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You Are My Beloved

A reflection for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, Year C. The readings are Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7; Psalm 29 ; Acts 10:34-38 and Luke 3:15-16, 21-22.

The central figures of the Baptism of the Lord tapestries by John Nava, at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, in Los Angeles.

After a few weeks of looking at what happened when Jesus was a baby, we skip ahead several years to when he was an adult. But today, Jesus, as an adult, does something that most of us did as babies: He was baptized. Remember the 3rd Sunday of Advent? That’s when we heard the beginning of today’s Gospel. That’s when the people asked John the Baptist what they should do and he said to be kind, generous, polite and nice? Remember? Then they all got baptised.

And Jesus also got baptised.

We’ve heard the story so many times: Jesus was baptised, the heavens were opened, the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove and a voice was heard, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” But, there are a few differences in the version from the Gospel of Luke that we heard today and there are three brief lessons that I want to share with you today that we learn from the way Luke tells the story.

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Be Kind

A reflection for the 3rd Sunday of Advent, Year C. The readings are Zephanaiah 3:14-18a; Isaiah 12:2-3, 4, 5-6; Philippians 4:4-7 and Luke 3:10-18.

Today we’re going to review some things that we already know, like, for example, that on this Sunday, the third Sunday of Advent we light the rose coloured candle as a reminder that Advent is a time of joy. That is why in the first reading, the prophet Zephaniah tells us to “shout for joy” and “sing joyfully”. The response, taken from the Prophet Isaiah, tells us to “cry out with joy and gladness” and St. Paul tells the Philippians to “rejoice in the Lord always”. And then, because it’s so important, he says, “again, I say, rejoice!” That’s why today is called “Gaudete” Sunday. Gaudete is a word in Latin that means “be joyful”.

But it’s not always easy to be joyful. Especially when we’re tired and when something is hard. And, even though Advent is a time of joy, Advent is also a time of waiting and waiting is hard. We wait for Christmas and we wait for the Messiah to come – but this year, we are also waiting for the pandemic to end. I don’t know about you, but I am tired of this pandemic. I am tired of wearing masks and tired of restrictions and vaccine mandates and proofs of vaccination. I am tired of waiting for it to end. I want it to end now.

And what happens when we’re tired of waiting? We stop being joyful.

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Thy Kingdom Come

Stained glass window at the Annunciation Melkite Catholic Cathedral in Roslindale, Massachusetts, depicting Christ the King in the regalia of a Byzantine emperor

A reflection for the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, Year B. The readings are Daniel 7:13-14; Psalm 93; Revelation 1:5-8 and John 18:33b-37

“Our Father, who art in Heaven; hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come…”

 How many times have we prayed those words: “thy Kingdom come”? Do we even know what we are praying for? What does it mean that Jesus has a Kingdom? What does it mean that he is King? What does it mean that he has dominion? That his dominion is an everlasting dominion? That he is robed in majesty? I don’t know about you, but, other than watching The Crown or Victoria, I have no concept or connection to royalty; to kings or kingdoms.  We know that the king is supposed to the supreme ruler; the ruler of all. We are supposed to obey the king. But we have so many examples of bad kings. Yet Jesus is supposed to be like the good shepherd, who takes care of the sheep. That’s why Jesus is a king in the line of King David, the Shepherd King.  And we know that Jesus is a king that will rule with perfect justice, but also with perfect mercy. All that is true, but I think that to truly understand the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, we have to pay attention to today’s Gospel.

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Take Courage, Get Up, He is Calling You

Christ Giving Sight to Bartimaeus by William Blake  (1757–1827)  Yale Center for British Art.   

A reflection for the 30th Sunday, Ordinary Time, year B. The readings are Jeremiah 31:7-9; Psalm 126; Hebrews 5:1-6 and Mark 10:46-52

Today, the universal Church observes World Mission Sunday (in fact the whole month of October is Missionary Month). It’s always on the second last Sunday of October, established by Pope Pius XI in 1926 in order to collect funds for missionaries and missions worldwide. This special collection for the Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith (Propaganda Fidei) still exists today and is held in many parishes around the world. But, more importantly, this is a day when we are reminded to pray for missions and missionaries all over. And for us in North America, we have to remember that today, many missionaries are coming from the developing world and the global south here to North America to do mission. Today is also a very good day to remind ourselves of our universal call to mission. I’ve written about this many times before: We are all called to be missionaries. It doesn’t mean you have to go off to another country; but it does mean that we need to spread the Good News everywhere we go and all the time.

It’s not hard to do.

A missionary is someone who tells others about something they love. The best analogy that I can think of for being a missionary is what I do when I hear about someone who’s going to visit Panama. I get so excited that they are going to my home country. I tell them where they should go: they have to go here and there (and not go here) and they have to go to this restaurant and when they go there they have to order this particular dish. That’s being a missionary. Telling someone about something you know and love. The pope’s message for this year’s World Mission Sunday is based on the theme, taken from Acts 4:20: We cannot but speak about what we have seen and heard”

That’s what being a missionary is. We can all do that.

If you’re wondering how else you can be a good missionary, today’s readings give us five good suggestions as to how to be a good missionary.

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