Shepherds of Christ  
       Daily Writing        
 

January 6, 2011

January 7th Holy Spirit Novena
Scripture selection is Day 6 Period II.

The Novena Rosary Mysteries  
for January 7th are Glorious.

 

Please pray for an urgent intention.

 

 

 

                Given January 5, 2011

                    R. — Help me live in You —

                Jesus, Mary, and Joseph help me —

                I give myself completely to You —

                I give You all the issues that
                    need attention in my life —

                I ask for Your wisdom —
                I ask for Your timing
                I ask for the people I need to help
                    me resolve all these issues —

                Oh God I live in You

                I want to be this instrument of Your love —

                I beg for Your grace to come and
                    fill me to be an instrument
                    of peace and love —

                I am Yours Lord, I love You.  Amen —

                    — Comfort —

                When I am lonely, Lord —
                Comfort me with Your love —
                Love that I know in this oneness
                    with You —

                Love I experience deep in me —

                The Little Child of the past is
                    still in me —
                    seeking comfort, assurance,
                    certitude

                I want to dwell in Thee —
                I want to dwell in oneness in my heart.

                I know the Father, Son and Holy Spirit
                    live in me — in my graced
                    baptized soul —

                I surrender to You, my God —
                I surrender to bask in Your
                    presence - in Your love —

                Come to me Lord Jesus —
                Permeate my soul
                Fill me —

                Let me be filled more and
                    more with greater
                    faith, hope and love —

                God comfort me
                God I love You
                God I am Yours.  Amen.

                    — Unity —

                I see the blue sky —
                I see the ocean, blue and
                    green and

                Oh the waves are moving in
                    such beauty —

                And God I thank You for my
                    life — for these gifts of
                    beauty —

                I have been foolish, many
                    times in many ways and
                    I want You to help me
                    through trials I have
                    to wade through now in my
                    distress —

                Problems are part of life —

                There is suffering —
                There is resurrection —
                There is pain —
                There is joy —
                There is death —
                There is new life —
                There is darkness —
                There is light —

                There are little babies —
                There are old men and women —

                Oh God how grand is Your
                    design

                How beautiful the human
                    heart —

                For it can never bottom out
                    giving love —
                    or growing to be more
                    open to You —

                Sacred Heart of Jesus —
                    I want to dwell in Thee —

                Your love is endless —
                Your power infinite —
                Your mystery is the mystery
                    I long to know more and
                    more about —

                Oh sweet mystery —
                My beloved and all beautiful God —

                A sonnet to You I wish to
                    write and

                How can I ever touch the
                    words to ever praise
                    Your glory —

                But I can try with Your help and
                    reach to know more and more
                    of Your infinite Wisdom —

                You are God —
                You are Almighty —
                You are all wise —

                You are the breath I know
                    in the Holy Spirit
                    moving in my life —

                Holy Spirit fill me —
                That I may trust in the
                God who created me and loves
                me - more and more — I trust
                because of Your grace
                given to me to trust You —

                I walk the staircase of Your love —
                    and as I ascend I focus on Thee —
                    You are the heights —
                    You are the One who gives
                        us light to live
                        to be victorious one
                        day with You in
                        heaven —

                The victory of our mundane life
                    is in You —

                I abandon myself to You, my God —
                I abandon myself to Your will —

                When I am afraid —
                I need to reach for Your hand —
                Know Your embrace surrounding
                    me —

                Oh God, my God, I love You —
                Oh God, my God, I am Yours —
                I surrender all to Thee —

                I wait on Your timing —
                I live in Your Plan —
                I pray for Your Plan to be lived
                    by all men —

 

January 5, 1997

BABY, BARE BABY, LAID BARE

R. On January 5, 1997, I was wakened by Our Lord and He was mumbling.

    I heard Him and He repeated the words over and over again. I had a copy of the all-night message on the floor, I jumped from the bed and began to write around the message, for it was the only paper available and He was speaking very plainly and direct. I wrote this message in the margins of the paper. He kept repeating "BABY, BARE BABY, LAID BARE".

Jesus:  Open yourself, Oh Jerusalem, your time is come you will be a light to the people in darkness, many will walk whence you come and the earth will be shakened and the light will come across a dark sky and enlighten their minds.

Oh stiff-necked people, you are so stiff in your ways, let the spirit envelope you and lead you on your way.

A country of stiffs, a people of planning and prodding, of deliberating and wonderingyou lack faith, Jerusalem, you lack faith in God.

