Question of the Week
“What is this? A new teaching with authority.”
“What can you tell others about Jesus with the most assurance?”
Question of the Week
Over the past few months, we have been including a “Question of the Week” in the bulletin (near the week’s bible readings), in the weekly Powerpoint (the last slide of Mass), and in our weekly Flocknotes. These questions relate to the weekly Gospel and are meant to help us think more deeply and personally about the Gospel. They also make great starters for faith conversations (or “faith-talks”) in the car on the way home from Mass or around the dinner table or anywhere a faith conversation could be appropriate.
This week’s question got me thinking. “What can you tell others about Jesus with the most assurance?” What am I certain of about Jesus?
Several years ago, I taught a course on the historical Jesus at the University of Wyoming. In that course, we sifted through the historical evidence and various theories about what we could know about Jesus as a historical figure. It was a controversial time in the historical study of Jesus with the “Jesus Seminar” making strange and unfounded claims about what was “historical” and what was not. But even in the midst of controversy, there are some facts most historians would agree with.
However, these historical facts are not what I am most certain of about Jesus. Reading through academic analysis and historical studies did not make me more certain (or less certain) about Jesus. It clarified some points and obscured others. It gave my faith deeper roots in history. But it did not tell me the most important thing about Jesus and the thing I am most certain of.
It did not tell me that Jesus is alive. It did not tell me that Jesus is someone I can talk with in prayer, serve in caring for others, or encounter in the sacraments. It is these things that I am most certain of about Jesus.
Pope Francis said it well in his encyclical on evangelization, “Jesus Christ loves you; he gave his life for you; and now he is living at your side every day to enlighten, strengthen and free you.” The fact that Jesus is alive and available today is what I am most certain of. I hope that this message is what I can tell others about Jesus with the most assurance.
How about you?
Parish Pastoral Leader
“It was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the Gospel.
“The word ‘catholic’ means ‘universal,’ in the sense of ‘according to the totality’ or ‘in keeping with the whole.’ … All men [sic] are called to this catholic unity of the People of God… and to it, in different ways, belong or are ordered: the Catholic faithful, others who believe in Christ, and finally all mankind, called by God’s grace to salvation.”
God wants everyone to be saved (See 1 Tim. 2:4)! That desire for salvation is what we celebrate on the Feast of the Epiphany. Our prayers and readings remind us that God is calling everyone to salvation.
Our first reading reveals God’s promise that not only would God’s chosen people be saved, but that all the nations would find salvation through them (Is. 60:1-6). The second reading reminds us that in Jesus, God’s promise of salvation has been opened to all people, not just his chosen people. Finally, the magi in the Gospel are the first fruits of this new offer of salvation to all. As foreigners, they are invited to salvation through Jesus, the Messiah long-promised to God’s people.
This desire of God for the salvation of all humanity is what motivates us to share our faith. Those of us who are parents start at home by doing our best to help our children to grow up as disciples of Jesus. All of us proclaim the good news of salvation by serving those in need around us and praying for the salvation of the world. We can also reach out to specific people we know who may not have heard about the mercy and love of God.
We do these things because God wants everyone to be saved and He wants us to help him make that desire a reality. As we begin this new year, let’s recommit to sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with everyone we know!
Parish Pastoral Leader
I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them.
The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis
… the angel of the Lord appeared to [Joseph] in a dream.
I imagine he was angry and confused when he found out that his betrothed was pregnant with a child that was not his. His thoughts must have raced around his mind like a roller-coaster and his emotions were spinning like a top. But Joseph did not want any harm to come to his beloved, so he decided to end things quietly so that Mary would not be in danger.
Then, while he slept, Joseph had a powerful encounter with the Lord. It changed his plans and transformed his life. Joseph opened himself to a mystery beyond his understanding. He had always been a “good man,” but this was different. This was a personal encounter with the Lord’s messenger. The Scripture doesn’t give us a detailed account of what Joseph thought and felt at this point but I imagine that his heart overflowed with joy. He responds to that encounter with faith. “When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.”
Every moment of our lives we are called to a personal encounter with the Lord. Like Joseph we are probably “good people,” but there is more to life than being good. Maybe our thoughts are running wild or our emotions are out of control. No matter what the state of our soul, the Lord comes to meet us and bring us the same joy he brought Joseph. How will you respond?
Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood
Into the hillside country Mary went
Carrying Christ, and all along the road
The Christ she carried generously bestowed
His grace on those she met. She had not meant
To tell she carried Christ. She was content
To hide His love for her. But about her glowed
Such joy that into stony hearts love flowed,
And even to the unborn John Christ’s grace was sent.
Christ in His Sacrament of love each day
Dwells in my soul a little space and then
I walk life’s crowded highway, jostling men
Who seldom think of God. To these I pray
That I may carry Christ, for it may be
Some would not know of Him except through me.
Ruth Mary Fox
A poem shared by Bishop Morneau with the deacons this weekend.
Yesterday I posted some thoughts about forming a strong Catholic subculture. In the car today I came across this program on the radio: How Culture Clashes Define Us .
In the discussion, Alana Conner, a cultural psychologist, makes the point that if you want to make a change, one of the best ways to do that is to associate with a new culture. It struck me that this is one of the strongest reasons to form a strong Catholic subculture.
1. It is NORMAL for lay Catholics to have a living, growing love relationship with God.
2. It is NORMAL for lay Catholics to be excited Christian activists.
3. It is NORMAL for lay Catholics to be knowledgeable about their faith, the Scriptures, the doctrinal and moral teachings of the Church, and the history of the Church.
4. It is NORMAL for lay Catholics to know what their charisms of service are and to be using them effectively in the fulfillment of their vocation or call in life.
5. It is NORMAL for lay Catholics to know that they have a vocation/mission in life (primarily in the secular world) given to them by God. It is NORMAL for lay Catholics to be actively engaged in discerning and living this vocation.
6. It is NORMAL for lay Catholics to have the fellowship of other committed lay Catholics available to them, to encourage, nurture,and discern as they attempt to follow Jesus.
7. It is NORMAL for the local parish to function consciously as a house of formation for lay Catholics, which enables and empowers lay Catholics to do #1-6 above.
Sherry A. Weddell, Forming Intentional Disciples