This week I will be on my annual retreat in Seaside, Oregon. I’ve always loved being near the ocean. It provides a wonderful setting for rest, reflection, getting some exercise, and some good food. Last year I was surprised to learn that a waitress remembered me coming year after year. In fact, when I was leaving she said, “I’ll see you next year.” I will be sure to lift all of you in prayer. Also pray for me. I hope to solidify some of my dreams for my future retirement. May the Lord bless you in every way.
In putting together my reading list for the winter months I’m trying to have a good mix of both spiritual, fiction, and non-fiction. A few of them are as follows: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon, the seventh book of The Eye of the World series by Robert Jordan, Heaven’s Prisoners by James Lee Burke, Into Your Hands, Father by Wilfred Stinssen, The Rabbit Angstrom novels by John Updike, The Education of Henry Adams by Henry Adams, Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban, and Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Let me know which book tickles your fancy.
Just a reminder that I have a box of books in my office that are yours for the taking.
It is only fitting that our 29th anniversary of our parish falls in the weekend on which we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Our patron John is taken aback at the request of Jesus for baptism. But as a sign of his solidarity with sinners, Jesus went through with it. He was awakened to his child of God identity and then went forth to awaken others to that same fact. May we pray especially for our parish community that we might live out our mission statement “the Catholic Community of St. John the Baptist, where stewardship’s a way of life, and the diversity of our gifts is used to answer Christ’s call to proclaim and live the Gospel.”
Thank you for your wonderful Christmas gifts. I appreciate your kind generosity. May the Lord bless you and your family this new year in every way
On the Sunday of the Epiphany of the Lord, we hear about gifts in the gospel reading. The image of gift is an appropriate one since today, on Epiphany Sunday, we acknowledge and celebrate the gift of God’s saving grace offered to everyone in the birth of his Son Jesus.
Each Epiphany Sunday, the Gospel reading is Matthew’s account of the visit of the Magi. Three important truths are revealed in this sacred story. First, God alone directs salvation history. King Herod tried to exercise control over the newborn Christ, assembling the chief priests and scribes of the people and meeting secretly with the Magi in an attempt to conceal his true motives to harm the infant. But God protected the baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph ,and the Magi, directing all of them to safety. A second revealed truth is that God prepared us for this gift through the words of the Jewish prophets. We hear that the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem fulfills what the prophet Micah had foretold nearly eight centuries earlier: “Bethlehem...from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel” (see Micah5:1). A third revealed truth is that Jesus is God’s gift to all nations. The Magi who brought gifts to Jesus are traditionally identified as Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar. These three astrologers from the East represented the other major nations of the world in the time of Christ.
Epiphany celebrates what the visit of the Magi reveals to us: God’s gift—the gift of his newborn Son—is a gift offered to all people, for which god has long-prepared the world.
Although we have two days left in Advent season I can’t help but wish all of you a blessed Christmas season. In his apostolic exhortation Evangelic gaudium, Pope Francis reminds us: “The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salutation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew.” This reminder that joy is born anew is in essence what we celebrate at Christmas-not the birthday of Jesus, but rather the Incarnation of the Word made flesh, when God broke into human life to take on human flesh in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Indeed the words of Isaac Watts’ traditional Christmas carol are true, “Joy to the world, the Lord is come.”
I write this after having returned from the funeral of Fr. John Renggli. He was a person filled with the joy of the Kingdom. Rarely, if ever, did I hear him say anything negative about someone. He always looked for the positive in the other. He had a self-deprecating sense of humor, quick to laugh at his own foibles. Even during the last few years as he slowly lost his memory he still pulsated with joy in the present moment.
I mention all this because today we celebrate Gaudete Sunday, lighting the pink candle of the wreath. Gaudete is a Latin word meaning to rejoice. Although we continue to wait for Christ’s coming it is almost as if we can’t contain the joy that lies therein. May we be people who know of the joy of the Lord.