Oh walk naked into the cold night, you are cold in your hearts and naked in your clothingI cloth you with glory, I light your face with light, but you turn your cheeks to the darkness and stay stiff-necked in your hearts. Oh cold and dark hearts, reach for the light that you may know the glory that awaits the sinners and enlightens their minds.

end of excerpt

 

                I am so sorry how sinful man
                    has veered from Your Plan —

                Help us all in the Shepherds of Christ to
                    follow Your Plan for us —

                To spread these Prayer Chapters
                    all over the earth —

                To meditate today on the
                    Sorrowful and
                    Glorious mysteries —

                Death/Resurrection —

                It is a choice to choose the
                    positive

                It is a choice to choose the
                    negative

                Choosing the positive will help
                    to lead to a positive outcome —

                Choosing the negative leads to
                    a negative outcome —

                Life is life rooted in Thee —

                Come to me Lord and possess my soul —

                Come into my heart and permeate
                    my soul —

                Help me to sit in silence and
                    to be with You - Lord —

                Help me Lord —

                    — Motivation —

                I am motivated because I do
                    God's will —

                I am motivated because I live
                    to serve my heavenly Father —

                Jesus: Abandon yourself to the will of God —

                Let go
                Surrender —

                Give your cares to Me —

                Pray now for the help you need —

                Believe, have faith, have
                    hope, act in love —

                Love of God
                Love of your brothers
                Love of yourself as the creation
                    of God —

                R. Most Sacred Heart of Jesus I
                    place my trust in Thee

                Come to me Lord and possess my soul —

                When we choose dissatisfaction
                    we create a dissatisfying
                    experience

                Oh my beloved God, I want to
                    choose the light —

                Jesus: My daughter — it is a choice to
                    be negative or positive

                You must look at do God's will
                You must pray to do God's will
                You must seek to do God's will

                Pray to the Holy Spirit to fill you with
                    His presence

                Pray, pray, pray —

                Look at the snow flake

                Are you not so precious to the
                    God who created you —
                    Uniquely special —
                    No one is like you —

                Accept the fact you are the special,
                    unique creation of God the Father —

                Use your talents to build God's Kingdom —
                    Not to tear it down with
                    dysfunction, bad habits
                    and negative thinking —

                Be a light to the world —
                Be a witness before all —
                See the light of Christ, My light
                    in you —

                Be accountable for your
                    actions —

                Clear the deck — say you are
                    sorry when you are wrong —

                Live to love —
                Live to build the Kingdom of God —

                The attitude of many who sin is
                    "it's not my fault"

                This is deception —

                Seek the truth —

                Admit your sins quickly —
                Let the truth be in you —

                Your rear guard
                Your fore guard —

                Live in the truth —

                The truth will set you free —

                When you act dissatisfied —
                    you are bringing this attitude
                    to those around you —

                Thinking negatively — bringing
                    it in a pouty look to
                    others —
                    is being caved in —

                Open your hearts —
                Your heart is not limited —
                Love does not bottom - out —
                Love goes on and keeps on giving —
                Love like ripples on a pond —

                Don't be stagnant —

                You are changing every moment
                You are changing for the better or
                You are changing for the worse —

                You have a choice —

                When you have a negative, hateful
                    attitude the problem is
                    in you —

                You can choose to fix what's wrong
                    in you — pray for grace
                    and cooperate with the grace
                    to love — Live to love —

                I commanded you to love God
                I commanded you to love others
                I commanded you to love yourself as
                    the beautiful unique
                    creation of God the Father —

                Walk in love —
                See through the eyes of God —
                Dwell in My Heart —

                Put on your glasses marked
                    "Father's vision"
                    "Father's will"
                    "Father's plan"

 

 

 

 

January 5, 1995

See the Big Picture

Jesus:  My dear child,

I want you to see the big picture. My messages are not for two or three. My messages are for all souls. Souls are at stake. You contain the mighty medicine to draw men's hearts back to My burning love. I am Jesus. Put everything aside and focus only on Me talking to you.

The world is hurting. Men's hearts are so cold. They do not see beyond themselves. They do not see that God is with them this day. Little one, you were created to know, love and serve God. God must be first in your life. Many in your country have denied the existence of God. The batting of an eye, the dropping of a pin, and your life is over.

See with the eyes of God. See with the vision of God. God is eternal, God sees time as one. You do not see because you do not pray for grace.

You see with limited vision .You think with a human mind. You use a human mind to judge the things of God. I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I came to this world to lead all men to heaven. I come to you this day. Do you think God comes to talk to a few? I came to lead all souls to everlasting happiness.

