Sunday, January 19, 2014

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time - John 1: 29-34 - Confirmation

John, the Baptist is called to fulfill two missions as God’s herald.  His first mission was to prepare the way of the Lord; calling the world to repent their sins and be baptized.  His second mission was to herald the news that Jesus was the Christ, the beloved One of God, Son of the Father who was coming into the world and that He would baptize with fire and the Holy Spirit.  In his mission as herald, John is the first witness to Jesus.  He is the first to declare to the world that Jesus is the Son of God.

In last week’s Gospel we hear, as Jesus emerges from the waters, God announce that Jesus is, “My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”  God makes claim and reveals that Jesus is called and sent by Him into the world.  He is Son of God, beloved and pleasing in all things. 

We are unsure if God’s revelation was witnessed by all present at the Jordan, but it was revealed to John. With the vision of the Spirit of God descending in the form of a dove, God reveals and confirms to John that Jesus is the Christ, the one who is coming to bring salvation to the people. God calls John to be witness to this revelation and confirms that God’s favor rests on Jesus; announcing the news to the whole world.  In his mission as herald, John is witness to the reality of Jesus, declaring, “Behold the Lamb of God!  Behold Him who is to take away the sins of the world.”

God’s revelation is a confirmation of Jesus.  It is confirmation of his power and authority and of his mission of salvation.  He is the Word of God, we are to believe in Him and, as Mary, Jesus’ Mother said at the wedding feast in Cana, “Do what he tells you.”

In this we should be reminded of our own confirmation.  Our own being sealed in the Holy Spirit.  In the Sacrament of Confirmation we are called to be like John – heralds of the Good News of Jesus Christ.  We too are called to reveal to the world that Jesus is the Son of God and it is through Him that we will attain salvation and peace in God’s heavenly kingdom.

Our Confirmation matures the grace we received in Baptism; increases and deepens our relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  In Baptism we are claimed by Christ for His Church.  In Confirmation we are sealed in His Spirit to become more fully children of God.  We are firmly united and configured with Christ, perfected in His Church.

The Holy Spirit is poured out on us in a special way; sealing us with the Gifts of the Spirit of God.  We increase in wisdom, understanding, counsel, courage, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord.  In the Gifts of the Holy Spirit we are strengthened and increased, so we may be more fervent defenders of the faith, helping us to fulfill the mission of Jesus to bring the Good News to the world.  As we are filled with His Spirit we may make known God’s love for all of his children; working to bring about His justice and peace.

Just as John was called as witness to God’s beloved Son and herald His coming into the world – ‘the one who was mightier than he’, - we too are called to be heralds of the mighty power of God in our lives and to witness the message of salvation through Jesus Christ.  We are called to announce the Good News, by word and example, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

Be strengthened in the Lord, find courage to be witnesses to our belief and in Jesus Christ, as the beloved Son of God.  Share with one another the journey of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.  We are called to lead others to the truth in the person of Jesus in our own affection for the Lord. 

Let our lives reflect the love God has for each of us and bring His love into the lives of all we meet in the world, so, Jesus may be exalted and
“. . . that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,*
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that

Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God, the Father ~ Amen

Deacon Don Ron

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Matthew 3:13-17, The Baptism of the Lord - A Big Deal!

Jesus coming to the Jordan for baptism is a Big Deal!  It is the major turning point in His life: A new beginning that not only changed His life, but changed the life of the whole world.

Jesus accepts baptism from John, not because he needed to be cleansed from sin, as the Son of God he was sinless, but as the ‘fulfillment of all righteousness’.  His submission to being baptized was an act of obedience to the Will of God – a self-emptying, so that he would be filled with the Spirit, to  be revealed and claimed by the Father as his ‘beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased’.

Baptism is a big deal.  It signified a major change in the life of Jesus and a big deal for us – major change - in our lives.  It is our sacrament of initiation into the Church and into the life of Christ; where we become children of God, inheritors in His kingdom.  Baptism is our self-emptying from sin and old ways.  In our baptism all sins is forgiven and erased.  We start anew and refreshed in the embrace of God, the Father through His beloved Son.  Whether we are baptized as an infant or as an adult, we receive the same graces and complete forgiveness.  We are received with great joy and claimed by Christ in His Church. 

Baptism in the Church is a new beginning for each of us: a change that brings us to new life – our life in Christ – a very big deal!  Unlike Jesus, we have the stain of original sin on our souls. Our inheritance from Adam.  In order for us to be received into the Kingdom of God we must be reborn of water and the Spirit.  St. Paul tells us that through baptism we enter into Christ’s death, are buried and rise with Him to walk in newness of life.  We die to sin and rise to a new life as children of God.

