not conformed to the world, but be transformed
renewal of your mind." Rm. 12:2
This Sunday, we
celebrate the Solemn Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.
This Feast reminds us not only of the Lord Jesus'
holiness and mission in life, but, by virtue of our own
Baptism, the call of all people-men, women and
children-to holiness: life in union with the Most
Today I meditate on a
couple of priest-friends who are leaving the Diocese and
country for far-away places… Their stories are
Fr. Edward Bayer, who
is retiring at the age of 71, is "un-
retiring" in another way: he is leaving us and
moving to Papua New Guinea, (which is above Australia).
Last Spring he read an article and plea from the Bishop
there, on the need for professors in the seminary to
train young men in the ways of priesthood. He is
offering his expertise to them in moral theology; it
seems he didn't want to sit around and think of
"sheep without a shepherd". He prayed about
the offer and, with his mandatory-upcoming retirement,
he did decide to leave friends and family, country,
culture and comforts to a "land down under".
Fr. McClean Cummings is
leaving soon for Russia. This young priest
(thirty-something) heard the call to help the Church
there: in all of Russia there are only about 65 priests
and three bishops. After visiting a few times and
discerning, he decided to answer the call of needy
people and move there. He will be learning Russian a few
hours each day, saying Mass and hearing confessions and
meeting the faithful. He strikingly said he felt a sense
of zealousness in his priesthood to go and help, and
also felt this amongst the clergy there.
Let us pray for these
men. Both are answering the call of their baptism: to
become an adopted son of Jesus Christ, to love and
follow Him wherever he calls. They are more intimately,
deeply and concretely hearing, discerning and responding
to the Lord Jesus' call to discipleship…How about you?
This Sunday we
contemplate Jesus Christ's Baptism: He did not need to
be baptized. As God, He was both sinless and in need of
nothing. He did so to sacramentally show us that He is
the fulfillment of all Jewish and Hebrew prophesies,
that He is the answer to the hopes of Israel's need for
a Messiah, and also show us, concretely through His own
baptism-how we must renounce sin and then become sons
and daughters of God for missioning into the world, He
Lest we downplay this
Sacrament or Day, a story may help. A priest recently
encouraged attendees at a Baptism that this is the most
important sacrament- baptism engraces us to be sons and
daughters of God, when we receive sanctifying grace and
are called in our own way-where we are here and now ,to
carry His word and graces into the world.
At first this sounded a
little overblown, but then the beauty and power of the
sacrament became apparent through this priest's
insight/-reminder: all of us are called to be holy, to
become children of God and bearers of His message-ALL of
us-Baptism is the moment when we leave being
"strangers to God" and fully become
"wed" to Him. As Vatican Council II has said,
in "Gaudium et Spes", everyone is called to
become holy in following Jesus Christ.
Pope John Paul II said
to thousands of lay persons in Rome for a conference on
the theme of each person following Jesus, "Today,
from this upper room in St. Peter's Square, a great
prayer rises: Come, Holy Spirit, come and renew the face
of the earth…"
- How can I follow
Jesus Christ more in my life? How can I do this
daily, more concretely through prayer, service to
others, and study of spiritual subjects,
- What are the
obstacles to my growth in holiness-people, places or
things-which impede or diminish my love for God and
- How can I concretely
help my local church, pastor and leaders more?
A (real) CHRISTMAS
STORY: a Catholic father was car pooling some children
to school while playing Christmas music after Christmas
Day. One of the young boys said innocently,
"Christmas is over … why are you playing
Christmas music?" The holy Dad said,
"Christmas isn't over…Have the Three Kings come
yet? Has the Lord been baptized?". The boy
responded, "Well, the 'commercial Christmas' is
over." Our friendly Dad eloquently said,
"Well, I'm Catholic." Yes:
remember your true identity-being a Catholic-Christian.
Re-mind yourself of Rm 12:2: "Be not conformed to
the world but transformed."
PAPAL DOCUMENT QUOTE:
"The Role of the Family in the Modern World":
"Family communion can only be preserved and
perfected through a great spirit of sacrifice. It
requires, in fact. a ready and generous openness of each
and all to understanding, to forbearance, to pardon, to
reconciliation. There is no family that does not know
selfishness, discord, tension and conflict violently
attack and at times mortally would its own communion:
hence there arise the many and varied forms of division
in family life. But, at the same time very family is
called by the God of peace to have the joyous, renewing
experience of 'reconciliation', that is, communion
reestablished, unity restored." #22: By Pope John
Paul St. Elizabeth Ann Seton-defend our families!
QUOTE of THE WEEK:
"We shouldn't and cannot underestimate the power of
the devil and why should we open the door (to occult and
satanic practices)". St. Michael-defend us!
"Jesus didn't send children out to be
evangelizers." Dr. Raymond Guarendi, regarding the
need to defend the innocence vulnerability of children.
other Sermons by Father John J. Lombardi