Pray for vision. I see not a little town, I see all men, yet, I love each soul so uniquely. You do not understand the mind of God. You do not see as I see. I ask you to give My love to all. You see a few and love a few. You are one body, all men are your brothers. I came to give My Life to all men.

You must pray for vision and grace to do the will of the Father. My plan is unfolding and it depends on you. One person fixed on the love of God can radiate such might and power.

You cannot light the city without My power. My power I pour out to you in the Eucharist. My power I pour out to you when you sit in front of My tabernacle. You cannot do it without My might, My power. I am the Power, I am your All. You see yourself as controlling so many things and being so strong. Your power comes from Me. To do the work I am calling you to, you must have the might of God. You see yourself with a little area and a little job. I am calling you to love all. I am calling you to radiate love. I am calling you to light up the world with My love. I am calling you to make a difference in the lives of so many souls. Your love given through Me will change so many hearts.

Pray to the Spirit to transform your hearts to be more and more like Mine. Go to Mary and unite with Our Hearts. The more you unite to Our Hearts, the more the Spirit pours out His grace to transform your hearts. You do not ask for that life I want to give you. My Life, My grace, My vision, I pour out to you in the Eucharist. Oh, children, you are so blind. I speak to you, your Mother comes and appears and you see only in front of your face.

I come to you this day to deliver this message. Open your hearts to My love. Come to Me at Mass and in Communion with this open heart to receive divine love and divine life. Sit in front of Me in the tabernacle. I beg you. Times are coming when the things you hold onto so tightly will wither in front of your faces.

You are one body in Christ. See the big picture. See the world. See heaven. See all souls living and dead. See the Church as one. See, My children. You in your ways hold onto such little things. You see only in front of your faces.

I call, I knock, My Mother appears and calls each of you here this day. You are soldiers in My army to lead souls to My love. I need strong soldiers. I am fortifying you with My Body and Blood. I give to you this day in the Eucharist. You will radiate with the love of God when you turn your hearts to the Eucharist. I am present no less than the day I hung on the cross. You look for little signs and Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is here. I am here in My Divinity and Humanity in the Eucharist as present as the day I died on the cross, as the day I walked on Calvary, as the day I was born in Bethlehem. I wait in the tabernacle to fortify you with your supplies to spread My love. You do not see because you do not come for your supplies.

Please take Me seriously. Time is short. You need to turn to My Eucharistic Heart. Come to this Center and pray. Come to My tabernacle. Attend Mass and Communion.

Be with Me after Communion. How eagerly I wait to be with you. Pray the rosary with the meditations I have given you. Be there in the lives of Jesus and Mary as you pray the rosary. Pray to the Spirit. All day pray to the Spirit to fill you with the fire of His love. Pray all day for Him to transform you more and more into My image. Pray all day to be soldiers in My army spreading My love to this world. I call you this day. Will you answer Me?

R. On January 5, 1995, the Father spoke in front of the altar at Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center. This altar, I believe, was in Holy Cross Monastery. 

end of January 5, 1995

 

                See the big picture —

                See the picture of God the Father

   

Isaiah 60: 1-6

Arise, shine out,
  for your light has come,
and the glory of Yahweh has risen on you.
Look! though night still covers the earth
and darkness the peoples,
on you Yahweh is rising
and over you his glory can be seen.
The nations will come to your light
and kings to your dawning brightness.
Lift up your eyes and look around:
all are assembling
  and coming towards you,
your sons coming from far away
and your daughters
  being carried on the hip.
At this sight you will grow radiant,
your heart will throb and dilate,
since the riches of the sea will flow to you,
the wealth of the nations come to you;
camels in throngs will fill your streets,
the young camels of Midian and Ephah;
everyone in Saba will come,
bringing gold and incense
and proclaiming Yahweh's praises.

   

                Sing: "Lord Every Nation on earth will Adore You" —

   

Psalm 72: 1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13

God, endow the king with your own fair judgement,
  the son of the king with your own saving justice,
that he may rule your people with justice,
  and your poor with fair judgement.

In his days uprightness shall flourish,
  and peace in plenty till the moon is no more.
His empire shall stretch from sea to sea,
  from the river to the limits of the earth.

the kings of Tarshish and the islands
  will pay him tribute.

The kings of Sheba and Saba
  will offer gifts;
all kings will do him homage,
  all nations become his servants.

For he rescues the needy who calls to him,
  and the poor who has no one to help.
He has pity on the weak and the needy,
  and saves the needy from death.

