I. Year of Saint Joseph: December 8, 2020- December 8, 2021: In a new Apostolic Letter entitled Patris corde (“With a Father’s Heart”), Pope Francis describes Saint Joseph as a beloved father, a tender and loving father, an obedient father, an accepting father; a father who is creatively courageous, a working father, a father in the shadows. The Letter marks the 150th anniversary of Saint Joseph being named Patron of the Universal Church. “Each of us can discover in Joseph—the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence—an intercessor, a support and a guide in times of trouble,” said Pope Francis. He added that his desire to honor Saint Joseph “increased during these months of pandemic, when we experienced, amid the crisis, how our lives are woven together and sustained by ordinary people, people often overlooked. Saint Joseph reminds us that those who appear hidden or in the shadows can play an incomparable role in the history of salvation.”
II. In Our Christian Tradition, Baptism is not only for repentance but also an entry into the death and resurrection of Jesus. We are baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and anointed as “priest, prophet, and king” to bear the Light and Life of God to the lost and the brokenhearted. Today, as we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord, may the grace of our own Baptism be stirred up anew within us, so we might continue to be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit, prompting us to do what is good, bring forth justice, and seek the lost.
This Feast of the Baptism of the Lord marks the end of the Christmas season within our liturgical year. During the Christmas season, especially because of the coronavirus pandemic, people have said there was less “hustle bustle” and chaos and more quiet, solitude, and prayer. May that be true for you!
III. Baby Bottles for Birthright: Next weekend, January 16th/17th, we will support our local Birthright by picking up a baby bottle when you leave after Mass. Please place your donation in the baby bottle and return it to the parish office during the week, or in designated areas in church the following two weekends—ending January 30/31. Many thanks to Joe Abel for coordinating this annual event in and through the Social Concerns Committee. Birthright, located on Seventh Street (next-door to our Youth House), is described as “A Friend is Waiting” (www.birthright.org). This non-profit offers support and encouragement to expectant mothers in need. This outreach ministry is always in need of people who are interested getting involved, even a few hours a week/month.
IV. Ordinary Time is Anything but Ordinary! Beginning on Monday, January 11, as we enter Ordinary Time (in the liturgical year), we are invited to integrate what we have experienced throughout the holy season of Advent/Christmas. What have we encountered in the Gospels of Christmas, the Feast of the Holy Family, the Solemnity of Mary, Epiphany, and the Baptism of the Lord that has touched our life in a new and different way? In the waters of our own Baptism we were anointed priest (to celebrate), prophet (to preach), and king (to serve) and assured of our own “beloved-ness” (to be treasured or cherished) as a daughter or son of the living God. How is God calling you to live out this belovedness in your own public ministry?
V. Christmas Gratitude: as we officially end our liturgical season of Christmas, I want to thank you for your many acts of kindness and thoughtfulness in the form of Christmas cards, gifts, goodies, gift cards, words, and prayers. Whether the beneficiary was the pastoral team as a whole or one of us individually (priests or lay ecclesial minister), I want you to know how much your support, encouragement, and thoughtfulness mean. A heartfelt Thank You!
VI. Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins Monday, January 18th through Monday, January 25th, Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. The theme for this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, “Abide in my love…you shall bear much fruit,” is from John, chapter 15. What fruit can you plant, nurture and grow for God’s glory? Let’s join hands and hearts together in praying for a greater understanding and respect for Christians of different denominations. The divisions in Christianity continue to be a scandal; let’s pray for unity among us.