January 26, 2020

Word of God Sun.

January 26, 2020:  Sunday of the Word of God
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

See about 10 connections with today?
Legend below

For 1st reading and gospel
For Psalm 27
    For 2nd reading
    Pope Francis

    Homily:  The One who is the Word of God came to speak with us, in his own words and by his own life.  Let us go to the roots of his preaching, to the source of the word of life, that helps us to know how, where, and to whom Jesus preached.  Jesus’ ministry began with the simple phrase, “Repent; the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  This is the main message of all Jesus’ sermons, that God is near, tearing down walls and shortening distances through no merit of our own.  This is a joyful message:  God came to visit us in person, by becoming man, out of love, not duty.  God took our nature because he loves us and wants to give us the salvation that we can't attain without him.  He wants to stay with us and give us the beauty of life, peace of heart, the joy of being forgiven and feeling loved.  This helps us understand Jesus' demand to repent, to change our life, to live in a new way, with and for God, with and for others, with and for love.  Jesus asks us to let him enter our lives.  His word is a “love letter” to each of us to help us understand he's at our side.

    His word consoles, encourages, challenges, frees, and calls us; it has the power to change us and lead us from darkness into light.  Jesus started his preaching in Galilee, thought to be in darkness.  The word of salvation doesn't look for untouched, clean, safe places; it enters the complex and obscure places in our lives.  God wants to visit the places we think he'll never go.  How often we close the door, preferring to hide our confusion, dark side, and duplicity.  We approach the Lord with rote prayers, wary lest his truth stir us, but Jesus preached the gospel of the kingdom and healed every disease, not afraid to enter the roughest and most difficult corners of our lives.  His mercy alone can heal us, his presence alone transform us, his word alone renew us.  

    Jesus chose to speak to simple people.  The first to be called were fishermen, working people, not chosen for their abilities or prayer in the temple.  He used language they understood, and their lives changed on the spot.  He called them where and as they were, to make them sharers in his mission, and they followed him,  drawn by love.  To follow Jesus, good works aren't enough; we have to listen daily to his call.  We need his word so we can hear, amid all the other words in our lives, the word of life.

    Make room for God's word.  Each day, read a verse or two of the Bible.   Begin with the Gospel:  keep it open on our table, carry it in your pocket, read it on your phones, and let it inspire you.   We'll discover God is close, dispels our darkness, and with love leads us into deep waters.

    Angelus:  In today's gospel Jesus met and called the disciples at the Sea of Galilee.  Galilee was a place on the peripheries looked upon with suspicion as it was where people mingled with Gentiles, and nothing good was expected from there; that's where Jesus began his preaching, proclaiming, "Convert; the kingdom of heaven is at hand."  This proclamation is like a beam of light that pierces the darkness, cuts through the fog.  Often it seems impossible to change one's life, to abandon selfishness, evil, and sin.  But that’s because we center on ourselves and our strength, not Christ and his Spirit.

    Open yourself to receive the Good News of Jesus, the news that changes the world and transforms hearts!  We're called to trust the Father, open ourselves to his mercy, and be transformed by the grace of the Spirit.  That’s what happened to the first disciples, whose encounter with Jesus gave them the impetus to follow him, to change and put themselves at the service of God's Kingdom.  Like Jesus, they felt comfortable on the frontier, mingling with Gentiles, to be light and to proclaim the freedom brought by Christ.  Imitate those first heralds and messengers of God's Word, following in the Savior's footsteps, offering hope to all who thirst for it.

