A Note from our Pastor
A NOTE FROM OUR PASTOR
My dear family of St. Matthew!
At the River Jordan, what was brought to light? Yes, it was another “epiphany” or manifestation of God, or as it is also referred to as a “theophany”, literally, a bringing to light (“phanein”, in Greek, which means “to show” or “to manifest” and “theos” meaning God, therefore a “God-showing”). Languages, as you know, fascinate me, and I greatly enjoy that the Greek verb “phanein” or “to show” literally comes from “phos” meaning light, therefore, “to bring to light.” The Greek word “phos” for “light” is used quite extensively in English, just for instance, “photo” or “photosynthesis” or “photography” or “photometer” or “photojournalist” or “photocopier” or “photogenic” or “photon”, etc.
So today, on the last day of Christmas as we wrap up the first quiet, mostly hidden 30 years of Jesus’ life before He embarked into the last three years of His life full of preaching and healing and exorcising and deliverance and miracles and abundant life, it is quite appropriate that we end and therefore begin with Jesus’ Baptism in the River Jordan by His cousin/relative John the Baptist, the son of the elderly Elizabeth, a daughter of Aaron the priest and brother of Moses, and of Zechariah, of the priestly division of Abijah. I often need to repeat the fact that this baptism was not what we usually mean now by “Baptism”, that is, the Sacrament. No, Jesus was not sacramentally baptized, but entered into the cleansing or baptism for the forgiveness of sins which John the Baptist preached. Jesus did not need this cleansing or baptism, but He submitted Himself to this baptism of John His cousin to show us His full and complete solidarity with us, the broken, sinful human family — Jesus has come to save us as one of us!
The first Epiphany is the most traditional one, in Bethlehem, when the God-man Jesus who had only just recently been born shows Himself to the Magi travelling from the East, reminding us that Jesus is born and given FOR EVERYONE in the world! Another of these “epiphanies” is today’s feast of the Baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan. We again come to understand how precious we are in God’s sight because of what Jesus does for us by uniting Himself, His sinless self, with all of us sinful humanity. If the birth of Jesus didn’t remind us how precious each and every baby and child is in God’s eyes, then innocent Jesus embracing our sinfulness and being “washed” of “our sinfulness” should remind us even more of that basic truth: we are called and truly are created to be God’s beloved children, His beloved sons and daughters in Jesus!
I conclude here sharing with you the beautiful testimony of one of the workers in a local pregnancy-care center called Waterleaf — thank you to all who support the work of Waterleaf and places like it! Here is the testimony of Mary, the Director of Church Outreach and Donor Relations for Waterleaf:
Wow, what a year we’ve had in 2020! In our churches, families and workplaces, we’ve all faced some strange times. That said, God still showed that he IS in control and has a plan for bringing us together as family. I know He has some mighty plans for 2021!
Through your prayers and support, here at Waterleaf we served 1,024 patients during 3,130 appointments, conducted 109 parenting classes, provided 719 pregnancy tests, performed 1,113 ultrasounds, and welcomed 155 babies into our family!
As we embark on a new year with new possibilities, I share a story of hope, love, and new beginnings. This story is possible because of you!
Dear Waterleaf Team, I write this with tears in my eyes. From the beginning of my pregnancy to today, you have been just absolutely amazing. When I first arrived at your beautiful building, I was welcomed by smiles and friendly faces! I was given 3 free ultrasounds. During the first appointment, we only saw a gestational sac. A few days later I went to the hospital where they told me I was probably going to have a miscarriage because my numbers were not doubling the way they were supposed to. I came back to Waterleaf a second time; I just had a feeling that we would not see a baby. After about 20-25 minutes of literally seeing nothing the staff asked another tech if they could “use her eyes” and we FINALLY saw a baby with a little flicker! There was my baby with a heartbeat right there. At that point you ladies gave me hope! I came back again a week or so later and again, there was my girl. Throughout my pregnancy and after the birth of my baby girl, you have always checked in and gave me resources because due to the pandemic we were struggling. The gift cards from doing videos helped pay for my daughters bottles and diapers. And even a month post-partum, you still keep giving. My family and I are beyond grateful for your love and support and prayers through these past 10 months and thank you so so so much for everything you have done.
I’m blessed to count all of you as my friends and brothers and sisters in Christ. Thank you for all you do to create a culture that respects life. A happy and blessed new year to you and yours.
Blessings, Mary, Director of Church Outreach and Donor Relations for Waterleaf, Aurora, IL
Blessings all around from our Lord Jesus, through the prayers and intercession of St. Joseph and St. Mary: pray for us!
In in the living, loving, giving and caring Hearts of Jesus and Mary and Joseph,
(And one last time for now:)
Merry Christmas! ¡Feliz Navidad!