 

Ephesians 3: 2-3a, 5-6

    You have surely heard the way in which God entrusted me with the grace he gave me for your sake; he made known to me by a revelation the mystery I have just described briefly—

This mystery, as it is now revealed in the Spirit to his holy apostles and prophets, was unknown to humanity in previous generations: that the gentiles now have the same inheritance and form the same Body and enjoy the same promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

        

Matthew 2: 1-12

After Jesus had been born at Bethlehem in Judaea during the reign of King Herod, suddenly some wise men came to Jerusalem from the east asking, ‘Where is the infant king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose and have come to do him homage.’ When King Herod heard this he was perturbed, and so was the whole of Jerusalem. He called together all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, and enquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, ‘At Bethlehem in Judaea, for this is what the prophet wrote:

And you, Bethlehem,
    in the land of Judah,
you are by no means the least
    among the leaders of Judah
,
for from you will come a leader
who will shepherd my people Israel.’

Then Herod summoned the wise men to see him privately. He asked them the exact date on which the star had appeared and sent them on to Bethlehem with the words, ‘Go and find out all about the child, and when you have found him, let me know, so that I too may go and do him homage.’ Having listened to what the king had to say, they set out. And suddenly the star they had seen rising went forward and halted over the place where the child was. The sight of the star filled them with delight, and going into the house they saw the child with his mother Mary, and falling to their knees they did him homage. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh. But they were given a warning in a dream not to go back to Herod, and returned to their own country by a different way.

   

 

 

 

                Light, Light, Light

 

Baptism of the Lord

Isaiah 42: 1-4, 6-7

Here is my servant whom I uphold, 
my chosen one 
    in whom my soul delights. 
I have sent my spirit upon him, 
he will bring fair judgement to the nations. 
He does not cry out or raise his voice, 
his voice is not heard in the street; 
he does not break the crushed reed 
or snuff the faltering wick. 
Faithfully he presents fair judgement; 
he will not grow faint, 
    he will not be crushed 
until he has established 
    fair judgement on earth, 
and the coasts and islands 
    are waiting for his instruction.     

I, Yahweh, have called you 
    in saving justice, 
I have grasped you by the hand 
    and shaped you; 
I have made you a covenant of the people 
and light to the nations, 
to open the eyes of the blind, 
to free captives from prison, 
and those who live in darkness 
    from the dungeon. 

 

                "The Lord will bless his people with peace"

 

Psalm 29: 1-4, 9-10

Give Yahweh his due, sons of God,
give Yahweh his due of glory and strength,
give Yahweh the glory due to his name,
adore Yahweh in the splendour of holiness.

Yahweh's voice over the waters, the God of glory thunders;
Yahweh over countless waters,
Yahweh's voice in power, Yahweh's voice in splendour;

Yahweh's voice convulses terebinths,
strips forests bare.

In his palace all cry, 'Glory!'
Yahweh was enthroned for the flood,
Yahweh is enthroned as king for ever.

 

Acts 10: 34-38

Then Peter addressed them, ‘I now really understand’, he said, ‘that God has no favourites, but that anybody of any nationality who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.

    ‘God sent his word to the people of Israel, and it was to them that the good news of peace was brought by Jesus Christ—he is the Lord of all. You know what happened all over Judaea, how Jesus of Nazareth began in Galilee, after John had been preaching baptism. God had anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and because God was with him, Jesus went about doing good and curing all who had fallen into the power of the devil.

 

Matthew 3: 13-17

Then Jesus appeared: he came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptised by John. John tried to dissuade him, with the words, ‘It is I who need baptism from you, and yet you come to me!’ But Jesus replied, ‘Leave it like this for the time being; it is fitting that we should, in this way, do all that uprightness demands.’ Then John gave in to him.
    And when Jesus had been baptised he at once came up from the water, and suddenly the heavens opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on him. And suddenly there was a voice from heaven, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on him.’

 

 

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Baptism of the Lord 

January 13, 2008

INTRODUCTION: The words of the prophet Isaiah in today’s first reading go back 500 years before Christ.  This passage was intended for the Jews who were in exile in Babylon.  God is, through the prophet, introducing a person referred to only as God’s servant to his people.  God is quite pleased with his servant. In a non-violent way, God's servant will establish justice in the world, be a light to the nations and liberation for captives.  Scholars debate who this servant might have been 500 years before Christ, but with the coming of Christ, there is no doubt who is God's perfect servant.  At Jesus’ baptism, God introduces Jesus to the world, not just as his servant, but as his beloved Son with whom he is well-pleased.

