Body, given us the Holy Spirit, and called us to take our places and work for the well-being of the whole body. In other words, we have been called, given a mission and given divine grace to work for Christ's purposes in this world. Whether we are considered great or minor parts of the Body of Christ, we are all called to serve the great Christian mission of redemption.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

First Sunday after Epiphany

One of the New Testament lessons for Morning Prayer for this Sunday is from Colossians 1:9-29. The first sentence in this selection is very long (vss. 9-17) in the Greek and in the traditional English translation.
For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. 
In fact, this long sentence deals with three themes: 1) the fact of the Apostle Paul's constant prayer for the Colossians, 2) some of the content of his prayer for the Colossians' spiritual growth and 3) the foundation of those prayers in the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. These are themes that should also be in our hearts and minds in a special way during this season of Epiphany. We should be in constant prayer, and during this season in particular, it is appropriate to pray for the spiritual growth of believers. And most importantly, we must always focus upon the unique role of Jesus Christ in bringing God's truth, light and redemptive power.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Epiphany

The New Testament lesson for Morning Prayer is from II Corinthians 4:1-6. St. Paul speaks of the ministry of the gospel which the world does not recognize. Paul's message is a "manifestation  of the truth" (4:2) and is "the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God..."(4:4).  In verse 6, he goes on to add, "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."
These are common themes which are associated with Epiphany: manifestation (the Latin based equivalent of the Greek "epiphany"), glory, light. Of course, we recall the manifestation of the Christ Child to the magi or wise men. But we also think of His glory and light manifested to all peoples through the Gospel.
In the words of the Epiphany antiphon: The Lord hath manifested forth his glory; O come, let us adore him.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Second Sunday after Christmas

After a hiatus in blogging, I have decided to start again in this new year. Since I have one or more comments on this blog on most of the traditional Eucharistic readings, I hope to post a series of brief comments for Sundays and holy days based on the Scriptures for Morning Prayer in the 1928 BCP (1943 revision of the lectionary).

For the Second Sunday after Christmas one of the lections begins with St. Luke 2:21: And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called Jesus, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.  This verse is also found in the Eucharistic readings for the Feast of the Circumcision or the Feast of the Holy Name on January 1. It stresses the importance of the name given the Christ Child. Many moderns ignore the meaning of names, but for Jews of the biblical period names were full of significance. This name is even more so; note that it was revealed by the angel at the Annunciation. Of course, the name "Jesus" is derived from the Greek which comes from the Aramaic "Yeshua" and the Hebrew "Yoshua." And "Yoshua" means "the LORD [YHWH] saves." Thus, Jesus is indeed a holy name and a divine prophecy of the Christ Child's mission. May we hallow this name and allow it to be applied in our lives.