Last week in the bulletin I spoke a bit about the call of God and responding to it. I mentioned how some seminarians were looking for a clear call from God, but how unusual that sort of call is. More often, God’s call is more subtle and we have to discern the call, usually with the help and guidance of others.
From Father Tom
In my years in the seminary I recall some men who longed for a clear call from God about their vocation. Often, God’s voice isn’t as clear as we’d like and we have to discern the nudges we receive.
Today we conclude the Christmas season as we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord. In the first reading Isaiah reminds us of God’s call when he says: “All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat; come, without paying and without cost.”
The word “Epiphany” comes from a Greek word meaning “manifestation.” This feast was originally celebrated on January 6, twelve days after Christmas (hence the twelve days of Christmas). Now it is placed on the first Sunday of January (but not January 1) so that more people will be able to celebrate this important day.
In the Gospel today Simeon took Jesus in his arms and said: “my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.”
As we near the end of Advent we are given an opportunity to once again hear a very important voice, that of Mary. In today’s Gospel she says: “I am the handmaid of the Lord, may it be done to me according to your word.” The definition of a handmaid is: “a personal maid or female servant; one whose essential function is to serve or assist.”
Advent is a special season of light. Jesus, the light of the world, is coming. The candles of the Advent wreath reflect this reality, and each week as we near Christmas, another candle is lit and more light shines. Today is “Gaudete Sunday,” or Rejoice Sunday, the third Sunday of Advent.
Last week my message was titled “coming” since that’s what the word Advent means. This week John the Baptist reminds us to “prepare a way, make straight his paths.”
Today we begin our preparation for the COMING of JESUS. The word Advent means “coming” and Jesus comes to us in the past, present and future. The first part of Advent focuses on the future coming at the end of the world. We had a taste of this with last week’s celebration of Christ the King. To be prepared for this coming we have to make Jesus king of our lives right now!
Our readings on this last Sunday of the Church year focuses on shepherding. The first reading from the prophet Ezekiel has God saying: “I myself will look after and tend my sheep. As a shepherd tends his flock when he finds himself among his scattered sheep, so will I tend my sheep.” The prophet goes on to say that God will “rescue them, pasture them, give them rest, seek out the lost, bring back the strayed, bind up the injured and heal the sick.”