Wednesday, January 05, 2011


January 6, 2011
Thursday after Epiphany

In this way we know that we love the children of God when we love God and obey his commandments. For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world. And the victory that conquers the world is our faith. 1 John 5:2-4

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord." Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, "Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing." Luke 4:18-21

Father, you ask so much of us. Many of us are comfortable just serving others in one ministry. Maybe we fear going into jails to serve. Maybe we are lost for words when we stand at the side of the hospital bed of a person who lays dying. Jesus, inspire us to follow your Nazareth manifesto for faith-based initiatives. Holy Spirit, guide us in ways that overcome our personal fears and reservations so that we can love in the spirit of the Lord – without limits. Amen.

One of the first major debates in college theology class was the classic about faith and works. Is faith alone enough to attain heaven or must we have both faith and a portfolio of good works to our credit. The combination of today’s readings would have helped me then. The

Even in the early church, the apostles were working to combat false ideas. John the apostle clarified these in his letter. He explicitly states that the “victory that conquers the world is our faith.” However, John tells us that our responsibility to that faith does not end there. If we love God, we must keep his commandments and one of those is to love one another.

Jesus reading in the temple also juxtaposes the faith in the sacred scriptures with the actions that those scriptures call on us to accomplish… to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.

So it seems as if those espousing faith and good works must be correct. But many people do serve others without faith. So how do we reconcile that with the earlier dichotomy? Perhaps this: Maybe the debate is framed incorrectly. Perhaps we should look at the solution as faith THEN works. IF we have faith and do not love, what good is our faith? If we love without works, then what good is our action? However, if faith establishes the foundation, the cornerstone, then action frames the rest of the building of God’s kingdom.

How will you proclaim this a year of jubilee for the Lord?

Here is a message and possible suggestion for this New Year from Fr. Gerry Creedon of the Arlington Diocese Peace and Justice Commission. Perhaps you can find time in your schedule to attend this event as we near the anniversary of the birth of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the upcoming celebration of Black History Month:

“Peace is a gift of God and at the same time a task which is never fully completed.”

These are Pope Benedict's words from his new year's message. He speaks of religious liberty as the path to peace. Instead of religion being a source of violence, Benedict wants our faith to be a bedrock of peace making. This means respecting the culture and religious expression of all God's people without discrimination.

We are also called to be a family of faith that shows our society how to live together while honoring our different cultural gifts. At the 5 p.m. Mass on January the 8, Holy Family parish will welcome Bishop Joseph Perry of Chicago as the celebrant to mark the 20th Anniversary Celebration of “Black History and Heritage Outreach.” The theme is “We've come this far by faith.” I encourage ALL to join our African-American parishioners at this liturgy and the reception afterwards to express our solidarity.

May we be a sign and instrument of the unity of the human family.