Reflections

SECOND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, Jan. 19, 2020
[Isaiah 49: 3, 5-6; I Corinthians 1: 1-3; John 1: 29-34]

 “On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain,
He is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.”

Our quote above is from today’s Gospel.  This Gospel builds on our Gospel and theme from last Sunday, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.  We shared about and reflected on how the Baptism of Jesus was important, for it helps us to realize how important our Baptism is.

John the Baptist took his call from the Lord seriously.  He prepared the way for the Lord, so that Jesus could be recognized when He came.   Isaiah, in the First Reading, and Paul, in the Second Reading, also testify to their calling from God.  We are in very good company. Our Baptism, whenever it was, or will be, is also a serious call from the Lord.  We receive the Life of God for the first time.  As we hear in the readings, Life of God is also a “Call from God”.

The three Persons of the Trinity shared their life with us. They could not just keep it to themselves. We are called to do the same.  The Good News and the Good Life we have received cannot be limited to just us.  It ought not just die with us.  We need to share it!  As we begin this New Year and New Church Season of Ordinary Time, we are in the company of Isaiah, Paul, John the Baptist, and Jesus.  Like them, we can deliver the message and power of God to each other.  Let our daily prayer be the words of our Responsorial psalm today: “Here am I Lord: I come to do your will.”

 

FEAST OF THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD, January 12, 2020
[Isaiah 42: 1-4, 6-7; Acts 10:34-38; Matthew 3: 13-17]

“Here is my servant whom I uphold,
my chosen one with whom I am pleased.”

The above quote from Isaiah, speaks to us!  Through our Baptism, we are called to be servants of the Lord.  In this Feast today, we see once again how we are included now in the Mystery.  Jesus, who did not need baptism, reveals the need we have for the Baptism, not the baptism of John, but the Baptism of the Spirit.  Once we receive the Baptism of Jesus, we are brought into the family of God forever.  And, therefore, the words of God the Father can also be addressed to us: “You are my beloved, with you I am well pleased.”

We are told in the First Reading that as servant we are called to bring forth justice and peace into the world.  Our mission as servant is determined by God.  “I, the Lord, have called you…I have grasped you…I formed you…”  God has called us to be light to the nations…to those who live in darkness.

Today we are reminded of our own Baptism as we celebrate the Baptism Jesus received.  We received the grace and the Spirit of adoption.  We are sons and daughters of the Father.  We are united as the family/the people of god through our Baptism.  Our responsibility becomes that of sharing the Good News with each other.  We are not alone in this journey of justice, compassion, healing…  God is always by our side saying, “You are my beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”

 

FEAST OF THE EPIPHANY, Jan. 5, 2020
[Isaiah 60: 1-6; Ephesians 3: 2-3, 5-6; Matthew 2: 1-12]
“Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.”

We celebrate a great feast this week-end called Epiphany, which means to reveal, or to make known.  Our reflection centers on the journey of the Magi coming from the East to find the Infant Jesus.  There are many lessons for us as we reflect on this event in the unfolding of the Mystery of Christmas.

We have many symbols.  The Star...a heavenly event that somehow made these three men aware that something very special was happening on earth at that time.  The Journey…they had to leave the known, the familiar, and be open to change and new events in their lives.  The East…East represents that they are coming from ‘outside’.   The magi coming from the East is a very clear symbol that Jesus came for all people and all times.  It was God’s way of revealing the coming of Jesus to all peoples and nations from the very beginning, from the instant of his birth.

The arrival of the Magi in Jerusalem, the confusion of King Herod and his court, tells us that life would forever be different, that God was entering into His World to bring a ‘new way’ of living. Not everyone was ready to accept that then, and even now.  Finally, the Gospel tells us: “The Magi departed for their country, by another way.”  Indeed, after all they saw and experienced, life was forever to be different for them.

Jesus came to also show us: “Another Way.”   As we pass through this Christmas Season we are being led into a New Year.  May all the lessons of this Feast and this Season ‘stay with us.’  May our journey in the New Year also be constantly led by the ‘Light of Christ’.

 

FEAST OF THE HOLY FAMILY, Dec. 29, 2019/OCTAVE OF CHRISTMAS
[Sirach 3:2-7, 12-14; Colossians 3: 12-21; Matthew 2: 13-15, 19-23]
“Let the peace of Christ control your hearts;
let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.”

It is no accident that we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family always the Sunday after Christmas.  Christmas, and the Holidays as we know them as Christians, are very much ‘Family Celebrations’, a time when families get together to renew and share their identity.

The church then is reminding us, that we are also part of a much larger family:  The Church the People of God.  The two ‘families’ are so closely connected.  That fact is brought home for us so strongly during this Season.  For most of us, we are introduced to the ‘family of God’ through our ‘blood family.’  It is much more than just an ‘introduction’.  What we learn through the teaching of Jesus and our membership in the Catholic Church is applied in our daily living of the Gospel in our life with our family members.

When the children and young people acted out the Christmas story of Bethlehem and the Holy Family this year, it reinforced how important this little dramatization of the Christmas story is for us and our family and parish life.  Parents and family members played a great part in making this narrative happen: getting the children there for practice, for the actual portrayal, etc.  As parents and family, you showed much pride in seeing your children take part in the account of the Holy Family in Bethlehem.  In a very powerful way, the Church family and the human family are very much brought together.  Now, it is up to us to continue this process at home and in our church attendance.  It is not as dramatic as putting on the Gospel Narrative, but much more important—that we live out in our daily family life, the values that we hear about today in the readings and at every mass.

 

FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT Dec. 22, 2019
[Isaiah 7: 10-14; Romans 1: 1-7; Matthew 1: 18-24]
“The virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son,
and they shall name Him Emmanuel.
 

As we celebrate this Fourth Sunday of Advent, and make our final preparation for the Feast of Christmas, we have Joseph as our model to imitate.  In the First Reading God was ready to give king Ahaz a sign.  Ahaz wanted no part of it, because he really wanted God to have no part in his life and plans.

Joseph now stands in great contrast and contradiction to Ahaz.    What was happening with Mary, and therefore, himself, seemed in no way to fit into their plans.  How can this be?  How can Mary be ‘expecting’ at this time?  So, God once again enters the scene by sending the angel to Joseph in a dream.  Here we have a very different response from that of Ahaz.  “When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him, and took Mary, his wife, into his home.”

Therefore, once Joseph accepted the message of the angel, and therefore accepted the will of God, Mary was no longer the only one: ‘Expecting.’   Now Joseph was able to also join in the plan of God, and Joseph was able to also ‘expect’ and wait for the good things God has in store for all creation.

May we, this Christmas, join with Mary and Joseph.  May we also with child-like wonder, expect and wait for the good things that God can continue to do in our lives. Like Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, and the wise men, may we be able also to share the Good News of Jesus.   We also can bring each other to greater joy as we ‘expect’ and wait for the good things God wants to do for us.