Bishop’s message for January: To live today, in Christ’s light and love, as branches of the vine.

In January, we begin a new calendar year. How will you and I live the gift of life in 2019? Where is the road-map, or better today, the GPS signal…that will point us in the right direction, to find the life we long for, the life we hope for? Well. The saintly woman we remember on the 1st of January might be able to give us a clue.

On the 1st, as the world-wide Catholic Church celebrated holy Mass, remembering Mary, the mother of Jesus, the mother of God, we were initiated anew into the incredible Good News that God has given to us. In the Catholic Church’s liturgical calendar, the 1st of January is the eighth or Octave Day of the Nativity of the Lord, as we Catholics have celebrated Christmas Day for eight days! On the 1st, this Solemnity of Mary, remembering her role in the gift of the Lord, we heard the proclamation from the Gospel of Luke, where we learned that Mary kept all of these things in her heart . . .marveling at what God had done through her (Luke 2.19).

When her baby boy had grown to full manhood and had left the work of Nazareth to attend to his Father’s will, Mary would answer all who asked about her Jesus with a simple response. She said then . . . and . . . she and all the saints of God say to us today, through their intercessory prayer for us . . . Do whatever he tells you (John 2.5).

And, what does Jesus of Nazareth say to you, in the here and now of central Louisiana? How has his life, his Passion, his Resurrection, his Ascension…how has this revelation of the living God impacted upon your life? How do you live this gift of life?

We have been given such a gift. But the gift requires us to accept it, and act upon it. The Door to God’s heart, the passage way to the life we long for, the life we hope for, has been given to us through faith. The Gift has been given to you and to me. How do we respond to this immense love?

We begin again, to live the sacredness of life, in loving God with all we have and loving our neighbor as the Lord Jesus instructs his followers.

 We begin again, to serve the Lord’s Way of life, as members of his Church to be faith-filled and obedient to his path. That means a life of metanoia – conversion of heart – turning toward the light of God and turning away from every kind of sinfulness and the temptations of the evil one . . .temptation to sin, both in our personal lives and as a culture, a society, through structural or institutional sin. This means learning from the saints, seen week by week on your Catholic calendar. This means to discover again prayer and fasting and service.

We begin again, to protect and guard and form all life. We must speak out against any civil law that betrays the sacredness of each human life.

 We begin again . . . we who are parents of children . . . to take over the formation of their lives . . . saying YES to all that is life-giving for our children and saying NO to all that is death-dealing for them. Intentional disciples of the Lord Jesus are to form their children through Christ’s Church . . . that they may live in the freedom of God’s light and love.

We begin again, to work together with all who claim Christ, seeking the unity that the Lord himself calls us to (John 17. 20-21). This we celebrate in the week of prayer, dedicated to the longing for Christian Unity (January 18 to 25).

We begin again, to take our place in the purifying fire of God’s love (Luke 12.49), seeking to live the life we long for, the life we hope for, as living branches of the Vine of Life . . . and inviting every person we meet to join us, in this Good News of God’s love . . . manifest and complete, in Mary’s son…and God’s.

AMDG