“Today we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord, but what does this mean for us in our lives? All of us here have been baptized. We might not remember it, but we all have been baptized and just as much as in the Gospel where Jesus comes up from the waters and the heavens open up and God says, ‘This is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased’ so too on the day of our baptism the very same thing happened. It’s in our baptism that we enter into the spiritual life. It’s in our baptism that we become adopted children of God. It’s in our baptism where we enter into the life of God, so just as much as those heavens opened up the same thing is true for us. In that moment when we were baptized in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit we were named children of God, beloved sons and daughter of God and we enter into life of God and that is the important part of being Christian. Often times people might think that to be religious or to be Christian is all about being a good person or doing the right thing, but it really isn’t. I’m not saying that it’s not good to be a good person or it’s not to do the right thing, but that’s not exclusive to being a Christian. You see in other religions you might see that as well, so that’s not the key thing of being a Christian it’s not really to be just a good person or do the right thing. What it means to be a Christian to be a Catholic is to enter into the life of God. That is the key to the Christian life and that’s why the Baptism of the Lord and our very baptism is so important is that we enter into the life of God that through Jesus Christ we enter into a life with the Father just as Jesus Christ. That’s why when we sign ourselves in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit we say, ‘In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.’ We’re not praying outside of them, but we’re praying in relationship with them and that is the key to the Christian life that we enter in true relationship with God into his divinity and that is our life and it’s through baptism that we enter into the rest of the sacraments to help purify to help grow closer to God and so today we remember that remember our baptism remember our relationship with God.
Today is also Stewardship Sunday in our Church and often times people think that you have to give more to do more to receive God’s love even more and really that’s a terrible spiritual trap to fall into and that’s a terrible trap to fall into in your relationships in life that the more you do the more you receive. That isn’t true. The thing about a spiritual principle that is different from the world is the more you give the more you will receive. We hear in the scriptures principals like this, ‘The first shall be last and the last shall be first.’ In stewardship we talk about our time, talent and treasure and it’s not that the more you give the more you will receive per se, but it’s what is holding me back in my life? What is holding me back from receiving the grace of God even more fully in my life? That’s why we have our stewardship is to give away to see what God has in store for us.”
From Fr. Tom’s Homily Epiphany Sunday 1/5/20 “We recall the fact that the Wise Men when they came they offered gifts, Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. Gold for a king. Frankincense for a priest. Myrrh used in burial recognizing Jesus as the sufferer, that savior through his death and ultimate resurrection and so those gifts express that gratitude of the Wise Men, but we too are called to bring a gift to Christ. We too have a very special gift to offer to Christ the King and it is not Frankincense or Myrrh, none of those things at all, but rather it is the gift of our life, it is the gift of who we are, it’s the gift of our love that we bring and present to the Christ Child to the savior of us all. Every time we come to Mass, there’s one gift that we bring to offer in gratitude for all that God does for us and that is the gift of our own love. The one thing that God does not have that we have is the gift of our self and that is the gift that we are called to bring and when those gifts are brought forward at the offertory time, those bread and wine, they really at that point symbolize us. They symbolize our lives, they symbolize our gratitude, our love and so we need to place ourselves on that paten to make that wine be an expression of the gift of ourself at each and every Eucharist that we share. That’s the beautiful gift that we have to offer.”
Sharon Weems, Business Manager: “What a joy it is to be part of such a generous community here at Church of the Ascension where our parish family so faithfully makes sacrifices and gives back in gratitude for all that God has given us.
In this past year many activities and fruits of our strong parish life were blessed by the gifts you shared despite challenges we faced in our culture and financial responsibilities. Thank you to all who serve and offer financial contributions. Our many ministries, employees and leaders at the parish are grateful for the participation, generosity, and faith you bring to the Church and beyond. We pray for unending blessings and how we can show our gratitude for all that we have in this coming year so that we may continue to joyfully proclaim, celebrate, witness and serve Jesus Christ.”
“Later on this week in the mail you will get a form asking you to renew your commitment to stewardship in this coming year, your time, talent and treasure. What I’m asking you is not to just go through it and mark down what you can do or the things you can give or what the Church needs, but I ask you to really prayerfully consider, so take it to prayer. Take it to your time in adoration and ask the Lord and see what he’s calling you to do calling you to give so that you can grow in deeper relationship with the Lord.”