January 2018 – Overview for the Month
Thou shalt call His Name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins.
The month of January is dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus, which is celebrated on January 3. The first eight days of January fall during the liturgical season known as Christmas which is represented by the liturgical color white. The remaining days of January are the beginning of Ordinary Time. The liturgical color changes to green — a symbol of the hope of reaping the eternal harvest of heaven, especially the hope of a glorious resurrection.
January 1: Mary, Mother of God
Remember on Christmas morning how we found our way to the stable? It may have been the stable on the mantle or under the Christmas tree or in our parish church. We gazed at the baby in the manger just like the shepherds had done so long ago. Jesus was there with Mary and Joseph. Today we begin our new year at the Eucharistic Celebration. We thank God for Mary, Jesus’ mother, who brought the Savior into the world. Because she is the mother of Jesus, God’s Son, she truly is the Mother of God. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Mary conceived Jesus. Joseph was Jesus’ loving foster-father.
God chose Mary to be the mother of his Son. She was a teenager and her parents were Joachim and Anne. Mary loved God and her Jewish religion. She was probably considered ordinary by her neighbors. It would be God’s work in her that would make her so special, so blessed. God sent the Archangel Gabriel to Mary’s town of Nazareth. The angel asked her to accept a wonderful plan-wonderful for her and for all of us. Mary wanted to please God and she accepted the plan. She became Jesus’ mother. Mary and her husband, Joseph, tried to raise Jesus the best way they could and with great love. Jesus spent many happy, quiet years with Mary and Joseph in Nazareth.
When Jesus was about thirty years old, he began his preaching and healing ministry. This is usually called his public life. It seems that sometime before that Joseph had died. Jesus could not now stay just in the little home and carpenter shop at Nazareth. Mary frequently went with her friends to be near her Son. Mary attended a marriage celebration in Cana. Jesus and his disciples came too. When the wine was gone, Mary asked Jesus to do something. She wanted him to save the couple from being embarrassed in front of their guests. He worked the miracle of turning plain water into delicious wine. Mary loved Jesus and believed in him. She was there when he was nailed to the cross. In fact, she stayed right beneath the cross and received his dead body into her arms. After the resurrection, Mary waited with Jesus’ apostles for the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. The apostles loved her. They knew they needed more courage to be real followers of Jesus. Mary prayed for them and encouraged them. She taught them how to be disciples of her Son. Mary’s feast days are special events that happen throughout the year. Today’s feast honors her as God’s Mother. She wants to be our mother, too.
January 25: Conversion of St. Paul
Paul lived at the time of Jesus but as far as we know they never met. Paul was first called Saul. As a young man, he was a very bright student of the Hebrew religion. When he grew older, he persecuted the followers of Jesus.
In the Bible’s Acts of the Apostles, we read about Saul’s amazing conversion (chapters 9, 22, 26). What happened? One day, Paul was on his way to the city of Damascus to hunt down more Christians. Suddenly, a great light shone all around him. As he fell to the ground blind, he heard a voice say, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Saul answered, “Who are you, Sir?” And the voice said, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting.” Saul was shocked and confused. After a few seconds, he asked, “What do you want me to do?” Jesus told him to continue on to Damascus and there he would be told what to do.
At that moment, through the power of God, Saul received the gift to believe in Jesus. Weak and trembling, he reached out for help. His companions led him into Damascus. The light had blinded him temporarily. Now that he was blind he could really “see” the truth. And Jesus had come personally to meet him, to invite him to conversion. Saul became a great lover of Jesus. After his baptism, he thought only of helping everyone know and love Jesus, the Savior.
We know Saul by his Roman name of Paul. He is called “the apostle.” He traveled all over the world, preaching the Good News. He led countless people to Jesus. He worked and suffered. His enemies tried to kill him several times. Yet nothing could stop him. When he was old and tired, he was once again put in prison and sentenced to die. Still St. Paul was happy to suffer and even die for Christ.
This great apostle wrote marvelous letters to the Christians. They are in the Bible. These letters, called epistles, are read frequently during the Liturgy of the Word at Mass.
January 26: St. Timothy and St. Titus
Besides being saints and bishops in the early Church, these two men have something else in common. Both received the gift of faith through the preaching of St. Paul.
Timothy was born in Lycaonia in Asia Minor. His mother was a Jew and his father was a Gentile. When Paul came to preach in Lycaonia, Timothy, his mother and his grandmother all became Christians. Several years later, Paul went back and found Timothy grown up. He felt that Timothy had a call from God to be a missionary. Paul invited him to join him in preaching the Gospel. So it was that Timothy left his home and parents to follow Paul. He was soon to share in Paul’s sufferings as well. They would have the joy of bringing the Word of God to many people. Timothy was the great apostle’s beloved disciple, like a son to him. He went everywhere with Paul until he became bishop of Ephesus. Then Timothy stayed there to shepherd his people. As St. Paul, Timothy, too, died a martyr.
Titus was a Gentile nonbeliever. He, too, became Paul’s disciple. Titus was generous and hard-working. He joyfully preached the Good News with Paul on their missionary travels. Because Titus was so trustworthy, Paul freely sent him on many “missions” to the Christian communities. Titus helped people strengthen their faith in Jesus. He was able to restore peace when there were arguments among the Christians. Titus had a special gift for being a peacemaker. Paul appreciated this gift in Titus and recognized it as the Holy Spirit’s work. Paul would send Titus to iron out difficulties. When Titus would arrive among a group of Christians, the guilty ones would feel sorry. They would ask forgiveness and would make up for what they had done. When peace was restored, Titus would go back and tell Paul about the good results. This brought Paul and the first Christians much happiness.
St. Paul made Titus bishop of the island of Crete, where he stayed until his death.
Reflection: “Preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching.” (2 Tm 4:2)
Edited by: Evan Macklin