THURSDAY BEFORE EPIPHANY, JANUARY 2, 2020
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John 1:19-28
This is the testimony of John. When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to him to ask him, “Who are you?” He admitted and did not deny it, but admitted, “I am not the Christ.” So they asked him, “What are you then? Are you Elijah?” And he said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.” So they said to him, “Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us? What do you have to say for yourself?” He said: “I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.” Some Pharisees were also sent. They asked him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water; but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.” This happened in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing. REFLECTION: “I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord....’
This is the new year for all of us. Many resolutions have been made, probably the same from years gone by. Most will not be kept after a short trial of trying.
This should be the year of our priests. The year of our Catholic Church. “I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord....’
Our focus this Advent was preparing for the Lord's coming. And this Christmas we celebrate Our Lord's birth. If we do all that we have done in prior years, it will be another year, just like before. But is that what we want for 2020?
We have all seen priests who are jovial, funny, play musical instruments and invite us to partake of their hospitality. Yes, they do unwind-- and gather for fellowship-- they do dance, drink alcoholic beverages, laugh and poke fun of each other. They celebrate birthdays, holidays and family. They show us that they are just as human as we. Yet, when it comes time to pray, they are transformed into quiet, silent, solemn faced priests. They are fixed on Jesus the Christ and the Holy Eucharist. We fall in love with those priests because quite simply there is something special about them. Some are charismatic, some carry the Holy Spirit all the time, and some have the soul of God in their eyes. You can see the joy in their lives, affirming the vocation they have chosen. But you also see the love they have for the Eucharist. And that is what we love--Jesus.
As PAPA we have consecrated ourselves to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and we have also promised to pray for the priests; that they be on fire for Jesus and His Church. The more we pray, the more time we spend with Jesus, the more faith we have and the more confident we are in our clear mission of " Go and make disciples of all nations".
During our Advent journey and now into our Christmas celebration, we are reminded of St Joseph protecting the Holy Family. Our priests are the army of God, protecting the Church against the mediocrisy of love. These priests are the protectors of God's Church, fighting against abortion, homosexuality, love of money, sloth, pride, and evil in the Church. We are reminded by Mother Mary that this is the time of praying, repenting and atoning.
May 2020 be the year of PAPA. May we cover the priests with our prayers, our work, our encouragement and our desire for more souls to pray for them. As St Pope John Paul II said, "The priest is a living and transparent image of Christ". Our patron saint, St John Vianney, said, " Without the priest, the passion and death of our Lord would be of no avail. It is the priest who continues the work of redemption here on earth."
The priest is the protector of all that belongs to Christ.