January 5, 2017 – Thursday before Epiphany

Saint for the day: John Neumann ( March 28, 1811 – January 5, 1860)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

1 John 3:11-21    –    Psalm 100     –    John 1:43-51

“Whoever does not love remains in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer.” (1 John 3:15)

Those are pretty hard words and there’s not much way around them to soften them. Most of us would rather go back to the nice, quiet scene of the stable in Bethlehem rather than moving on. But our Gospel jumps us way ahead to where Jesus is beginning to assemble his chosen disciples. It’s obvious that we are at a “liturgical crossroads” and just when we’re about to celebrate the feast of Epiphany.

But we have to remember that the word, “Epiphany” means “manifestation” and that manifestation is that this “Baby Jesus” – with His little arms outstretched in welcoming both shepherds and Kings – is the same Jesus who is destined to stretch out His arms on the Cross for our salvation. And He won’t do this just alone and by himself but in the context of gathering “apostles” (ones who are sent) who will witness why He had to die on the cross in order that we might have life.

On this coming Sunday we celebrate Epiphany and then the following Sunday is the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord and then on January 20th were back to the “Second Sunday in Ordinary Time” and our march will ultimately lead us to the celebration of the Paschal Mystery of Holy Week and Easter.

But first, let me interject a ‘footnote’ about the word “ordinary time.” There’s nothing “ordinary” about the way Jesus chooses his disciples or teaches them about His mission. Our use of the word, “ordinary” comes from the Latin word; “ordinal” which really translates “numbered” or “counted.”

I think it’s a shame that most of us think that we leave the wonder of the birth of our Messiah and slip into ordinariness until Easter. There is nothing “ordinary” about our calling to follow Jesus. It begins in the quiet of the Bethlehem Stable, passes through His death and resurrection and leaves us with His legacy “go out … I will meet you on the road.”

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