Well look who’s back!  ME!  And it’s good to be back, just in time to see the last of the Christmas decor.  I always find this time of the year a little depressing, but the Christmas season is officially over today as we return to the liturgical season of Ordinary Time.

I want to thank all of you for your kindness and thoughtfulness while I recuperated from Covid. I am so grateful for all of your prayers, cards, phone calls, emails, care packages, & other expressions of concern & support.  I am a truly blessed person, and I have you and many others to thank for that!

Because I am fully vaccinated and boosted my symptoms weren’t too bad.  It felt like any other flu, with the body aches, slight fever, cough, and sore throat. What was different was the greater amount and duration of fatigue.  It took about 8 days before I really started to feel well again.

I just hope I didn’t pass it on to anyone.  That’s why I’m glad we never relaxed our protocols and continue to encourage everyone to mask up, sanitize hands, disinfect surfaces, and discourage socializing inside the church.

But I can’t help feeling that I and everyone else who have been infected would’ve been spared if everyone got vaccinated and boosted; and I can’t help feeling that the reasons being given for notgetting vaccinated are selfish, self-centered, and maddingly ignorant. Donald Trump himself is vaccinated, AND boosted, AND has encouraged all Americans to do the same, and still there is resistance!

There is a tiny minority who cannot take the vaccines because of severe allergy to one or more of the ingredients.  But they are not the problem.  “No one’s going to tell me what to do!” is apparently the bottom line for the majority of anti-vaxxers. That’s the problem!

They don’t care about the millions of people who have died.  They don’t care about the millions more who have had to be hospitalized.  They don’t care about those who will have lingering effects for the rest of their lives.

They don’t care about the disruption this is causing in the lives of millions more.  They don’t care about the businesses that have had to close either because they are too dangerous right now or because there aren’t enough workers to staff them.  They don’t care about the tremendous physical, emotional, and psychological toll this is taking on health care workers.

And yet many of these persons dare to call themselves “Christians.” Actually, they are liars and frauds who don’t know the meaning of the word!

In our second reading today, St. Peter observes, “I see how true it is that God shows no partiality.”

This is why Jesus was baptized.  He didn’t need it as we do.  He’s just showing by example that He doesn’t ask anything of us that He wouldn’t do Himself.

But that also works the other way around.  What do we see when we look at a crucifix?  We see Jesus pierced, do we not?  If He would be pierced with iron spikes for the good of all, to bring salvation to all, how can anyone who considers him/herself His follower deny a little pinprick for our own good and the good of our fellow human beings?

As Jesus began His mission by being baptized, so we begin ours the same way.  And if HE doesn’t show partiality, then neither can we.

This says a lot about where we should be when it comes to racism, sexism, ageism, and all other forms of discrimination and bigotry.  It also says a lot about where we should be when it comes to supporting, defending, and just plain caring for one another.

If Jesus reveals a God who is merciful, as the Scriptures Old and New testify, then we must continue to reveal it by being merciful ourselves. If He would not “break a bruised reed” we must not break each other’s spirit let alone hearts.

Isaiah’s prophecy is not just fulfilled in Jesus!  It is to be fulfilled in us who have, by our own baptism, taken His name upon ourselves, who sign ourselves with His Cross…

Who bless ourselves with water made holy by He who created it and was baptized in it even though He had no need of it.

In Christ, the ever-living God grasps us by the hand, forms us and sets us as a light to the nations.  We cannot be that light as long as we embrace selfishness and greed, deceit and lust, ignorance, bigotry, violence, and all the other works of the prince of darkness.

Jesus was baptized to lead humanity to truth, justice, healing, and life.  By the grace of our own baptism, and the grace we receive each and every time we consume His Body and Blood, may we be empowered to conquer the kingdom of fear, the kingdom of hatred, the kingdom of death, and by our works of merciful love reveal the Kingdom of God! 

God bless you!