If you are looking at a particular sermon and it is removed it is because it has been updated.

For example Year C 2010 is being replaced week by week with Year C 2013, and so on.

Friday, 25 January 2019

3rd Sunday of the Year (C) 2019

3rd. Sunday of Year (C)  
      (Nehemiah 8:2-6, 8-10; 1st. Corinthians 12:12-30; Luke 1:1-4; 4:14-21)


The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to bring glad tidings to the poor.  He has sent Me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.            

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, those words of Jesus “a year acceptable to the Lord” made passing reference to the jubilee of the year A.D. 28.  Nearly 2000 years on, we today have some vague awareness of the jubilee tradition in Israel after having ourselves experienced a modern jubilee in the year 2000.  A jubilee year in Israel was meant to be one of renewal and rejoicing: renewal for all who had been wandering from the way of the Lord, and rejoicing for the suffering and needy who were to receive redress for past injuries and help in present difficulties.  Even in modern times and among nations and international organizations overwhelmingly concerned with politics and money rather than with religious issues, nevertheless, in the year 2000 that spirit of jubilee enabled many poor nations to have their debts either notionally wiped out or else substantially reduced.

In our Gospel reading Jesus was just beginning His public ministry, just starting to proclaim the Good News that, through Him, God was offering salvation to His People. Jesus was inaugurating not just one acceptable year, but – as was fitting for what would be the Jubilee of all jubilees – a whole new relationship with God; a relationship whereby Israel, and ultimately the whole of mankind, would be offered freedom from the bonds of sin – the source of all human suffering -- and endowment by the Gift of the Holy Spirit sent to form us in Jesus as children of God, children for whom God would be a true Father, children destined to share an inheritance in heaven with God’s only-begotten Son made Flesh.

Dear People of God, this Good News that Jesus was announcing at that favourable time was something to be celebrated, and in this respect, we should remember how Mary our Mother was urged to respond to God’s offer of a Son-and-Saviour when the angel Gabriel addressed her at the Annunciation.  He began telling her of God’s offer by saying, “Rejoice, Mary, the Lord is with you”, for the Christian message, the Good News of Christ, is not to be merely accepted, it needs to be embraced with sincere and, indeed, wholehearted rejoicing by all children of Mary, and this is something that we Catholics  need to recall to our Christian awareness and make part of our every-day lives.

The Scriptures offer us over the ages a developing message of salvation and ever deepening awareness of the true nature of human faith called for by such divine goodness. In the first reading we heard:

Ezra read plainly from the book of the Law of God, interpreting it so that al could understand what was read.   Then Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest-scribe, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to all the people, "Today is holy to the Lord your God; do not be sad and do not weep" for all the people were weeping as they heard the words of the Law. He said further, "Go, eat rich foods and drink sweet drinks, and allot portions to those who had nothing prepared; for today is holy to our Lord.  Do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in the Lord must be your strength." 

The book of the Law had been lost and it had just been found again.  As the people, gathered together to hear it publicly read once again after very many years, listened to that reading, they were made aware of their past sins and present sinfulness and they wept.  But they were told: “This day is holy to the Lord, do not be grieved.”  Why not?  Because this was a holy people whom God had been preparing for over a thousand years, and they were, at this very moment, showing themselves to be uniquely able -- on hearing what was good and true -- to recognise and bewail their present sinful state and regret the past offences against their saving God and loving Father.  Such tears were those of lost children re-discovering an affinity of love and aspiring to fulfilment through obedience, not those of rebels hating God’s Law though fearing its warnings against all transgressors. 

People of God, all human beings are sinners before God: God alone is holy.  But those who are in the worst state, those who most need to weep, are those who are able and willing to deceive themselves into thinking either that they are good enough of themselves, or that it doesn’t matter whether one is holy or not.  Such people will never humbly weep for their sins here on earth; and, as Jesus warned, should they die in them, they will have to shed many unwilling and bitter tears as a result.

Oh, dear friends in Christ, it is a wonderful blessing to know and appreciate the Gospel proclamation: it gives us an opportunity to choose what is beautiful and true, to opt for what favours life and reject what is false and deadly.  The ability to find joy in, or shed tears over, the Gospel is a cause for very great joy, because it is a sign that God is taking hold of, and claiming, you as His own.  Therefore, let us take to heart today those final words of that passage from Nehemiah:

            Rejoicing in the Lord must be your strength.

