2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

Today, in the letter from Saint Paul, we are told that we have been sanctified in Christ Jesus and that we are called to be holy.  Through our Baptism we were all cleansed from original sin and set apart as sons and daughters of Almighty God.  By virtue of our Baptism we are members of the mystical body of Christ and as members of Christ’s body, we have a mission: we are called to be holy; we are called to be light to the world.

Sometimes, we can be tempted to think of holiness as somehow less than what the world offers.  Our culture, which promotes instant gratification, does not particularly esteem holiness.  Our culture promotes noise, constant distraction and perpetual busy-ness.  Holiness is more, not less, than the world offers.  Holiness connects me with God, Who IS the source of all true happiness and joy.

Our culture promotes radical individualism, total autonomy and absolute, unlimited freedom as the highest good.  According to our culture, happiness likes in being able to do what I want, when I want, as much as I want (as long as no one else gets hurt).  Such a culture is repulsed by the ideal expressed in today’s responsorial Psalm: “Here am I Lord, I come to do Your will.”  Yet it is precisely by fulfilling God’s will for us that we find true joy.  Only when we surrender to God and give ourselves to Him completely will we find our hearts deepest longing.

When we read the lives of the Saints we see examples of the true joy that comes from a deep relationship with God.  To take just one modern example: look at Mother Theresa.  She exuded joy; when you see a picture of her smiling you see joy and love shine through her appearance.  She completely poured herself out for Jesus Christ.  She picked up dying poor people off the streets of Calcutta; yet she had the peace and deep joy that comes from placing all her trust in God and in Him alone.  She lived the holiness that we are all called to: not that we are all called to go to Calcutta; we are all called to love as she did.  We are all called to love God with all of our hearts; we are called to pour ourselves out for God and for others.

In today’s Gospel, we hear of Saint John the Baptist on the bank of the Jordan River.  The Jordan River flows between the Sea of Galilee in the North and the Dead Sea in the South.  The Sea of Galilee is fed by several mountain springs.  It is the largest body of fresh water in Israel.  The Sea of Galilee is teeming with life both in the waters and on the shores around the Sea.  From the time of Our Lord even until today many fishermen work on the Sea of Galilee.

The Sea of Galilee receives its fresh waters from the mountain springs, as I mentioned, and then that water flows out from the Sea into the Jordan River down into the Dead Sea.  The Dead Sea has no outlets.  It keeps all the water and minerals that flow into it from the river and it is completely dead.  Nothing can live in the Dead Sea and nothing grows on the banks.  It is rich in minerals but devoid of life.

We receive many good things from God and we are called to be channels of His grace to others.  By pouring ourselves out for God and for others we are able to receive life.  God’s grace is much like the waters in Israel: if we selfishly refuse to share the grace that we receive with others we die.  If we pour ourselves out for God and others then we are able to receive the abundant life that Our Lord came to give to us.  Let us strive to love as we were created to love, so that we might attain the holiness that we are all called to and truly be light to the world.

 

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