Paul writes to the Church of Philippi from jail, "I do not claim that I have already succeeded or have already become perfect. I keep striving to win the prize for which Christ Jesus has already won me to himself. Of course, my friends, I really do not think that I have already won it; the one thing I do, however, is to forget what is behind me and do my best to reach what is ahead. So I run straight toward the goal in order to win the prize, which God's call through Christ Jesus to the life above," Philippians 3:12-14.
What can we do as we begin this new year to get further along in our journey toward reaching that prize? What actions do we take to help others build a relationship with God who gives us hope and love during these difficult and challenging times? Paul reminds us in the letter to the Corinthians, "When one of you says, 'I follow Paul,' and another, 'I follow Apollos,' aren't you acting like worldly people? After all, who is Apollos? And who is Paul? We are simply God's servants, by whom you were led to believe. Each one of us does the work which the Lord gave us to do: I planted the seed, Apollos watered the plant, but it was God who made the plant grow ... God will reward each one of us according to the work each has done," 1 Corinthians 3:4-6,8b.
Beginning this New Year's, I look to the seeds that were planted by St. Oscar Romero, who did not just sit and became complacent with all the injustices that were happening during his time in El Salvador. He not only preached the gospel but he lived the gospel and he encouraged all of us to do the same. One of the quotes that he is noted for is, "We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own."
Another person whom I looked to is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in one of his famous quotes he says, "Faith is taking the first step even when you can't see the whole staircase." St. Romero and Dr. King both challenge us to do our part in serving others. We can do this discernment through the power of prayer. We can also listen to what others affirm in us as a gift from God.
What are some of the steps we need to take to help our Church move forward this year? What will help the Church heal? How do we help the victims of abuse begin to take steps in their healing? What can we do to work together and love each other as brothers and sisters no matter what political party we belong to? The Holy Spirit will lead us through these steps. We must rely on that faith given to us through our baptism. It won't be easy, but we are different, we are Christians and we can do this! Can we love each other no matter what race or culture we come from? I say yes we can, we have the gift of faith, hope and love given to us by God. We are the Body of Christ and we are all called to love one another and to work toward bringing others to the Kingdom of God. So let us keep our eyes on the prize as Paul told us and we will win!
Special Martin Luther King Jr. Mass. Everyone is invited to the Martin Luther King Jr Mass Celebration taking place Jan. 19, at 10:30 a.m. at St. Martin de Porres Church, Buffalo. Theme basket raffle and reception will follow after the Mass.