Monday, January 2, 2017

“Sometimes you can tell what something is by what it isn't.”

“Discernment is faithful living and listening to God’s love and direction so that we can fulfill our individual calling and shared mission”  - Henri Nouwen (1932 – 1996: was a Dutch Catholic priest, professor, writer and theologian.)

Gospel Text: (JN 1:19-28)
This is the testimony of John.
When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to him
to ask him, "Who are you?"
He admitted and did not deny it, but admitted,
"I am not the Christ."
So they asked him,
"What are you then? Are you Elijah?"
And he said, "I am not."
"Are you the Prophet?"
He answered, "No."
So they said to him,
"Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us?
What do you have to say for yourself?"
He said:
"I am the voice of one crying out in the desert,
'Make straight the way of the Lord,'
as Isaiah the prophet said."
Some Pharisees were also sent.
They asked him,
"Why then do you baptize
if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?"
John answered them,
"I baptize with water;
but there is one among you whom you do not recognize,
the one who is coming after me,
whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie."
This happened in Bethany across the Jordan,
where John was baptizing.

In today's Gospel reading, John the Baptizer is calling out to everyone who will listen -- including you and me! -- in the wilderness of our struggles and sufferings, and he says: "Make straight the way of the Lord!"

Often, our journey through life is like wandering through a thick forest, zigzagging here and there trying to find clearings in the underbrush. We cannot see where we're headed. Sometimes we feel lost. Maybe we are lost! We certainly get confused at times.

One of the signposts on the road is found in today's first reading from Mass (1 John 2:22-28). As long as we don't reject the baptismal promise of eternal life by denying the Lord, the anointing of the Holy Spirit helps us learn what is true. This anointing makes straight the way of the Lord. The Holy Spirit gives us discernment to know good from evil, if we pay attention. The Holy Spirit gives us faith as a gift to keep us moving forward on the path of holiness despite mountains of obstacles and oceans of overwhelming challenges.

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