Archives: January 2015

Due to extreme cold weather conditions, the following Basilica programs have been cancelled for Wednesday, January 7.

  • Evening Children's Ministry
  • St. Vincent de Paul team meeting (12:40-2:15pm). SVdP Outreach will be open as scheduled.

Basilica offices will remain open and 7am and 12nn Mass will be celebrated in the Saint Joseph Chapel. Please use caution before venturing out.

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.  
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/011115.cfm 

This Sunday we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.   It must seem strange to move so quickly from the celebration of Jesus’ birth to his baptism by John the Baptist in the River Jordan.   The fact is, though, that after the infancy narratives and the story of the finding of Jesus in the temple, there are no biblical stories of Jesus’ adolescence or young adulthood.  Instead, we move immediately to the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry with his baptism. 

This year we read Mark’s account of Jesus’ baptism.   Mark is sparse in the details he includes in regard to  Jesus’ baptism.   We are told simply that “Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John.   On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a  dove, descending upon him.   And a voice came from the heavens, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’”   

There are two options for both our first and second readings for this feast.  For our first reading we will use Isaiah 55: 1-11.   It anticipates the release of the Israelites from their captivity in Babylon.   Through the prophet Isaiah, God urges the people: “Come to me heedfully, listen, that you may have life.   I will renew with you the everlasting covenant, the benefits assured to David.”   John the Baptist’s preaching echoes these words. 

Our second reading for this feast is from the Acts of the Apostles.  In the section we read this Sunday we hear Peter boldly proclaim:  “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.  Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him. “

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

1.  At this baptism Jesus heard the voice of the Spirit proclaiming him God’s beloved Son.  As a baptized Christian do you think of yourself as a beloved son or daughter of God? 

2.  In Jesus Christ we believe that God has entered into a new covenant with his people.  What is the difference between a covenant and a contract?

3. How would you respond to someone who believes that God does show partiality? 

It is probably safe to say that most of us love the season of Advent and that Christmas is one of our favorite celebrations of the year. But what about Epiphany?

The word ‘epiphany’ is the English transliteration of the Greek epiphaneia, meaning appearance, revelation, manifestation. In our Christian context the word refers to the revelation of Jesus as the Son of God. This feast which has traditionally been celebrated on January 6 is now often celebrated on the first Sunday of January. Its origins can to traced back to the Church in the East and is older than the celebration of Christmas on December 25. 

While Christmas focuses on the Birth of Jesus, the feast of the Epiphany focuses on the Baptism of the Lord in the East and the visitation by the Magi in the West.  In both instances, Jesus is revealed to the world as the Son of God. Both of these revelations were rather grand experiences. At Jesus’ baptism, e.g. a voice from heaven proclaimed him to be the beloved Son of God. And the Magi successfully followed a star in search of the Son of God.

In addition to the Gospel stories, saints too seem prone to great and life altering revelations. Sometimes I wonder why such experiences have not befallen me. This has led me to think that saints have reached such a high state of holiness that God deems them worthy to receive such revelations. But maybe it is better to look at it a little differently. Maybe revelations are not a reward for saintly lives, rather saints reach such a high spiritual sensitivity that they have an extraordinary sense of God’s presence in the world so that small revelatory moments can become great experiences. By contrast, many of us are so dulled down by the hustle and bustle of our lives that we might not even recognize God, even if we were breaking bread together. 

That is why the celebration of the Epiphany is so important. It is an invitation to all of us to open our hearts and minds to God’s presence in the most ordinary as well as in the most extra-ordinary aspects of our lives: in the love between to people; in the beauty of a mountain range; in a playful herd of sheep and in a lonely row of cypress trees; in the people who risk their lives to save the life of others and in those whose lives are being save; in the people who work toward justice for all; and above all in the liturgy and the sacraments.

And if we are able to pause long enough, we might even recognize God’s presence in ourselves? After all, we are created in the image of God and by virtue of our baptism we are called to be a manifestation or an epiphany of God’s love in this world.

Thus the solemnity of the Epiphany not only celebrates that God was revealed in Christ some 2000 years ago; the Epiphany also invites us to open ourselves up to discover God’s presence among us today; and  the Epiphany remind us that each one of us is are called to be a revelation or epiphany of God in our world.

 

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