      Wordle: Readings 1-26-14
    • Is 8:23-9:3 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great lightYou smashed the yoke that burdened them and brought them joy.
    • Ps 27:1, 4, 13-14 "The Lord is my light and my salvation."  Whom should I fear?  I ask to dwell in God's house forever.  Wait for the Lord. 
    • 1 Cor 1:10-13, 17 Be united in mind and purpose; no divisions!  Is Christ divided?
    • Mt 4:12-23 Jesus went to Capernaum, fulfilling Isaiah's prophecy, "The people in darkness have seen a great light."  He preached:  “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  He told fishermen Simon and Andrew, “Come; I'll make you fishers of men,” and they followed him.  He called James and John in a boat; they followed him.  He proclaimed the gospel of the kingdom and cured people.
    • Creighton:  People experience darkness/despair personally, professionally, and politically.  It can be a burden to be open to others' pain, but we can and must help dispel the darkness with the light of Christ.  Each of us who experiences that light is called to share it in our relationships.  It's not our job to solve all problems, but rather to shed the light of Christ on them so people will have greater insights into them.  Still, sharing the light can be daunting.  But why be afraid?   “The Lord is my light and my salvation.”  The Lord is our refuge.  In a gloomy world, we can focus instead on the bounty of the Lord.  But Paul reminds us that there's difficulty in focusing the light of Christ.  It's not about the human wisdom but the humility of the cross.   Jesus healed diseases.  Hate may be our greatest disease today:  it cuts through families, communities, and nations and has put the world in darkness. Jesus, who knows how darkness brings despair and death, calls us to repent, to focus on the light, God's kingdom, not the darkness.  Look for, and courageously share, the light!
    • One Bread, One Body:  "Nobody like Jesus":  Jesus, walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee used by fishing businesses, commanded two brothers to follow him and leave behind their business, livelihood, family, and way of life, and they obeyed immediately.  He did the same thing at another fishing business, and two other brothers also left everything to follow him.  Jesus' words are "spirit and life," his actions powerful.  He didn't just cure some diseases; he "cured people of every disease."  He spoke, did, and was the Good News; he inaugurated a new way of life, the kingdom of God.  When he was crucified, "the gospel of the kingdom" seemed to have been defeated, but he rose and showed his Good News was stronger than death and his kingdom would last forever.  Follow Jesus....
      • The calling of Apostles Peter and Andrew
      • Passionist:  In the gospel, we hear of Jesus calling Simon Peter, his brother Andrew, James, and John.  He seems to walk by, stop, and say, “Come,” and they drop what they’re doing and follow him,  Before, Matthew says Jesus moved to Capernaum and began his public ministry, proclaiming, “Repent; the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” fulfilling the prophecy about the restoration of Zebulun and Naphtali, where Capernaum was.  What moved those 1st disciples to drop everything?  Maybe they recognized the light in him.  The more we're willing to live in the light of Christ, the more we'll be to drop what gets in the way and serve God and each other, and the more we do, the more we can walk in the light, and so on.  May we be able to see the light in darkness and live in faith, not gloom.  May we let go of fear, resentment, and despair, follow Jesus in loving God and others, and help bring light and hope.
      • DailyScripture.net:  "From darkness and death to light and life":  John the Baptist's enemies had sought to silence him, but the good news can't be silenced.  As soon as John finished his testimony, Jesus began his.  Isaiah foretold the good news would reach Jews and Gentiles in Galilee. Jesus began there to fulfill God's word. Prophets spoke of God’s promise to send a Redeemer to establish God's rule; Jesus brings gospel light and truth to the world, good news of peace, hope, truth, promise, immortality, and salvation.  The gospel is God's power and wisdom to transform us and show us how to live as God's children.  Through the gift of the Spirit, the Lord makes it possible for us to receive and act on his word.
      Jesus makes two demands:  repent and believe!  Repentance requires change:  turning from sin towards the Lord with faith and obedience.  God's grace helps us turn away from all that would keep us from his love.  Faith is a gift God makes to us; we can believe only when the Spirit moves and converts our heart; the Spirit opens our eyes so we may know God personally and accept and grow in our understanding of the truth.  To believe Jesus is Lord and Savior is to accept God's revelation.  The Father, out of his love for us, made the sacrifice of his Son to bring us back to himself.  Holy Spirit, renew in us the gift of faith, the love of wisdom, and a disciple's heart....
          • Sunday-trumped saints, from Universalis:  Timothy and Titus, bishops Paul converted who became his companions and helpers.  Paul entrusted the Ephesus Christians to Timothy and the Crete Christians to Titus.
          Dress legend
          • 'Street lamp' tie bar:  The people... have seen a great light (1st reading, gospel); the Lord is my light (psalm)
          • 'Clock' pin:  Wait for the Lord (psalm)
          • Crucifix:  Christ sent me to preach the gospel so his cross might not be emptied of its meaning (2nd reading)
          • 'Fishing pole' tie bar:  Jesus called fishermen Simon Peter and Andrew (gospel)
          • 'Boat' tie bar:  James and John left their boat to follow Jesus (gospel)
          • 'Children holding hands around the world' tie:  "Be united" (2nd reading)
          • Green shirt:  Ordinary Time season

