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We continue to find the image of light in today’s scripture readings.  The prophecy of Isaiah speaks of God bringing light and joy to a people who have experienced gloom and darkness. (First Reading)  It is into this northern territory that Jesus goes and where he calls his first disciples. Centuries after Isaiah’s prophecy was first spoken, Matthew now quotes it and applies it to Jesus. (Gospel)  His ministry and teaching will enlighten many. Those who are cured of “every disease and illness” experience joy instead of gloom. Light again overcomes darkness. These verses from John’s Gospel, proclaimed on Christmas Day, again come to mind:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be.  What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5)

Christ our Light appeals to the crowds with the same message as John the Baptist, who had been arrested:  “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Gospel) He has come to overcome the darkness of sin and death.  Saint Paul appeals to the Corinthian community to overcome the darkness of division so that the light of the Gospel, to which all of us must give witness, may not be eclipsed. (Second Reading)  The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which concluded this past Saturday, January 25, the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, reminds us that the credibility of the Church’s mission to the world still demands full unity among Christians.

This weekend is the beginning of Catholic Schools Week.  This year’s theme is, “Catholic Schools: Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed.”  The focus of Catholic education is our students and their formation in every dimension of their lives, including their faith.  Nowhere else, outside the home, can young people receive the emphasis on learning and living the Catholic faith that our Catholic schools provide.  No other school system has the freedom to integrate faith into every dimension of school life. Our Catholic schools are a treasure and we have reason to celebrate.  May God bless the ministry of Catholic education. Thanks to all of you who provide prayerful and financial support to our Catholic schools. Bishop Callahan will celebrate Mass at McDonell Central High School on Wednesday, January 29, at 9:30 AM, for the students from all the Catholic schools in the Chippewa Falls Deanery.  You are all welcome to attend.

On September 30, in a motu proprio entitled Aperuit illis, Pope Francis designated the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time as the Sunday of the Word of God.  The timing of the document is significant: September 30 is the Feast of Saint Jerome, the man who translated most of the Bible into Latin, and who famously said: “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” This year also marks 1600 years since his death.  The title of the document, Aperuit illis, is equally important. They are its opening words, taken from St. Luke’s Gospel, where the Evangelist describes how the Risen Jesus appeared to His disciples, and how “He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.”  He writes:

It is fitting, then that the life of our people be constantly marked by this decisive relationship with the living word that the Lord never tires of speaking to his Bride, that she may grow in love and faithful witness.  Consequently, I hereby declare that the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time is to be devoted to the celebration, study and dissemination of the word of God. This Sunday of the Word of God will thus be a fitting part of that time of the year when we are encouraged to strengthen our bonds with the Jewish people and to pray for Christian unity.

Pray the Rosary this week for students, parents and teachers, and for all who are a part of our Catholic schools.  Pray for all participating in our Alpha series. As always pray for peace and the safety of military personnel serving abroad.

May God bless his people with peace.

Monsignor Gorman