January 6, 2019 – The Epiphany of the Lord

I. Epiphany Vespers and International Potluck & 11th Anniversary of Ordination for Fr. Sinoj Pynadath! An Epiphany is a Revelation, a Manifestation of God’s unconditional love for each one of us. People diligently search for love, acceptance, meaning, success, fulfillment. Left to our own seeking, we almost always come up short. We need guidance, others’ wisdom, perseverance. But we also need the Light that is Christ, a Light that leads us beyond ourselves to seek diligently for the things that are of God. We will be visited by the three Kings with a traditional King Cake!  Furthermore, it was 11 years ago today, January 6th that our own Fr. Sinoj was ordained a priest in India! Congratulations, Fr. Sinoj (Fr. Paul)! Let’s celebrate! Vespers (official Evening Prayer of the Church) at 4:30pm—bring a dish from your family of origin! The parish will provide drinks (unless you wish to bring your own bottle of wine)!

II.  What Does Your Baptism Mean To You? The Christmas season this year extends to the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus, January 13. Why was Jesus baptized? To show solidarity with our humanity, to give an example to us, to officially begin his public ministry? Regardless, Baptism gives us a share in the life of Jesus, makes us adopted children of God, and makes us members of the community (how faithful am I to this community of faith at St. Stephen Cathedral?  How involved am I? Do I live out my Baptism? Or is it merely an empty ritual?). Baptism sends us into the world to proclaim God’s name and to continue the mission of Jesus. Baptism is a powerful sign that we belong to God; however, it must be received and lived to make a difference.

III. Mary & Joseph, and Jesus/Refugees in a Foreign Land: the truth is that our country is made up of immigrants from many lands; the United States is a “melting pot” of nations! Our moral tradition calls on all people of faith and goodwill to stand up in defense of life and human dignity; it’s a fundamental calling for us as Catholics. Welcoming the immigrant and migration more broadly has a central place in the development of the Judeo Christian tradition. Stories in both the Old (Jewish Scriptures) and the New Testament (Christian Scriptures) highlight the fact that in providing hospitality to the stranger (one of the traditional Corporal Works of Mercy), we might also be unwittingly entertaining angels (Hebrews 13:2; Genesis 18:1–15).  January 6-12 is National Migration Week—“Building Communities of Welcome.”

IV.  Cathedral “Keeping Safe and Secure”: As you can see, the steps are finished, but the important railing for safety is missing and we are told the railings will be up by mid-January. We will all look forward to that! I really do not believe the front doors being closed hurt our Christmas Mass attendance—we had a wonderful response! It was inspiring to see so many college students joining our/their parish to celebrate over the Christmas season! Thanks to our Hospitality Ministers for a good job welcoming visitors and parishioners alike; being hospitable is the role of every member of the Cathedral. Thanks also to James Wells and the vocalists and musicians for helping us to pray better at all the Christmas Masses; many folks have mentioned that the violin at the Christmas Day Masses enhanced the liturgy tremendously! Thank you so much for your generosity to our porch project. As the project nears completion, we do depend upon everyone being faithful to your pledge. It takes each family/person doing his/her part gratefully!

V.  Wedding Bells Are Ringing!  Congratulations to those who became engaged this time of year. It’s an exciting time for you!  If you choose to be married within the Sac-rament of Marriage, the best response is to call the parish office immediately after you are engaged to ask for an appointment with a priest. So that you are not rushed in preparing for this most important commitment in your life, contact your parish at least 9-12 months ahead of the your intended wedding date. You may also the following website helpful: www.marriagepreparation.com.  Congratulations!

The Work of Christmas

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and the princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:

     To find the lost, To heal the broken, 

     To feed the hungry,  To release the prisoner,
     To rebuild the nations,
     To bring peace among the people, 
     To make music in the heart.

(Howard Thurman)