Fr. Daniel Gifford
THE GREATEST OF GIFTS
Last week, we celebrated Our Lord’s Baptism in the Jordan by John. If we take a narrative approach to the Church Year, we skip over what happens immediately afterward, because what happens right after the Baptism is what we will spend 40 Days entering into when Lent arrives. Jesus is taken by the Spirit straight into the desert, after His Baptism. This weekend, we read about what happens right after He returns from
the desert. John identifies Him with the very pointed phrase: Behold the Lamb of God. What does this mean? Yes, He is taken from the flock, the cherished prize of the flock. Yes, He is found to be without blemish or spot. Yes, He is the One for whom God’s people have been waiting, ever since Isaac first asked the question of his father, “Where is the lamb for the sacrifice?” And with this final revelation, we touch upon the fullness of the reality we are faced with, by these simple words of John. He is to be offered in sacrifice. He is the Sacrificial Lamb, for which Abraham desperately looked, in hopes that he might not have to offer up his beloved son. He is the Lamb for whom we looked to be offered for our sins, that we might pass over from death to life. When He asked John’s disciples, who would follow after hearing these words, “What are you looking for?” He knew the answer. They were looking for the One for whom God’s people had been looking for ever since Isaac first uttered the question. They were looking for the Lamb. They were looking for the One who would die so that they might live. It is fitting for us to consider the destiny of our Lord in this first weekend of Ordinary Time, when His mission is only beginning. It is fitting for us to consider the culmination of that mission: when He would be sacrificed. He would die, so that we might live. It would not be a partial or incomplete sacrifice. His life would be spent. His Sacred Body would be laid to rest in the tomb, with all of the Life drained from it. The Life within will be spent, given completely, for you and I. When we look upon the image of the Burial of Jesus (front cover), which hangs in the atrium hallway, let us consider all that Our Lord has given for us. He has given His very life, totally and completely, without holding back. We have just spent the Christmas Season reflecting upon Jesus Christ as the Greatest of Gifts. Today, we recall what the gift has cost. When His Blessed Mother laid Him down upon the wood of the manger, it was as if it were a down payment. It was but a hint, but a foreshadowing, of the gift He would give upon the wood of the cross. Mary’s Little Baby, her Precious Child, was the Lamb for the Sacrifice. He was the One who would die so that we might live. This is the Greatest of Gifts, whose cost is without measure. But, it is the price He paid to purchase our souls. We are the gift He receives in return. We are the gift He sees as worth this immeasurable cost. In the eyes of the Child, which first opened upon the world that Christmas morning, we are the gift that is worth His very life and His death. Let us today deepen our understanding of the Greatest of Gifts: God gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him might not perish, but might have Eternal Life. Let us turn to Him with an even more thankful heart than we did on Christmas morning, a heart ready to give our own lives in union with His.
BUILDING UPDATE: The progress of recovery and restoration after the parish hall flood changes by the day, as you can imagine. As of the writing of this update (Tuesday, January 14), we are expecting work to begin tomorrow morning on the repairing of the burst pipe in the sprinkler system. Once the sprinkler system is again in working order, we are optimistic that the remaining clean-up and restoration should only take another week or two. If we are most fortunate, we may even have the Parish Hall and Saint Jerome Room back in use early in February, if not earlier.
FISH FRY DATE: Good news! We just confirmed a date this week for our 2020 Saint Louis Parish Fish Fry: Friday, March 13th. Mark your calendars and spread the word. I hope you can join us and bring a few dozen of your closest friends!
In Christ through Mary,
St. Louis, pray for us!
Blessed Mary, Queen Mother of the King of Kings, pray for us!