Another year has concluded and most of us barely crawled across the finish line. Reflecting on 2016, it was a wild ride full of ups and downs. But we would not have been able to make it through if it was not for the grace of God! Every New Years Eve, we hold onto the hope that the next year will be better, that we will be better. The truth is that there will never be a year without failure or disaster. But what God has in store for us is greater than any hurdle that might get in our way. As we think of the resolutions we made for 2017, we cannot forget about the spiritual resolutions that God is calling us to make every day. No matter where we are in our faith, our hearts will always be ready to convert back to Jesus. As it says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “if anyone is in Christ he is a new creature; the old things have passed away, behold new things have come!” Before we put on our brave faces and prepare to take on the unexpected, remember that our source of strength comes from our God and he can make anything new.
By Abby Wolpiuk
With the Baptism of the Lord, we arrive at the end of the Christmas Season, a time marked by the tender love and humility of God who became man in the poverty of a stable in Bethlehem to be with us always and save us. These characteristics are present throughout the life of Jesus and shine with particular beauty in today’s feast.
The baptism of John was a baptism of repentance and conversion, so there was no need for Christ, the perfect and sinless man, to participate in it. Still, in humble obedience, Jesus chose to be baptized by a man. Out of love, He carried upon Himself the burden of our sins and, lowering Himself in the waters of the Jordan, He united himself with us in a special way. He said yes to His mission to give up His life to reconcile us, which will be fully accomplished with His death and resurrection, and God the Father proclaimed Him as His beloved Son.
As we meditate upon the Baptism of the Lord, let us give thanks to God for the gift our own baptism, because through it we too become the beloved children of God and are given all the grace that we need to be holy. This is the greatest gift God gives us, but it can only bear fruits in our lives if we accept it, if we say yes to God in the daily circumstances of our lives.
Director, High School Apostles
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,
in the days of King Herod,
behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
“Where is the newborn king of the Jews?
We saw his star at its rising
and have come to do him homage. (Matthew 2:1-2)
Epiphany is the feast where the birth of the Savior in Bethlehem becomes a world-wide reality, not only a local story. Visitors from the East (that is, the far reaches of the known world at the time) come not out of curiosity but with the intention of giving honor to the baby who will redeem the world, not Israel only. Faith in Jesus Christ is not solely a personal experience but a community experience as well. Our journey to and from Mass each week brings Christ from heart and home to parish family so that inspired by the Word and fed at the table of the Eucharist we can do our part to make Christ known to the larger world (of neighborhood, workplace, and all the other “worlds” we navigate daily).
As the Christmas season draws to a close, we might ask the question the magi from the east asked: “Where is the newborn king of the Jews?” I propose that a satisfying answer will come if we keep a little bit of Christmas in our hearts throughout the entire year. The joy, wonder, and star-lit mystery of the Christmas season lifts our spirits; so why not keep some of that joy, wonder and mystery alive as the decorations come down and winter unfolds?
Find your own star to guide you by identifying the grace you have received at Christmas or any other time. Travel by the “light of that same star” by thinking of the people in your life who are light and love and who inspire you to feel hopeful. Keep one small Christmas decoration displayed to remind you that God loved the world so much that He sent his only Son as one like us in all things but sin. Hum a Christmas carol in February when it truly is the bleak midwinter. Most of all, bring Christ to the world by being a loving presence to one another and to those in need. None of us will have to journey as far as the magi did to encounter the living Christ, but nonetheless, travel safely and soundly and know that Christ travels with you!
Fr. Robert Kinnally
Chancellor, Diocese of Bridgeport