Today we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which brings the Season of Christmas to an end. This past Christmas was my first as your parish priest, and I have to say that it was a very memorable and spiritual experience for me. Our liturgies were very beautiful and dignified, and there was a wonderful sense of joy throughout the parish. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who helped to enrich our Christmas experience at Holy Redeemer. There are so many to thank, and of course I run the risk of forgetting some group. Please forgive me if I do! The sacristans worked so hard in the run up to Christmas making sure that our Church was looking at its very best, and the flower arrangements enhanced all our sacred liturgies. The beautiful vestment worn by the priests at our Christmas Masses was made by one of our parishioners, and was decorated with all the spiritual highlights of Christmas. The various music groups ensured that all our celebrations were conducted with both joy and dignity. Our Ministers of the Eucharist were much in demand because of the huge numbers of people attending our Masses, and our Altar servers also did a wonderful job too. Our readers gave us a real sense of the joy of the Gospel message of Christmas and, all in all, I think we can all consider ourselves privileged to have been able to celebrate Christmas in a parish where so many work together for the common good.
We also had a very successful New Year’s dance which was very well attended and again bore witness that our parish of Holy Redeemer is a real and vibrant community of believers. I would like to thank the Men for Change for organising and running the dance so well.
The Redemptorist community had a joyful Christmas indeed, and thanks to all those who offered us gifts of one kind or another. We certainly will not run out of biscuits for a while, although I cannot promise the same about the liquid refreshments we received! Thanks in particular for the very generous offering contributed by all the parishioners at the Christmas collection.
Returning to the theme of the Baptism of the Lord, we are reminded that this feast marks the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry of announcing the Good News to the world. From the moment of His baptism, Jesus taught and served and showed that He had come as the Redeemer of the world. He now publicly displayed to all those who listened that God is a God who loves and cares for all humanity, no matter the particular circumstances of our lives.
It is good for us to reflect on the fundamental truth of the life of Jesus. We are called to believe in His continuing good news for all of us at all times. But, through our own baptism, we are also called to put on the mind and heart of Christ and to share in His mission of being Good News to all those who come into our lives. So today’s feast offers us an opportunity to commit ourselves afresh to serving the parish and one another in a spirit of love and sacrifice.
Fr Gerard, CSsR