IHS

I was raised as a Roman Catholic from birth. I remember seeing these letters on the altar in church. Much later in life, years after I returned to the Church, I assumed that they stood for the Latin "in hoc signo" which means "in this sign." "In hoc signo vinces." was a revelation to the Roman Emperor Constantine in his conflict with his principal rival, Licinius, for the throne. A natural conclusion, but an incorrect one.

When it must get there overnight...

A long time ago, in a land far, far away, Santa Claus was just starting his Christmas ministry. He was looking for animals that could fly, and pull his sleigh. Such animals are rare, indeed, because they have magical powers. Some animals, like birds, of course, fly under natural power, but unless you go back to primordial times, you won't find birds big enough to pull a sleigh loaded with toys.

"Who are you?" "Why do you baptize?"

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In today's Gospel reading [John 1:6-8,19-2], priests [in the line of Aaron] and Levites [i.e., of the tribe of animal sacrifice ministers in the temple] come to John the Baptist [who is preaching a baptism of repentance in the River Jordan] to ask him "who" questions. He was not sent by them, but by God, so their "who" questions are aimed at how he is connected with scriptural prophesy. Each "who" question asks whether he is someone identified in that prophesy as one who is to come.

The pearl of great price

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God examined all of human history, found the pearl of great price, picked it up and polished it so that it shone with a divine sparkle. That pearl was Mary. The polishing began with bestowing the unique privilege of being conceived without original sin, giving her the privilege of being the mother of his son, Jesus, and asking her to share with him the role of redemption. Her obedience, even to the point of suffering internally as she watched her son suffer and die, yet not excluding even his tormentors from her merciful love, was her response to God, her “let it be done!”

Solidarity and Subsidiarity: God's identity politics

Dictionary.com defines solidarity as (in definition 1):

union or fellowship arising from common responsibilities and interests, as between members of a group or between classes, peoples, etc.:

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