Which Way in 18′?: Weekly Message for 1-2-18

Dear Friends in Christ,

Readers occasionally ask about the baptism of Our Lord. Why would Jesus need to be baptized, they ask, when he had no sin?

This same question occurred to John the Baptist. “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?” (Matthew 3:14).

Jesus’ submission to baptism was, among other things, a gesture of his great humility. He wanted to give us an example to follow.

Acknowledgment of our sinfulness, whether done during the penitential rite at Mass or in the confessional, helps us humbly stay on the right path.

Fittingly, Jesus’ baptism comes at the start of the liturgical year. Like a guidepost it points us in the right direction as we emerge from the Christmas season. For our encounter with the newborn Jesus prompts us, as it did the magi, to go “by another way” (Matthew 2:12).

Perhaps over the holidays there were tense family get-togethers that reminded us of our need to work harder on reaching out to relatives more lovingly. Or perhaps that one gift we hankered for left us bored by the end of Christmas Day.

These kinds of challenges and disappointments propel us even more to keep Our Lord at the center of our lives. For only he can fill our hearts with real joy.

To make more room for Christ, this is a good moment to see what we need to work on in the new year. Is there something the Holy Spirit is nudging us to embrace in 2018?

For inspiration you might want to do our Retreat Guide on St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Sitting in the Side Pew in preparation for her feast this January 4th. She was one saint who was willing to change direction in life, sometimes in painful ways, for love of a Lord who walked so humbly among us.

Be assured of my prayers,

In Christ,
Father Edward McIlmail, LC
Ask a Priest contributor

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