Today we are back to the ordinary time in our liturgical year. It is the second Sunday in ordinary time, the Baptism of the Lord being the first. This seems a little bit weird because the term may give us a sense of lack of expectation or setting back, since it is Ordinary time. On the contrary, it is a time of commitment and fulfillment of the requirements of discipleship. We are invited to come down from the mountain of the celebration of Christmas where we were afforded the opportunity to gaze continually upon the face of the Lord who came to us to manifest his love through the humble presence of a tiny child in the manger in Bethlehem. The ordinary time of our liturgical calendar is a time to strengthen hope for the kingdom of God as we engage ourselves with Jesus Christ in his public ministry. Like the magi at Epiphany, we have encountered the Lord and warned to take another direction. And again, like those who witnessed to the baptism in the Jordan, we have heard the voice from the heaven asking and commanding us to listen to the beloved Son.
Now John the Baptist gives us the example and shows us the path of this new journey. In today’s gospel, he points out to the core message and the subject matter of evangelization: it is to introduce Jesus and his message to the world. We are therefore reminded that Ordinary time is a time we are sent in the vineyard, that is, the world. Every disciple is commissioned with the message we have received from the Father at the Baptism of the Son who himself embarks us on the journey of evangelization and discipleship. Like John the Baptist, we are called to introduce Jesus Christ and proclaim him loudly courageously by words and deed. John make sure he disappears and let the Son of God whose herald he is may be recognized and welcomed. We are reminded to always eclipse as we proclaim the message in order to let the Son appear in his splendor and might; for we proclaim not ourselves but he who humbled himself for our sake. We are only heralds and fragile vessels that carry an everlasting message of love.
Today’s readings have all the same purpose: to remind us of the mission we have received to bring Jesus Christ to the nations. Isaiah tells us of the choice God has made of us, and this from the womb of our mothers; that which means before we were even conceived, God has chosen and established you and I as light to the nations. Saint Paul on his part, shows us what we are to share with others as disciples commissioned to proclaim Jesus Christ: to share the Grace and peace of God, while striving to respond to the call to holiness.
As we embark on this new journey of discipleship and evangelization, we are invited to remember the following words of Jesus Christ to his disciples: “You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me” (John 15:3-4).
Let us therefore continue to pray the Master of the harvest to strengthen us in this mission to spread his message and to introduce his Son to the world the testimony and the witness of our lives. And let us continue to pray for one another and for our parish family.
– Fr. Emery