GOSPEL READINGS FOR JANUARY 2003

Feast of Mary Mother of God. The Name of Jesus. Lk 2, 16-21.

If you are a woman, what does Mary, the Mother of Jesus inspire you? If you are a man, how does Mary help you to look at your wife, your mother, your sister and the women you encounter often? The name of Jesus means :savior; and :liberator;. Do you see your mission as a Christian (friend of Jesus) also as a liberator?

The Epiphany of the Lord. Mth 2, 1-12.

This passage of Mathew・s gospel is an encouragement and a warning: all those who look for Him, following an inspiration from above, find Jesus. There are no racial, cultural or any other privileges.

The Baptism of the Lord. Mk 1, 7-11.

His baptism means for Jesus to take the consequences of our sin upon his shoulders. In so doing, he gives each of us the power to admit: .I am also a sinner・. The pain and evil of the world is also .my responsibility・. So, instead of complaining, I will join everybody in doing what we can.

2nd. Sunday of Ordinary Time. Jon 1, 29-34. B. Jon 1, 35-42.

Have you ever heard Jesus asking you: :What are you looking for?; Why do not you try and see what you answer Him?

3rd. Sunday of Ordinary Time. Mt. 4,12-23. Mk 1, 14-20.

John・s arrest inspires Jesus to retire to Galilee, to start his mission and to look for collaborators. God speaks to us through what happens in our present history. Do you watch the news or read the newspapers with this attitude?

:Grow, multiply, fill the earth and rule itK;

Following the line of :but, I tell youK; (last month・s sharing) you may remember that during the month of November, that is, the end of the liturgical year, there were two passages, Luke 16, 1-15 and Mathew 25, 14-30, (also Luke 19, 11-27.) These two passages may show us how God desires each one of us .to be different・, or, in other words, .to be himself or herself・ for the mission He has given us of governing this world. In Luke・s passage it usually surprises us to hear Jesus telling the comparison of the unjust administrator, in which his lord praises his administrator・s shrewdness. Jesus also seems to indicate that it is sad that the .children of light・ are not as shrewd as the .children of this world・. In Mathew・s parable, it also surprises us that the lord is very strict and stern with the servant who did not produce any money, but just returned what he had received. From both parables we can see that God desires that we fully use the powers He has given us and produce more and more. In Luke・s one, that lord is happily surprised to find out that the administrator went beyond what the lord had thought (even using unjust ways). It seems to indicate that God would be happy that we do the same for the kingdom. It seems that we should not expect everything determined and programmed by Him, but rather we should go and find out about his plan by ourselves. If we continue reading Luke, though it is a little complicated, at least we can find a threefold attitude: To be (1) administrators, (2) faithful and (3) shrewd. .Faithful・ should not mean faithful to a dead plan or blueprint, but rather faithful to a spirit and a life, the spirit and the life coming from the creator, a Spirit who moves freely and a life that grows constantly.

Several years ago, when a group of young adults organized what is called now .another window・ (dialogue between youth and adults), I was unhappy at the beginning of the first session, because they were using some ways I did not like. But I did not say anything and waited till the end of the activity. Then I was happy to tell them what I found out: they were using their own ways, but moving according to the same spirit (ignatian spirit) and persecuting the same aim. I think that the Father in Heaven should be much happier and prouder of His children when we used all the powers He has given us in creation. This is probably meant by the fact that the lord (in Luke・s parable) praised the unjust, but shrewd administrator.  Several years ago, our Jesuit General used a very interesting expression: :Creative fidelity; 覚s懇娼H. I think that he is trying to express this gospel spirit: We are expected to be faithful to the Spirit and to the life received from the Creator. We are expected to create something new, not just return the talent we had received. To create something new also means to take risks. Did not our Father in Heaven take the greatest risk when He created all things and, specially, men and women? 

This gospel spirit is probably the answer to the desire we feel to be more, to be greater and to be different. Usually we understand it in relation to others (better than others, more and greater than others). But this creates divisions and fights. Why do not we understand it in relation with our own selves and with the call and mission the Father gives each one of us? I am certainly called to be better than I am, greater than I am and more than I am now, because my brothers and sisters need it and because the Father in Heaven is glorified by it, as an early Church theologian said already: :The glory of God is man fully alive;. And, if the Father in heaven deals with each one of us in this way, does not it mean that He desires that we also deal with each other this way? Is there any better education than to help the younger generations to be themselves? Moreover, should not we, the people of different generations (cultures, religions, traditionsK) help each other to be ourselves, and to grow together, each in his or her own way, but all following the same spirit and life that comes from the Creator? Is not this the best education and leadership, namely to help each other to be ourselves, instead of :telling people what to do;? I think Jesus came to help us to listen constantly to that mission given us from the beginning: :Grow and multiply, fill the earth and rule it; (obviously, this is meant neither only nor mainly numerically and quantitativelyK)

Fr Valenciano
25.12.02

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