Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Who is Jesus for you? John calls Jesus the Lamb of God and thus signifies Jesus' mission as the One who redeems us from our sins. The blood of the Passover Lamb delivered the Israelites from their oppression in Egypt and from the plague of death. The Lord Jesus freely offered up his life for us on the cross as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. The blood which he poured out for us on the cross cleanses, heals, and frees us from our slavery to sin, and from the "wages of sin which is death" and the "destruction of both body and soul in hell".

It is significant that John was the son of the priest, Zachariah, who participated in the daily sacrifice of a lamb in the temple for the sins of the people. In Jesus John saw the true and only sacrifice which could deliver us from bondage to sin, death, and the powers of hell. How did John know the true identity of Jesus, as the Son of God and Savior of the world? The Holy Spirit revealed to John Jesus' true nature, such that John bore witness that this is the Son of God. How can we be certain that Jesus is truly the Christ, the Son of the living God? The Holy Spirit makes the Lord Jesus Christ known to us through the gift of faith. God gives us freely of his Spirit that we may comprehend - with enlightened minds and eyes of faith - the great mystery and plan of God to unite all things in his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

John in his characteristic humility was eager to point beyond himself to the Christ (means Anointed One and Messiah). He did not hesitate to direct his own disciples to the Lord Jesus. When two of John's disciples began to seek Jesus out, Jesus took the initiative to invite them into his company. He did not wait for them to get his attention. Instead he met them halfway. He asked them one of the most fundamental questions of life: "What are you looking for?" Jesus asks each one of us the same question: "What are you searching for? Do you know the meaning and purpose for your life?" Only God, the Father and Author of life, can answer that question and make our purpose fully known to us. That is why the Lord Jesus invites each one of us to draw near to himself. He wants us to know him personally - to know what he came to do for us and what he wants to offer us.

When we find something of great value it's natural to want to share the good news of our discovery with our family, friends, and neighbors. When Andrew met Jesus and discovered that he was truly the Messiah, he immediately went to his brother Simon and told him the good news. Andrew brought his brother to meet Jesus so he could "come and see" for himself. When Jesus saw Simon approaching he immediately reached out to Simon in the same way he had done for Andrew earlier. Jesus looked at Simon and revealed that he knew who Simon was and where he came from even before Simon had set his eyes on Jesus. Jesus gave Simon a new name which signified that God had a personal call and mission for him. Jesus gave Simon the name "Cephas" which is the Aramaic word for "rock". Cephas is translated as Peter (Petros in Greek and Petrus in Latin) which also literally means "rock". To call someone a "rock" was one of the greatest compliments in the ancient world. The rabbis had a saying that when God saw Abraham, he exclaimed: "I have discovered a rock to found the world upon." Through Abraham God established a nation for himself. Through faith Peter grasped who Jesus truly was - the Anointed One (Messiah and Christ) and the only begotten Son of God. The New Testament describes the church as a spiritual house or temple with each member joined together as living stones (see 1 Peter 2:5). Faith in Jesus Christ makes us into rocks or spiritual stones. The Holy Spirit gives us the gift of faith to know the Lord Jesus personally, power to live the gospel faithfully, and courage to witness the truth and joy of the Gospel to others. The Lord Jesus is ever ready to draw us to himself. Do you seek to grow in the knowledge and love of the Lord Jesus Christ?
(Servants of the Word)

I hope you all have a good week.

Fr. Phil

Epiphany of the Lord

I hope you all enjoyed the festivities and celebrations of Advent and Christmas. Many thanks to all those who helped make our liturgies so meaningful.

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany and the great Gospel story of the visit of the Magi. We are familiar with the term Magi, although it is more common to refer to them as the 3 wise men, or the 3 kings.

As people of faith, do we know the names of these important visitors? They are: Balthazar, Caspar and Melchior. The three wise men were called to come and give worship to the child Jesus. They were called by the powerful light of a star and by careful study of Old Testament Scripture. As scholars of non-Jewish heritage, they realized that the messiah has come to visit his people.

The Feast of the Epiphany is the celebration of the manifestation of Jesus the Lord to the Gentiles and indeed, the whole world. And this manifestation is represented by these mysterious kings from the Far East. The visit of these kings will make clear that the King of Kings came to save all people of every nation. This is the manifestation of the New Covenant. This is the beginning of the universality of Christ’s church; that universality we call Catholic.