          January 25, 2020

          Paul's conversion

          January 25, 2020:  Conversion of St. Paul, Apostle

          See about 20 connections with today?
          Legend below

          For Psalm 117
          • Acts 22:3-16  Paul:  I, a Jew, persecuted this Way to death.  On my journey, a light shone around me, and I fell and heard, ‘Why are you persecuting me?  I am Jesus.  Go to Damascus and do as you're told.’  Ananias came and said, ‘Regain your sight,’ and I did.  ‘God designated you to know his will and hear his voice; you'll be his witness.  Call on him and have yourself baptized and your sins washed away.’
          • Acts 9:1-22  Saul asked for authority to bring to Jerusalem in chains any who belonged to the Way.  A light flashed; he heard, “Why are you persecuting me?  I am Jesus.  Go to the city and do what you're told.” Saul, blinded, was led to Damascus and didn't eat or drink.  God told Ananias: “Ask for Saul; he had a vision of you laying your hands on him to restore his sight.”  He replied, “He's done such evil and can imprison us all” but heard, “I've chosen him and will show him what he'll have to suffer.”  He entered and said, “God sent me that you may regain sight and be filled with the Spirit.”  He regained his sight, was baptized, recovered his strength, stayed with the disciples, and began to proclaim Jesus.  All were astounded.
          • Ps 117:1bc, 2  "Go out to all the world, and tell the good news."  Praise the kind and faithful Lord!
          • Mk 16:15-18  Jesus told the Eleven:  “Go into the world and proclaim the Gospel.  Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.  Believers will drive out demons, speak new languages, pick up serpents, drink poison without harm, and cure the sick.”
            • Creighton Saul, grounded in Jewish tradition, stridently followed the laws of his upbringing, seeking out and persecuting Jesus' followers; the high priests and elders gave him the authority.  En route to Damascus, a bright light and commanding voice no one heard struck him down.  Blinded, he was led to Damascus, where Ananias told him he'd been chosen to carry Jesus' name to Jews and Gentiles.  The Holy Spirit filled him, and he led many to Christ.  This inspiring story includes Saul's reputation, Ananias' fear, Jesus' presence, and Paul's rebirth.  I've used my words and actions to persecute people who didn't seem to share my values.  How do we face times when we need conversion?  Facing sin is humiliating, but I become more aware of God’s compassion.  Through Jesus I was led to see others as God's beloved.  Thank God for the times we've accepted invitations to conversion; may we always hear and heed the Spirit.
            • One Bread, One Body:  "The convertible on Straight St.":  The Lord still converts Sauls into Pauls when he finds obedient Ananiases.  He turns persecutors into missionaries when he finds people who will take risks for the Gospel.  When the Lord gets Ananiases, he provides the signs and wonders so they can expel demons, speak new languages, handle serpents, drink poison without harm, cure the sick, and give them power to remove scales from the eyes of Sauls and baptize them so they may be filled with the Spirit.  Who's the last person you'd want to witness to?  That's your Saul.  That's where the power and victory are. That's an opportunity to act in faith.
