Our Participation

Today’s feast of the Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord does more than close the Christmas Season.  It does more than point out to us how Christ, by His action, witnessed to the importance of Baptisms. It gives us a great lesson in our importance, and therefore our obligation as followers of Christ; we are integral in His salvific plan. We hear in today’s Gospel that as Jesus came to John the Baptist: ‘John tried to prevent him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me? Jesus said to him in reply, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness”’.

Christ, the eternal Word of the Father; God Himself; wanted John to baptize Him. John was needed by God to further His mission.  God desired to work not through John as much as He desired to work with John; and He desires to do the same with each of us.  We are not to sit back, hear the great message of God and expect Him to work out our plan of salvation for us.  If that is our understanding of our relationship with God then, in all honesty, we fail to understand. God intends us to be active participants in the Gospel message of Love.

In the second reading St. Peter announces to those at Cornelius’ house that ‘In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.’ If by our actions we don’t put in practice the Gospel then we pass judgment on ourselves.  By His actions Christ made the statement that He would participate in our lives so that we can participate in His.  By His example we see that His life isn’t just sitting in glory at the heavenly banquet with the Father; it is also lowering Himself and working with us to affect our salvation.  This is what St. Peter speaks about at Cornelius’ house, and what God showed us at the River Jordan through John the Baptist.

If one can make the statement (which I do) that Christ’s baptism starts His ‘Via Dolorosa’ from the river to cross, then let each one of us start today as well and prepare ourselves for Holy Week.  Let us start to search our hearts as to how well we are returning God’s gift of His Son at Christmas by looking at whether, like John, we are actively allowing God to use our talents and our energies in His eternal plan.By doing this we can start our Lenten observance in full stride and make it all the more fruitful.

After Vespers – in place of the Salve Regina

In light of my Vesper reflection – instead of chanting Salve Regina; tonight, please sit, listen to, and make your own this beautiful prayer of veneration to Mary, written by His Holiness Pope Francis for the feast of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, this past December.

Virgin most holy and immaculate,
to you, the honour of our people,
and the loving protector of our city,
do we turn with loving trust.

You are all-beautiful, O Mary!
In you there is no sin.

Awaken in all of us a renewed desire for holiness:
May the splendour of truth shine forth in our words,
the song of charity resound in our works,
purity and chastity abide in our hearts and bodies,
and the full beauty of the Gospel be evident in our lives.

You are all-beautiful, O Mary!
In you the Word of God became flesh.

Help us always to heed the Lord’s voice:
May we never be indifferent to the cry of the poor,
or untouched by the sufferings of the sick and those in need;
may we be sensitive to the loneliness of the elderly and the vulnerability of children,
and always love and cherish the life of every human being.

You are all-beautiful, O Mary!
In you is the fullness of joy born of life with God.

Help us never to forget the meaning of our earthly journey:
May the kindly light of faith illumine our days,
the comforting power of hope direct our steps,
the contagious warmth of love stir our hearts;
and may our gaze be fixed on God, in whom true joy is found.

You are all-beautiful, O Mary!
Hear our prayer, graciously hear our plea:
May the beauty of God’s merciful love in Jesus abide in our hearts,
and may this divine beauty save us, our city and the entire world.

Amen.

Merry Christmas!

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