People of God, the Gospel can and should be the joy of our lives, and it is up to each of us to appreciate this and to try ever more and more to delight in the Lord.

This is initially a matter of sensible choice and good will:  does a healthy person go around miserable because she cannot eat as many cream cakes as she would like, or because he cannot booze himself silly every night in the pub, or live day after day on a drug-induced cloud nine?  Not at all!  The physically healthy are happy to know what they should avoid so as to safeguard their well-being, and those who are spiritually healthy are happy because they have real life and are able to seek for its true and eternal fulfilment.   Even happier are those who can delight in the goodness and beauty that surrounds us on every hand in God’s good and beautiful creation and among His people imbued with fraternal charity and mutual respect.

Dear People of God, if you want to be true disciples of Jesus, to become true sons and daughters of our Father in heaven, then try to think more and more of those ‘ordinary’ blessings that surround us every day.

What a joy it is to be able to appreciate what is all around us here on earth … the male blackbird singing, flowers blooming and birds popping-up and darting here and there, the trees affording us a galaxy of autumn tints when their dying leaves are most beautiful and inspiring – or chastening -- for humans growing old!   How awesome it can be to look up into the heavens and appreciate, delight in, all that can be seen of nature there as expressive of the beauty, majesty, and power of God, our Father Who made them all and holds them in being, rather than simply observe them as sources of light, resulting from mere chance, which bespeak of nothing other than cosmic separation and of a cold, cold, beauty devoid of any personal significance for us!

A yet greater Catholic and Christian blessing it is, dear People of God, to have peace in your heart with a good conscience; to be humble before God, and to believe that He is using all the daily events of life -- be they big or apparently insignificant -- to help, guide, and draw you towards Himself.  And, above all, it is an incomparable blessing, to be able to look forward to eternal life: relying, not on any proudly asserted personal merits, but on God’s infinite mercy, and His unfailing, and indeed already experienced, goodness towards us personally  in Jesus; to know that eternal life will be home, where the beauty, the wisdom, the power, and the goodness of the Infinite God will fill all the members of the Father’s heavenly family with delight and unending bliss, because He wills to be for us the most perfect of Fathers and to share His glory with us in Jesus.

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we have been given much, but there is much more to come … Jesus is with Mother Church to the end of time.  Jesus is with Mother Church, in her, for YOU.  In her and through me His priest, He is saying to you personally today, The Spirit of the Lord has been given to Me, for He has anointed Me, He has sent Me to bring the good news to you, to set you free, give you new sight, to proclaim a blessed season of your Father’s favour in which He wants you to become, in Me, His true child. 

Want that, People of God, want, in this season of favour, to become a true child of your heavenly Father in Jesus, and you are well on the way, as the Psalmist (37:4) assures us:

Delight yourself in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.

Therefore, think more on the things of God, and less on the things of this world; think on God and learn to delight in Him.   And, trusting in His goodness, seek to know His will and try to do it joyfully.  In that way, you will surely share the confidence of St. Luke who wrote His Gospel, as he tells us:

So that you may realize the certainty of the teachings you have received.

Friday, 18 January 2019

2nd Sunday Year C 2019

 2nd. Sunday (C)
(Isaiah 62:1-5; 1st. Corinthians 12:4-11; John 2:1-11)

In today's Gospel we are shown Jesus bringing joy to a young couple threatened with deep, present, embarrassment and enduring sorrow, and we note that Jesus' blessing came into their lives through Mary. 

He commonly does the same today in and through Mother Church, His Mystical Body, which works, suffers, and prays for the blessings of His grace and truth to be bestowed upon all mankind, and for the establishment of God's Kingdom here on earth; as He Himself had foretold when He said to His disciples before His Ascension (John 14:12):

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father

Jesus is now seated at the right hand of His Father in heaven where He is totally devoted to glorifying His Father and bringing about salvation for us His brethren still on earth: for Jesus is, indeed, totally and gloriously selfless.