            • Passionist:  Many young people have drifted from the Catholic faith because they feel judged.  Today’s feast might offer us a way to respond. Saul was a good Jew, a committed, zealous rabbi so confident in his faith that he was willing to die, and unfortunately kill, for it.  Recall he concurred in the stoning of Stephen.  Certitude can be delusional and dangerous; think of misguided religious fervor today.  We learn much from Paul when he speaks of his woundedness, as a thorn in his flesh, a compulsion to sin, or a sharp conflict with Barnabas and Peter.  Maybe that’s the real conversion. Paul is transformed by the community, as acceptance and care eclipse violence and hatred.  When I feel wronged, hurt, or ignored, may I transform the situation by loving another into more abundant life.
            • DailyScripture.net:  "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel":  Jesus' departure and ascension was both the end of Jesus' physical presence with his disciples and the beginning of his presence with them through the Holy Spirit.  He sent them to be his witnesses and spread the good news; God's love and salvation are for all who will accept it.  Christ gives this great commission to the whole church:  we're to be heralds of the good news and ambassadors for Christ.  The Lord works in and through us by the power of his Spirit.
            The Conversion of St. Paul/ Michelangelo
            Paul, who first opposed the gospel and persecuted Christians, was converted when Christ appeared to him on the road to Damascus.  "Paul's conversion matured in his encounter with Christ; it radically changed his life.  What happened to him on the road to Damascus is what Jesus asks....  His and our conversion is believing in Jesus dead and risen and opening to the illumination of his grace.  Saul understood his salvation didn't depend on good works fulfilled according to the law, but on Jesus' death and resurrection.  This truth overturns our life.  To be converted means to believe Jesus has given himself for me on the Cross and lives with and in me.  Entrusting myself to the power of his forgiveness, letting myself be taken by his hand, I can come out of pride, sin, deceit, sadness, selfishness, and false security to know and live the richness of his love." (Benedict XVI, 1-25-09, paraphrased)
            • Universalis:  Today we remember how Christ came to and converted Saul, who had supported Stephen's stoning and persecuted Christians.
            Dress legend
            • 'Chain' tie bar:  If Saul found Christians, he'd bring them back to Jerusalem in chains (1st reading)
              • '?' tie pin:  "Why are you persecuting me?"  "Who are you?"  "What shall I do?" (1st reading, alt. 1st reading)
              • 'Horse' tie pin:  Some say Saul "fell off his horse," but nothing in Scripture supports that.
              • 'Eyeball' pin:  Saul's blindness and recovery of sight, vision of Ananias (1st reading, alt. 1st reading)
              • 'Street light' tie bar:  A great light shone around Paul (1st reading, alt. 1st reading)
              • 'Letters' tie:  Saul asked the high priest for letters to allow him to bring Christians back in chains (1st reading, alt. 1st reading)
              • 'Phone' tie bar:  'Call' on God's name (1st reading); "Isn't this the one who ravaged those who call on Jesus' name?" (alt. 1st reading)
              • 'Hand' tie pin:  Paul was led by the hand; Ananias laid hands on Saul (1st reading, alt. 1st reading); the sick will recover when believers lay hands on them (gospel)
                • 'Accordion' pin:  "This man is a chosen 'instrument' of mine..." (alt. 1st reading)
                • 'Dove' pin:  Jesus appeared to you that you may be filled with the Spirit (alt. 1st reading)
                • 'Olympics' tie pin (not back from repair):  "Go out to all the world and tell the Good News" (psalm, gospel)
                • 'Car' tie bar:  Believers will 'drive' out demons,... (gospel)
                • 'Serpent' tie pin:  ...pick up serpents... (gospel)
                • White shirt:  Liturgical color of today's feast

