Today begins Holy Week—the most solemn and important week of our liturgical year. It is the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem, and the entrance of the Church into the Paschal Mystery. We have two Gospels that express two natures of our relationship with God.
Tag archive: Scripture Reflection
Today we hear of Jesus’ first miracle—turning water into wine at a wedding. It can be a reminder that, even when we think we don’t have what we need, Jesus works with what we do have and makes it into what we were looking for.
Today’s celebration of the Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord comes with options for the first and second readings. The first readings are from different parts of the Prophet Isaiah. One echoes the words that the Father speaks at Jesus’ baptism and the other echoes the Gospel (quoting Isaiah) from the second Sunday of Advent—make straight the paths of the Lord. The second readings include a speech from Peter as he is about to baptize the household of a pagan who received the Holy Spirit and a teaching on the free gift of salvation that Jesus offers each of us—not through our own earning, but through our acceptance of Christ’s charitable love toward us. The Gospel is Luke’s version of the Baptism, in which we see Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all present together at once—the Trinity revealed. It is the moment that a symbolic ritual became reality. It is the moment that God chooses to introduce himself to each of us personally—that we become adopted children of God and receive our vocation to be priest, prophet and king.
Today’s first reading from the prophet Baruch offers the image of Israel who had been led off in slavery being returned to their homeland in security, making the path easier for us, and “…God is leading Israel in joy by the light of his glory, with his mercy and justice for company.”
In the second reading, Paul prays for us that our “…love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value.”
And in the Gospel, Luke recalls a passage from the prophet Isaiah, similar to Baruch, which invites us to prepare the way of the Lord. In our preparation, God will remove the obstacles that would prevent us from being with God— “Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”
Here is the point: When we make an effort to invite Jesus into our hearts, God begins to remove anything that would stand between us and God. God wants to be close with every one of us—God is always there, waiting for us to turn to him. When we do—when we seek to become what God dreams for us to be—God helps us in every way to get there.
Today’s readings have two major themes—hope and vigilance. We hope in the second coming of Jesus and we are vigilant in our efforts to live his love more perfectly in our lives every day. Did you ever see a stump or a tree that you thought was dead and a little sprout starts growing out of it? That is often what faith is like. Sometimes, we feel dry or sad, or like we are alone, but then a little sprout of hope enters our hearts.
Our first reading from the Prophet Jeremiah tells us about the “just shoot” from the line of King David. Jesus is that shoot—things looked really bad for Israel at the time that Jesus came into the world. Life was hard and scary and the people wondered why God wasn’t helping them. Then, Jesus came. He came to bring hope where there wasn’t much and he taught us how to remember that God was always with us, even when things looked bleak. The seed of hope is what God plants in us to begin our preparation to receive the healing that Jesus came to bring us.