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Reflection for January 2023 (Liturgical Year – Cycle A, Year I)

Community Word: The Father’s love makes us joint heirs with His Son, Jesus Christ.
Order: “Seek the Lord…observe his law; seek justice, seek humility.” (Zep 2:3)
With the bright morning star guiding us, and after 37 years of BLD, our Community Word for January 2023 proposes a fitting message for us – The Father’s love makes us joint heirs with His Son, Jesus Christ. It is a message of hope and assurance of who we are with God. Even in the face of continuing challenges in the aftermath of over two years of pandemic, challenges need to be overcome. Yet, we must continue to pursue our Community Vision and Mission with fresh and renewed vigor. As a community founded in Christ empowered by the Holy Spirit, we pray for His Light to shine upon and through us as He sets the direction and guidance for our beloved BLD Community.
We look forward to a New Year full of opportunities, miracles and blessings. The Church starts the year with the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God. Not only is the Blessed Virgin Mother the mother of Jesus; she is above all our mother whom Jesus entrusted to be our own at the cross through St. John. Our disposition is aptly described in our theme for the first week – We are joint heirs with Jesus Christ when we keep Him deeply in our hearts, like Mary. Throughout her life as the mother of Jesus, she reflected in her heart everything, as God’s plan unfolded in her life. We are exhorted to imitate Mary that by meditating upon God’s word and with prayers we are guided to discern God’s design and plans for our life, to be steadfast in our faith journey, and to expect with deep hope God’s revelation of His graces for all of us. Through Mary, let us allow Jesus to be present in us as we bring Him to others who need Him most in their life. The Lord gives this promise to all who accept Him – “…they invoke my name… and I will bless them.” (Num 6:27)
The 2nd Sunday of January celebrates the Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord and our theme reads: We are joint heirs with Jesus Christ when we adore and offer Him our time, talent and resources. Epiphany reminds us of who God is and His sovereignty over all creation, particularly to us who must live in obedience to Him. As Jesus was first revealed to Israel through the shepherds, He also revealed Himself to all mankind through the magi. The wise men represent all of us; they are the clearest example of believing and obeying in God’s sovereignty. Their arduous journey merely following a star represents our search for purpose and meaning in our life. Despite the challenges, they succeeded in finding the newborn King because of their faith and their obedience. God sees to it that people who truly search Him will find Him and receive His promise of glory – “…upon you the Lord shines, and over you appears His glory.” (Is 60:2b)
On the 3rd Sunday of January, in the Philippines, we celebrate the Child Jesus in a very special way – Feast of the Santo Niño. And so, our theme for this week (for Philippine Districts) is: We are joint heirs with Jesus Christ when we, like little children, put our complete trust in God. The image of the Santo Niño in the Philippines is a representation of our faith when Christianity was brought to our shores. And when we celebrate this feast, we should be reminded of the humility of Jesus in becoming human in obedience to his Father’s will. As Jesus trusted his parents as a child, we must be witnesses to Christ by trusting God with child-like faith. Being followers of Christ as Catholic Christians, we must obey and trust God in everything that He commands us to do and be willing to share the message of salvation to everyone. Jesus says: “…become like children, (and) you will enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 18:3b).
Internationally, and as the season of Christmas ends on this day, the 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time commemorates the Baptism of our Lord by John the Baptist. The baptism of Jesus Christ is the ‘curtain raiser’ to His public ministry. His mission began by gathering people into one family of God. He went out doing good, touching people’s lives, healing them of physical sickness, freeing them from the darkness of sin, and directing them to live the life worthy of their calling. Our theme for the week reminds and enjoins us to emulate Jesus – We are joint heirs with Jesus Christ when we testify to Him as the Son of God and do His will. At the moment of our baptism the seed of God’s love was planted within us to grow, mature and blossom. To follow the way laid out by Christ demands a loving personal response on our part. The power of God shines in us when we open our hearts to those who have lost their dignity through poverty or hard times. We preach not by words only but by the way we live and by the efforts we exert to make the world a better place for ourselves and for others. Through us, others will find the Light in Christ – “I will make you a light to the nations that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” (Is 49:6b).
On the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, our community theme is: We are joint heirs with Jesus Christ when we respond to His call to mission. Ordinarily, it would not be simple and easy to leave behind our comfort zone (family, livelihood, things we normally do, etc.) when the Lord calls to follow Him and serve others in mission and evangelization works. With the first apostles, Peter and Andrew, the invitation of Jesus was direct – “Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” And their response was immediate, leaving everything behind to follow the Master. The call of the apostles is the model of discipleship, and in our time, we are privileged as well as obliged to accept Jesus’ invitation. It is an opportune and blessed time to stand up for Christ, as He gives us life and hope to place the spiritual welfare of our Community ahead of our worldly desire for everyday things and concerns. As we do, we can claim this promise – “…I shall see the bounty of the Lord in the land of the living.” (Ps 27:13)
We are joint heirs with Jesus Christ when we live in God’s righteousness and serve the needy is our theme for the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time. The gospel gives us Jesus’ beautiful Sermon on the Mount presenting Jesus’ a larger picture of a true disciple and His vision of the world. The Beatitudes, uncomfortable and inconvenient as they may sound, bring happiness not only for the present but also for the future. They are an astonishing reversal of earthly standards as Jesus puts a higher value on mercy, forgiveness and gentleness. The Beatitudes give us a reason to question our normal value system, whether they are guided by the Gospel truth or by the pattern set by our society or worldly standards.
We can categorize poverty into two. One is physical or temporal poverty, the lack that people should not endure as human beings in order for them to survive. Here we are called to support our Community’s mission of ‘breaking the yoke of poverty’ through many forms of poverty alleviation program, such as, BLD’s scholarship of hope to educate poor children, medical missions for the Philippines poorest, feeding program for the marginalized, and other corporal works of mercy.
There is also spiritual poverty. In all circumstances, being poor in spirit does not speak of rank or possession, but the way we live our Christian life in all its fullness. We do not please God by trying to find ways of overcoming pain, illness, poverty and injustice, but the Beatitudes teach us that the real purpose of our lives is to have a relationship with our Triune God; to love and fulfill God’s will for us. We recognize that our happiness lies in God alone, the source of all good. The key is to accept the truth that we are totally dependent on our God, in Him alone. The Lord calls us to follow Him regardless. It is not an easy road; the more we choose to follow God, the more His Spirit grows within us.
Let us rejoice that in our weakness the Lord is strong and He is leading us into His eternal kingdom. The blessing of the Beatitudes can be summarized in what the psalmist says – “The Lord keeps faith forever, secures justice for the oppressed, gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets captives free.” (Ps 146:6-7).
Sunday Readings:
January 1, 2023 – Num 6:22-27/ Ps 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8/ Gal 4:4-7/ Lk 2:16-21
January 8, 2023 – Is 60:1-6/ Ps 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13/ Eph 3:2-3A, 5-6/ Mt 2:1-12
January 15, 2023 (Int’l) – Is 49:3, 5-6/ Ps 40:2, 4, 7-8, 8-9, 10/ 1 Cor 1:1-3/ Jn 1:29-34
January 22, 2023 (Phil) – Is 9:1-6/ Ps 98:1-6/ Eph 1:3-6, 15-18/ Mt 18:1–5, 10
January 22, 2023 – Is 8:23-9:3/ Ps 27:1, 4, 13-14/ 1 Cor 1:10-13, 17/ Mt 4:12-23
January 29, 2023 – Zep 2:3; 3:12-13/ Ps 146:6-7, 8-9, 9-10/ 1 Cor 1:26-31/ Mt 5:1-12A


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