From the Pastor
This week from The Pastor's Notepad
Pastor Chat video reflections
January 19, 2020
This week’s Gospel from John puts an exclamation point on last week’s Feast of the Baptism. John’s Gospel today doesn’t describe the actual baptism but emphasizes what the Baptism means: Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Jesus is the pre-existing one whose new baptism will be far more than just a gesture with water but a channel for the power of the Holy Spirit.
Notice that John didn’t know who he was preparing for. He knew he was to pour water as a sign of preparation of the one who was to come, but otherwise he was in the dark. Patiently he preached what he knew and drew crowds and also drew the unwelcome attention of the authorities.
Only when his younger cousin, Jesus, stepped in the water was the sign given he had been waiting for, the Spirit descended given like a dove.
And so John was prepared and preparing others to receive. And when God came as Jesus, John boldly proclaimed him as
Lamb of God and Son of God.
I would like to focus on these words of John from today, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” It’s a quoted used in the Mass. As the host and chalice are raised, those are the words we hear just before receiving Communion.
—Behold. Don’t just glance. Behold. Look attentively, deeply.
—Behold the Lamb of God. Remind yourself of the miracle. The spotless sacrifice. The Infinite. God laying down his life for us. God whose passionate love for us outstrips our deepest desires. Now present in the simple form of food.
—Behold the Lamb of God who takes away sin. We may say we are not perfect, but do we really consider ourselves sinners? Do we know our deep need of God’s forgiveness? We can only receive him to the degree we feel we need him. We need transformation, not part-way measures.
—Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. We need to take this close-up and personal. But also he is hope for our families, our country, our world.
Come, let us adore him.
Fr. Don, Pastor
January 12, 2020
This is the first opportunity I have had to give a huge thank you for all the Christmas cards and gifts I received from you good parishioners of I.C.!
I am so grateful to the choir, song leaders, liturgical ministers, decorators, church cleaners and all of those who made possible the wonderful Christmas celebrations here at I.C. All of these volunteer ministries were covered and covered well!
I am proud and grateful to be your Pastor!
Today we celebrate the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River by John. Today is a transition Sunday. While our culture has been relentlessly marching on, we have celebrated and lingered over the wonder of Christ’s birth. Now we transition to his public ministry. One might say being born into a new phase of Christ among us. And it is a new epiphany—a revelation of the Trinity: God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As Jesus is baptized, the heavens are ripped open and the Spirit descends over him and a voice from heaven declares him as the Beloved Son.
Why did Jesus present himself for baptism? As Son of God, he obviously didn’t need it . After all, it’s into Jesus Christ that we who need baptism are incorporated. Even John himself is surprised and protests “I need to be baptized by you, and your are coming to me?”
But by his baptism, Jesus completes and fulfills the prefiguring baptizing by John. Also he leads us by example into Christian baptism. But most of all, as fully human, he steps into the water as a representative for all of us just as he later steps up to the cross for all of us.
This is a great occasion to reflect on our own baptism. Jesus’ baptism shows us the meaning of our own. He comes forth from the water reaching out, teaching, touching, healing, loving, bringing the good news of the kingdom call.
So all of us, especially including the laity, are commissioned and empowered to do the same. As lay people, you can bring Christ to people and places where priests or religious will never be able to reach as well as you can or at all, e.g. family, fellow workers, fellow fans at games, fellow shoppers at stores. By a smile, a listening ear, a willingness to live your Catholic Christian faith embarrassingly, a willingness to share why your faith is important to you.
You are called, commissioned and empowered to do this!
As they say, “Nothing to it but to do it!”
Fr. Don, Pastor
January 5, 2020
For Christians in the Holy Land and the Middle East, the feast of the Epiphany (meaning Light) which we celebrate today has traditionally been the heart of Christmas. Not December 25th but today is the big gift-giving day in imitation of the gifts which the Magi, the three Wise Men, brought to the Child Jesus. Also, here at the beginning of Christ’s coming, Gentiles come to worship Jesus, a precursor to the untold millions of Gentiles (including nearly all of us) doing the same.
They bring precious gifts, gifts of gold (royalty), frankincense (worship) and myrrh (a gift signifying this child’s sacrificial death). We, too, are called to bring to Jesus the best we have, i.e. the gift of ourselves.
In the Gospel the Magi lose sight of the star and lose their way. They don’t give up but head toward the nearest place where they might find a newborn king: Jerusalem. Herod and his advisors know exactly where they need to go: Bethlehem. The Magi leave overjoyed! Why don’t Herod’s advisors have this joy and go with them? Perhaps for the same reason we often hesitate, stumble and stay stuck in a rut. Because they were afraid, busy, too content to be part-time followers?
The Magi come open to and following the call to the mind-boggling lowliness of the stable, to the one who came to save us all. They come to find their king in the most unexpected places. Just as we often do, hopefully.
As in Matthew they are the first bearers of the good news to the bigger Gentile world. There is an old, though perhaps, little known custom of putting letters and numbers over the doorways to our homes and churches on this day. 20+C+M+B+20, the year and the initials of traditional names of the Magi: Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar. It is a constant reminder through the year that we too, like the Magi, are called to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to the world.
This weekend we bless and pray over this symbol over our church doors with the following prayer.
God our Father, like the Wise Men, the Magi, we too embark on a journey of faith on this Feast of the Epiphany as we begin this year of 2020.
Like the Magi, we also bring to the Lord precious gifts, not gold, frankincense and myrrh, but our time, talents, and resources.
Every time we leave church this year, nourished by the Eucharist, let us see the markings above the doors of the church as a reminder that our life is a journey to you, and this day, and each day is but one leg in that journey.
Help us Lord, as we begin this journey of faith throughout the year of 2020, through Christ our Lord.
Please feel fee to use it for your own use.
Fr. Don, Pastor
January 26, 2020 (Third Sunday in Ordinary Time)
January 19, 2020 (Second Sunday in Ordinary Time)
January 12, 2020 -- Baptism of the Lord
January 5, 2020 -- Feast of the Epiphany
December 28, 2019 -- Feast of the Holy Family
December 17, 2019 -- Fourth Week of Advent
December 10, 2019 -- Third Week of Advent
December 4, 2019 -- Second Sunday of Advent