I go to My Father, and whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (John 14:12-13)

In the first reading Isaiah showed the Lord God’s will for Israel’s salvation through prophetic words that Jesus later applied to Himself at the beginning of His public ministry (Luke 4:18); words which are now being realized for us today in and through Mother Church by the Spirit of Jesus:

For Zion's sake I will not hold My peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a lamp that burns.   

Now let us look back at Mary in the Gospel reading and see how God made her glory shine out like a burning lamp to guide us to salvation:

When they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, "They have no wine." 

Jesus did not think it a matter that concerned Him Personally: He had just been proclaimed and ‘installed’ as Son of God and Israel’s Messiah and was on His way to Galilee (with five newly-chosen disciples) to begin His Public Ministry; He did not want His Father’s commission being prejudiced by His mother’s personal concerns, by her emotional involvement in human affairs …

(He) said to her, "Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come."

However, God the Father had a particular appreciation of Mary who had devoted herself totally to the welfare of her Child – His Word made flesh -- by nourishing Him, protecting Him, and above all, by teaching Him all she knew of God: opening up her own mind and heart to her Child in order that He might learn first how to pray and then how to respond to His heavenly Father as a true Israelite, indeed, as the Chosen One of a Chosen People.

Now Mary is about to be rewarded, acknowledged, for what she had done for God's Son throughout His childhood years: she is to be inspired to help her Son hear and recognize His heavenly Father’s call to begin His public ministry of salvation on this uniquely appropriate occasion.

Of course, Mary did not, indeed she could not, know what Jesus Himself was unaware of; nevertheless, God the Father willed to honour her -- the humble handmaid and perfect mother His only-begotten Son -- by inspiring her to set Jesus out upon the work for which His life with her had been preparing Him and for which His heavenly Father had destined Him.  How did Mary, under God's inspiration, do this? Very simply, as you would expect:

            His mother said to the servants, "Whatever He says to you, do it."

That was indeed simply said, but it was certainly not to be expected.  Jesus had apparently declined to have any part in the embarrassing shortage of wine, but Mary, the humble handmaid of God, gently insisted:

            Whatever He says to you, do it.

Such apparently strange behaviour on the part of Mary was enough for her Son.  Jesus immediately recognized His Father at work in Mary’s insistence, just as later He would recognize His Father’s influence on Peter confessing that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God:

Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father Who is in heaven. (Matthew 16:17)

So too here, at this symbolically joyful wedding feast, Jesus recognizes His Father’s influence on and gift to ‘insistent’ Mary: inspiring her to give her Son a mother’s blessing as He began His work of salvation: a work already fully planned by His loving Father and whole-heartedly embraced by His obedient Son, a work that would lead by way of the Cross to His most glorious Resurrection.  God would not take Mary's Son from her: He had not done that to Abraham, He would not do that to Mary.  Mary, however, being greater than Abraham, was uniquely privileged to bless her Son’s future mission by helping Him choose this most appropriate occasion of love, commitment, and joy for His first miracle.  Isaiah's prophecy was being fulfilled in Mary herself, the supreme member of Mother-Church-new-born:

You (Zion) shall be a glorious crown in the hand of the Lord, a royal diadem in the hand of your God.  (Isaiah 62:3)

Mary's own words too had been prophetic:

My soul magnifies the Lord, for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for He Who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.

Today, the gradual fulfilment of that will of God, of that abiding desire of Jesus, is carried on through the gift of their Holy Spirit as St. Paul told us:

The manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.

Paul assures us that we are all called -- as living and obedient members of Jesus’ Mystical Body the Church -- to share in the work of bringing Jesus’ Good News to all mankind:

To one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.

St. Paul could make only a small choice, because the gifts of God cannot be numbered and no one is left un-gifted.  Some of those gifts are, indeed, beyond our imagining: for example, how could anyone have imagined that the Father would inspire Mary to persist even though Jesus appeared to want to know nothing further about the matter?

People of God, all who are serious disciples of Jesus must be convinced that He does want to use and ultimately glorify each and every one of us in Himself.  We for our part, however, must -- first of all -- want Him to do this with our lives; and then we must learn to listen for His Spirit and respond without delay to His promptings; only in that way can Isaiah's prophecy come to greater fulfilment in us and in our days:

            Nations shall behold your vindication, and all kings your glory.

