Monday, January 12, 2015

Baptism of the Lord

Baptism of the Lord / Stewardship renewal:
Today we celebrate the feast day of the Baptism of the Lord.  This feast brings an end to the celebration of the Christmas season, and marks the beginning of ordinary time.  I don’t think this is a coincidence.  Today marks the beginning of the Lord’s public ministry, during Ordinary Time we hear about this ministry, we hear his message and travel with him as he proclaims the Good News.  Ordinary Time is our chance to follow Christ, to walk with him, to grow closer to him.  Ordinary time is not simply “ordinary;” rather, it is a privileged moment for us to know Christ and follow him.
Today we hear the voice of God the Father say to Jesus “you are my beloved son, with you I am well pleased.”  On the day of our own baptism God the Father said the same thing to each one of us, because on the day of our baptism we were united to Christ, we too are God’s beloved sons and daughters.
After this declaration from God the Father, Jesus goes out on mission.  Jesus is the beloved Son.  He knows the Father.  He shares the very substance of the Father.  He receives his very essence from the Father.  He hears “you are my beloved son.” The result, he goes out on mission.  I find it interesting that we are called to follow Jesus the same way.  We were baptized.  God calls us his beloved sons and daughters.  We have received everything from him.  We receive our essence from God.  The result?  We too are called to go out on mission, the mission of spreading the Gospel of Christ.
If you are like me you probably made a few New Year’s resolutions.  I hope you are doing well, I know I need to eat less and exercise more.  How about finding ways to spread the Gospel of Christ?  Every year we might make our own personal New Year’s resolutions, but as parish we do this as well.  Every year, as a parish, we renew our commitment to Christ.  This coming week you will receive some information from the parish about renewing our commitment to Christ, our commitment to stewardship this year.  Think of it is as our parish New Year’s resolution.  How do we renew our commitment to Christ this year?  How is God calling each one of us to carry out the mission of spreading the Gospel of Christ?
First, we begin where Jesus begins today.  We hear the voice of God the Father say: you are my beloved son, my beloved daughter.  Through baptism we are united to Christ, through baptism we have entered into the death and resurrection of Christ.  We have received so much.  Everything we have comes from God, he has given us so much.  This is why we are committed to Christ and living in Gratitude. 
As pastor, I am extremely grateful for the amazing response to our stewardship renewal last year.  Our committed to Christ living in gratitude program from last year was a great success and it shows the tremendous commitment that each of you have made to Christ and to the parish.  Over the last year we saw an increase of over $75,000 in the parish offertory.  Your generosity made it possible for this parish to carry out the many ministries and activities that make this such a special place.  For example, our parish mission was a wonderful time of grace and blessing.  Those evenings of prayer, reflection, and community were only possible because of your generosity.  Many people told me just how moving those nights were.  I also spoke with people who had been away from the Church who felt inspired to attend the mission and renew their relationship with Christ.  The mission was only possible because of your financial support, but also because of the many parishioners who gave of their time and talent to make it possible.  
Of course, the mission is just one example of the wonderful ministries and activities possible because of your generous gifts of time, talent, and treasure.  We are committed to Catholic education, both at the school and in religious education.  This year we were able to give more families financial assistance to help them receive a Catholic education.  We are committed to the community, with our food collections, giving tree, and the many ministries supported by the parish tithe.  Your commitment to the parish makes it possible for prayerful liturgies.  You have made it possible for us to make some physical improvements.  We repaired the steeple and upgraded the sound system.  This year we will paint the ceiling and look at refinishing the floors.  We are exploring upgrades to the playground.  All of this is possible because of your generous response to the invitation of God, the invitation we all received on the day of our baptism: you are my beloved son or daughter.

Next week we will have a chance to commit to our stewardship of treasure.  Next Sunday all of us will have a chance to renew our commitment.  You will be receiving information about our commitment Sunday in the mail.  Please prayerfully consider your renewal this year.  In a couple weeks you will also be receiving information about renewing our commitment to stewardship of time and talent.  We will be holding a ministry fair in February.  The next few weeks will be a wonderful moment of growth and renewal for our whole parish.  May God continue to bless this parish, may he inspire each one of us to grow in our vocation as beloved sons and daughters of God.

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