As I mentioned last week, this past Monday we entered into the First Week of Ordinary Time. Beginning today, we have a brief series of five Sundays in Ordinary Time (the Second through the Sixth Sundays). These Sundays provide us with an interim period (between the Season of Christmas and the Season of Lent) during which we can reflect upon the origins of our call to be a follower of Christ. As we look back upon that call (which began with our baptism), we have the opportunity to think about what accepting that call means for the way we live in this world. These coming weeks give us the time to consider what God is doing in Christ, what God is doing in us, and what God is doing through our partners in discipleship in the Church and in the world.
As you may know, January is Respect Life Month and this Thursday, January 21st, the 42nd Annual March for Life will take place in Washington, D.C. The theme for this year’s March is: Every Life is a Gift. The theme focuses on the cases of babies who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down’s Syndrome, Spina Bifida, and other serious conditions and who have a smaller chance of being born due to the choices made by the parents to abort those children. All life is sacred – every life is a gift. On Wednesday, approximately 400 pilgrims (mostly teens) from the Diocese of Saginaw, led by Bishop Cistone, will travel to Washington, D.C. Amy Dupuis, Katelyn Metiva, and Darren St. Souver from Saint John Paul II Parish will be among the pilgrims. Along with an estimated 300,000 – 400,000 fellow Catholics and people of all faiths, they will protest the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion. Their purpose is to raise awareness of the 55 million abortions that have taken place since the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision and to continue to work toward and pray that someday that decision may be overturned. The diocesan pilgrims will begin with 8:00 AM Mass at Holy Spirit Church in Shields and are expected to depart by 9:00 AM. All are invited to attend this Mass. While in Washington, D.C. Bishop Cistone will celebrate Mass with the pilgrims at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Please pray for the pilgrims and please continue to pray for a respect for life in all its forms from conception until natural death. You might be interested in knowing that photos will be posted on the diocesan website (saginaw.org), so you may want to check it out this week. The pilgrims will return to the diocese on Saturday morning (January 24).
In this Sunday’s Gospel, John points to Jesus as the Lamb of God! Thus, individuals begin to follow Jesus and ask him where he is staying. Jesus extends an invitation: Come and see. They respond to his invitation and change their lives. We, too, hear God’s call and respond by transforming our lives. This begins with being obedient to God’s will and sharing in Christ’s saving mission. It means more than simply keeping the commandments, saying our prayers, and going to Church every Sunday. It means that our whole lives are directed to being faithful to Christ, and identifying with him so completely that his life is ours, his mission is ours, his total self-giving is ours. We identify with him so completely that when people encounter us, they encounter Christ. Discipleship has its responsibilities and its demands. We must boldly announce the presence of Christ in our midst, and, like John the Baptist, point people in the direction of Jesus, and bring others to Jesus, the Lamb of God. This is how we share in the work of evangelization which is our responsibility by virtue of our baptism. As we further reflect upon the Gospel, let us ask ourselves: 1) How have I heard God’s call in my life? 2) How have I made Christ’s mission my mission? 3) How have I pointed others toward Jesus?
Blessings on your week!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