God has already done some of this for Mother Church: the greatest empires and the mightiest kings have, over two thousand years, come -- in all their power and magnificence -- and gone, despite all their cruelty and cunning.  Mother Church has withstood and outlived them all.

Those other prophetic words, however:

You shall be called by a new name, bestowed by the mouth of the Lord, 

have urgent need of fulfilment in modern times through all who have been baptized in Mother Church as children of her fruitfulness: all, that is, who have been made a new creation through water and the Holy Spirit, a new creation with the new name of children of God in Spirit and in Truth.  Because these modern times are times of great sinfulness and proud ignorance God wants this work to continue more urgently by the Spirit:

There are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all: the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.

People of God, despair neither of God nor of yourselves.  Some there are who say they are not gifted enough to do anything for God.  That is an attitude of mock humility, because it contradicts the words of Scripture for, as St. Paul tells us, to each one a manifestation of the Spirit is given; indeed, such an attitude is sinful, since it would blame a supposed lack of generosity on God’s part to cover up one’s own personal selfishness or indifference. There are others, however, perhaps more humble and sincere, who are tempted to think that because they have done nothing remarkable, therefore they have done nothing.   They should not, however, mistake human estimation (even their own) for God’s appreciation, for Jesus tells us (Luke 16:15):  

            What is of human esteem is an abomination in the sight of God.

Mary knew that she had done nothing of herself, nevertheless she also believed:

He Who is mighty has done great things for me, for He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant.

Mary was acutely aware of her lowliness; she never tried to make herself anything other than what she was before God.  Mary did not seek to make herself known or appreciated by men: her desire was to do God's will, to be truly His handmaid; and it was for that reason that she was so prompt to hear and obey God at the wedding feast at Cana   It was Mary's selflessness that made her the wonder she is: she always heard, recognized, and responded to God the Father working in and through her by His Spirit for her Son.   Of this Jesus was well aware as is shown by the fact that, as He was speaking on one occasion, a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him (Luke 11:27-28):

"Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!"  But He said, "More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!"

People of God, God can do anything with those who are humble, those who truly seek Him first and foremost in their lives and who are willing to trust Him in all things.  Ask Mary to pray for you; beg the Holy Spirit to guide you; thank God for His goodness to you in Mother Church and in your own personal, living, relationship with Him.  Do these things and the Holy Spirit will be with you to form you into an ever more close and true likeness of Jesus; let Him thus raise you, and all you may influence, to a closer proximity with Him Who is the Lord and Father of us all.

Friday, 11 January 2019

Baptism of the Lord Year C 2019

The Baptism of the Lord (Year C)

(Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7; Acts of the Apostles 10:34-38; Gospel of St. Luke 3:15-16, 21-22)


We are given precise historical details by St. Luke about the beginning of John the Baptist’s preaching, before he then goes on to tell us the nature of John’s personal calling and the essence of his message for Israel:

The word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness, and he went into all the country around the Jordan preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sin.

We see something of the vehemence and utter commitment of John’s character –characteristics he had shown even before his birth by leaping for joy in the womb of his mother Elizabeth at Jesus’ proximity in Mary -- in John’s preaching which had been long-matured before God alone in the desert where John had, incidentally, become well acquainted with vipers; for, when brush fires broke out in the heat of summer, they could be seen scurrying into the open to escape the flames before hiding themselves again.  And so, by the grace of his calling to learn from and commune with God in the desert, John learned to recognize vipers of all varieties, ultimately and most especially those of a human kind whom he addressed directly even though they were trying to hide themselves among the crowds now surrounding him:

He said (began saying) to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, ‘You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?’  Produce good fruits as evidence of your repentance.

With such a man, son of priestly stock and living a quite extraordinarily penitent and holy life, it is easy to understand that, as St. Luke tells us;

The people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Christ.

