In the first reading, once again we find ourselves in the words of John. These passages follow closely to John 3:16. We are told that “we belong to God.” It just doesn’t get any better. We have been given a Savior, we are asked to believe, and we are asked to love one another. Clearly this needs to be at the top of our New Year’s resolutions (resolutions for how we live our lives) and remember “Those who keep His commandments remain in Him, and He in them, and the way we know that He remains in us is from the Spirit that He gave us.”
The very short psalm directs us in a similar way, “serve the Lord with fear; trembling bow down in homage . . . ” While the tone is somewhat different, the message is clear, the time is now to take action and follow Christ. The time is now to “take refuge in God!”
The gospel from Matthew finds Jesus reacting to the news that John (the Baptist) was arrested and Jesus leaving Nazareth to fulfill the prophecy. Indeed, the line from Isaiah, “the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light . . .” is a heralding to us. At this time was have experienced a new Light in our lives with the birth of Jesus. In this passage, we are moved further into the life of Jesus as preaches that the “Kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Jesus is fulfilling his ministry there healing and curing diseases and illnesses. Even now we benefit from that healing presence especially when we allow our hearts to be open. It is a wonderful declaration of what Jesus did, condensed to a couple of verses yet profound. As we read of the crowds following Him, I can’t help but see this as an invitation. The three wise men arrived only yesterday and here we are reading about the great works. At first it may seem a disconnect in time but I think the key is about being invited right now as we bask in the joy of the babe in the manager. We are filled with that wonderful sense of this great gift – we are called to action while that feeling is fresh.
Blessings to everyone as we begin this wonderful year – hopefully, a year where we open our hearts to all that is asked of us and be able to embrace the gifts that are so generously bestowed upon us especially the greatest gift of all.
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