On the cusp of fame, power, or influence, would you turn it down? Today’s Gospel again features John the Baptist. Controversial but popular, John has gathered quite a group of followers. He has disciples. People come from near and far to be baptized by him. Pharisees and government leaders are drawn to his preaching. If John was another man, a lesser man, he would have claimed his own greatness. Instead, John the Baptist is a witness to humility.
“The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Behold the Lamb of God … he is the one of whom I said, “A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me.”… the reason why I came baptizing with water was that he might be made known.’”READ MORE
The Catechism of the Catholic Church gives four reasons for the Incarnation, why God became man in Jesus Christ. The third reason is "to be our model of holiness." All of Jesus' words and actions model for us what we ought to do. He also shows us how we're meant to be. Jesus' baptism ought to remind us of our own baptism and of the importance of baptism in the Christian life.
The Baptism of the Lord reminds us of our Trinitarian identity. When we are baptized, we stand in solidarity with Christ, bathed in the waters he sanctified. There, the Father proclaims our adoption into the family of God. "'This is my beloved son [this is my beloved daughter], with whom I am well pleased.'" And the Spirit, too, descends. We are filled with the Spirit's grace and power to continue Christ's mission on earth.READ MORE
We may walk many roads when we search for God, and He leads us all the while. The men we honor today were not Jews. The Messiah wasn’t coming for them, not in the minds of Jesus’ contemporaries. These men were astrologers. They were adept at reading portents in the sky, a practice condemned in the Mosaic covenant. Still, to the best of their knowledge and awareness, they were seeking the truth. This truth led them to journey from their own homeland to honor a king they’d never met, one they couldn’t be sure truly existed. “‘We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.’” Who do you know seeks God so tenaciously?READ MORE
"'Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you.'" 725 kilometers. That's the distance on modern roads from Bethlehem to Cairo. Assuming one covered 40 km a day on foot — ambitious for two young parents and their infant son — the journey would take well over two weeks. Of course, the Holy Family didn't have modern roads. They would travel through wilderness, fear bandits, run low on water, and cross the vast Sinai Peninsula in a reverse of their forefathers in Exodus. Here, in struggle and sacrifice, are the beginnings of the forging of the Holy Family.READ MORE
It is said that great gifts come in small packages. On Christmas Eve, underneath the Christmas Trees in many of our homes are gifts wrapped beautifully with Christmas colors. Unfortunately, some of these gifts will be returned to the stores right after Christmas because these gifts may not be our sizes; they may not fit; they are not our favorite colors; or simply because we don't like them.
Of all these gifts, there is one in particular, that once we open it, will render us speechless and bring tears to our eyes because of the so much love put in the gift. It is the smallest package ever, yet in it is the gift of God himself. St. Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians calls it the indescribable gift! (2COR 9:15), a gift that no word can express! This very gift we cannot return to Walmart, CVS, Macy's, Lord & Taylor, JCPenney, etc. This is because this gift is personal. It is practical. It is permanent/forever.READ MORE
Who did you come to see? A version of this question is posed by Jesus many times in the Gospels. He asks it of Andrew and John when they begin to follow him. He asks it of Mary Magdalene in the garden of the resurrection. He asks it in today's Gospel. "What did you go out to the desert to see?" There is something innately human about "seeing." Animals have eyes — some with much more powerful vision than our own — but that's not the kind of seeing Jesus is talking about. We could phrase the question several other ways. "What are you looking for?" "What are you longing for?" "Whom do you seek?"
It is in seeing for ourselves that our suspicions or hypotheses are confirmed, that our desires discover their fulfillment, and that we can rest for a moment in certainty. John the Baptist sought certainty of Jesus' identity. "Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?" Jesus sends word to him based on the testimony of sight, observations of the mighty deeds Jesus has begun to work. "Go and tell John what you hear and see."READ MORE
What does it mean to be worthy? There are a few different ways to approach this question. Today’s Gospel highlights two: the way of the Pharisees and the way of John the Baptist. Our faith values good works and discipleship. Perhaps, then, we “earn” our worth by adhering to the right doctrines and following the right pious practice. The Pharisees thought they were worthy. Due to their religious pedigree and proper procedures, they were self-satisfied. John the Baptist’s words to them are strong. “Do not resume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’” Of course, Jesus (and John) don’t omit the responsibility for moral behavior. John gives the Pharisees quite a strong warning in that regard. “Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance … every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”READ MORE
"I'm never getting enough rest! How can I possibly be 'asleep'?" In a world of jam-packed schedules and high anxiety levels, physical rest may be hard to come by. Yet relentless pursuit of our to-do lists and social calendars may keep our minds off of the things that really matter.
Jesus knows all too well a pattern of busy, harried ignorance. "In those days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage … they did not know until the flood came and carried them all away … two men will be out in the field … two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left." When it comes to the spiritual life, we can be at work or at relaxation and still be spiritually asleep.READ MORE