This weekend we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. It marks the end of the Christmas Season and the beginning of Ordinary Time. (January 11 is Monday of the First Week in Ordinary Time). If you were present for the 9:30 AM Mass last Sunday, you heard Father Jim explain what the word epiphany means: a manifestation of God’s Presence. He told us there were two other epiphanies besides the one we celebrated last Sunday. One of those we celebrate this Sunday: the Baptism of Jesus. At the end of the Gospel passage from Luke, a voice from heaven says, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” John was preaching a baptism of repentance but also foretold that One would come after him who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. That One was Jesus. The Baptism of Jesus was a manifestation that he was God’s Son and thus, God. The Baptism of Jesus was a manifestation of the relationship between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This event for Jesus was the initiation of his public ministry and it changed the meaning of baptism. Not only is baptism for the forgiveness of sin, but it is first and foremost about establishing a relationship with the one baptized and God. Once we become God’s beloved son or daughter, nothing can alter that relationship. Even if we stray from the path that leads to him, he does not disown us. This is why baptism is an unrepeatable sacrament. The word “character” is used to describe the relationship that takes place in the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, as well as Ordination (all of which may only be administered once to an individual). Those of you who grew up in the pre-Vatican II Church may remember being told in your religion class, that in Baptism, you received an indelible mark on your soul (which is why you are only baptized once). The terminology the Church uses now is “character.” So, what happens when we stray from God? We receive the sacrament of Penance, which in the early church was referred to as “second baptism.” But that is a topic for another column. Meanwhile, this week let us reflect on our own baptism and ask ourselves how we have been living up to our call as beloved sons and daughters of God.
Next weekend, Father Jim and Father Bill Rutkowski will exchange places. Sister Janet requested a few months ago that Father Jim do a “teaching Mass” at Saint John Vianney Parish. She suggested that, in order to make that possible, our sacramental ministers exchange places for the weekend. Both Father Jim and Father Bill agreed to that proposal.
This February, our parish will be having a Winter Mardi Gras Party on Saturday, February 6, in the gym after the 4:00 PM Mass. Please see the flyer in today’s bulletin for further information. The members of the committee working together on this event are: Ann Wamback, Chris Bustamante, Luke Gembrowski, Chuck Pappas, Amy Siemienkiewicz, and Anne Stine. If you wish to help out in any way, including decorations, set-up, or clean-up, or wish to serve on the committee, please call Ann Wamback (714-5461). The Mardi Gras party includes a potluck dinner. The parish will provide the meat, and all are asked to bring a dish to pass.
Plans are underway for this year’s Paczki Sale. Jim Szynwelski, who will serve as coordinator, is seeking parishioners to serve on the committee. Please note the article in today’s bulletin, especially if you are willing to serve on the committee. As of this weekend, sign-up sheets are posted at each of the church entrances. One is for those willing to help lay cardboard on Sunday, February 7 and the other is for those who are willing to work on the preparation of the paczki and sale on February 8 and 9. You are asked to sign your name and phone number. You will not be receiving a phone call to confirm your time. However, you may be called if some time slots are very full and others need extra workers. Please do consider helping us out “in the kitchen.” There are all kinds of jobs in preparing the paczki – and everyone has a great time working together.
As you know, the Jubilee Year of Mercy began on December 8. Please note the special prayer for the year written by Pope Francis in today’s bulletin.
Blessings on your week!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