HOMILY: If you struggle to understand the baptism of Jesus, you’re not alone.  Even John the Baptist had difficulty understanding why Jesus came to him for baptism.  As John said “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?” 

The baptism of Jesus is a mystery worthy of our contemplation.  Certainly Pope John Paul considered it as something worth meditating on when he made it one of the mysteries in the new set of mysteries he created for the rosary: the luminous mysteries or the mysteries of light. 

Our business manager, Carol Roosa, is taking a course at the Athenaeum to become a parish administrator.  She had to present a paper last week and the topic was baptism.  The professor was quite impressed with it and so she volunteered to preach this Sunday.  I said “no.”  She said it would only take an hour and fifteen minutes.  You would be happy to know I stood my ground.  Besides, only priests and deacons are allowed to do a homily.  I say all of this to illustrate there is so much that could be said about baptism.  I’m not going to say it all.  My few words today will, I hope, throw a little light on the sacrament of baptism and might help make the baptism of Jesus a little more understandable. 

First I want to point out one way in which the baptism of Jesus by John was totally different from our sacrament of baptism.  Then I want to mention one way in which they are similar. 

If I were to ask the average Catholic what do you think of when you hear the word baptism, most would answer, “Baptism takes away original sin.” That’s true but there is a better answer.  Let me illustrate.  (show wallet)  Now many of you know what this is: a wallet.  And it’s empty, and some of you might relate to that too.  That’s basically what original sin is.  It is emptiness, like this wallet.  It’s a big nothing.  We are empty of God’s grace and life.  Suppose, for example, by some unbelievable odds, I would win a million dollars in the lottery.  I would get that big check (less taxes) and put it in the wallet.  If someone were to ask me, “what’s in your wallet?,”  I don’t know what I would tell them, but I don’t think I would answer “the emptiness in my wallet is gone.”  But that’s what we say when we define baptism as the sacrament that takes away original sin.  That definition only emphasizes the emptiness and not the fullness.  It doesn’t reflect the blessings that suddenly fill us at baptism: the blessings of God’s life, of being children of God, the blessings of the Holy Spirit, the blessing of belonging to the family of God, the blessing and hope of sharing in eternal happiness with God.  In Jesus there was no emptiness.  In him dwells the fullness of the divinity (Col. 2,9) as St. Paul tells us.  He was, from all eternity, God’s beloved Son.  Jesus had no need of baptism in any form. In this respect Jesus’ baptism by John made no change in him as the sacrament of baptism did for us.  Jesus baptism by John provides an occasion for us to reflect on our own baptism and the grace that it brought us. 

Now I want to describe one way in which Jesus’ baptism by John and the sacrament of baptism we received are similar.  They are similar in that they are both a commitment.  John’s baptism was a public commitment people made to live holy lives and to prepare for the coming of God’s kingdom.  Jesus, in being baptized, was publicly committing himself to do God’s will and to preach and build the kingdom of God.  Baptism is that for us too.  We are committed in a public event to belong to God, to be God’s obedient child, God’s lover, God’s representative.  It’s something like declaring one’s candidacy, not for public office, but for the office of Christian in the world.  Most likely someone made that commitment for us, most probably our parents.  They made that commitment for us with the intention of directing us in God’s ways.  Eventually, we have to make that commitment our own if our baptism is going to mean anything at all.  On this feast of the baptism of Jesus, we have a good opportunity to recommit ourselves to Jesus. The effects and blessings of baptism remain with us as long as we do not turn our hearts away from the Father who long ago chose us to be his son or daughter in the sacrament.  In this way Jesus’ baptism by John is very much like our own, not a private, secret event but a public, open declaration of our commitment to love and serve God and others as Jesus, the perfect Son of God did.  Amen. 

 

 

 

                Jesus wants unity on this earth —

                Jesus came — He died for our sins
                    Jesus rose on the 3rd day

   

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Isaiah 49: 3, 5-6

He said to me, ‘Israel, you are my servant, 
through whom I shall manifest my glory.’ 

And now Yahweh has spoken, 
who formed me in the womb 
    to be his servant, 
to bring Jacob back to him 
and to re–unite Israel to him;
—I shall be honoured in Yahweh’s eyes, 
and my God has been my strength.— 
He said, ‘It is not enough for you 
    to be my servant, 
to restore the tribes of Jacob 
    and bring back the survivors of Israel; 
I shall make you a light to the nations 
so that my salvation may reach 
    the remotest parts of earth.
 