John’s very life style was a condemnation and yet a calling, a re-calling, and his words to those coming to him in their search for truth about Israel’s God and His will for them were in agreement with his extraordinary dress and manner of living: John satisfied their desires by calling for a ‘repentance’ that involved a  change of life to be proved by appropriate actions, such as rejecting sin, practicing self-denial, and showing fraternal charity – ‘works worthy of repentance’ John called them – while, and above all, WAITING, WATCHING and LONGING for the One to come.  There were to be no claims of personal righteousness based on descent from ‘father Abraham’ or works of the Law, for the supreme work of those seeking baptism from John would consist in their watching, waiting and longing together with John for:

One mightier than I (who) is coming and He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Jesus had by this time lived a quiet life for nearly 18 years in Nazareth after having stayed behind in Jerusalem unknown to Mary and Joseph on pilgrimage and being found by them after three days in the Temple.  He had returned obediently with them to Nazareth and, as far as we know, nothing ‘special’ had happened to Him during those subsequent years.  He would have heard of all the hopes and expectations being aroused by His relative John the Baptist and -- because God His Father, Whom He loved above all, moved in mysterious ways most especially with Jesus Himself -- I suspect Jesus wondered why God’s work was apparently going-on whilst He Himself knew nothing of it.   Under His Father’s secret inspiration -- which Isaiah referred to as His grasping Jesus by the hand -- that inspiration which had guided Him in Jerusalem all those years ago and would guide Him later to His Transfiguration, Jesus decided to go and look for His Father: He would look where God’s divine presence seemed most at work and join up with the pilgrims surrounding John for baptism.   There, He joined those like Himself, those who were looking for God.   The most devout seemed to be humbly queueing and waiting for baptism and Jesus -- looking exclusively for His Father -- had no pride that hindered Him from joining such a queue.

However, the purpose of His Father’s mysterious call to Him was about to become manifest at this moment of Jesus’ sublime humility, and it was to be for His Son’s great glory, for:

Our Gospel passage tells us nothing more; but later on, when Jesus was praising John as the ‘greatest of those born of women’ we learn that:

All the people who listened, including the tax collectors, and who were baptized with the baptism of John, acknowledged the righteousness of God; but the Pharisees and scholars of the law, who were not baptized by him, rejected the plan of God for themselves. (Luke 7:29–30)

John proclaimed and manifested as perfectly as was then possible the essential nature of Christian repentance: it is nothing other the acceptance, the embracing, of God’s Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth.  All who would truly accept Him as their God-sent Lord and Saviour would be taught by Him, by His Spirit, in His Church, what actions would befit their personal love for and obedience to Him.

St. Luke’s presentation of John the Baptist and Jesus in the Baptism is confirmed for us by Jesus Himself in St. Johns Gospel, where He addressed Jews proud of their paternity with Abraham:

Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.” So they said to Him, “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the One He sent.” (John 6:27–29)

Now we turn our attention to the other face of John’s Baptism of Jesus:

After Jesus had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove.  And a voice came from heaven saying: ‘You are My beloved Son, with You I am well pleased.’

Notice, dear People of God, that this picture painted for us by St. Luke concerns only God in heaven and Jesus, with the Spirit of Love uniting them; it is exclusively Personal to the heavenly Father and His incarnate Son, there are no words to or for any other people.  Obviously,  John the Baptist must have overheard or we would know nothing of the event, but it was a moment in time totally and absolutely sacred to the Father and His Son; the Spirit of Love between Father and Son does not speak for the Father’s words of love manifest His presence, and He is seen in the form of a dove because Jesus our prospective Saviour and the Christ of God is being confirmed and prepared for His mission of salvation.

For about eighteen years Jesus lived and worked as an ordinary young man of Nazareth outwardly no different than other young town-members.   Nothing happened that marked Him out; hadn’t Mary and Joseph when missing Him those years ago expected first of all that He was with some other family of the pilgrimage playing with their sons?  Those eighteen years of repeated ordinariness of common life and living had, however, been penetrated and formed by a Personal discipline of praying, watching, and waiting, so that when the Father ‘grasped His hand’, Jesus knew it was a call, a call from His heavenly Father and, leaving Mary and all the ordinariness of His Nazareth life behind, He went where it seemed His Father was present and at work … oh! such patience, such humility, such invincible longing for His Father in heaven!!

            My beloved Son, with You I am well pleased.

