i remember the first Good Friday service I attended. I was still learning about the Church and wasn't able to receive Communion. As the priest stood at the back of the church holding the covered crucifix, I was awestruck.  He uncovered one of the arms and sang, "This is the wood of the Cross on which hung the Savior of the world." He then moved to the middle of the church, uncovered the other arm and sang, "This is the wood of the Cross on which hung the Savior of the world."  He then went to the front of the church, turned to face the people, completely uncovered the crucifix and sang for the third and final time, "This is the wood of the Cross on which hung the Savior of the world." 

For me as the priest purposefully uncovered first one arm, then the other, and finally all of it, was for me as if a veil was slowly being lifted and I could see for the first time and yet, was only just barely beginning to understand the love God has for us. 

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus - and the first public revealing of the Trinity. A major event, yet the veil of understanding is just slightly lifted. We hear the voice from heaven saying "You are my beloved Son," we see Jesus, and we see the dove descending upon him.

Looking back we are blessed with 20/20 vision and volumes of commentary dealing with this small fragment of time.

But I would ask that you place yourself there by the Jordan river, watching and listening to what is happening. You've heard and listened to John preaching repentance and that another will come baptizing with the Holy Spirit and with Fire. We know that in Scripture fire is used to represent the presence of God.

As we watch, some unknown carpenter is baptized, he steps out and falls to his knees in prayer, and suddenly you hear this voice and see a dove.

God has chosen to begin to reveal more of His love for us, more about His plan. But who is this  man? A corner of the veil has been lifted from our eyes, but our journey is not over. 

And this is the way our journey to God progresses.  We may walk for years and suddenly God allows us to understand something. The light bulb over our heads lights up and we stand there in awe and wonder.

One of the most common ways God chooses to reveal Himself is through the Sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, Reconciliation, Eucharist, Marriage, Anointing of the Sick, and Holy Orders.  Through regular active participation in the three that we repeat often - Eucharist, Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick, God will continue to reveal Himself, His mercy, His love to us.

Take the opportunity to participate in these Sacraments as often as possible and allow Him to continue to reveal His mercy, love and grace in your life. 

 

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family - the family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. But it is also the feast of our own families, and just as important, our family right here - the church. 

Our readings today give us different glimpses into what family is and how it works.

In our first reading, Hannah conceived and then dedicated her first born son to God, leaving him there in the temple to be raised. She kept her promise to God, and she understood that her child was a gift, that in fact, all children are a gift from God.

The second reading from the First Letter of John tells us that although we are all many people from many different families, we are all God's children because of God's love for us. We are one family.

In the Gospel we hear that Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem without his parents knowing. After several days they found him, reprimanded him, head back home, and he was obedient to them.

On a personal note, if that had been me, I would have had more than a reprimand! LOL 

Three very different snippets of family. But they are each represented right here with us today.

We are able to love God and one another, because He loved us first. We are His children. We are brothers and sisters because of that love. How do we in turn express that love? By loving others. Not just those that believe the way we believe, or think the way we think. We are to love each and every person.

We are called to be family for those that have no family, friends to those who have no friends.

We are to be Christ to all people, and to see Christ in each and every person. We are to bring that love and fellowship to everyone.

Families are not perfect. They are made up of individual people with their own history, feelings, and insecurities, and sometimes we hurt each other. When that happens, we have to be mature enough to be able to say, "I'm sorry," and then make it right. As we see in the Gospel: Jesus went home and was obedient to his parents.

This feast today represents the entire human family- the individual family unit, the church family, and our world family (yes, every human being on the planet).

As we prepare to close out the year and enter the new, how will you take family with you into the world?