Sometimes I begin reading a novel and skip to the very end to see what the final action is. I'm of course looking for: "And they lived happily-ever-after." I do the same with the lectionary's Gospel passages. As with any homily, between the beginning and the end is .... Content. (Read filler, laugh in on hour.)
So it was with the Feast of the Epiphany. Magi wanted to encounter the newborn king of the Jews. Once they were in his presence, "they departed for their country by another way." And today, the Baptism of the Lord: "The people were filled with expectation" and a voice came from heaven, "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased."
When you come to prayer do you want to encounter Jesus? When you pray what do you expect? When you conclude prayer or Mass or any sacrament, do you depart for your home "by another way?" When you pray are you filled with expectation, at the conclusion of your prayer do you hear: "You are my beloved child, I am pleased with you"?
Prayer raises us to God, prayer joins us to God. Prayer is a relationship with God. We can forget God; God cannot forget us. Prayer unifies what ordinary life tears apart. God's love tells me that I am pleasing to Him, that I am beloved in His sight. At prayer's conclusion I go on with life "by another way." I am made whole. I have found "life in abundance." That's the celebration of the liturgy, it's the work of prayer and it's prayer at work. Encounters with Jesus necessarily change the one who prays, the one who celebrates the presence of God. Bring a baby to be baptized, a sinner to the confessional, a hungry person to Eucharist, a seeker of God to Confirmation, a sick person to the Sacrament of the Sick, a couple in love to Matrimony, or a man of service to Word and Sacrament to Holy Orders and each recipient of Sacramental Grace is changed. So are families. You cannot bring a child to be baptized to the church and leave as you came. You don't come to the church to be married and leave the same way you arrived. Amazing Grace!
The baptism of Jesus made his identity and our relationship with his Father clear. Make your relationship with Jesus strong and clear. Following his baptism, he and everyone else went home in a different way. You, now, "Go and glorify the Lord by the way you live your life!"
The Feast of the Baptism of Jesus completes the Christmas season. Christmas season, that's important. While society seems to ready us for Christmas and get us to Christmas, for the most part, "The Holidays" end on December 26th- not so for the Church. As we prepare for the day, we celebrate the day, and the season. Why run fast only to slam into a wall? There was a priest/friar of the Servite's English Province (the UK) who, at the conclusion of events, would proclaim: "Well, that was your Mass, hope you liked it, there will be another one tomorrow." "Well, that was your birthday, hope you liked it, you'll have another one next year." From him I heard: "Well, that was your Christmas, hope you liked it. There will be another next year." RIP Fr. Philip Allen, OSM. I fear all the characters are dead!
IT'S NOW - THIS IS THE SUNDAY, MONDAY IS THE MONDAY
-I am so pleased to present Professor Jean Twenge Sunday (today) at 6:30PM and tomorrow, Monday at 6:30PM.An expert in the field of generational studies, she will tell us about today's young generation, those born after 1995. To understand them better, come. To understand media and its role in their lives, come. To help preserve family and youth, come. Dr. Twenge has also written about the millennials. She has another fantastic book Narcissism Epidemic. She is a professor at San Diego State University, the mother of children herself. "Many parents have no idea what their children are doing on social media, many feel helpless." That's a reason to be present and to invite your friends and the parents of your children's friends! Please invite friends from all communities.
We are happy to have your friends. Frankly, bring enemies! God bless.