We begin our annual celebration of Catholic Schools Week. It is such a blessing to be in a parish that has our own Catholic preschool, day care and elementary school. I am very proud of our parish school and of the members of our parish who since our beginning 40 years ago, desired and sacrificed so that we might have our school. Our current school faculty and staff are committed to educating the whole child – spiritually, academically, socially and physically. We welcome all children with our primary goal to develop young Disciples of Christ within our Catholic faith tradition.
Last Sunday we concluded the Christmas season with the Baptism of the Lord, and today we read John the Evangelist’s story of the baptism of Jesus told from his perspective.
It is that time of year for the Annual Archbishop’s Call to Share. It reminds us of our responsibility to help the Archdiocesan Church with its outreach to so many and to help with continued evangelization efforts.
We are also still in the midst of the Special Archdiocesan Capital Campaign, One Faith, One Family, One Future In Christ campaign and we will conclude that at the end of February with an In-Pew Appeal. Please see our updated pledge numbers for this campaign in this weekends bulletin and for the date of our In-Pew Appeal weekend.
On this Sunday of the Epiphany of the Lord, we hear about gifts in the Gospel reading. The image of ‘gift’ is an appropriate one since today we acknowledge and celebrate the gift of God’s saving grace offered to everyone in the birth of His Son Jesus.
Is there such a thing as the perfect family? Mine is not, is yours? What would it mean to be the “perfect family”?
Today’s feast makes clear that holy families are human families, with gifts and challenges. Love contains joy and wonder, but also pain and struggle. But families are and should be our schools of love and holiness.
The grace of Christmas is Christ himself. Jesus is the radiant “day” which has dawned on the horizon of humanity. A day of mercy, in which God our Father has revealed His great tenderness to the entire world. A day of light, which dispels the darkness of fear and anxiety. A day of peace, which makes for encounter, dialogue and, above all, reconciliation. A day of joy: a “great joy” for the poor, the lowly, and for all the people (cf. Lk 2:10).
A few weeks ago, we celebrated the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time with our second grade students. As an example to their children, many of their parents received the Sacrament with them as well. Similar nerves were with many of the parents, but many tears were also shed. As adults, we often forget the need to be reconciled to God through the Church and the beautiful sacrament of confessing and being absolved. Rather than thinking of this as a joyful experience, it is often approached with fear and trepidation.
During the Advent season, we are afforded several examples of people in the history of the Church who serve as great examples of how we can prepare for the coming of Christ. The Blessed Mother is an ideal example of someone who obviously was ready to say "yes" to God’s will. The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary that we celebrate on Monday, (not a holy Day of Obligation this year) celebrates Mary being conceived in her mother's womb.
The great spiritual writer, Thomas Merton, once wrote that “the Advent mystery … is the beginning of the end of all in us that is not yet Christ”. As this new liturgical year begins, we are invited once again, to examine our lives and reflect on how we might become more and more Christ-like and selfless. The color purple or violet we see in our churches is a reminder that we need to repent and strive for this change in our spiritual and ordinary lives by being more focused on serving God and others.
It’s the end of the year for us Catholics as we celebrate the Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. This has to do with an aspect of Jesus’ identity rather than of his life. Conventional understandings of kingship and power are transformed. Rather than calling up images of Jesus dressed in royal robes, the Gospel proclaims him as king by the sign over his head on the throne of a wooden cross (I.N.R.I. Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews).