Sunday, January 8, 2017


Baptism of the Lord. Is. 42;1-4, 6-7; Mt. 3:13-17
AIM: To show the happiness of a God-centered life.
In his posthumously published book, Treasure in Clay, the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen writes: ANo true vocation starts with >what I want=, or >what I would like to do,= it starts with God.@ I quote these words because the gospel reading we have just heard shows us Jesus entering publicly on his vocation. As he does so Jesus= first concern is to show that he is a man under obedience. When John objects: AI need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?@ Jesus responds: AAllow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.@ 
ATo fulfill all righteousness@ meant, for Jesus, doing the will of his heavenly Father. That was all that ever mattered for Jesus. Each one of us was given a similar task when we were baptized. Like Jesus, we are called Ato fulfil all righteousness@ by serving God and others. Responding to that call is the highest and best thing we can do with the one life that God has given us. Do we really believe that?
Many people do not. The ambition of many people is to Ado their own thing,@ as the popular modern phrase puts it. Actually, few of us succeed very well in doing our own thing.  Rich or poor, female or male, black or white, young, middle-aged or old, all of us are limited by circumstances not of our own making. The poor wish they were rich; the rich think they still don=t have enough, and spend much of their time guarding what they do have from loss. No wonder that so many people feel they=re on a treadmill; or say: AIts war out there.@ 
Part of the gospel, the good news which Jesus Christ proclaims, is that it doesn=t have to be like that. There is another way to live: a better way, and certainly a happier one. It is the way Jesus lived. Jesus was never concerned with doing his own thing. He wanted one thing only: to do God=s thing. 
Pope, now Saint, John Paul II was another person who found happiness in  doing not his own thing but God=s thing. Weighed down in his closing years by infirmities, a physical wreck yet still mentally alert, Pope John Paul was a sign to all the world that life is still worth living, even when one is old and infirm. On the eve of his eightieth birthday, the Pope wrote a letter ATo my elderly brothers and sisters.@ Here is some of what he said: ADespite the limitations brought on by age, I continue to enjoy life. For this I thank the Lord. It is wonderful to be able to give oneself to the very end for the sake of the Kingdom of God!@
The concluding paragraphs of this beautiful letter have a message for all of us: whatever our age or circumstances. Let me conclude by reading them to you.
I find great peace in thinking of the time when the Lord will call me: from life to life! And so I often find myself saying, with no trace of melancholy, a prayer recited by priests after the celebration of the Eucharist: AAt the hour of my death call me and bid me come to you.@  This is the prayer of Christian hope, which in no way detracts from the joy of the present, while entrusting the future to God=s gracious and loving care. ABid me come to you!@: this is the deepest yearning of the human heart, even in those who are not conscious of it.   
Grant, O Lord of life, that we may be ever vividly aware of this and that we may savor every season of our lives as a gift filled with promise for the future.  Grant that we may lovingly accept your will, and place ourselves each day in your merciful hands.
And when the moment of our definitive Apassage@ comes, grant that we may face it with serenity, without regret for what we shall leave behind. For in meeting you, after having sought you for so long, we shall find once more every authentic good which we have known here on earth, in the company of all who have done before us marked with the sign of faith and hope.   

Mary, Mother of pilgrim humanity, pray for us Anow and at the hour of our death.@  Keep us ever close to Jesus, your beloved Son and our brother, the Lord of life and glory.  Amen!