05 January 2013

'When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.' Sunday Reflections for the Epiphany.

Adoration of the Magi, Francisco de Zurbarán, 1639-40 (Web Gallery of Art)

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa) 

Gospel Matthew 2:1-12 (Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition)

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him." When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it is written by the prophet: 'And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will govern my people Israel.'" Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star appeared; and he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him bring me word, that I too may come and worship him." When they had heard the king they went their way; and lo, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy; and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshipped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

Liturgical note: The 2002 edition of the Roman Missal re-introduced the Vigil of the Epiphany. The Vigil Mass, celebrated before or after Evening Prayer on the eve of the Epiphany, has its own prayers, Entrance and Communion antiphons, but uses the same readings as on the feast day itself. It is incorrect to refer to a Vigil Mass as an 'anticipated Mass'. The Vigil Mass fulfils the obligation to attend Mass on a holyday of obligation or on a Sunday.

The history of the Church in Korea is unique. The faith was brought there by a 'wise man from the East', the 'wise man' in question being a diplomat and 'the East' being Korea, to the east of China where the diplomat went on a mission to Beijing where he was baptised. He then brought the faith to his own country. The video above, which marks the feast of the Korean Martyrs celebrated on 20 September, gives a brief synopsis of the story. Blessed Pope John Paul II canonised 103 Korean martyrs in Seoul on 6 May 1984. It is estimated that about 8,000 Koreans died as martyrs for the faith.

The Koreans embraced the Catholic Christian faith at great cost. There were four major persecutions in the 19th century. Korea's first priest, St Andrew Kim Taegon, was martyred in 1846 aged 25. His father, Ignatius, was also a martyr.

The last persecution was in 1868. One little incident in that shows a remarkable contrast to the aftermath of the visit of the Magi to Bethlehem when King Herod had all the boys aged two and under killed. Fr Donal O'Keeffe, the Columban superior in Korea, wrote about this after the death of Stephen Cardinal Kim, former Archbishop of Seoul, on 16 February 2009 :

Kim Sou-Hwan (Stephen) was born in May 1922 in Taegu in the province of Kyongsangdo to a fervent Catholic family. His grandfather Kim Bo-hyun (John) was arrested and martyred in Seoul in 1868 during the last persecution of Christians in Korea. His grandmother was also to be executed with him but was released because she was pregnant. The child born was Kim Young-sok (Joseph) who was to become the father of Kim Sou-hwan.

The persecutors spared the Cardinal's grandmother because she was pregnant!

Stephen Cardinal Kim Sou-hwan (8 May 1922 - 16 February 2009) with friends

Mary, the Mother of God, is central to the whole Christmas story. The Magi saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshipped him.

Korean soprano Sumi Jo sings a setting of the words Ave Maria, 'Hail Mary', attributed to Giulio Caccini who died in 1618. But it seems it was written anonymously by Russian composer Vladimir Vasilov in 1970. The two words Ave Maria, the music and the singing of Sumi Jo surely draw us to behold the beauty of your sublime glory, as the Collect of the Mass prays. 


O God, who on this day 
revealed your Only Begotten Son to the nations 
by the guidance of a star, 
grant in your mercy 
that we, who know you already by faith, 
may be brought to behold the beauty of your sublime glory.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, 
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, 
one God, for ever and ever.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

powerful, beautifully written