3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Walls are necessary for security, to protect the life that is fostered within those walls. Just before our first reading begins, the Jewish people have finally been allowed to go home to Jerusalem after being conquered and sent away years ago. The first thing they do is rebuild the walls to ensure their security. Then our reading picks up with the great stories of their history being retold to this people who had in many ways forgotten their heritage and identity as God's Chosen People - they are being formed again so that they can become the light to the world that God intended. It is much the same in our Catholic Church today. To be strong and secure in our Catholic faith we do need to be set apart, we do need to build walls to protect our life inside from the attacks of the outer world. But we are also invited – like the Israelites – to reclaim our identity and then throw open the windows to let this life transform those around us: it’s both/and. Where do you need to strengthen a wall this week? And where are you being asked to open a window?
2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
In this week's Gospel Jesus performs his first known miracle: turning water into wine at a wedding reception. Jewish wedding receptions lasted 5-7 days; it was the third day of this wedding reception and they're already running out of wine - it would have been a complete humiliation for the newlyweds. For this miracle, however, Jesus didn't magically become aware of the wine shortage, snap his fingers and fix it all in an instant. Rather, this miracle involved a number of people: noticing a problem, bringing it to Jesus, persevering through seeming rejection, carrying out laborious and seemingly useless orders, all backed by a trust that it would turn out OK in the end. What would have happened if one link in that chain had been broken by someone stopping from discouragement or doing something other than what Jesus asked because it would have been the more logical or sensible thing to do? The miracle probably wouldn't have happened. This week: how will you fit into that chain of events as God tries to use you to work a blessing, even a miracle, in the life of someone else?
The Baptism of the Lord
Today Jesus is baptized, not to be washed by the water but to wash the water; not to be cleansed by the waters but to cleanse the waters. Today Jesus isn't baptized by water - water is baptized by Jesus. So when we go down into the water in baptism, we no longer just get wet, we get Jesus Christ! At our baptism we were set free from the hold of sin, worry and anxiety in our life, brought into God's family, and given the power of the Holy Spirit to live this new life in God. The challenge this week: how are we doing? How are we living out the gift of our baptism? Have we in some ways forgotten the power and strength God gave us on our baptism day and settled for a less than full and vibrant life of faith? This week, let's ask for a renewal of that strength of our baptism!
Today three wise men/three kings/three magi arrive at the place where Jesus was born after following the sign of a star. The presence of these three non-Jewish kings shows that God is calling not only the Jewish people but ALL people of the world to believe in and follow His Son Jesus. God’s sign was a star; everyone can see the stars. So why is it only these three wise men who followed that star? Was everyone else just too busy? Were they so caught up in life that they didn’t even notice the sign? We encounter three different kinds of people in the Gospel today: those who don’t notice the sign, those who notice the sign but don’t follow it, and those who notice the sign AND follow it. This week: What are the signs God is placing in your life (what are the stars)? And when you see a sign, do you follow it?