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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 concludes this coming Wednesday, 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.

The bishops of the United States have designated January 23 as a “Day of Penance for the Violations to the Dignity of the Human Person Committed through Acts of Abortion, and of Prayer for the Full Restoration of the Legal Guarantee of the Right to Life.” Bishop Callahan has asked the deacons of our diocese to lead a holy hour in observance of this day of penance and prayer. Deacon Daniel Rider will lead a holy hour at St. Peter Church on Monday evening, January 23, at 7:00 PM. Deacon Thomas Kinnick will lead a holy hour at St. Charles Borromeo Church on Monday evening, January 23, at 7:15 PM. All are welcome to attend either one.

A number of people from our area and from our diocese, including our own Father Charles Richmond, will be participating in the March for Life in Washington, DC, on Friday, January 27. They will be departing on January 25 and returning on January 29. Please pray for their safe travel. This important event has become a young-people’s issue in recent years, but is always underreported by the secular communications media. I have no doubt that the adamant support of the Democratic Party platform for abortion without restriction, government funding of Planned Parenthood and the proposed repeal of the Hyde Amendment prohibiting taxpayer funding for abortions, was a major factor in the defeat of Democratic candidates on many levels, including the presidency. The only team of commentators that even had the insight or honesty to mention this was on PBS. We can only hope that the pro-life message proclaimed over the last 44 years will be heeded by the new Congress and Administration, and that the restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life will become a reality.

Pray the Rosary this week for an end to legalized abortion and the many other crimes against human life and dignity, for families, and for the unity of Christians. As always pray for peace and the safety of military personnel serving abroad.

May God bless his people with peace.

Monsignor Gorman