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Week of January 15, 2023

A Note From Fr. LeRoy

Usually when we begin the Season of Ordinary Time we often hear in our readings also about the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry.  In our Gospel According from John (Jn  1,29-34) we heard how when John the Baptist was baptizing in the Jordan and baptizing our Lord himself, John lays out the mission of Jesus saying, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world…”  Now, every Jew at that time knew exactly what the “lamb of God” was about, how a lamb was sacrificed daily in Jerusalem temple to atone for sin.  So, as John spoke those words (although the crowd may not know exactly how Jesus would be “the Lamb”) they did know that somehow the mission of Jesus’ life was one of sacrifice for all.  Jesus would atone for the people’s sins.  Truth is although Jesus himself was sinless and had no need for John’ baptism of repentance, as our Savior, Jesus would not only save us from our sins, He would also show us “the way” to salvation by subjecting himself to baptism as well!  Afterall, He once said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life!” (Jn 14,1f)

Since Jesus himself was baptized, the Sacrament of Baptism is also an important part of our life.  It also marks the beginning to our own ministry in Christ.  In ancient times Baptism was often called “the door to the spiritual life.”  In other words, the Sacrament of Baptism is not only the first step we must take in order to be a Christian, it is our first step into a deeper, more spiritual journey into the holy things of God.

Now being a Christian is not just about being a good person, after all, even Muslim or Jew or an atheist can be a good person.  Even those seek nirvana as a Hindu can be a good person as well.  What makes Christianity very different is not only about being a good person, but it is that in Baptism, we enter into the very Trinitarian life of Jesus Christ!  In other words, like Jesus we become a “Child of God,” with God as our Father, Jesus our brother, Mary our mother and the Holy Spirit as our companion and guide.   Baptism brings us into the very Mystical Body of Christ, a body that, although it may have to suffer and die, it will also rise again in Christ!  And just like Jesus, whose baptism sent him out on a mission, so in our baptism the Holy Spirit sends us out on a mission as well, to bring the good news to the poor, to heal the broken hearted, and to receive eternal life in Christ.  Our challenge then, is to discover that mission and live it out.  This can often be a life-long process.

 It was St. Augustine who once said, “Pray as though everything depends on God.  Work as though everything depends on you.”   St. Catherine of Siena also once said, “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire!”  Through Catholic, Christian Baptism, may we take these words to heart and begin this new year fully alive in God!   

                                                Fr. LeRoy Scheierl

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