                January 20, 2020

                Jan. 20

                January 20, 2020:  Monday, 2nd week, Ordinary Time

                See about 10 connections with today?
                Legend below
                For week of prayer for Christian unity
                Pope Francis

                Homily:   The essence of Saul’s sin was lack of docility to God's Word, imagining his own interpretation was more correct.  The Lord had commanded the Israelites not to take anything from the people they conquered, but they disobeyed.  When Samuel went to reject Saul, Saul explained:  “Look, there were cattle, there were so many fat animals, and with these I offered the Lord a sacrifice.”  He hadn't put anything in his own pocket, though with this attitude of interpreting God's Word, he allowed others to put plunder in their own pockets.  Corruption begins with a little disobedience, a lack of docility, then keeps going further.

                People took from the plunder, but Samuel pointed out the Lord prefers obedience to sacrifices:  a docile heart and obedience are more important than sacrifices and fasting.  The sin of lacking docility is preferring what I think over what the Lord commands that I don’t understand.  When you rebel against the Lord, you're not docile; it's as if you're going to a fortune teller "just in case."  Not obeying the Lord, lacking docility, is like fortune telling.  When you do things your way, you're an idolater, because you prefer the idol of your thoughts to the Lord's will. Disobedience cost Saul the kingdom.  We often prefer our own interpretation, e.g. when we fall into moral casuistry.  God's will is clear, through the commandments in the Bible and the Holy Spirit in your heart, but when I obstinately turn the Lord's Word into an ideology, I'm not docile; I'm an idolater.

                Jesus refuted those who criticized his disciples because they didn't fast with an analogy:  no one sews new cloth on an old cloak, because it could worsen the tear; no one puts new wine in old skins, because the skins would burst, and both wine and skins would be lost.  The newness of the Lord's Word wins over everything:  idolatry, pride, the attitude of being sure of myself through commitment to my ideologies instead of the Lord's Word.  No; God desires mercy, not sacrifice.  Being a good Christian means being docile to God's Word, listening to Lord about justice, charity, forgiveness, and mercy, leading a consistent life.  The Lord's Word sometimes gets us in trouble, but so does the devil.  To be a Christian, trust God and be free.

                To Simon Wiesenthal Center delegation:  You've maintained contacts with the Holy See for decades, in a shared desire to make the world better respect human dignity.  The same dignity is due to every person.  It's essential to teach tolerance, mutual understanding, freedom of religion, and promotion of peace.  In our active world we find it hard to pause, look within, and listen in silence to the plea of suffering humanity.  Unhelpful words are spoken and time wasted arguing, accusing, and insulting, but silence helps to keep memory alive.  If we lose memory, we destroy our future.

                May the holocaust call us to pause, be still, and remember, lest we become indifferent.  Selfishness and indifference have increased in many parts of the world, creating a fertile ground for factionalism and populism, where hatred springs up.  We need to address the cause of the problem by committing to till the soil where hatred grows and sowing peace, for integration and understanding help us more effectively protect ourselves.  This means reintegrating the marginalized, reaching out to the far away, and assisting victims of intolerance and discrimination.

                May we make the earth a better place by sowing peace, putting Jews' and Christians' rich spiritual patrimony at the service of others, taking the path of proximity and inclusion, and initiating ways of drawing people closer together.  If we don't, who will?

