Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In today's Gospel, we hear a strange conversation between Our Lord and John the Baptist. It is strange because John called people to repentance, to turn away from sin and turn to God. Jesus had no sins. Jesus is the Savior. Jesus doesn't need to repent, and therefore He has no need to be baptized. And yet, Our Lord shows up by the river and gets in line anyway. John sees him and objects, but Jesus insists on taking His place right beside those who need Him most.
This is exactly what Our Lord does for us at every Mass. Whenever we receive Holy Communion, we are receiving God himself as our nourishment. Our Lord could not be any closer to us than He is in Holy Communion. He desires to take His place right with us!
Whenever we stop by a Catholic Church, we can go and kneel before the tabernacle, the golden fixture behind the altar, where the consecrated hosts from Mass are reserved for the sick. We are also blessed to be able to be with Our Lord in our adoration chapel 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Jesus is waiting there for us all the time. Our Lord is ready whenever we need to talk to Him. You always know where to find Him.
In Catholic churches, near every tabernacle in the world, a little flame is burning in the sanctuary lamp. Usually it's red, the color of love and the color of blood. It reminds us that Christ loves us so much that he shed his blood for us. This is a powerful reminder of God's constant, loving gaze, of His readiness to guide and strengthen us for the journey.
Our Lord wants to make sure that we know that He loves us. And so, when He saved us from sin, He did so from close by, as one like us in all things but sin. He saved us from eternal suffering by suffering Himself. He conquered death by dying. He overcame sin by taking all sin upon Himself.
Our Lord's baptism is a preview of everything that is to come. By being baptized, Jesus expressed His desire to take our place, to take the punishment for our sins upon Himself, so as to free us from that which separates us from Love.
God, our loving Father, you sent your Son,
Jesus Christ, into this world to counter
all the forces of evil: sin, suffering and death,
and to overcome evil with the force of good;
hatred with the power of love,
your great love for us in Jesus.
Help us never to curse the darkness,
but to join with you in bringing
Your light into this world,
the light that is your Son,
born of the Virgin Mary, in Bethlehem.
Help us to be instruments of your light
and love by doing one special act of kindness
or by being your special instrument
of reconciliation this New Year.
May Christ, the Light of the world, strengthen
our desire to bring His light into a world of darkness
and His hope into a world of despair.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.