1 Corinthians 1: 1-3

    Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and Sosthenes, our brother, to the church of God in Corinth, to those who have been consecrated in Christ Jesus and called to be God’s holy people, with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord as well as ours. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

     

John 1: 29-34

    The next day, he saw Jesus coming towards him and said, ‘Look, there is the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. It was of him that I said, "Behind me comes one who has passed ahead of me because he existed before me." I did not know him myself, and yet my purpose in coming to baptise with water was so that he might be revealed to Israel.’ And John declared, ‘I saw the Spirit come down on him like a dove from heaven and rest on him. I did not know him myself, but he who sent me to baptise with water had said to me, "The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and rest is the one who is to baptise with the Holy Spirit." I have seen and I testify that he is the Chosen One of God.’

   

  

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

January 20, 2008 

INTRODUCTION: Last week in our first reading we heard about God’s servant who would bring justice and light to the world.  We hear again about God’s servant leading the people of Israel back to God, and bringing God’s salvation to the ends of the earth.  These passages about God’s servant (there are four of them) were written over 500 years before Christ.  Scholars do not know exactly who might have fit the description of God’s servant at that time, but with the advantage of hindsight we see how perfectly the servant songs describe God's perfect servant, Jesus Christ.   

HOMILY: Today I want to talk about gifts and sheep.  First gifts.  There is no doubt about it, gift giving is a part of us.  We just finished a very busy time of gift giving and already the stores have put out things for Valentine’s Day.  Sometimes gifts are not sincere, they are given with strings attached or because they are expected or to gain someone’s favor.  But most of us give gifts to one another simply out of appreciation or gratitude or love.   

Just as much as it is a part of our nature to give gifts to one another, it has always been basic to human nature to offer gifts to God.  I would like to think most of the time our offering to God comes from appreciation or gratitude or love, and it probably does, but in the back of our minds we’re also hoping to win a few points with God.  That’s okay.  God understands and appreciates hearing from us even when it’s for our own self-interest.  Didn’t he teach us to ask for the things we need.   

When we give a gift to God, it is called sacrifice.  All ancient religions that I know of had some form of sacrifice, which indicates to me that sacrifice is instinctual.  Some primitive religions offered human sacrifice, the implication being that human life was the most precious gift they had to offer.  In the story of Abraham’s readiness to sacrifice his son Isaac, God revealed to the Jewish people this was not what he wanted.   The Israelites offered food and drink which symbolized their life.  Without food and drink we die, so in the offering it was their way of saying they recognized they owed their life to God.  Grain and wine and oil were offered, but the primary offering was an animal (when they had the means to afford it), most frequently a lamb.  Thus my second theme: sheep.  Other than seeing lamb on a restaurant menu occasionally, or counting sheep when we turn in for the night, the thought of a lamb seldom crosses our mind.  But sheep were, and still are in the Middle East, as common as cell phones are in our culture today.  They provided wool for clothing, meat for festive occasions, and sacrifices for their God.  In the Temple of Jerusalem, priests offered a lamb twice a day as a sacrifice.  At the time of Jesus, on the Preparation Day before Passover, the Jewish historian Josephus tells us over 250,000 lambs were sacrificed for the traditional Passover meal. Although this number could be an exaggeration, Josephus is telling us the priests were kept mighty busy on that day.  The sacrifice of the paschal lamb took place only in Jerusalem, beginning at noon.  This was the same time Jesus was condemned and died on the cross.  St. John, in his gospel, specifically connects Jesus’ sacrifice with the sacrifice of the paschal lambs when he tells us that when Jesus was pierced with a lance it fulfilled the Scripture, which said “not one of his bones shall be broken.”  That was a requirement for the Paschal lamb.  (Jn 19,36)  

Jesus’ sacrifice of his life was offered in perfect obedience and love and fidelity to his Father and to the mission his Father gave him.  Because it was the sacrifice of the Son of God it had infinite value.  Because of its infinite value, it made all other sacrifices obsolete.  Moreover, Jesus made it possible for all of us to share in this perfect sacrifice to the Father when at the Last Supper he said the words: “do this in memory of me.”  To digress for a moment:  Somehow in this day and age, it seems the more we have been blessed, the more we take for granted and the less grateful we have become.  I sense that many people these days think of God as some kind of rich uncle who is there to give them what they want.  When he doesn’t do so, they just turn their backs and sort of say: why waste time on someone who won’t do what I want them to do.   