                  New wine, fresh skins!
                • 1 Sm 15:16-23  Samuel/Saul:  “The Lord sent you to exterminate the sinful Amalekites.  Why have you disobeyed?  You pounced on the spoil.” / “I obeyed, destroying Amalek, but my men took from the spoil for sacrifice.” / “Obedience is better than sacrifice.  Because you rejected God's command, he has rejected you as ruler.”
                • Ps 50:8-9, 16bc-17, 21, 23  "To the upright I will show the saving power of God."  Why profess my covenant with your mouth but hate discipline?  I'll correct you.  Offer praise as your sacrifice; I'll save those who go the right way.
                • Mk 2:18-22  “Why do John's and the Pharisees' disciples fast but yours don't?” “Wedding guests can't fast while the groom is with them, but they will when he's taken away.  No one pours new wine into old skins lest both be ruined.  New wine, fresh skins!”
                • Creighton:  When Jesus says we need to pour new wine into fresh skins, hes inviting us to a new life but warning us that we need to exchange our old skins (bad habits...) for new.  How do we conquer our faults?  Picture a glass of wine and a new skin small enough to hold it.  I’m trying to combat my complaining about people by making one fewer uncharitable remark a day.  I still get to complain,  just not as much.   I can fill one small skin a day with new wine.  I bet Jesus, who knows our limits, is fine with small steps.
                • One Bread, One Body:  Saul's disobedience displeased the Lord.  Sin is always disobedience.  Human nature became fallen because of Adam's disobedience, but Jesus' obedience saved us.  Knowing why we disobey can help us accept God's grace to obey.  Samuel implied Saul disobeyed because Saul was little in his own esteem.  Saul didn't respect and love himself.  When we don't love ourselves, we won't love others and so don't love God; we're manipulated into disobeying and feeling better.   If the devil can get us to not love ourselves, he can drive us to disobedience and ruin.  The devil keeps accusing us, throwing fiery darts at us to put us down, but if we give our lives totally to Jesus, we can hold faith up as a shield and not listen to the devil.  When we love ourselves, we're not easily manipulated into disobedience....
                  Martin Luther King, Jr.
                  In the US, Pope Francis spoke about him twice.
                • Passionist:  Old habits die hard, but Jesus' "garment patch" and wineskin examples invite us to be open to new ways thought and action.  He claims his disciples don’t fast because of his presence.  Jesus invites us into new ways, trusting God.  He tells us love and forgiveness are the only paths to peace.  In caring for the poor, homeless, hurting, oppressed, or outcasts, we build God's Kingdom.  It's easier to cherish these teachings than live them; our imagination and ways can be too small to free us to risk living Jesus' teachings.  May we recognize our attitudes that keep us from embracing Jesus' life-giving teachings.
                • DailyScripture.net:  "Fasting or feasting?"  Fasting, prayer, and almsgiving were the three most important religious duties.  Jesus explained there was a time for fasting and a time for celebrating.  To follow Jesus is to experience a joy like the wedding party's.  But there also comes a time when we must bear the cross.  Do I take joy in the Lord's presence and express sorrow and contrition for my sin?  Using the familiar image of wineskins, Jesus warns against having a closed mind.  New wine poured into skins is still fermenting.  New skins were elastic enough to take the pressure, but old skins burst.  There's a right place for the old and for the new.  Jesus says the kingdom is like a householder who brings out both the new and the old.  The Lord gives us wisdom so we can make the best use of both the old and the new. He wants us to be open and ready to receive the new wine of the Spirit."
                Dress legend
                • 'Sheep' tie bar:  From the spoil the men took sheep...  (1st reading)
                • 'Ram'/'animal sacrifice'/'Golden calf' tie pin:  Saul's spoils; obedience is better than sacrifice, submission than the fat of rams; presumption is idolatry (1st reading)
                • 'Ruler' tie bar:  "Because you rejected the Lord's command, he rejected you as ruler.” (1st reading)
                • 'Eyeball' pin:  I'll correct you by drawing your deeds before your eyes (psalm)
                    • Tie with grapes:  New wine, fresh skins!  (gospel)
                        • Green T-shirt:  Ordinary Time season]

                        January 19, 2020

                        2nd Sun., Ordinary Time

                        January 19, 2020:  Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

                        See 13 connections with today?
                        Legend below
                        For next Sunday
                        Linked with Epiphany and the Baptism of Jesus, today’s Gospel speaks to us of the manifestation of Jesus and invites us always to be surprised by God’s love for us.  John the Baptist, after witnessing the Spirit coming down from heaven and consecrating Jesus, urgently bears witness to Christ.  He saw God's beloved Son in solidarity with sinners, and the Holy Spirit made him understand that revolution.  In many religions people offer something to God; here God offers his Son for our salvation.  John’s astonishment is expressed through his words, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”  His testimony invites us to begin anew our faith journey from Jesus Christ, the merciful Lamb Father has given for us.

                        Be surprised again by God's choice to be on our side, to show solidarity with us sinners, and to save the world by taking the burden on himself.  And learn from the Baptist not to assume we already know Jesus, that we know everything about him.  Pause and contemplate an icon of Christ, a "Holy Face," with eyes and the heart; let the Spirit instruct you.  The Son of God made lamb was sacrificed out of love; he alone carries, suffers, atones for my sins and the world's.   He took them away from us, so we'd be free, not slaves to evil.  Poor sinners but not slaves, God's children.

