If you are reading this article during Christmas itself, you may be thinking that the Advent Posada statue is packed away for another year and the ‘Come Home for Christmas’ campaign is nearly over. We are back to normal before we know it. So perhaps it seems as if the opportunity for evangelisation will be a bit limited in January.
Of course, "normal’ means the mission continues. Jesus Christ always calls us to share his message: the promise of everlasting life. People need to hear this promise every day of the year.
We celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord in January just at the moment when the weather is darkest and mission seems a bit of an effort. 2018 is a little unusual as the feast is celebrated on a Monday rather than the usual Sunday. 2018 begins with a rush of glorious feasts. This year the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord comes the day after Epiphany Sunday on Monday January 8. This oddity in the Church calendar means that we will miss the chance to reflect on the start of Jesus' life of mission as a whole parish at Sunday Mass. Instead, this January we can focus on what we can do as individual Christians to share our faith throughout 2018.
In his book The 4 Signs of a Dynamic Catholic Matthew Kelly says that Dynamic Catholics pray and study their faith. They give generously and share their faith with others. To mark the end of the Christmas season and to refresh our enthusiasm for mission, here are some simple ideas to consider:
Pray: If possible, go to Mass on Monday January 8, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.
If that's not possible, pray the Luminous Mysteries decade of the Rosary. The First Mystery gives us a chance to reflect on the Baptism of the Lord and the beginning of his earthly mission.
Study: Read and reflect on the readings of the feast day, especially the Gospel, Mark 1:7-11. You will find them in a Sunday missal or an online site like Universalis.com. In the Gospel reading, God is showing us His Son Jesus Christ, as he showed the shepherds at Christmas and the Magi when they arrived to worship their King. In the first reading, Isaiah gives the wonderful image of water and invites the thirsty to drink. That theme continues with the psalm response: "With joy you will draw water from the well of salvation" we know people in our towns and villages are thirsty for God's promise.
Our faith is refreshed by scripture. Join a parish group who study the Bible regularly or start a Gospel sharing group.
Give: To continue the watery theme, give a donation to a charity which works to provide clean water or to protect our environment. Or a practical option could be to give some fruit squash and other items to your local food bank.
Alternatively, support a charity whose work involves mission either in this country or abroad.
Your 2018 Challenge to share your faith:Invite someone to church: either for Mass or a parish social event. Don't wait until next to Christmas to invite someone to Come Home.
Pictured above is a waterfall at the Villa D'Este. Photo by Steve Bretherton.