Resolutions – January 2017

Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.

Psalm 40: 8a,9a


My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

This prayer from Psalm 40, “Here am I Lord, I come to do your will”, is the Responsorial Psalm for the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, celebrated on January 15.  As we are in the new year, we resolve to change our ways; perhaps an adjustment to the hectic schedule of our daily living, a pledge to become healthier; a desire to be more present to our children or aging parents, a plan to participate in the celebration of Mass every Sunday or to pray more often.

I pray that your resolution unfolds itself into the mystery of God which is key to our living as Christian people.  The Psalmist of Psalm 40 is dedicating himself to the Lord; this is his resolution.  He stipulates the open and enthusiastic proclamation of the salvation just experienced. He sings a new song in response to the new action of God.  He recognizes that giving is not purely a human response but is itself a divine gift.

Let us recall the new action of God, the divine gift which we have just received; in which we have just participated, the Nativity of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.   Certainly this Gift of the Father is worthy of dedication of ourselves to God.  We have already begun this dedication through our baptism.  Baptism is not a singular event. The Sacrament of Baptism lays the foundation for our daily living through, with and in God.  Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit, and the door which gives access to the other Sacraments. Through Baptism we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission.

St. Gregory of Nazianzus said, “Baptism is God’s most beautiful and magnificent gift. . . .We call it gift, grace, anointing, enlightenment, garment of immortality, bath of rebirth, seal, and most precious gift. It is called gift because it is conferred on those who bring nothing of their own; grace since it is given even to the guilty; Baptism because sin is buried in the water; anointing for it is priestly and royal as are those who are anointed; enlightenment because it radiates light; clothing since it veils our shame; bath because it washes; and seal as it is our guard and the sign of God’s Lordship.”

In the Gospel of the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time, John the Baptist speaks about baptizing Jesus.  John notes that he baptizes with water, because John’s baptism is not connected with forgiveness of sins; its purpose is to reveal that Jesus may be made known to Israel.  Jesus baptizes with the Spirit.  Jesus signifies the new creation.  Jesus is the permanent bearer of the Spirit.

The Gospel speaks to us about renewal, about resolution to change, to become holy, about saying yes to God, as the prophets, Mary and Joseph, and the saints did.  How do we become better, become holy?  We set our focus on God (capital G).  We put the idols of our lives aside and pray that all our living is to bring God to each other; to bring His Love so perfect, so merciful to each one.  The Love of Whom we sang with joy during the Christmas season is with us evermore.  He asks us to live this Truth; that His Presence be known throughout the land.

Pope Francis said, “In Mary’s ‘yes’ there is the ‘yes’ of all of salvation history and there begins the ultimate ‘yes’ of man and of God: there God re-creates, as at the beginning, with a ‘yes’, God made the earth and man, that beautiful creation: with this ‘yes’ I come to do your will and more wonderfully he re-creates the world, he re-creates us all. It is God’s ‘yes’ that sanctifies us, that lets us go forth in Jesus Christ.”

In a few weeks, on January 28, 11:00 a.m., I will celebrate the Mass of Giving Thanks to God for all those in Consecrated Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary Queen of the Universe.  It is one opportunity for all of us to join together and thank our sisters and religious brothers and priests for saying yes to God, for living the Psalmist’s prayer, ‘Here am I Lord, I come to do your will.’ By their example, they have shown us Sacramental living. I hope that participating in the celebration of this Mass will be on your list of your resolutions!

As Christians, it is right and fitting that we make resolutions for God.  May they be fitting the King of Kings.  May they bring forth the mercy of the Wonder-Counselor.  May they breathe His Peace.