My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
So we are at the beginning of the liturgical year. We just finished the Christmas time this past Monday when we celebrated the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.
Now we start what is called Ordinary Time. Sometimes I’m a little nervous that it’s called Ordinary because maybe that means that we don’t have to do anything — it’s too ordinary!
But hopefully it will be a blessed time and part of that time that we work on our ongoing conversion to become better, closer, more faithful disciples of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
And this coming Wednesday, we join the universal Church in the annual week of prayer for Christian unity. It’s a week that starts this Wednesday, the 18th of January and ends on the 25th, the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul.
It is a week in which we especially pray for greater understanding and respect among all those who believe in Our Lord Jesus Christ. So let us especially pray this coming week for the unity of Christian believers.
And tomorrow, we celebrate the birthday of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr, and we will celebrate the special mass here at the Cathedral as we do every year in honor of Reverend King.
In today’s Gospel, John the Baptist proclaims with conviction that Jesus is the Lamb of God and God’s chosen one — the Son of God. John is a beautiful witness to the divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. He was a real witness who gave testimony to the truth on the coming of the Messiah.
And, as we know, John the Baptist at the end gave his life for Jesus — the highest proof of his testimony, his witness. He’s a beautiful example of faithful and truthful testimony.
And, as we know, we all are called to be witnesses of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Obviously, most of all, we will not be called to give our life for Christ, in the sense of martyrdom. But the truth is that we all are called to be witnesses to Jesus’ identity as the Son of God, as John the Baptist did.
And we are called to do that — going back to the ordinary, we are called to do that by being faithful to the ordinary things in life. Because the call to holiness that we have is to imitate the life of Our Lord Jesus Christ — to be his witnesses in our daily, ordinary life.
That’s our vocation. This is our basic identity and calling as Christians.
Pope Francis, as we know, has been reminding us that our baptism makes all of us missionary disciples, and he means all of us. So we all are called to holiness, to be witnesses of Jesus Christ — 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. We are called to be like St. John the Baptist in talking to others and showing others the truthfulness of the fact that Jesus is our Savior and Redeemer, the Son of God.
And as followers of Christ, we are called to be a light to the nations, as we heard in the first reading of today’s Mass.
“I will make you a light to the nations and my salvation will reach to the ends of the earth.”
And we know that Jesus himself is the light of the world. Well, he wants us — all of us, each one of us — to collaborate with him, following him, trying to imitate him, and helping him to enlighten the lives of people with the light of faith.
It is a beautiful call, especially because we know that if we are faithful to our vocation then we’re helping people to see the beauty of God’s plan for humanity. Because we know that Jesus is the remedy for the many evils that afflict humanity.
Without Christ, we walk in darkness. So the faith we must communicate to others, conveys light and meaning to their lives.
It is an exciting call, when we think about what we are all about. It’s not just fulfilling some technical things that we are supposed to do as Catholics — it is our life, our daily life: the way we act, the way we do things, the way we think, and the way especially that we do thing at work, at home, in our ordinary, faithful, beautiful life.
This coming Saturday, we will celebrate once again our Archdiocese event to celebrate life, OneLife LA. This year it will be at Exhibition Park at the University of Southern California. It is a family festival in praise of human life and human dignity. A vision of society where we do not see others, but see only brothers and sisters — children of God who share our common human nature and are deserving of love and care.
And we also celebrate everything we can do to promote their freedom and dignity. It is, in a sense, our vision of the beloved community that the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr talked about and gave his life for.
Children of God who share our common human nature, as I said. And that we all are deserving of love and care. This is how we can share the light of Christ. How we can help people to see that God is always at work in our world, that his plan of salvation continues moment by moment — one human soul at a time — and his light and salvation reach others through us.
And that’s what St. Paul means when he said as we heard in today’s second reading that we are called to be holy. This is the beautiful reality of our Christian lives.
We are called, as I said before, to seek God and to seek holiness in our ordinary lives. Saints of Ordinary Time. Saints, not just people going around doing things — we are called to real holiness in our ordinary life. Just doing that — trying to love like Jesus, trying to treat others as Jesus did.
This is the call that we all have. It is very challenging — it sounds easy but we all know that it’s challenging. Because when you think of the life of St. John the Baptist, just to give you a couple of ideas and examples: he never talked about himself — he was always pointing people to Jesus — and again, he gave his life for Jesus.
It’s challenging and that’s our call — to be witnesses of Jesus in our ordinary life.
And people listen to John the Baptist because they could see that Jesus already changed his life. So that’s why this Ordinary Time is also a time of conversion for all of us.
So it is beautiful time, it is a moment to begin again and to think of this new year as a blessed time when we can really continue to try to be saints, witnesses to the life and teachings of Our Lord Jesus Christ,
Finally, the Friday is the inauguration of the new president of our country, it is a time of transition and uncertainty in our country. So let us pray that it will also be a time for all of us in our country to be thinking in a new and serious way about the kind of people that we want to be, the kind of society that we want to live in, about renewing the soul of our country — keeping in mind that our mission is the be the light to the world: I will make you a light to the nations, my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.
And my Our Blessed Mother Mary intercede for us and give us new zeal to share the light of Jesus with the people we know and everyone we meet, and all together, with the help of the grace of God, we will renew the soul our nation.
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.