Baptism is the sacrament of faith (CCC 1253). But faith is not formed in a vacuum.  It needs the community of believers. We do not stand alone, but live together in the Body of Christ, His Church. 

In the Rites of Baptism and Christian Initiation, we, or for infants their godparents, are asked what we seek in Christ’s Church.  Our answer is: faith.  But we do not give faith.  Faith is not something tangible.  We cannot hand faith to someone in a gift-wrapped box or give them a book on faith to read and expect them to find faith. Faith is a lived experience – a shared experience - passed down from person to person, parent to child, Godparent to godchild, friend to friend, community member to community member, brothers and sisters to one another.  We have to live our lives in Christ for faith to develop and mature.

Faith is a practice, not a concept.  It is something we do, not something we think.  It is a lived experience, - a shared experience, - enhanced through daily pray, communal worship and frequent participation.  It becomes a part of our life not something we belong to – we are not members of the Catholic faith.  It is something we are – Christians, followers of the Way, disciples of Jesus.

Faith is our Road to Emmaus, - our journey, - where we walk together with one another, - with Jesus in our midst.  It is our journey of caring, sharing and supporting one another: Pilgrims struggling together toward the promise land: this journey of faith that begins in baptism. 
On this road we come to faith through our parents, godparents and the entire community of the faithful. It is an extension of the adage, “It take a village to raise a child.” It take a faith community, through word, and action to bring a child or an adult to faith in our Lord, Jesus Christ.

As we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord, let us be reminded of our own baptism and that our baptism in the Church is a big deal.  It is the most important sacrament because it brings us to Christ, our Savior through whom we come to God, the Father and Life Eternal.  We have nothing without baptism – no sacramental grace, - no salvation through Jesus Christ - no promise of life eternal – no kingdom of heaven – no light in darkness – no justice - no peace – no hope – only the empty promises of the evil one who delights in our damnation and destruction – forever and ever ~ Amen.


Deacon Don Ron

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Matthew 2:1-12 "The Epiphany of the Lord"

“Know that we live in the holy presence of God”

Today the Church celebrates the Epiphany of the Lord.  An Epiphany is defined as a sudden striking understanding.  The Epiphany of the Lord is our sudden, striking understanding that:
(He is) God with us – the Emmanuel
The Word made flesh

As the Christ, - Jesus is born into the world, coming among us in human form to share our humanity – God is no longer a far away uncaring master of the universe, some abstract concept or some distant uncaring god living on a cloud.  God exists, God is real, God is Holy and God is here among us.

The Magi recognize and understand this newborn infant is God, incarnate.  They bring to the Christ child three gifts: Gold, frankincense and myrrh.  These are gifts to royalty.  They are appropriately offered by the Magi to the newborn King of the Jews whom they worship as God. 

  • Gold for his kingship – for he is the King of Glory and all creation
  • Frankincense for his priest hood – for he is Holy: leading us to the Father and the Kingdom of heaven
  • Myrrh for his suffering and death – for his humanity, his love and sacrifice for our salvation

For Jesus, the Christ is Priest, Prophet and King, come into the world in human form to be among us, his people; leading us into his Glory; bringing us his peace, loving us completely, forgiving our sins and ushering us into the Kingdom of heaven with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Just as John the Baptist, when he saw Jesus at the Jordan exclaimed,
 “This is the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” 

We, as Church respond, “Happy are we who are called to his supper.”

We recognize and understand that we stand in the presence of someone special, someone extraordinary, some one greater than ourselves – God among us, - holy and divine.  He comes among us; sharing our humanity as we share in his divinity.

  • For He is a God of love who loves and cares for his people so much that he brings himself into our lives to become one with us. 
  • He is a God who knows our happiness and sorrow, experiences our pain and joy, living among us as we grieve and celebrate. 
  • He is a God of Life, a God who stands with us throughout our lives; knowing our greatest desires and deepest fears. 
  • He is a God who carries us when we are weighed down in our darkest moments and a God who sheds tears of happiness at our greatest joys. 
  • He is a God who wants us, his beloved children, to be with him, sharing with us all that he has, - his bounty, - his creation, - his love and especially - his life everlasting in heaven.

Each day relive the Epiphany of the Lord – knowing we are truly blessed for we - “Live in the holy presence of God”


Deacon Don Ron