Peace to you!
Beatitude, understood properly as a term, means the state of complete blessedness or happiness. The beatific vision is to be in the full possession of the only truly perfect good, which is God. There are 8 supernatural actions that the Lord enumerates in the Sermon on the Mount, the last of which is indicated twice to emphasize its excellence. Simply stated, the beatitudes are the crowning achievements in the Christian life on earth. They are acts of virtue (moral excellence) that have been perfected to the highest possible degree by the person who has become habitually docile to the Holy Spirit. It almost goes without saying that while humility, meekness, desire for justice, chastity, compassion, mercy, charity, working for peace no matter the cost are acts of virtue, they also manifest the real presence of special, God given gifts in the person. A beatific or happy life is the result of using these supernatural gifts in a manner guided by the Holy Spirit. All of us desire fulfillment and happiness at the deepest level within. As Christians, we regard Jesus as the revealer and teacher of truth. Jesus teaches us the truth about the human person and about God. Through the beatitudes, he reveals that the way to true happiness consists in a life of virtue in communion with God in the Holy Spirit. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we won’t have to struggle with sin while we are in the world, but it does mean that we can experience the blessedness of the kingdom! May God guide you into the way of peace! +++ Fr. Peter
May the grace of Christ raise you up!
The readings offer a complexity of themes that generally flow toward the coming of God’s manifold grace and power to enlighten and lead people into a relationship of peace with God. Jesus is depicted as stepping into the prophetic vocation where John left off, however with a nuance. With Jesus, the kingdom is AT HAND; it is not coming in the near future as John would say. At almost the very start of his public ministry, Jesus calls Peter and Andrew, James and John to follow him in a special way. They are called to be his disciples and for some mysterious reason, they leave everything they have to follow him. In reflecting on my own vocation and the mystery of the call that I received, I have to say that it is indeed a mystery. I had a great job and was doing well, making plans to build a house, settle down and get married then suddenly, everything changed. I left it all behind, family, friends, pets, personal income, plus some hopes and dreams. Having said all of that, I can say with St. Paul that it has been at a cost but nothing compared to the great gain of the gift of God’s call to follow the Lord! It has been a great adventure worth much more than anything I’ve left behind!
This weekend I invite you to consider your financial commitment to support your parish and the ministries that happen through life in the parish. In this effort, we express our discipleship and the willingness we have to make a sacrifice for the future of the Church. Being good stewards of the gifts and resources we receive from God is good discipleship. I encourage everyone to consider what they are able to give. We ALL have something to give and we all have a need to give! Our way to success and our future joy does not consist of the same people giving more; rather, it consists in more people giving! God’s continued blessings to you all! +++ Fr. Peter
Peace and Grace to you!
This weekend John the Baptist publicly testifies that Jesus is the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” John also says of Jesus “he is the Son of God” and he baptizes with the Holy Spirit!
The reading from Isaiah reminds us that we evangelize and demonstrate our discipleship through servant leadership.
The Catholic Church has repeatedly stated that everyone, by their baptism and Confirmation, shares in the mission of Christ—to proclaim the good news to all people! Every Catholic is an evangelist and disciple of Jesus, therefore the continuing study and understanding of the faith is necessary so that we always have a reason to explain the cause of our joy. The ability to explain the faith is not the special prerogative of priests and theologians. It is the grace of revelation and conversion given by God. Jesus did not give the mission solely to the religious and ordained so that they could fulfill the obligation for everyone else; all must work at it. It is important to remember that upon our baptism we are anointed priest, prophet and king. For living out the priestly office, all of us should be engaged in daily prayer and some kind of ministry and activity because life in the Spirit requires it. The greatest gift of ministry is not what we give to others but what happens in the exchange: they also give to us. In these encounters we experience concretely the divine blessing of the Church and the communion we have in the life of Jesus. All of us experience transformation, conversion, liberation and a deep sense of peace knowing that God is present and active at all times. As our journey continues, we realize that we are one on whom the Spirit has come upon and remained. God bless you always! +++ Fr. Peter
May the Light of All Nations give you radiant hope!
The Feast of the Epiphany is special to all of us who were never born Jewish because the promised Messiah came as the fulfillment of God’s love and mercy toward all people. St. Paul assures the Ephesians that they too, non-Jewish people, are coheirs equal in dignity as members of the one body sharing in the one promise of Christ through the Gospel. As I write this I have to admit that because I was born and raised Catholic, I really can’t imagine what it would be like to never have the Light of Christ; i.e., to never have known about Jesus or heard his teaching. However, I do recognize the increasing importance of our faith in my own life’s journey. Perhaps, like the story shows, the light of Christ increases with age and wisdom!
For many, the light of faith does not appear until later in life and once recognized, they follow it to discover God’s tender mercy, love and salvation. I just read one such story. Brother Joseph Dutton was born in 1843 and became a Union soldier in the Civil War while yet a teenager. Most of his military career involved caring for the sick and burying the dead. Joseph did fall in love and married but was divorced less than a year later. For Joseph, the trauma of war and divorce took their toll and the darkness swallowed him as he turned to alcohol for the next ten years. Eventually someone gave him a Bible and as he studied it, he recognized that he was wasting his life. He decided to change. In 1883, on his 40th birthday he was baptized Catholic and a short time later entered a Trappist monastery. Joseph left the monastery and after reading an article about Fr. Damien’s work with the lepers of Kalaupapa he boarded a ship and sailed to Molokai. Br. Joseph cared for Fr. Damien and the lepers until he himself died in 1931 (not from leprosy). The point is Br. Joseph found Christ the true light and followed him. In doing this, he became a light to those who knew him. If people today are to find their way through the spiritual darkness of our world to the infant lying in the manger, it will be through the faith and example of God’s people, who busy themselves with living out the Gospel and bear Christ’s light! The Wise Men followed a star, Jesus has made each of us more than a star; we are vessels of his very own light and as we follow Christ the true light, we show and share it with others!
May Christ’s light be manifest through you! +++ Fr. Peter