The Magi journeyed far, and for quite some time, to pay homage to Jesus. This would not be an easy journey. Yet their faith in the promise of new hope motivated them to press on. They did not have the advantage of witnessing Christ’s miracles, reading the stories of Jesus in the New Testament, they hardly could know of the passion, crucifixion, death and resurrection that were to come. Still their faith was enough.

And they came not to say hello, here we are. No, they came to pay Christ worship and to bring him their finest gifts. And these gifts we all know so well; gold, frankincense and myrrh. Gold is the most precious of all earth’s metals, frankincense is the incense that is burned in churches down through the centuries to make a pleasing offering to God and myrrh is a by-product that is used in the holy oils for anointing. These precious gifts represent all that the life of Jesus, sent to us through the Virgin to save us, is all about; for He is our priest, our prophet and our King.

What does all of this mean for us today?  These men gave their all and sacrificed much to be able to do so? We can ask ourselves what kind of time to we devote to giving ourselves to Jesus?  If we truly reflect on a typical day or a typical week in our lives what would we discover about our faith commitment to Christ?

Today, we can ponder the example of the 3 wise men, these mysterious Kings from the Far East known as the Magi. God called them, as He calls us, by name.

SKATING PARTY – Queen of Heaven Catholic School and St Dominic Catholic School have extended an invitation to all parishioners to join them for a skating party on January 13th 2018 from 7pm – 8 pm at Carmen Corbasson arena followed by refreshments back in the parish hall. I hope to see a good turn out!!

Once again, I wish you a Happy and Holy new year of 2018!

Fr. Phil

Feast of the Holy Family

Feast of the Holy Family
The Universal Church celebrates the first Sunday after Christmas as the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. In the entrance antiphon we pray: “The shepherds hastened to Bethlehem, where they found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. Amen.”  We are celebrating not only the feast of the Holy Family of Nazareth, but also the feast of each Christian family, our family, and all that it means to us. The readings provided for this day’s Mass, particularly the second reading, describe the atmosphere which should prevail in a Christian family: “You should be clothed in sincere compassion, in kindness and humility, gentleness and patience,” says Saint Paul, “and may the peace of Christ reign in your hearts.”  In the first reading, from Ecclesiasticus, Ben Sira tells us that we should honour our parents. The Gospel of Matthew highlights the importance of Joseph as the head of the family of Nazareth with responsibility to protect the infant Child Jesus and his mother, Mary. Let us pray for the grace of peace and harmony in our respective families.

Mary, the Mother of God  - January 1, 2018
Before we reach Christ's birth in Luke's gospel we are already well aware of how special Mary is. The angel Gabriel calls her "most highly favored" and her cousin Elizabeth exclaims how she is "most blessed". She is the one in whom the blessings spoken of by God to Moses are to be fulfilled. Yet she has no claims to greatness. She is a maiden betrothed to a man named Joseph in an insignificant village in the unimportant region of Galilee. Luke traces the genealogy of Jesus through his foster-father, Joseph. Mary herself, in her great hymn of praise on her visit to Elizabeth, will speak of her own lowliness and marvel at how God has chosen the weak and poor to confound the rich and powerful.
In this sense the shepherds are Mary's natural companions. They too are looked down upon. Mary is great not through any social connections or natural talents but because God has blessed her and chosen her. She becomes the model for the many characters in Luke's gospel who will turn social expectations upside down: the Good Samaritan, the woman who was a sinner, Zacchaeus and the Prodigal Son, to name but a few. She is the one who, with the Spirit living in her heart, is able to cry "Abba, Father". She becomes the first of those freed from slavery, the first heir among the children of God.
How she accepts God's blessing and choice is important. In a phrase Luke will repeat, Mary is reported as treasuring all these things and pondering them in her heart. She is the model of prayerful reflection, the one who allows the Spirit to speak and inspire. The result of her reflection is in this case transposed onto the shepherds. They go back glorifying and praising God for all they have heard and seen. In the Magnificat, it is Mary herself who glorifies and praises God for all he has done.
Mary is a wonderful model for us as we begin this New Year. I wish you every blessing, happiness and health throughout 2018. May our parish and parishioners continue to be blessed through the intercession of Mary, the Mother of God and our Mother too!

SKATING PARTY – Queen of Heaven Catholic School and St Dominic Catholic School have extended an invitation to all parishioners to join them for a skating party on January 13th 2018 from 7pm – 8 pm at Carmen Corbasson arena followed by refreshments back in the parish hall. I hope to see a good turn out!!

Wishing you, your families and friends every blessing in 2018!

Happy New Year!

Fr. Phil