I would like to thank everyone who donated to make the recent rectory foundation repairs possible. Because of your generosity, we were able to raise the entire amount needed for both the interior and exterior foundation repairs. All of these donations were restricted gifts specifically for the rectory project. This means that none of the money spent on this project came out of our ordinary operating budget. Thank you once again for helping to preserve this historic building!
At the end of this week, I will be leaving to take a brief vacation. Therefore, we will not have Mass available at our parish this Friday, Jan 14, and Jan. 18 and 19 (Tuesday and Wednesday of next week). Weekday Masses will resume with the school Mass on Jan. 20. The weekend Mass schedule will be our normal weekend routine; many thanks to the priests who will be covering the Masses and the confession times!
On a different note, on this weekend’s feast of the Baptism of our Lord, we might find ourselves asking the same question every year: “Why was it the Father’s will for Jesus to be baptized?” After all, Jesus is God, so why would he be baptized by John? Above all, it helps us to know that the baptism Jesus received is different than the sacrament of Baptism, which we receive. However, the two realities are deeply connected.
By his baptism in the Jordan River, Jesus is publicly manifesting the very mission the Father sent him to accomplish in the world: saving us from our sinfulness and making it possible for us to dwell with him in heaven. Pope Benedict XVI helps us to understand this reality: “Basically, the whole mystery of Christ in the world can be summed up in this term: ‘baptism,’ which in Greek means ‘immersion.’ The Son of God, who from eternity shares the fullness of life with the Father and the Holy Spirit, was ‘immersed’ in our reality as sinners to make us share in his own life: he was incarnate, he was born like us, he grew up like us and, on reaching adulthood, manifested his mission which began precisely with the ‘baptism of conversion’ administered by John the Baptist. Jesus’ first public act, as we have just heard, was to go down into the Jordan, mingling among repentant sinners, in order to receive this baptism.” Jesus, always being God, is like us in all ways except sin, so that he might come to us and lead us back to the Father. For us, this process begins with the sacrament of Baptism, which Christ himself gave us.
In the new life we receive in Baptism, Christ not only forgives Original Sin, but also opens the possibility of eternal life with him. Pope Benedict adds: “Whereas for other creatures who are not called to eternity, death means solely the end of existence on earth, in us sin creates an abyss in which we risk being engulfed forever unless the Father who is in Heaven stretches out his hand to us. This, dear brothers and sisters, is the mystery of Baptism: God desired to save us by going to the bottom of this abyss himself so that every person, even those who have fallen so low that they can no longer perceive Heaven, may find God’s hand to cling to and rise from the darkness to see once again the light for which he or she was made. We all feel, we all inwardly comprehend that our existence is a desire for life which invokes fullness and salvation. This fullness is given to us in Baptism. […] For this reason Christian parents bring their children to the baptismal font as soon as possible, knowing that life which they have communicated calls for a fullness, a salvation that God alone can give. And parents thus become collaborators of God, transmitting to their children not only physical but also spiritual life.”
Therefore, this weekend’s feast day is firstly a reminder to us to give thanks to the Lord for so great a gift which he poured out on us at our own Baptism. Secondly, this feast day brings a fitting conclusion to the liturgical season of Christmas. It serves as a sort of “bridge” between reflecting on the Lord’s Nativity and the mission he came to accomplish, which we enter back into as we return this week to Ordinary Time, and which we will especially focus on when we enter into Lent in a couple months.
God bless you!