In each of the Gospel accounts of the Baptism of the Lord Jesus, this event is followed by his temptation in the desert. In our liturgical sequence of Gospel Readings, we will hear of the temptation on the coming First Sunday of Lent, February 14. While we do not like to think of the Paschal fast beginning so soon after the Twelve Days of Christmas, the reality of the acceptance of Christ in our lives makes us vulnerable to the “tempting” voice of those who would hamper our growth and maturity in the faith. The “expectation” (Luke 3:15) of those who seek the Christ can easily turn to doubt or even disappointment when “other voices”, or “loud voices”, seek to keep us from hearing of the words which the Father speaks to Jesus, “You are my beloved Son: with you I am well pleased (Luke 16:22).”
The servanthood of the Lord Jesus compels us to lead lives of service. Our very baptism into the life and ministry of Jesus calls us to “act uprightly” (Acts 10:35).
At the beginning of a New Year, much ado is made of “resolutions.” Perhaps, now, is the time to consider how each of us acts uprightly and to ponder what each can do share in the ministry of Christ of which we have been baptized. Catechumens, those who are seeking Baptism, are immersed into ministries of service long before they are immersed in the waters of the font! Confirmandi, those who were baptized as infants and are now being prepared for Confirmation, are also asked to become involved in a ministry. While these are sometimes called “service hours,” they are intended to be one of the many ways in which they live their lives in the Church as mature Catholics. Often, a lack of involvement in the life and ministry of the Church leaves us vulnerable to hear other and louder voices which lead us away from the Lord Jesus. As this New Year begins, we should also have spiritual and ecclesiastical resolutions lest we be left in the desert without the ability to discern the Lord’s voice.
Lastly, as this Christmas Season draws to a close, I offer one last word of thanks to our liturgical ministers (music ministers, sacristans, servers, readers, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, ushers, those involved with hospitality and those who prepared the worship environment) and all those who have worked so faithfully and diligently during these days. Thank you all for enabling us to pray so well!
May the week ahead be filled with countless graces and blessings!