Jesus is the perfect reflection of His Father’s glory, and as He was probably still dripping water after John’s baptism He heard His Father addressing Him Personally and became aware of the Spirit-of-Love-uniting-them now resting upon Himself … this was preparing Him for His imminent Public Mission just as something similar would later prepare Him for His Passion and Death.  Never again would men look on Him and see no-one special: henceforward He would be either whole-heartedly loved and sought-for, or avoided by the craven and hated supremely by His enemies.   But never again would He be just Jesus, a mere somebody from Nazareth. 

Dear People of God, this event was no routine baptism in the Jordan by John the Baptist, it was, if I may risk the word, the sublimation of Jesus by His heavenly Father:

He is the effulgence of God’s glory, the very imprint of His Being, and Who sustains all things by His mighty word.  (Hebrews 1:3)

Friday, 4 January 2019

The Epiphany 2019

The Epiphany  (2019)
(Isaiah 60:1-6; Ephesians 3:2-3, 5-6; Matthew 2:1-12)

Why do we love certain people more than others … because of their goodness, perhaps, or their beauty; or might it be due to their understanding, sympathy, wisdom, or courage?  We could go on trying to find reasons but to no purpose, for the point is that we love someone because of who they are, because of their unique personality, as known to us and experienced by us.  We cannot love someone unknown to us.  Although we can admire what we hear of another, nevertheless, such admiration through hearsay or ‘work experience’ can only become true love after we have met, personally encountered, and, in some measure, learned to personally appreciate, the other.

Since that is undoubtedly true, don't you think it strange that Christians and Catholics speak so little about the beauty, goodness, wisdom and love, of God?  Christian proclamation is so often about an impersonal ethic: doing good to the needy and underprivileged, loving one’s neighbour and especially children, social involvement, and international comments from relatively minor figures – often sounding quite facile -- in favour of peace.   Indeed, at times, you cannot tell who is speaking: a social worker or a Christian, a political activist, or a witness defending or expounding their faith.   There is too often very little witnessing to the full pleroma of Christian, and above all Catholic, Faith as a spiritual power capable of bestowing on believers not merely present purpose, patience, and commitment, as a prelude to eternal salvation, but also as a unique source of hope for the unity, peace, and fulfilment of mankind … ‘forgive us our sins as we forgive others’ ...  and as a uniquely personal experience bestowing a secret joy and profound peace in anticipation of and prelude to our sharing in Jesus’ Own experiencing of Divine Beatitude.

The heavenly reward to which we all aspire as disciples of Jesus will not be given us because we have answered the world’s ‘politically correct’ expectations or requirements of us, nor because we have kept Church and/or even Divine  rules: the only criterion for the Christian and Catholic appreciation of our whole life will be "Did you love the Lord your God sincerely, in your mind and heart and with soulful truth and commitment?"   Without such personal love for the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, our Christian life can only be bleak and formal, our Catholic witness to God only lifeless and uninspiring; all in stark contrast to those words of the prophet Isaiah we heard in the first reading:

Arise, shine; for your light has come!  And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you. 

Christians -- above all we who are privileged to be Catholics -- should indeed shine out because we are called to reflect and make known the glory of the Lord which has shone upon us through our faith in the Good News of Jesus.  We are not like our brothers, the Jews and the Muslims.  They speak of God: they can speak good, holy, and beautiful things about God; indeed, the Jews speak of Him in ways very close to our own hearts.   Nevertheless, the Christian faith is so much more glorious than either Judaism or Islam: for we speak not only of the glory of God, but of the supreme and unimaginable beauty and beatitude of the Father, with His Son and the Holy Spirit.  We do not simply know God because He has spoken inspiring words through His prophets; nor do we praise Him simply because He has done great and wonderful deeds; above all, we confess, love and worship God, as Father, Son and Spirit: the Father Who created us and Who is really and truly our own Father in Jesus; the Son Who took our flesh and became our Brother before showing Himself to be our Saviour, and Who, to this very day, continues to give Himself as flesh and blood for you and me to eat and drink, thereby enabling us to live with His life, by His Spirit; and the Holy Spirit Whom we love and praise, in Whom we trust and rejoice, since He is ever with us as our Advocate, our strength and support, our light and our guide, our sure hope and our deep, deep, joy.

