WELCOME TO GOD’S HOLY, CATHOLIC AND APOSTOLIC CHURCH!
Fr. Renier and all of the parish staff would like to thank everyone for the cards, sweets, and other gifts during this Christmas season.
We appreciate your generosity and warm wishes and pray for every blessing for you all in the new year.
*** Reflection ***
Today we begin a stretch of Ordinary Time that will last almost two months. Except for today, all the Sunday Gospels will be from Saint Matthew, and all, including today, will be about Jesus’ early public ministry. Let us travel with Jesus these coming weeks as he sets out to proclaim the reign of God, eager to listen and learn what it means to be a disciple.
“With the fire of the Spirit“
The first Christian communities saw a clear difference between John’s baptism (that immersed people in the river Jordan) and Jesus’ baptism (that communicated his own Spirit, to cleanse, renew and transform the heart of his followers). Without that Spirit of Jesus, the Church could simply close up shop and die. Only the Spirit of Jesus can put more truth and life into today’s Christianity. Only his Spirit can lead us to recover our true identity, letting go of paths that lead us further and further away from the Gospel. Only that Spirit can give us light and energy to fire up the renewal that the Church needs today.
Pope Francis is quite clear that the greatest obstacle to a new surge of evangelization is spiritual mediocrity. He says so left and right. He wants to spark a process that is «more burning, joyful, generous, bold, full of love to the end, and full of contagious life», but knows it will be insufficient «if the fire of the Spirit doesn’t burn in their hearts».
That’s why he is looking to find in today’s Church «evangelizers with Spirit» who open themselves without fear to the Spirit’s action and who find in that Holy Spirit of Jesus «the power to announce the truth of the Gospel with audacity and in every time and place», even when it is against the current of today’s culture.
The renewal that the Pope wants to push in today’s Christianity isn’t possible if « the lack of a deep spirituality translates into pessimism, fatalism and mistrust», or we are led to think that nothing can change or even that it’s useless to even try, or that we finally just give up, «dominated by a boredom that withers our soul». Pope Francis warns that « our enthusiasm can be lost when we forget that the Gospel responds to the deepest needs of each person». But that’s not the way it should be. Our present Pope is convinced that «it’s not the same to have known Jesus as to not have known him; it’s not the same to walk with him as to walk aimlessly, it’s not the same to be able to listen to him as to ignore his Word. And it’s not the same to try to build the world on his Gospel as to try to do it based only on our own ideas». We need to discover all this from our own personal experience in Jesus; for «anyone who isn’t convinced, enthusiastic, sure in love, won’t convince anyone else». By José Antonio Pagola
Gospel: John 1:29-34
“John the Baptist announces the One who will baptize
us with the Holy Spirit“
John saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.” John also testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.”