Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Because We Still Are Opening Christmas Gifts

Today, being a school-cancellation day, I had the opportunity to attend Mass with two dear friends. We drove to the Catholic Student Center at Rutgers University, where Father Jeff Calia, C.O. was celebrating. He told the worshippers he hadn't expected nearly 10 people to attend Mass today, given the weather. Consequently, he spoke to us extemporaneously about today's readings. He reminded us that now that we are in Ordinary Time, we are learning the implications of Christ's birth and His presence. In a sense, he told us, we still are opening our Christmas gifts.

My mother now is helping my father, her husband of 53 years, as he copes with an illness in the hospital. So the words of the first reading pierced my heart.

(Christ) did not help angels
but rather the descendants of Abraham;
therefore, he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every way,
that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest before God
to expiate the sins of the people.
Because he himself was tested through what he suffered,
he is able to help those who are being tested.

The Gospel reading from Mark recounts how Christ, along with two apostles, visited the house of St. Peter and St. Andrew, where St. Peter's mother-in-law,  was struggling in bed with a high fever.

He approached, grasped her hand, (I thought: how intimate a gesture this is) and helped her up. Then the fever left her and she waited on them.

After this happened, the whole town gathered at the home, and Christ healed all who asked Him.

This story unwraps another gift of Christmas, Father Jeff told us: Christ is in front of us. Christ is with us, if we would only be with him. He is in the hands of those who help the sick. He can heal all who seek Him, no matter our wounds.