With winter comes a respite for some hopeful, productive downtime, taking stock, and recharging. There’s time to evaluate life and make changes. For that, we’re having a nice winter this year. A little snow and some cold. It’s not as it was, growing up in eastern Montana, when I delivered newspapers in some bitter minus-50° weather. Even then I loved the winter, when nature went into hibernation, and a world of new possibilities took shape. A time of peace, silent and reflective.
This year, the interim between Christmas and Ash Wednesday (on Valentine’s Day this year, get ready for that….) is not long. The time for interior reflection is here. The Sunday liturgical readings reveal Jesus calling his disciples, preparing for the road ahead. The goal is to proclaim that the Kingdom of God is at hand. Jesus chooses the most unlikely people for the mission. Simon, Andrew, James, John, are hardworking fishermen, with much to learn.
"The time for interior reflection is here. The Sunday liturgical readings reveal Jesus calling his disciples, preparing for the road ahead."
Something about Jesus proves irresistible to them. They are drawn in and offered a new path with no guarantees. They make their choice; they “abandoned their nets and followed him (Mk 1:14)”. Within days these fishermen will be amongst swarming crowds, beholding amazing wonders: demons driven out, the sick healed, the challenges of a new message of truth and compassion proclaimed in word and deed. God loves us all! There will be difficulties, miracles, and suffering ahead, transforming the journey of life, as it formerly was, into a new experience of joy.
In the winter solitude of January, we also celebrate the Conversion of St Paul. A devout, zealous man, he rides on the road to Damascus. On that road he is taken down and granted a vision. The Kingdom of God, the place where heaven meets earth, the center of his faith, changes. He sees a brilliant radiance: the face of Jesus Christ. Paul’s journey of conversion now begins. For some 12 more years Paul studies and prays, through a virtual winter of solitude, being prepared for the road ahead. Then he returns to the nascent Christian community in Jerusalem. And then into the world, carrying the Gospel of Christ, crucified, resurrected, and present amongst us.
"God loves us all! There will be difficulties, miracles, and suffering ahead, transforming the journey of life, as it formerly was, into a new experience of joy."
Embracing the winter respite opens invisible doors to the future. We are on the long journey of conversion, with its ups and downs. The Holy Spirit is working for and within us, and it is time to bring this to mind. Deep thinking is in order. Follow every idea through. There are nets to be abandoned, and new steps to be taken. The coming springtime is inevitable. Let’s allow ourselves a time-out while the sap is still dormant, to take stock and recharge. The road to grace is open, and renewal is on the way!
+Most Reverend Stephen J. Berg
Bishop of Pueblo
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