Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Weekly Update from CCM

Good afternoon, students!  

If any of you are still interested in going to Give Your Heart Away on Feb. 15-17 in Hickory, there is still time!  The deadline for registration was this past Friday, but there is a possibility of adding some last minute names, so let me know ASAP.  It's a wonderful weekend of Christian service, fellowship with other Catholic students from across the Diocese, prayer and growth.  We'll be leaving campus after classes on Friday and coming back around lunch time on Sunday.  Get more information at:

SPRING BREAK TRIP - Information Meetings
We are planning a Spring Break service/pilgrimage trip from March 23-28 to the Baltimore & DC area.  The trip will include visits to the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the Grotto at Mount St. Mary's, historic sites associated with St. Elizbeth Ann Seton, volunteering with Gallagher Service and/or Maryland FoodBank, and more!  Cost is $125.  For those who plan to go, or who just want to get more information, we are asking that you come to one of two information meetings.  The first is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 6, at 6pm.  The second would be Sunday, Feb. 10, at 8:30pm.  Each should only take about 20 min, and we'll be able to answer any questions you have about the trip.  

SUPPER @ THE CENTER
Do you enjoy our weekly home-cooked meals every Wednesday night?  Please consider signing up to cook one for us!  It doesn't have to be fancy cuisine, just made with love.  And feel free to sign up with a friend and make it a team effort!  We pay for the ingredients, you just need to come put it all together.  There is a sign up sheet in the kitchen, and most weeks this semester are still open!

Come join us for dinner this Wednesday at 6:30.  After our meal, Joseph will give a presentation about Eucharistic Adoration. (Yes, he really will this time, this is not another scheduling error on my part!)  Joseph has been a regular at our weekly Adoration services, and he'd love to tell you what keeps bringing him back week after week.

Speaking of Adoration...
Remember every Thursday from 6-7pm we offer an hour of Eucharistic Adoration in our chapel.  Can't come for the whole hour?  That's fine, even fifteen minutes is a wonderful gift of time to the Lord.  Come refresh your soul and say "Thanks" to the One who made you!  (Plus it's a great chance to practice some of that contemplative prayer that Kevin taught us about last week).

Got questions?  We've got answers!  If you have questions about the Catholic Church, her teachings, dogmas, doctrines the like, are struggling with moral issues, or just want to learn more about the faith, I'm here for you.  Some of my best experiences as campus minister are sitting in the student center living room, and chatting over tea or coffee with students who just drop by to explore our rich faith with me.  I'm not saying I have all the answers; but I can offer to help find them with you.  I'm generally in my office during the week, though I am occasionally pulled away for a meeting or other obligation.  I'm easy to reach by phone or text message (828-508-0789), email or on Facebook.  I'd love to talk with you!

God bless, and have a great week,
Matt

--
WCU Catholic Campus Ministry
Matthew Newsome, MTh, campus minister
  
(828)293-9374  |   POB 2766, Cullowhee NC 28723

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Gospel For Today

THIRD SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME (C)


In today's first reading from Nehemiah  Ezra reads the Law of God to the people of Israel.  We are told that "he read out of the book from daybreak till midday, in the presence of the men, the women, and those children old enough to understand; and all the people listened attentively to the book of the law."

What struck me as I read this passage was the reaction of the people upon hearing God's word proclaimed by Ezra.  "Then they bowed down and prostrated themselves before the LORD, their faces to the ground."

As I read of their reaction, I could not help but contrast it in my mind to the response that millions of Catholic faithful will give upon hearing the word of God proclaimed to them at Mass today; that is, a half-mumbled and rather apathetic sounding, "Thanks be to God." Ho-hum.

We are taught that the Scriptures are the word of God, divinely inspired by our Almighty Creator for our instruction and sanctification.  A gift from the Maker of the Universe.  Do we realize how precious this gift is?  Or have we allowed it to become pedestrian and uninteresting to us?  Do we take it for granted?  Is there truly any gratitude, wonder and awe in our "Thanks be to God?"  

I confess, I don't hear it at Mass from those around me in the pews.  And I often don't feel it myself.  We need to be better.

Those who heard Ezra proclaim the law to them fell to their faces, all because their God had spoken to them through this holy writ.  We have that same gift with us today; but we have so much more.  Today's Gospel makes that clear.  Jesus stands before the synagogue and reads from the prophet Isaiah.  "Today," he tells the assembly, "this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing."  Jesus is the Word of God.  He is the perfect Image of the Father.  God was no longer communicating with His people simply by inspiring prophets and scribes; He took on flesh and blood to come among them and speak with them directly.

If hearing God's law proclaimed is reason to fall prostrate, what do you do when you encounter that God face to face?

I was told a story once by a priest that has stuck with me for years.  He was talking with a Muslim student at a school this priest was assigned to as chaplain.  The priest was talking about the Eucharist being the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ.  The young Muslim man listened and then waved him off, saying, "That is what you teach, but you don't really believe that."

The priest was taken aback, and asked the young man how he could make such a statement.  The answer was simple.  "You claim that the bread and wine become the body and blood of your God.  But I see you all at Mass go up to receive Communion.  You shuffle forward like you are waiting in line at the bus station.  If I truly believed that was God on the altar, I would not be able to get up off my knees."

The priest was humbled.  We should be, too.  The young man has a point.

Am I saying we need to all fall prostrate on the church floor when we hear the Scriptures read at Mass?  No, that is not what the Church asks us to do.  But we ought to ask ourselves honestly if our attitude, our posture, our expressions truly reflect what we believe in our minds and hearts.  Wen we say, "Thanks be to God," when we hear the Word proclaimed, are we truly thankful?  Is their gratitude in our hearts and in our voices at the gift of God's word in the scriptures?  

When we kneel down before the Blessed Sacrament, are we kneeling in homage to our very God, to whom we give worship?  Or are we kneeling because.... well, that's what you do at this point in the Mass?  

When the priest asks us to lift our hearts to the Lord, and we respond, "It is right and just," are we just saying the words, or do we take that opportunity to actually raise our hearts to God?  

When we say "Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy," are we just repeating what the priest or the cantor says, or are we asking our Savior to have mercy on our souls?

My point is only this.  Let our words and our actions mean something.  When we participate at Mass, let us truly participate in our prayers, our words, our postures.  We are given an amazing and earth-shattering opportunity to come into the very presence of the One who made us and give Him worship.  Even more amazingly, He offers to us forgiveness and healing, should we ask it.  And even more amazingly, scandalously so, He offers to us Himself, to be taken and consumed into our very bodies so that He may live in us, and we in Him.

That Muslim student had a point.  How can we get up off our knees?  I don't know who he was or where he is.  But I like to think he's a Catholic now.  We could use more people like him in the Body of Christ.

God bless!
Matt

--
WCU Catholic Campus Ministry
Matthew Newsome, MTh, campus minister
  
(828)293-9374  |   POB 2766, Cullowhee NC 28723

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

CORRECTION: Weekly Update from CCM

CORRECTION. 
(This is what happens when your campus ministry tries to do any work before his second cup of coffee in the morning).
 
Wednesday's after dinner program this week will be a mini-workshop on Contemplative Prayer organized by Kevin Toole.  NEXT week we will have Joseph presenting on Eucharistic Adoration.  My apologies for the confusion.  Both will be wonderful programs, so we'll see you Wednesday at 6:30pm!
 
Pax,
Matt
 
On Jan 22, 2013 7:57 AM, "WCU Catholic Campus Ministry" <ccm@wcucatholic.org> wrote:
Dear Students,

I hope you are all having a wonderful week and are enjoying the return of the sun to Cullowhee.  I'm sending this email out a bit earlier than usual because I will be off in Asheville today for a meeting about our upcoming Give Your Heart Away retreat.  I'm not certain how much time that may take today, so don't expect me to be in my office.  Remember, though, I'm just a text or phone call away if needed.

A couple of updates to our weekly schedule.

MONDAYS
Our rosary prayer group has moved the meeting time to 2:30pm, to better accommodate people's class schedules.  All are welcome to come.  The usual meeting place is at the fountain, but remember if it is raining to meet on the balcony at the UC.

WEDNESDAY
Ali is cooking for us this week, so please come join us at 6:30 for a home cooked dinner.  After, Joseph is going to talk with us about Eucharistic Adoration.  He's excited about it, and he'll tell us why we should be, too!  Don't miss it!

THURSDAY
Last week I made an error in the schedule.  The usual time for Adoration on Thursdays will be from 6-7pm, with choir practice from 7-8pm.  Adoration is open to all who want to come and spend some time worshiping in the presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.  Generally our Adoration service consists of song and the divine mercy chaplet, intermixed with periods of silence.  You don't necessarily have to come for the full hour -- any time at all you can spend with the Lord is a grace and a blessing, so please come by.  Choir practice will be after Adoration and is open to anyone who would like to help with music at our Sunday liturgy.

 FRIDAY
Two important things about this Friday.  First, it is the deadline for registration for Give Your Heart Away.  Second, it is the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision Roe v. Wade, Jan. 25, 1973, negating abortion restrictions in every state in our country. Since then, 55 million babies (about 20% of the US population) have lost their lives in this "procedure" which even abortion rights advocates say should be "safe, legal and rare."  Each year, however, more and more people in America are realizing the evils of abortion and are supporting the pro-life cause, with the greatest increases among young people.  Millions will gather in Washington this Friday for the March for Life. For those who cannot go but who still want to show their solidarity with the unborn, St. Mary's is holding a prayer service.  It will begin at 5:30pm with a pro-life rosary, followed by a simple soup and bread dinner (many are fasting on this day).  After, a pro-life movie will be shown.  (There are several to choose from, and the participants will decide which one over dinner).  The pro-life committee at St. Mary's have invited any college student who would like to come.  

GIVE YOUR HEART AWAY
Our annual service retreat is Feb. 15-17 in Hickory (about 2.5 hours from campus).  Things get underway Friday evening at 8pm and will wrap up Sunday at 11am (so you'll be back to campus in the early afternoon).  Registration is $50 and needs to be in with me by this Friday.  You can find more information, download a brochure and a registration form, from this website:

PARKING STICKERS
We still have plenty of parking stickers available for the spring semester.  These are $50 each and guarantee you a place to park in our lot, an easy walk from the center of campus.  Come by the student center and get yours before they are gone!  And remember, the money raised goes to support our campus ministry activities.  

SPRING BREAK
Don't forget our Spring Break trip to Baltimore & DC!  March 23-28.  More on this in the weeks to come, but if you'd like to go with us, let me know ASAP and I can get you more information.  Cost is only $125.

Have a great week, everyone!
Pax Christi,
Matt



--
WCU Catholic Campus Ministry
Matthew Newsome, MTh, campus minister
  
(828)293-9374  |   POB 2766, Cullowhee NC 28723

Weekly Update from CCM

Dear Students,

I hope you are all having a wonderful week and are enjoying the return of the sun to Cullowhee.  I'm sending this email out a bit earlier than usual because I will be off in Asheville today for a meeting about our upcoming Give Your Heart Away retreat.  I'm not certain how much time that may take today, so don't expect me to be in my office.  Remember, though, I'm just a text or phone call away if needed.

A couple of updates to our weekly schedule.

MONDAYS
Our rosary prayer group has moved the meeting time to 2:30pm, to better accommodate people's class schedules.  All are welcome to come.  The usual meeting place is at the fountain, but remember if it is raining to meet on the balcony at the UC.

WEDNESDAY
Ali is cooking for us this week, so please come join us at 6:30 for a home cooked dinner.  After, Joseph is going to talk with us about Eucharistic Adoration.  He's excited about it, and he'll tell us why we should be, too!  Don't miss it!

THURSDAY
Last week I made an error in the schedule.  The usual time for Adoration on Thursdays will be from 6-7pm, with choir practice from 7-8pm.  Adoration is open to all who want to come and spend some time worshiping in the presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.  Generally our Adoration service consists of song and the divine mercy chaplet, intermixed with periods of silence.  You don't necessarily have to come for the full hour -- any time at all you can spend with the Lord is a grace and a blessing, so please come by.  Choir practice will be after Adoration and is open to anyone who would like to help with music at our Sunday liturgy.

 FRIDAY
Two important things about this Friday.  First, it is the deadline for registration for Give Your Heart Away.  Second, it is the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision Roe v. Wade, Jan. 25, 1973, negating abortion restrictions in every state in our country. Since then, 55 million babies (about 20% of the US population) have lost their lives in this "procedure" which even abortion rights advocates say should be "safe, legal and rare."  Each year, however, more and more people in America are realizing the evils of abortion and are supporting the pro-life cause, with the greatest increases among young people.  Millions will gather in Washington this Friday for the March for Life. For those who cannot go but who still want to show their solidarity with the unborn, St. Mary's is holding a prayer service.  It will begin at 5:30pm with a pro-life rosary, followed by a simple soup and bread dinner (many are fasting on this day).  After, a pro-life movie will be shown.  (There are several to choose from, and the participants will decide which one over dinner).  The pro-life committee at St. Mary's have invited any college student who would like to come.  

GIVE YOUR HEART AWAY
Our annual service retreat is Feb. 15-17 in Hickory (about 2.5 hours from campus).  Things get underway Friday evening at 8pm and will wrap up Sunday at 11am (so you'll be back to campus in the early afternoon).  Registration is $50 and needs to be in with me by this Friday.  You can find more information, download a brochure and a registration form, from this website:

PARKING STICKERS
We still have plenty of parking stickers available for the spring semester.  These are $50 each and guarantee you a place to park in our lot, an easy walk from the center of campus.  Come by the student center and get yours before they are gone!  And remember, the money raised goes to support our campus ministry activities.  

SPRING BREAK
Don't forget our Spring Break trip to Baltimore & DC!  March 23-28.  More on this in the weeks to come, but if you'd like to go with us, let me know ASAP and I can get you more information.  Cost is only $125.

Have a great week, everyone!
Pax Christi,
Matt



--
WCU Catholic Campus Ministry
Matthew Newsome, MTh, campus minister
  
(828)293-9374  |   POB 2766, Cullowhee NC 28723

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Gospel For Today

SECOND SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME (C)

In today's first reading from Isaiah, the prophet consoles Jerusalem by assuring her that she will be taken as a bride by the Lord.

For the LORD delights in you
and makes your land his spouse.
As a young man marries a virgin,
your Builder shall marry you;
and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride
so shall your God rejoice in you.

Jerusalem is the City of God, the capital of Israel, God's chosen people, and so symbolic of the entire nation.  Since the coming of Christ, with his new and eternal covenant, God's covenant has been expanded to the entire human race, and so Jerusalem is now symbolic of the universal Church.  If the Lord has made Jerusalem his spouse, then the Church is the Bride of Christ, which is in fact one of her traditional titles.

Very often God's relationship with the Church is described using the metaphor of marriage.  It is a rich metaphor, one that tells us much about how God views the Church, and how we should view God.  For example, like marriage (in God's plan for marriage at least), it is indissoluble.  There is no "divorce" option between God and His Church.  God will never abandon the Church, and likewise the Church will never abandon God.  Though some of her individual members may fall away, the Church herself will remain ever faithful.  As Christ promised, "the powers of death shall not prevail against it" (Matt. 16:18), and he will be with the Church always, "to the close of the age" (Matt. 28:20).  

Like a marriage, our relationship with God should be fruitful.  We should be open to the seeds God plants within us, and eager to nourish them until they bear fruit.  This is how our Christian family and our Catholic faith grows.  And we need to spend time building our relationship with God.  When I prepare people for Confirmation I always tell them that it is like a marriage.  They should not get so caught up in preparing for the day of the sacrament (the "wedding") that they neglect to prepare for the rest of their lives as a Confirmed Christians (the "marriage").  That's when the real work starts.  For example, are you prepared to spend time each day praying; both talking to God and listening to Him?  What kind of marriage would you have if, after the wedding, you never spent any time with your spouse?  Are you ready to cultivate a real relationship with God?

If the marriage metaphor tells us much about the relationship between God and the Church, it also has much to tell us about marriage itself.  A favorite reading at weddings is from the last part of Ephesians chapter 5.  

Be subject to one another our of reverence for Christ.  Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church... Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he may sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself in splendor... that she may be holy and without blemish.  Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies.  He who loves his wife loves himself.  For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church... (Eph. 5:21-29).

People over the years have somehow managed to read this beautiful passage and focused solely on the wife being subject to her husband.  But this misses so much!  The very first sentence in this passage tells us to "be subject to one another."  That alone tells us so much about the Christian life, in a nutshell!  It is a life that is willing to be of service to other people, out of love.  To give of its own time, talent, spirit, and heart for the good of others.  Why?  "Out of reverence for Christ."  That is where it starts.  In a solid Christian marriage, husband and wife both begin with a deep reverence for Christ, and because of that are subject to one another.  It is a mutual subjection out of love.

The wife is subject to her husband in the way that the Church is subject to Christ.  And the husband is called to love his wife in the way that Christ loved the Church.  And how did Christ love the Church?  He sacrificed himself for her, so that she may be pure and holy.  This is the role of the husband, to sacrifice himself completely for the good of his wife.  Does this mean taking a bullet for her?  Well, yes, if such a situation arises.  But more than that, it means sacrificing himself every day, continually, by giving himself completely to the good of his wife.  Those who read this passage from Ephesians and think the husband is getting off easy need to read it again.

One final note, shifting gears before I end this reflection.  Today's gospel from John puts us at a wedding.  Jesus and his mother are at a wedding feast in Cana and the host runs out of wine.  Mary points this fact out to her son, and he replies, "Woman, how does your concern affect me?"  (A caution, we should not read Jesus's addressing his mother as "woman" as being disrespectful in any way.  In that time, it was a title of honor and respect, much like we might say "Madam" or "Ma'am").  

Mary calls a servant over and tells him, simply, "Do whatever he tells you."  And you know the rest of the story.  Jesus tells the servant to fill six jars with water, which they did, and it miraculously turned to wine.  This tells us a few things.  First, Jesus liked a celebration, and thought a wedding something worth celebrating!  Second, just as his baptism in the Jordan revealed Jesus as the Son of God, the wedding at Cana reveals him as the Son of Mary.  Jesus was not planning on performing his first public miracle that day, but did so out of deference for his mother.  

For this reason, Catholics today continue to seek her intercession.  And Mary continues in her same role that she manifested for us in this Gospel reading.  She points us to her son and says, "Do whatever he tells you."

Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.

God bless!
Matt

--
WCU Catholic Campus Ministry
Matthew Newsome, MTh, campus minister
  
(828)293-9374  |   POB 2766, Cullowhee NC 28723

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Weekly Update from CCM

Welcome back, students!  We are excited to be starting a new semester with you at WCU.  We hope you all had a blessed Christmas holiday and are grateful to be back in the 'Whee and are geared up for your spring classes.

There have been some minor changes to our weekly schedule of activities in Catholic Campus Ministry for this semester.  Here's what we have going on.

EVERY SUNDAY
The center of our ministry is Christ in the Eucharist, and so we celebrate Mass each Sunday night at 7:30pm here in our chapel.  Gather 30 minutes before to pray a rosary with us at 7:00.

EVERY MONDAY
Students gather at 2pm at the Fountain in the center of campus to pray a rosary together between classes.  (If the weather is bad, they meet at the balcony at the UC).  Any and all are welcome to join them!

EVERY WEDNESDAY
Come join us for a home cooked dinner together at 6:30pm, followed by a short program on the faith.  This week Alex is cooking for us.  After dinner we will watch an excerpt from the film The Star of Bethlehem, which provides an astronomical look at what was going on in the sky over the Holy Land around the time of Jesus' birth.  Just what was it the magi saw that prompted them to come look for the newborn King of the Jews?  Please join us!

EVERY THURSDAY
Our choir will meet to rehearse from 6 to 7pm.  (If anyone is interested in joining the choir to help sing at Mass, please feel free to come).  
We will then have Eucharistic Adoration from 7 to 8pm.

In addition, there are some upcoming events that Catholic Campus Ministry is either hosting or participating in that should be on your calendar!
PRO-LIFE PRAYER SERVICE:  FRIDAY, JAN. 25
St. Mary's is hosting an evening of prayer in solidarity with the Pro-Life movement and all those involved in the March for Life in Washington, DC.  They would love to have college students there praying with them.  The evening starts at 5:30pm, and will involve prayer, a light supper of bread and soup, and end with a movie (possibly October Baby).  People are encouraged to also fast on this day in solidarity with all the unborn and as penance for the 50 million lives lost since Roe. v. Wade.

GIVE YOUR HEART AWAY:  FEB. 15-17
This is the annual diocesan service retreat for college students, once again hosted at the Catholic Conference Center in Hickory.  It is a weekend of prayer, service to others, reflection, and fellowship with other Catholic college students from across the Diocese.  It is one of the most popular events of the year, so register early!  For more information, click here to download a brochure.  Registration is $50 and the deadline is Jan. 25.  You can download a registration form here.  (Note, there are three forms on the same sheet of paper -- you only need to fill out one).  Registration forms are also on the bulletin board here at the Catholic Student Center.  Please bring your payment and form to my office before Friday the 25th!  (HINT:  This Wednesday's dinner would be a great time to register).

BISHOP'S LENTEN PILGRIMAGE:  MARCH 16
There will be college programs offered this year at the Bishop's annual Lenten pilgrimage at Belmont Abbey.  More details to come soon.

