Sunday, January 17, 2021 at St. Francis Xavier Parish
After all the excitement of Advent and Christmas, we find ourselves entering into the beautiful liturgical season of Ordinary Time. This Sunday we read from the Gospel of John about when John the Baptism points to Christ as the one whom we should follow.
“As we begin our journey through Ordinary Time, the gospel begins with looking and gazing and responding to the call to discipleship. John the Baptist stands with two of his disciples, ready to decrease in personal significance so that Jesus may increase (cf. John 3:30). After his testimony there will be no hanging onto or hankering for his former disciples. John watches Jesus pass by; the eyes of John’s heart penetrate to the reality of this man, and he points him out to his disciples as the Lamb of God. The Jewish religious experience of the lamb was as the sacrificial offering that overcame the alienation of sin and created unity between the people and God. In whatever way the Baptist’s disciples understood his words, they were spoken with an urgency that made them leave John and follow Jesus. Jesus himself turns and sees them. The word the evangelist uses for “saw” (theásthai) has the sense of gazing contemplatively and engagingly at these two followers. Jesus then asks them his first question in the fourth gospel: “What are you looking for?” It is a question that will persist throughout this gospel, from this first chapter to the garden of the resurrection morning, but by then the “What” has become “Whom” in the intimate encounter of Jesus and Mary Magdalene (John 20:15).
The two disciples ask Jesus, the Teacher (Rabbi), where he is staying, and he responds by inviting them to “Come, and you will see.” Their question is about a place; their experience is about abiding for the rest of the day in a relationship with a person, about the beginning of a new communion between the people and this Lamb of God. The “where” is not as important as the “with whom.” The pattern of discipleship is established: through witness (of the Baptist), others follow and experience Jesus’s truth for themselves. They in turn bring others to Jesus. One of the first two who followed Jesus remains anonymous, perhaps as a Johannine invitation to future readers to see a challenge to themselves in the following, seeking pattern of discipleship. The other is later named as Andrew, who announces to his brother, Simon Peter, that he has found the Messiah… This gospel proclaims that all discipleship is an active and involving relationship with Jesus: a following, seeking, staying, finding, and dialoguing with him everyday.” (Living Liturgy 2021)
Over the past few weeks of the Christmas Season I haven’t provided any updates on the ongoing One Heart, One Soul Campaign taking place in the “second wave” of parishes in our Diocese. I would like to let you know that we have received an additional 17 pledges since I last remarked on our progress just before the lockdown. At this time our parish has pledged $342,152 to the campaign, which is 63% of our 2017 income and 56% of our fundraising goal. Thank you to everyone who has given their support, which will help to address the most urgent needs of our parish (leaking roofs, the freezing lobby of the church and leaking candle rooms) and make our gatherings for fellowship, prayer, and worship more comfortable and pleasant. We still have a long way to go to achieve our goal, and therefore I renew my invitation to parishioners who have not yet made a pledge to join in as you are able in supporting the future of our parish.
Due to the lockdown at the present time, we are prevented from being together in person for the celebration of the Holy Mass, and must have very limited numbers for funerals, weddings and baptisms. In this situation, the best thing we can do is to unite ourselves spiritually by participating in the livestreaming of daily and Sunday Masses, the Rosary and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, as well as the weekly Children’s liturgy videos, on the parish YouTube channel. There is also the continuing opportunity to participate in online gatherings on Zoom for Bible Study (which will soon begin a new program – please see the parish bulletin for more details) and youth groups for students in Grades 3-12 (please see the Youth Ministry page in the parish website). Join us in these celebrations and online gatherings to remain spiritually fit and close to Christ. This way the bond of unity grows between us and Christ.
God bless everyone and see you online.