A word from Pope Francis ~ “The style of the good God is not to produce a spectacle: God acts in humility.”
Today, we continue our celebration of Christmas with the feast of the Epiphany. The traditional date for this feast is the 12th day of Christmas, January 6. Since this feast is not a Holy Day of Obligation in our country, we normally celebrate it on the Sunday following January 1st. This feast of the Magi, or the Three Kings, commemorates the Lord’s first manifestation to people outside of the Jewish nation. The Magi were foreigners, Persians. And as foreigners, they were not included in God’s original covenant with the Hebrew people. Their presence at Jesus’ birth hints at one aspect of his ultimate mission of bringing salvation to all peoples. Fortunately, that also includes us.
On Monday, we will celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Jesus’ Baptism was the inauguration of his mission in our world, his acceptance of his vocation. This is a good opportunity for us to focus on church vocations – those that arise from Baptism as well as those that are lived in the diaconate, priesthood and religious life.
Monday’s feast of the Baptism of the Lord marks the end of the Christmas/Epiphany cycle of the Church Year. On Tuesday, we begin the cycle of Ordinary Time, wearing green vestments. Our Sunday Gospel readings will feature the continuous reading of Matthew’s Gospel. This first part of the Ordinary Time cycle will last until Ash Wednesday on February 22. The end of the holidays and the beginning of Ordinary Time does not mean that less-than-exciting things are happening in our lives. We are still called to grow closer to our God, but in ordinary, everyday and normal ways. And God continues to be present to us in the Ordinary Time season, as he does in the major seasons of the year such as Advent/Christmas and Lent/Easter. God is always faithful, no matter what season we may be celebrating at the present time. Our task is to keep our eyes, ears, mind and heart open to the subtle ways God moves in our lives.
With the beginning of the New Year, we have recently heard a lot of coverage on the talk and news shows about New Year’s resolutions. New beginnings invite us to make fresh starts in many different ways. If one of your New Year’s resolutions included growing in your relationship with God or growing in your faith, I invite you to consider some of the growth opportunities available in our parish this January.
One opportunity begins this Thursday, January 12, at 7:00 pm in the Chapel Lower Level and runs over the next several Thursdays. It is an excellent video series called The Bible and the Sacraments. This series looks at the basic teachings of the church on the meaning and origin of the Bible and the Sacraments. More information is on Page 4 of the bulletin.
Additional opportunities for personal growth in our faith include multiple Bible Study groups that meet at our parish over the course of the week. One group meets on Monday nights. A women’s group meets on Thursday mornings. Various additional groups are meeting. Please call Leonor Carvajal for times and locations of these Bible Study groups and other Adult Faith Formation opportunities. These unique opportunities for spiritual growth can help us to take the next step in our relationship with God, whatever that may be. I encourage each of us to take advantage of the program that best seems to fit our personal circumstances at this time in our lives. January is a great month to take these steps.
As we conclude our celebration of the Christmas Season this weekend and move into the season of Ordinary Time, we have many opportunities to recognize and celebrate God’s presence in the ordinary and routine moments of our lives. It is a time of thanksgiving and grace. May God continue to bless us with everything that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy