We hear so very often that God loves us, that he sent his Son to die for us, that there is nothing we can do to earn his love and that we are called to love others with the same love he gives to us.
Is it possible to hear this truth week after week and year after year without allowing God’s merciful love to penetrate our hearts? Is it possible to “know” God loves us and yet refuse to put Christ at the center of our lives?
What one thing can you do this week to help you live a life that shines?
It doesn’t do any good to say, “I’ll pray more,” unless you have a real plan in place. Where will I pray? When? For how long? Will I pray alone or with others? What if I forget? How will I get back on track?READ MORE
It begins! Jesus is doing something new. “He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea.” Jesus leaves his family, his profession of carpentry, and everything he has known and loved for the previous 30 years. He goes because it is time. Something new is beginning, and Jesus will not begin it alone. “As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers … he walked along from there and saw two other brothers.” What does he say to these men? “Come after me.” These words are for Peter and Andrew, for James and for John. They are also for all of us.
“Come after me.” The adventure of discipleship will be strange, wild, and unexpected. The Apostles surely didn’t know what they were getting into. But the invitation is accompanied by a promise. “I will make you fishers of men,” Jesus tells the first Apostles. No more will their priorities be limited to this particular village, to the square miles of the Sea of Galilee. Their eyes will be open to the kingdom of God, and their priorities will shift.READ MORE
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.’” Rather than point to himself, John points to Christ. John could have grasped at what he had accumulated. He could have seen Jesus as a Messianic competitor. Instead, John knows who he is. He knows his place as forerunner. Because John knows who Jesus is. “I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.”READ MORE
Our Church is back to Ordinary Time after the seasons of Advent and Christmas. The priest wears his green vestment, decorations are gone from the sanctuary, and the Gospel reminds us that Jesus is the Lamb of God who came to take away our sins, and those of the whole world.
As we live the rhythms of our daily lives, let us make the extra effort to find ways to show ordinary everyday kindness to others, especially when we don’t feel like it. Our world is desperately in need of God’s love. Your family can make time to put God’s love in action. Choose one way to love “outside the box” this week. Here are a few ideas for ways you can surprise someone with kindness:
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. We received these gifts in the sacrament, and they continue to dwell within us through sanctifying grace. We can — and should — invite God to stir up these graces of our baptism and consider them in our own lives.READ MORE
Did you make a resolution for the New Year?
Chances are if you wrote it down and are making the effort to keep your promise, you see good results from keeping your promise.
But, if you have already forgotten what you resolved to do, or you never really settled on a resolution to begin with, you are not alone. Most people can relate.
Whether you are good at resolutions or you fail at them, these excerpts from Pope Francis’ Christmas homily offer encouragement.
“Take courage, do not lose confidence, do not lose hope, do not think that to love is a waste of time! . . .Love has conquered fear, new hope has arrived, God’s kindly light has overcome the darkness of human arrogance.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?
“Magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem,” the Gospel tells us. Who are the seekers in your own life? Maybe it’s your cautiously curious co-worker, the neighbor who unexpectedly found peace on a yoga retreat, or your desperately angry child who has chosen, for now, to go their own way. Perhaps they’re not overtly headed for Jesus now, not yet. But they may well be seekers of truth in ways we didn’t expect. Our invitation is to listen, inquire, and give directions when appropriate.READ MORE