This weekend we finally bring the Christmas Season to a close as we remember the Baptism of Jesus. While many of us remember when Epiphany marked the end of this season, the Church – since Vatican II – has extended her celebration of Christmas to today's Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Ending the Christmas Season with this celebration reminds us that the same Jesus Who was born as a Child in the manger chose to be Baptized and to make Baptism one of His holy sacraments.
Last Saturday evening a whole lot of my family came to the 4:30 Mass at our Church. Afterward they visited with me and the other priests in the rectory. I've told you before that my family enjoys coming to Mass at our Church – and I thank each of you for making them feel welcome. Gathering with my family made me think of how, at our own Baptism, we became part of Christ's family – the Church. This is yet another aspect of today's Feast of the Baptism of our Lord.
I can think of no better way to end this Christmas Season than to offer you some words from our Holy Father, Pope Francis. These remarks were taken from a talk about Christmas that he gave to a crowd in St. Peter's Square in Rome. "Thinking about Christmas," the pope said, "teaches us two things about God."
"The first is that if God reveals Himself not as One who remains on high and dominates the universe, but as One who bends down, descends to the little and poor earth, it means that, to be like Him, we should not put ourselves above others, but indeed lower ourselves at the service of others, become small with the small and poor with the poor. It is regrettable to see a Christian who does not want to serve. A Christian who struts about is ugly: this is not Christian, it is pagan. The Christian serves, he lowers himself. Let us be sure that our brothers and sisters do not ever feel alone!"
"The second is: if God, through Jesus, involved Himself with man to the point of becoming one of us, it means that whatever we have done to a brother or sister, we have done to Him. Jesus Himself reminded us of this: whoever has fed, welcomed, visited, loved one of the least and poorest of men will have done it to the Son of God."
I hope you enjoyed your Christmas and New Year's as much as I did mine. Not only did I get to see and celebrate with so much of my family, I also enjoyed celebrating with so many of you at the various Masses for Christmas, New Year's, and the Epiphany! Your joyful presence at these Masses is a beautiful testimony to your faith!
As the New Year unfolds, let's take the Holy Father's words to heart and make ourselves true servants of the poor and weak people in our community. Let's also keep praying for each other – that we may be devoted followers of Him Whose birth we have celebrated with such devotion and joy in this Christmas Season.
Have a great week!
P.S. Please pray for me and the people of our parish who will be on the March for Life in Washington this Friday! I'll tell you about it next week!