My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
Once again we thank God today for another week of his graces and tender mercies in our lives. Every week that we come together for the celebration of Mass is a special moment of giving thanks to God for all of his blessings. But it is also a moment where we can renew our spirits of prayer. And we have much to pray for this week.
This week we join the universal Church in the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Every year we have this time, eight days of prayer for Christian Unity in the universal Church. So let us pray this week for greater understanding and respect among those who believe in Jesus.
We’re also praying for rain, don’t we? So we ask God in a special way to send us his rain. As we know, our beautiful state is in a bad drought, so we want to pray for our farmers and also for our brothers and sisters who are suffering from the wildfires, which of course are another consequence of the drought.
Especially, we want to pray for all those who are risking their lives to fight those fires. May God be with them. So let us keep praying for rain.
Also this week in our country we are remembering: on Monday tomorrow the birthday of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and on Wednesday, the anniversary of the decision of the Supreme Court legalizing the taking of unborn life in our society. It is always a time of prayer for the culture of life in our country. Last night, we had here at our Cathedral our beautiful Requiem Mass for the Unborn and tomorrow we will celebrate a special Mass in honor of Rev. King. So let’s especially pray this week for the respect of life in our society and especially in our country.
Today, also, you see I said that there are many things that we have to pray for, also the universal Church is commemorating the 100th World Day of Migrants and Refugees. So we want to pray for immigrants and refugees everywhere — but especially for those families and children suffering in our broken immigration system here in the United States.
So as you can see, as we are considering all the things that we have to pray for, we can see that our Lord Jesus Christ gives us a beautiful vision for a world in which everyone is welcomed and every life is treasured as a sacred gift from God. Let’s pray today and throughout this week to spread that vision in our society and in our world. We are as Blessed John Paul II used to say, we are “experts in humanity.”
And it seems to me that the reading of today’s Mass help us to understand a little better, or just reflect more on that beautiful mission that we have of sharing the truths of the Gospel with the people of our time. Because we are called to be servants and witnesses to Jesus Christ. We are called to be missionaries and disciples.
In the Gospel passage we just heard, St. John the Baptist tells us that when Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit come down upon him like a dove from heaven.
And at that moment, St. John the Baptist realized — that all of God’s plans were being fulfilled in Jesus Christ. The whole history of redemption. St. John the Baptist could see and he could testify that Jesus is the Son of God.
So St. John the Baptist is being presented to us today as a model for every disciple — for everyone who has been baptized in Jesus Christ. Like St. John the Baptist, we are called to be witnesses to Jesus. We are also called to see God and to testify to his presence in our ordinary lives.
My brothers and sisters, this is our vocation. This is our call. This is our basic identity and calling as Christians — disciples of Jesus Christ.
Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has been reminding us that our Baptism makes us, all of us “missionary disciples.”2 And he means all of us! No matter who we are. No matter what our role is in the Church.
The Pope says that every one of us has a duty to evangelize. A duty to be like St. John the Baptist in telling others about Jesus Christ.
In our first reading this morning, we heard the prophet Isaiah promise that God would send his Servant to be a light to the nations. So that the good news of his salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.
Of course the prophet is talking about Jesus, of course, who is the light of the world. But he is also talking about us.
Because as disciples of Jesus, we are called to be missionaries.We are called to carry on his work of salvation.3 We are the ones he is calling to carry his light into the darkness of our world.
Because God is always at work in our world. His plan of salvation continues moment by moment — one human soul at a time. And his light and salvation reaches others through us.
St. Paul tells us in the second reading of today’s Mass — that we are called to be holy. This is the beautiful reality of our Christian lives. We are called to seek God and to seek holiness in our ordinary lives. We are all called to be, my brothers and sisters, yes we are called to be saints of ordinary time.
And just doing that — trying to love like Jesus, trying to treat others as Jesus did — this is a beautiful way to live. And it will bring many people to want to know Jesus. That’s our missionary call.
So in our Christian witness, we need to continue learning from the example of St. John the Baptist. He was the once sharing with people Jesus Christ. As we know, St. John the Baptist never talked about himself. He was always pointing people to Jesus.
And people listened to St. John the Baptist because they could see that Jesus had already changed his life. So we need to pray for a deeper conversion in our own lives. For that inside, to be like St. John the Baptist, making Jesus known to people through the witness of our simple, ordinary lives.
How we live tells people so much about what we believe! So let’s keep trying harder every day to really live like Christians, disciples of Jesus Christ.
Let us pray this week to grow in the Christian virtues. Let us keep trying to know our faith better and to get more involved in the good works of the Church — especially all her works for the poor and the vulnerable. It is a beautiful call. It is a new call to each one of us to be missionary disciples.
And may our Blessed Mother Mary intercede for us and make us really missionary disciples like St. John the Baptist. To share the light of Jesus with the people we know and everyone we meet.
1. Readings (Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A): Isa. 49:3, 5-6; Ps. 40:2, 4, 7-10; 1 Cor. 1:1-3; John 1:29-34.
2. Evangelii Gaudium, 120.
3. Matt. 28:19.