Back to the gospel.  Could John the Baptist have had any of this in mind about Jesus as the perfect sacrifice when he called Jesus the “lamb of God?”  Certainly John recognized the saving mission of Jesus for he refers to Jesus as the one who would take away the sin of the world.  I hope it doesn’t complicate things too much if I say the following: In the Greek John uses the words: “lamb of God.” Scholars have gone back to the Aramaic which is what Jesus and the Baptist would have spoken most of the time and they tell us the Aramaic word for “lamb” was talya, which also meant “servant.”  Thus we see the title “Lamb of God” connected with the first reading about God’s servant who would be a light to the nations that God’s salvation might reach to the ends of the earth.   

I want to conclude by making one last reference to the term “Lamb of God.”  Here we can look at the Book of Revelation (a.k.a. the Apocalypse). Jesus is represented there also as a lamb, a lamb who was slain, but who is now enthroned and glorified, praised and worshipped by all the heavenly hosts.  From the throne of God and from the lamb flows life and blessings of every kind.  Those who will enjoy these blessings and who will share in his victory are those who have followed the lamb.  The Lamb of God is not just a perfect gift to God, but the way to eternal life for all of us.  As we offer our perfect gift to God through Jesus our paschal lamb and worthy servant, may it help us be more faithful and grateful servants of our God. 

 

 

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Isaiah 8: 23 - 9: 3 

For is not everything dark as night 
    for a country in distress?

As the past humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, so the future will glorify the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan, the territory of the nations.

The people that walked in darkness 
    have seen a great light; 
on the inhabitants of a country 
    in shadow dark as death 
        light has blazed forth. 
You have enlarged the nation, 
    you have increased its joy; 
they rejoice before you 
    as people rejoice at harvest time, 
as they exult 
    when they are dividing the spoils. 

For the yoke that weighed on it, 
    the bar across its shoulders, 
the rod of its oppressor, 
these you have broken 
    as on the day of Midian.

      

Psalm 27: 1, 4, 13-14  

Yahweh is my light and my salvation, 
    whom should I fear? 
Yahweh is the fortress of my life, 
    whom should I dread?

One thing I ask of Yahweh, 
    one thing I seek: 
to dwell in Yahweh’s house 
    all the days of my life, 
to enjoy the sweetness of Yahweh, 
    to seek out his temple.

This I believe: I shall see the goodness of Yahweh, 
    in the land of the living. 
Put your hope in Yahweh, be strong, let your heart be bold, 
    put your hope in Yahweh.

        

                Sing: Remember Your Love —

 

1 Corinthians 1: 10-13, 17

Brothers, I urge you, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, not to have factions among yourselves but all to be in agreement in what you profess; so that you are perfectly united in your beliefs and judgements. From what Chloe's people have been telling me about you, brothers, it is clear that there are serious differences among you. What I mean is this: every one of you is declaring, 'I belong to Paul,' or 'I belong to Apollos,' or 'I belong to Cephas,' or 'I belong to Christ.'  Has Christ been split up? Was it Paul that was crucified for you, or was it in Paul's name that you were baptised?

After all, Christ sent me not to baptise, but to preach the gospel; and not by means of wisdom of language, wise words which would make the cross of Christ pointless.

                                 

Matthew 4: 12-23

Hearing that John had been arrested he withdrew to Galilee, and leaving Nazara he went and settled in Capernaum, beside the lake, on the borders of Zebulun and Naphtali. This was to fulfil what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah:

    Land of Zebulun! Land of Naphtali!
    Way of the sea beyond Jordan.
    Galilee of the nations!
    The people that lived in darkness
    have seen a great light;
    on those who lived
        in a country of shadow dark as death
    a light has dawned.

From then onwards Jesus began his proclamation with the message, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is close at hand.’

As he was walking by the Lake of Galilee he saw two brothers, Simon, who was called Peter, and his brother Andrew; they were making a cast into the lake with their net, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Come after me and I will make you fishers of people.’ And at once they left their nets and followed him. 

    Going on from there he saw another pair of brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John; they were in their boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. And at once, leaving the boat and their father, they followed him.

He went round the whole of Galilee teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing all kinds of disease and illness among the people.