ALTERNATIVE SPRING BREAK:  MARCH 23-28
WCU CCM is hosting a spring break trip this year to the Baltimore & DC areas.  The tip will feature a little bit of everything, from visiting pilgrimage sites (The National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the Grotto at Mt. St. Mary's, the National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, etc.), service opportunities (Gallagher Services, MD Foodbank, soup kitchens, etc.), and some fun sight seeing and play time with your fellow CCM students.  Cost is $125 and transportation will be provided.  Please contact me ASAP to RSVP!  We'd love to have you join us!

Finally, if you are new to CCM, or just haven't been active in a while, please come join us!  This Wednesday night for dinner is a great way to start.  You'll see friendly, smiling faces, and get to know others on campus who share your Catholic faith.  As your campus minister, my office is always open for you.  Feel free to call, email, text, or just drop by to see me.  

I hope and pray that this semester goes well for you, and look forward to the many exciting opportunities this semester to enrich our faith and grow in fellowship with God and one another.

God bless,
Matt


--
WCU Catholic Campus Ministry
Matthew Newsome, MTh, campus minister
  
(828)293-9374  |   POB 2766, Cullowhee NC 28723

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Gospel For Today

Welcome back, students!  Reminder, we have Mass on campus tonight at 7:30pm in our chapel (Rosary 30 minutes before Mass).  We will resume our regular weekly schedule of activities this week, including Wednesday dinner at 6:30pm.  See you then!


FEAST OF THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD

Here's a quick question...  why do we get baptized?  According to our Catholic faith, as taught in the Catechism, our baptism confers the forgiveness of sins (original sin, and actual sin).  It also causes us to be reborn in the Holy Spirit, united with Christ and His Church as children of God.

So here's the follow up question prompted by today's feast.  Why was Christ baptized?  Believing what we do about the effects of baptism, Jesus would not need the graces offered by God through the baptismal waters.  He was without sin; and he already was perfectly united with God as His only begotten Son.  So why was Jesus baptized?

In praying the Morning Office today, I found answers to that question in the intercessory prayers, which I would like to share with you this morning.

Christ, you made your light shine on us by revealing yourself; grant us the spirit of humble service to all people.

Christ's baptism is a revelation, a manifestation of his divinity.  In today's Gospel reading, John the Baptist said, "I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming.  I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.  He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire."  Elsewhere John also said of Jesus, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world."  Through his baptism, Jesus was revealing himself as the one of whom John spoke.  This manifestation is linked to the feast of Epiphany, which we celebrated last week, when Christ was manifested as king of all nations by the visitation of the magi from the east.

Christ, you humbled yourself and received baptism from your servant to show us the way of humility; grant us the spirit of humble service to our fellow man.

Christ was baptized for our benefit, not for his own.  It was an act of humility for him, just as his incarnation, being born of human flesh, was an act of humility.  Jesus allowing John to baptize him is similar to when Our Lord washed the feet of the Apostles at the Last Supper.  He is showing us that a true leader is one who serves other.  One cannot be holy without being humble.

Christ, through your baptism you cleansed us of every blemish and made us children of your Father; bestow your spirit of adoption on all who seek you.

Christ was already without sin.  Christ was already the begotten Son of the Father.  Through his baptism, he has made this sacrament the vehicle by which we become the Father's adopted children and are cleansed from the dirt and grime of sin upon our souls, so that we may be more like him.

Christ, through baptism you have consecrated creation and opened the door of repentance to all who prepare for baptism; make us servants of your Gospel in the world.

In a manner of speaking, when John poured the waters of baptism upon the head of Jesus Christ, it was not Christ who was baptized by the water, but the other way around.  The waters of the world were baptized by Christ.  God blesses his creation and transforms it in to a vehicle of his grace and mercy.  Those of us who repent and come to the waters of baptism drink from the fountain of grace that erupts from Jesus Christ.

Christ, through your baptism you revealed to us the Holy Trinity when the Father called you his beloved Son and the Holy Spirit came down upon you; renew the spirit of adoption among the royal priesthood of the baptized.

Again, Christ's baptism is a manifestation; not only of Jesus's divinity, but of the Blessed Trinity itself.  In this scene in the gospel today we have all three actors, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit on the stage.  The Trinity was not a concept known to the Jesus; it is a facet of God's inner life that is revealed to us only through Jesus Christ.  At his baptism, we receive a glimpse of the Holy Trinity, an intimate look at God never before revealed to us.  

