“This is he who came by water and blood…and the Spirit. So there are three that testify, the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are of one accord.” - 1 John 5:66-8Today is January 6th, the customary feast of the Epiphany, but the Church will celebrate it tomorrow on Sunday, giving it the honor and just merit that it deserves. Our alternate readings today from 1 John and Mark are as full of symbolism as the traditional ‘epiphany’ readings we will hear tomorrow.
Water, blood and the Spirit are symbols of the sacraments of initiation; Baptism, the Eucharist and Confirmation. Indeed we see all of those sacraments in these readings. John in his First Letter tells us that water, blood, and the Spirit, who is truth, witness to the humanity, mission, and divinity of Jesus. The reading from Mark is the scene of Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist: the descent of the Spirit that then moves Him into the desert and ultimately into his ministry, and the confirmation of His Sonship by the Father.
We also have the more secular symbols of this time of year. Since Christmas is over we have the ‘12 Days of Christmas’ and every merchant would love us to be as excessive with our gift giving as is displayed in that song of love. My true love gave to me….God, my true love, has given to me abundantly…. His Son, His love, His Mercy, His Truth, His Spirit, Faith, Hope, Freedom, Life, Contentment, Security, and Peace.
What does this true love ask of me?
To continue Jesus’ mission: to set the captives free, give sight to the blind, forgive debts, to bring glad tidings to the poor, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord. As we close this Jubilee Year with the symbolic closing of the doors in St. Peter’s Basilica we should not close our hearts or minds to each other. We are to continue to ‘be Christ’ to others through our gifts.
To be Jubilee people. To take what we have thought and practiced this last year and put it into action, daily, for life. As the fields that lay fallow during the Jubilee year bring forth an abundant harvest the next year; so too we are called to bring forth fruit abundantly.
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” - Matthew 28:19-20
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