Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Baptism of the Lord 2012

jesusbaptism21-300x225Jesus was born in turbulent times.
The Romans occupied Israel.

There were always tensions between the occupiers and the occupied.
Some accommodated the Romans and their religious practice grew weak.

Others did their best to remain faithful and observe the tiniest letter of the law.

These were not easy times and many knew that they had drifted away from their Covenant with God.

The problem was they were not sure that they could be forgiven.
In this context....

John the Baptist inspired by the Holy Spirit appeared proclaiming a baptism of repentance.

His message was simple and direct, the forgiveness of sin is  possible...  come and be baptized.

Encouraged by the chance of a fresh start, people came in droves to be washed in the living waters of the Jordan and be forgiven.

When you think about it the symbolism is obvious, water has always been used to wash or purify something.

By stepping into the water and completely submerging oneself
a person was saying I am sorry for every possible sin I have committed.

Just like there is not a dry spot on my body there is not an area of my life that I don’t want to clean.

And so the message of John the Baptist was look into your heart realize your faults and step into the water.

When people came to be baptized by John they acknowledged their brokenness and enjoyed God’s mercy and forgiveness.

The first step in being forgiven has to be admitting that you did something wrong.

Then all of a sudden Jesus came to be baptized...

Why did He who was without sin feel drawn to John the Baptist’s ministry of forgiveness?

There are lots of interpretations but the one I read the most was that with His Baptism Jesus took upon himself all of our sins.

Humanity washed away it’s sin in the Jordan but Jesus, God’s son took our sins upon himself.

In a sense the baptism of the Lord was a prefiguring of his sacrifice on the cross when He paid the price of our sins.

What does all of this have to do with us... we live in turbulent times.
Our world our country our communities are becoming more and more polarized and violent.

Many of us know that something has to change.

And it seems to have become a national pastime to look at others and point out what’s wrong with them.

It is so easy to point the finger at someone else and say they have to change.

Hardly any of us admit that we might have to change.

Hardly any of us admit that there are things in our lives which need to be healed or forgiven.

You know years ago when I was growing up we were taught everything was a sin and there was a lot of fear and anguish.

After the Council in reaction the pendulum swung to the other side and nothing was a sin.

And the Church contributed to this confusion... How could eating meat on Fridays be a sin and all of a sudden not be a sin?

Today for many or maybe even most the practice of confession has fallen away.

If John the Baptist came today very few would come to Jordan to be forgiven, because so many of us don’t understand that we need it.
Sometimes people come to confession and say gee it’s been several years.. and I can’t think of any sins...

How far the pendulum has swung.

The feast of the Baptism of our Lord and the Ministry of John the Baptist should remind us all that each and everyone of us needs forgiveness.

The feast of the Baptism of our Lord should also call us to deeper understanding of our own sinfulness and need for healing.
Today’s feast should remind us that forgiveness is indeed possible and challenge us to seek it out.

If we want the world to be a better place we have to start with ourselves.

Let’s stop pointing each other’s faults, lets examine our own conscience and walk to the Jordan seeking God’s mercy and God’s healing.

Jesus wants to forgive us.
With His baptism He shows us that He is willing to carry our brokenness and forgive our sins.

All we have to do is acknowledge our sins and confess them.

Friday, January 11, 2013

From the Bulletin 1/13/2013

We’re almost there!!!
We are almost there!   Our goal for the End of the Year Appeal is $ 74,000  and we have received $ 73,197.  Thank you for caring so much about our parish. Now that we are so close to our goal, we will review our bids and begin to work on all of the proposed safety projects listed in the appeal. I know that I will sleep a lot better knowing that our Church and everyone in it is protected by a state of the art Fire Alarm System and access control. The  new doors and access control in the Parish Center will also be a big improvement. I promise to stay within our budget. Any extra funds will be placed in reserve in case we need some security enhancements for our school in light of the Newtown Tragedy.

Just so you know, the furnace in the Parish Center is giving us fits. The repairman has been out several times to fix it, but it keeps breaking.  I’m not sure where this is going to go, but I hope that for the time being they can keep it running.

A lot of you complimented our new snow removal crew.  They seemed to do a good job getting rid of the snow and the ice. However, one of our parishioners was very concerned and  pointed out to me that they also hit the playground fence and dug up the grass all over the place. I know, and I want to assure you we’re on it. When the ground is covered with snow, it’s hard to see what you are doing. Once the crew learns our property a little better, they have promised that these types of mistakes won’t happen. They have assured me they will fix everything when spring comes.

Chatty Kids
Last week I received a couple of polite emails (Thank You) concerning our confirmation students and their behavior at Mass. It seems that several of them forgot where they were and continually talked during Mass last week. The glances given by the adults around them did not seem to have any effect. I will speak to our kids and their teachers about behavior in Church. Experience has shown that perhaps a glance is not sufficient to get the point across that they should be quiet in Church. Maybe next time you should simply politely and calmly say, “Hey guys, can you be quiet in Church?”  Slow but sure...

First Confessions
Yesterday (Saturday) our Third Graders made their first confessions. It was beautiful. Most of them were very well prepared. I want to thank our catechists for all of their hard work. Hearing those beautiful little ones humbly confess their sins was like being stoned with cotton balls. Their good example should cause us all to reflect on how we appreciate and approach this most challenging but beautiful sacrament. If you don’t have any sins and don’t need to go to confession, come up and introduce yourself. I’d love to meet you.

More on our Kids
Our Youth Ministry is going well.  Sal and those who work with him are doing a good job. I am impressed by both the number attending our High School Youth Group and the consistency with which they attend. Sal and Chris are doing a great job at forming good healthy relationships with our High School kids. The experts tell us that good relationships are the key to a great youth ministry program.

Sal met with some great Middle School parents last week and it went well. The Middle School Youth Group starts tonight. In the future, it is our hope to have Open Gym Nights for Middle School students on Sunday Nights after the youth group. We’ll keep you posted.

I want you to know that Fr. Peter, Sal and I regularly visit our Religious Education classes to try and get to know our kids.  This week, Sal will be adding a regularly scheduled presence in our school during the school day.  It has always been clear to me that this parish is most concerned about our youth. A couple of years ago, it was the number one concern. As you can see, we are working very hard with time and resources to address this concern. Yes, our children are the future of the Church.