People of God, today's great solemnity of the Epiphany, the shining forth of God's glory, invites us most compellingly to glory in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, by telling us, in the words of the prophet Isaiah, to:

Lift up your eyes all round (that is, appreciate the Faith you profess and the Church in which you live); then you shall see and become radiant, and your heart shall swell with joy.

Jesus came to teach each of us to recognize with Him, and in Him to appreciate, the Father as a Person: His Father, and now, in Him, our Father; and He has given us His own most Holy Spirit, to inflame our hearts, enlighten our minds, and give us strength: that His, Jesus’ Own, filial likeness may be formed in us for the glory of the Father:

When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; He will tell you things to come. 

The Spirit also helps in our weaknesses; for we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit makes intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered.        (John. 16:13; Romans 8:26)

The Father Himself is so Personally committed to us that, having given His only Son for us, He now wants to speak to each of us personally, by His Spirit, that we might turn to Jesus and find our salvation in Him:

No one can come to Me unless the Father Who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.  (John 6:44)

The Father looks for, and expects in return, a similarly personal and whole-hearted response and commitment from us.  Jesus assures us that the Father wants to be our most perfect Father (Matthew 10:20):

It is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father Who speaks in you.

And, as the only true Father, He wants to be recognized and loved by children who will confidently turn to Him, in Jesus, saying: "Abba, Father"

Our Lord Jesus is indeed the Messiah foretold by the prophets; proclaimed by angels and manifested by a star at His birth; revealed by the Father at His baptism in the Jordan; He is, indeed, the Messiah come to change the water of our lives into finest wine.  And this wonderful Jesus personally died on Calvary for our sins, yours and mine; He rose on the third day for our salvation; and is so close to us, that we now live in Him by His Spirit bestowed on each of us by Mother Church at our baptism, and continually renewed in us by our faithful living in her, above all by our reception of the Eucharist at Holy Mass.

And then, this Holy Spirit -- relating to each and every one of us individually – works His divine purposes in the secret depths of our minds and hearts to the extent that we are attuned to His presence and willing to respond to His inspirations.  Indeed, He is so personal to us that it is His task to lead each of us to our own individual and personal fulfilment and perfection in Jesus, for the Father.

People of God, Christians and even Catholics today are often afraid of the wonders of our faith.  Many, each according to their own make-up, want to imagine what they can easily accept or appreciate: some, a distant God Who demands, not personal communion in love, but the observance of laws, such as Sunday Mass, baptism, first Communion etc.; they want to be able to tick-off the laws they have complied with, or tot-up the accepted good deeds they have done; and this, because they cannot bear to feel unsure of themselves, because they are afraid to trust totally in God’s mercy and goodness;  others like to fancy a God Who is so like us as to be satisfied with actions serving no higher aims than the largely humanistic ideals of those who have rejected faith in God and now rejoice in the world: ‘doing good’ to others that they may feel and show themselves able to ‘do good’ without any dependence on a God of heavenly Being and authority on earth.

Jesus, however, came to lift His disciples up to heavenly glory: drawing them to Himself and leading them -- through selfless trust and loving commitment – out from their human nothingness and need as experienced by Himself on Calvary, to share with Him in the glory of divine charity where Father, Son and Holy Spirit are eternally and indivisibly One.  For we belong to Jesus -- as St. Paul tells us (1 Corinthians 3:21-4:1) -- just as Jesus belongs to God; our relationship with God is that personal:

All things are yours, whether (the Church), the world or life or death, or things present or things to come; all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.

There, in the Son and by the Holy Spirit, and being caught up into the mystery of  Divine Charity uniting and beatifying the Most Holy Trinity, you and I are called to join in the songs of myriads of angel choirs, and to participate with our whole being in the great and eternal  ecstasy of heavenly praise to the glory of Him Who is, as St. Paul (Ephesians 4:6) tells us, the:

             One God and Father of all, Who is over all, through all, and in all.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, let us on this most solemn feast of the Epiphany 2019 renew our ability to whole-heartedly rejoice in God and, with quiet sincerity and deep confidence, to stand ever more firm and sure on the rock and foundation of our God-given Catholic and Christian Faith.