                          • Is 49:3, 5-6  The Lord, who formed me from the womb, said:  You are my servant, through whom I show my glory.  I will make you a light to the nations.
                          Wordle: Readings 1-19-14
                          • Ps 40:2, 4, 7-8, 8-9, 10  "Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will."  The Lord heard my cry, gave me a new song to God and ears open to obedience.  Your law is within my heart!
                          • 1 Cor 1:1-3  You have been sanctified in Christ, called to be holy.  Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
                          • Jn 1:29-34  John the Baptist saw Jesus and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, the one who was to come after me.  I baptized so he might be made known.  I saw the Spirit come down to him from heaven.  He is the Son of God.”
                          • Creighton:  'Baptize' (baptizein) is Greek for plunge or immerse. Through God's gift of baptism we enter the Church, are liberated from sin, and receive the Spirit. We become missionary disciples of Christ and so need to be personally involved and actively engaged in living our faith and participating in a Christian community of faith and love.  How are we using this gift?  Are we are role models for our children?  Do we worship as a family and nurture them in faith?  What about our relationships in the workplace and beyond?  Our loving and forgiving God has the power to transform us.  We can always call on the Spirit to help us to live as engaged Christians with compassion and love....
                            Baptism of Christ/ Davezelenka
                            (More Baptism of the Lord art)
                          • One Bread, One Body:  "Life's meaning:  holiness":  We're called to be holy, to be like God "in every aspect" of our conduct:  to act, work, think, talk, love, and live like him.  Holiness is a gift from God; the Holy Spirit makes us holy if we accept the gift.  The Lord orchestrates our lives to give us a greater desire for holiness; he even allows sorrows and tragedies to help us grow, and holiness is so necessary, the Lord will purify those committed to him after they die if they're not yet "perfect in holiness."  To benefit from his orchestration and become pleasing to God, we must trust and obey him, denying ourselves....
                          • Passionist:  Sometimes our expectations coincide with others'; sometimes they differ radically. Some feel they're doing what they want; others are disappointed, unhappy they'll never attain their expectations. Some overreach; others settle.  Today's readings remind us that God’s expectations are the ones that matter.  But it takes courage to say yes to God, even though God does the heavy lifting once we say yes.  Isaiah discerns he is to be God's servant; then God tells him he's called to be light to the nations.  We can underestimate what we can do for God, then find out God has more faith in us.  Paul says the Corinthians are called to holiness. Many shy away from holiness, thinking it's perfection, but holiness means loving unconditionally.  In the Gospel, John figured out Jesus is the Christ, the one to come.  Some spend our life figuring out they're not the Messiah but his disciples. Jesus is gentler, kinder, and more forgiving, loving and compassionate than we'll ever be. All we need to do is to be his faithful disciples.  "Here I am Lord; I come to do you will!"

                            • DailyScripture.net:  "Behold the Lamb of God!"  The title "Lamb of God" captures Jesus' mission of redemption; he freely offered his life for us as the atoning sacrifice for our sins.   When John says he didn't know Jesus, he was referring to his hidden divinity, but the Spirit revealed his true nature to him.  The Spirit makes the Lord known to us through the gift of faith, opening us to receive the mystery of God, his plan to unite all in his Son.  Lord, pour your Spirit on us to deepen our faith, hope, and love for God and his plan for each of us.
                                • Wulstan, monk made bishop, known as confessor, cared for poor and sick, demanded high standards.
                              Dress legend
                              • 'Eyeball' pin:  I'm made glorious in the Lord's sight (1st reading)
                              • 'Car with mouth' tie pin:  The Lord put a new song into my mouth; I didn't restrain my lips (psalm)
                              • 'Lamb' tie bar:  "Behold the Lamb of God" (gospel)
                              • 'Dove' pin:  "I saw the Spirit coming down like a dove" (gospel)
                              • 'Peace sign' tie bar:  Grace and peace from God our Father (2nd reading)
                              • 'Phone' tie bar:  You're 'called' to be holy (2nd reading)
                              • 'Street lamp' tie bar:  "I will make you a light to the nations,..." (1st reading)
                              • 'Children around the world' tie:  "...that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth" (1st reading)
                                • 'Clocks' suspenders:  I've waited, waited for the Lord (psalm)
                                • 'Scroll' pin:  In the scroll it's prescribed...  (psalm)
                                • 'Clef' tie pin:  The Lord put a hymn...  (psalm)
                                • 'Heart' pin:  ...in my heart; Your law is within my heart (psalm)
                                • Blue and green shirt:  Blue for waters of baptism (gospel), green for Ordinary Time season