We have returned to the liturgical season of Ordinary Time. You will notice that a noble simplicity has returned in the church decorations and the ceremonies of the Mass. This season does not highlight any particular mystery of salvation. Rather, we reflect upon the events of the life and ministry of Jesus as the Gospel of Mark, starting next Sunday, is proclaimed in more or less continuous fashion until the beginning of Lent.
The refrain from today’s Responsorial Psalm should be the bold response of any Christian to God’s will. It represents the response that any young person should be willing to give who is discerning a vocation to the priesthood or consecrated life.
Regarding human dignity, today’s Second Reading reminds us that, having been baptized into Christ’s body, our bodies, too, are sacred and temples of the Holy Spirit. Saint Paul is writing primarily against sexual immorality here. However, all sins against another’s person, especially deliberately depriving another of life, are offenses against human dignity and against the Precious Blood of Christ with which he has purchased us as his own.
The annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins this Thursday, January 18, and ends the next Thursday, January 25, the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul. This year’s theme is taken from Exodus 15:6: “Your Right Hand, O Lord, Glorious in Power.” Throughout the Biblical narrative of salvation, an unmistakable motif is the unrelenting determination of the Lord to form a people whom he could call his own. The formation of such a people, united in a sacred covenant with God, is integral to the Lord’s plan of salvation and to the glorification of his name. The prophets repeatedly remind Israel that the covenant demanded that relationships among its various social groups should be characterized by justice, compassion and mercy. Reconciliation often demands repentance, reparation and healing of memories.
As Jesus prepared to seal the new covenant in his own blood, his earnest prayer to the Father was that those given to him by the Father would be one, just as he and the Father were one (cf. John 17:21-22). When Christians discover their unity in Jesus, they participate in Christ’s glorification in the presence of the Father, with the same glory that he had in the Father’s presence before the world existed. Therefore, God’s covenanted people must always strive to be a reconciled community that serves as an effective sign of how to live in justice and peace for all the people of the earth.
Today, the Bible continues to be a source of consolation and liberation, inspiring Christians to address the conditions that currently undermine the Body of Christ. The Church, like Israel, is called to be a sign and an active agent of reconciliation. Again this year we pray that the scandal of a divided Christendom may be overcome, a stated priority of Pope Francis.
Pray the Rosary this week for peace, for the unity of Christians, and for an end to legalized abortion and the many other crimes against human life and dignity. Pray also for Timothy and David Reither, two seminarians from Saint Charles Parish, as they continue their vocational discernment and formation.
May God bless his people with peace.