 

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

January 27, 2008 

INTRODUCTION: Galilee is located about 75 miles north of Jerusalem.  With cars and expressways, that doesn’t seem very far today, but since most people traveled on foot at the time of Jesus, it was a considerable distance. Galilee had a difficult history.  Seven hundred years before Christ the Assyrians destroyed Galilee and took most of its citizens, the ones they didn’t kill, and moved them far away from their homes in Galilee.  That kept conquered nations from regrouping and rebelling against them.  A lot of pagans were moved into Galilee.  By the time of Jesus seven hundred years later, there were still a lot of pagans living there and Jews as well who had moved back so the population was pretty well mixed.   

In spite of its destruction by the Assyrians, and the devastation they left behind, the prophet Isaiah, who was at that time living in Jerusalem, forsaw good things for Galilee.  Into the spiritual and social darkness that covered the land, Isaiah said a light would shine.  You might remember those lines from the first reading on Christmas.  St. Matthew quotes this long passage from Isaiah to tell us Jesus was the fulfillment of that prophecy.  It would have been normal for a religious teacher like Jesus to do his preaching and teaching mainly in Jerusalem. (Joachim Jeremias pg 242)   Jesus however chose to begin his ministry in Galilee where he spent most of his life.  Jesus was the light that the people of Galilee, the people living in darkness, had longed for.  In these readings Galilee is called by the names of two of the tribes of Israel that originally settled there: Zebulun and Naphtali.  

HOMILY: According to the Bible, the first gift God created was light.  Afterwards, when God was creating other things like fish and birds and cattle and creeping things and animals and human beings he gave us all eyes to be able to appreciate what the light revealed to us.  And he gave us a brain to be able to interpret, to a greater or lesser degree, what is seen.  Although we wonder at times how intelligent human beings are, science tells us we humans have the most developed brain of all life on this planet.   

With our imaginative and creative and logical minds we can see things that do not even exist, including abstract ideas.  We speak in terms of light and seeing when we have ideas, such as: “I see how that’s done,” or “this just dawned on me,” or “I saw the light.”   This notion of seeing something with our mind’s eye also applies to spiritual things too.  St. Matthew describes Jesus’ ministry in Galilee in the words of the prophet Isaiah: “the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light.”  Jesus spoke of light to describe his own ministry when he said: “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  (Jn 8,12)  The term “revelation” is a theological term that identifies this light that God gives us.  When we let ourselves be guided by that light it is called “faith.”  Faith is nothing other than a way of seeing with God’s own eyes.  Our faith gives us a vision that ironically comes, not through what we see with our eyes or create with our minds, but through what we hear with our ears!  It tells us why we were created, how we are to live, how we are to treat one another, what is going to happen after we die.  It is a vision that is sometimes crystal clear, like when Jesus tells us about the importance of love for God and for each other. Other times it is blurry; for example, when St. Paul talks about the next life, he tells us “at present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror” (mirrors were not so wonderful in those days.)  Faith is a way of seeing that is based simply on the word Jesus spoke to us.  In some cases, what we see in faith contradicts what we see with our eyes, like: “This is my body.”  It contradicts what we see, but in faith we choose not to believe our eyes but to believe God’s word which we have considered to be more reliable.  I wonder how much brighter life would be for all of us and for the world in general if our minds and hearts were more open to the light that Christ has brought us.   

When we were baptized a candle was given to us with the words, “Receive the light of Christ.”  For most of us that candle was given to our parents or sponsors to hold for us.  It was up to them to help us live by that light.  Obviously we have lived by that light or we wouldn’t be here today.  I commend you for that and thank you for it.  

But that light should not be kept hidden.  Through confirmation we have been commissioned to bring that light to others.  Jesus not only said “I am the light of the world, but he also said “you are the light of the world.”  Today we heard about Jesus choosing four disciples who would one day set the world on fire with his light.  But they did their job a long time ago and passed Christ’s light on to others, and those others passed it on to others and eventually it got to us.  We have the faith because someone led us to it.  If others in the future are to have the faith, it will depend on us.  We have to share with others the light we have received.  We don’t have to get up and preach to do that.  We can do it by the way we live, by being morally good, honest, loving people.  We can invite people to come to church with us.  When we have the opportunity, we can share our faith by simply telling others what our faith means to us.  When we try to debate doctrine, we can get in a big argument, but if we tell someone how much my faith means to us, who can argue with that?   

In summary, God has blessed us in many ways. One of the reasons we’re here today is to give thanks (that’s what Eucharist means).  He created light and gave us the ability to see by it.  But God gave us the greatest gift of all when he sent his Son, Jesus, to us and gave us the ability to believe in him.  For his light will enlighten our lives throughout eternity.  May others come to walk in his light too.  Amen.   

   

 

 

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