And so let us celebrate this last feast of the Christmas season, this feast wherein all the waters of the world are made holy, the doors of forgiveness thrown open to all who repent, and God the Trinity is made manifest to us.  

Almighty, eternal God, when the Spirit descended upon Jesus at his baptism in the Jordan, you revealed him as your own beloved Son.  Keep us, your children born of water and the Spirit, faithful to our calling.
We ask this through our Lord, Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen.

For more information on the Baptism of the Lord, click the link below:
http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/calendar/day.cfm?date=2013-01-13

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WCU Catholic Campus Ministry
Matthew Newsome, MTh, campus minister
  
(828)293-9374  |   POB 2766, Cullowhee NC 28723

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Gospel For Today

SOLEMNITY OF THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD

Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your shining radiance.  Raise your eyes and look about; they all gather and come to you...

That is taken from today's first reading (Is 60:1-6), and aptly sums up the significance of today's feast.  They all gather and come to you...

Christmas is a time of great joy, for it marks the arrival in human history of the Messiah, the great savior that the Jewish people had been waiting for.  Not all of the people of Israel would recognize him, but some few would.  Those who understood the meaning of the scriptures, chiefly Isaiah (which is why we read so much from Isaiah around this time of year).  God had been preparing his Chosen People to receive His Son for generations, through prophets and angels.

But we should not limit ourselves to looking upon Christ as the Jewish savior.  Seeing him as the Messiah only of a certain ethnic tribe, not all of whom even recognized him when he came, makes Jesus seem rather provincial.  For that is not the whole story.  Christ came to the Jews, as foretold, but he did not come only for the Jews.  There were others in the world who were looking for the arrival of a great king.

...behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, "Where is the newborn king of the Jews?  We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage."

This is from today's Gospel reading (Mt 2:1-12).  The magi were a priestly caste from Persia.  You can see in their name the root for our word "magician," but these were not men who pulled rabbits out of hats at children's birthday parties.  What they did do was to watch the stars for signs of importance.  And around the time of Christ's birth, they saw something of great importance; something that astounded them enough that they traveled a great distance from their homes to come to a small, backwater Roman province and pay homage to a humble child born to a carpenter and his young wife, in place of no political or military significance.  

They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage.

The magi were great sages and religious leaders among their people.  They did not receive prophecy from God, or a message from an angel.  There is no evidence to suggest they knew anything of the Jewish scriptures.  But they sought knowledge and truth; which is the same as seeking God.  They looked to the heavens for signs, the stars and planets, as best they knew them.  They looked to nature itself, made by the hand of God. 

What did they see in the sky?  There is a wonderful DVD called The Star of Bethlehem which I encourage you to watch if you can.  It details in astronomical terms just what was going in in the sky over that part of the world in the time leading up to Christ's birth.  The motions of the stars and the physical forces which govern them all were set in place at the very moment of creation.  From the beginning of time God ordained the day of the arrival of His Son on earth, and decreed that the stars themselves would proclaim his arrival.

The magi, gentiles not counted among the Chosen People, saw these signs.  They recognized something special about this king being born.  He was King of the Jews, but more than that.  He was their king, as well.  His kingdom would have no boundaries, and his reign would have no end.

Epiphany means "manifestation."  It is in this visit by the magi, paying homage to the Christ child, that the universality of his lordship is first manifested to us.  As St. Paul proclaims in today's second reading (Eph 3:2-3a, 5-6), "the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus..."

It doesn't matter if you are Jewish or a Gentile.  It doesn't matter if you are black or white, European or Asian, or any other ethnic group.  If you are an Anglo-Saxon, Jesus is your Lord.  If you are German, Jesus is your Lord.  If you are Cherokee, Jesus is your Lord.  African-American?  Jesus is your Lord.  Chinese?  Jesus is your Lord?  Polynesian, Aborigine, Inuit, Egyptian...  Jesus is your Lord.  Even if you are a white-bread American teenager from a middle class suburban family, you have a king, Emmanuel, God with us, Jesus Christ.

There is nowhere and no one that Christ's reign does not encompass.  His reign extends across the globe and into the heavens.  He is your king, too.  Come, let us adore him.

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Have a blessed Epiphany!  For more information on this celebration, including some traditional Epiphany activities and blessings, check out this link on CatholicCulture.org.


--
WCU Catholic Campus Ministry
Matthew Newsome, MTh, campus minister
  
(828)293-9374  |   POB 2766, Cullowhee NC 28723