Friday, January 31, 2014

The Presentation of the Lord - February 2, 2014

Forty days ago we celebrated the birth of Jesus at Christmas. Hard to believe it is February already. This weekend we conclude our Catholic Schools week and we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. This feast is also called the "Feast of Lights" because it is the midpoint of winter and don't we want to get out of this cold winter that we are having? Light is growing and spring is not too far away!

In our Gospel story we hear Simeon surprise Mary and Joseph with his declaration that their baby is the long-awaited Messiah. They of course knew the truth about their Son's identity and mission through the Archangel Gabriel. But to hear someone else announce it was the amazing part. Anna too spoke about the child as "the redemption of Jerusalem," thus adding another mystical assurance that Jesus was in fact the Savior. These events that took place during the Presentation in the Temple can remind us about the important role of the members of the believing community. Like Simeon and Anna, we are meant to encourage one another, and to announce the Gospel to others with courage and conviction. When we are rooted in prayer, and attuned to the Holy Spirit, we too can be effective instruments of God's power. Then, amazing things can happen! We become channels through which God's truth is proclaimed, and through which his love and healing, comfort and compassion, are given to other people.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time 2014

"He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him." James and his brother John dropped everything to follow Christ. They embarked on this unknown journey with Jesus, traveling "around all of Galilee," with neither stability nor security. All they had was trust. How remarkable this is! Clearly, their encounter with Christ was life-changing, even before they knew the full truth.
We, on the other hand, already know about his miracles, his resurrection, and the whole history of Christian faith. In a sense, it should be easier for us to "leave our nets" than it was for the brothers in today's Gospel. Yet how often do we resist the call to surrender our lives to Christ? And where would we be today if the apostles had tried to part-time it with the Lord? Would the Christian message have spread at all? So much was accomplished through the sincere faith of these humble fishermen. What could we accomplish if we trusted in Jesus as they did?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time 2014

With the conclusion of the Christmas season, we begin a short stretch of ordinary time Sundays before the start of the season of Lent. In our Gospel reading for today, we hear John the Baptist's account of the baptism of Jesus. John announces, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." John's message would have been crystal clear to the audience who heard it. The Jews where used to the idea of sacrificing a lamb in a ritual of atonement. Now, John was declaring that this man walking towards him, Jesus, was in fact the new lamb, the sacrificial offering that would atone for the sins not just of one person, but of all people. No one is excluded from the gift of salvation. Do we accept that God can forgive even the sins of our enemies, of those who have hurt and mistreated us? Can we forgive them too, as God has done through his Son? When we struggle to forgive someone, we can pray for the grace to love that person as Jesus has loved us.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Baptism of the Lord

As we come to the end of the Christmas season, we hear of Jesus' baptism. John the Baptist questions Jesus: "I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?" Jesus didn't need to be washed clean of any sin, and John the Baptist knew it. But nonetheless, Jesus was humble enough to be baptized like the rest of us. By being baptized, Jesus emphasized the importance of participating in this sacred action. And later in his ministry, he confirmed the significance of baptism when he instructed his apostles to "make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19).
Through baptism, we become disciples of Jesus. As baptized Christians, we are both called and equipped to be Christ's followers, his pupils and his friends. Jesus humbled himself for our sake. Let us show our gratitude by being his faithful disciples today and every day.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Epiphany of the Lord

The season of Christmas is a celebration of both Jesus' birth and his epiphany to the world. Today, on Epiphany Sunday, we acknowledge God's manifestation of his Son to the world. In our Gospel story we hear about the journey the Magi made and how they paid honor to the new born King. We are told, "They prostrated themselves and did him homage." The Magi were men of great faith. Their worldly position and power could have made them scoff at the sight of this humble infant. But instead these men place themselves at the feet of Jesus in a gesture of complete submission. Only a deep and sincere faith could justify such a surprising scene. Real faith often runs contrary to worldly wisdom. But the eyes of faith can see much more than the eyes of the world alone. Are we willing to leave our comfort zone for the sake of the Gospel? Are we willing to share our wealth to glorify God? Are we willing to submit our desires and plans to the authority of Christ? As we begin the journey of this New Year, let us resolve to follow in the faithful footsteps of the Magi.