Op bezoek in de Blessed Trinity parish in Amsterdam
How to find peace in a pandemic?
Zondag 10 januari, feest van de Doop van de Heer, was ik in de parochie van de Blessed Trinity waar ik de beide parochiemissen vierde en het nieuwe kerkbestuur ontmoette. Ook hier waren natuurlijk maar dertig mensen per Mis en de parochie heeft veel moeite om catechetische activiteiten voort te zetten. In beide Eucharistievieringen was er prachtige zang door twee cantores/solisten met muzikale begeleiding.
Tijdens de Mis heb ik een speciale zegen uitgesproken over de nieuwe kerkbestuursleden. De parochiepriester Peter Klos concelebreerde, las het evangelie en deed het gebed van de gelovigen. De koster had de geschiedenis van de kerk helemaal meegemaakt: hij was er al koster toen in de kerk nog een Nederlandse parochie was gevestigd en is meegegaan toen de nieuwe, Engelstalige parochie de kerk overnam. Na afloop van de vieringen heb ik de parochianen begroet en was er een korte ontmoeting en bespreking met het parochiebestuur en de parochiële catechete (foto). We spraken natuurlijk over de zorgen van de tijd van deze pandemie op gebied van financiën en catechese en apstoraal contact met de parochianen, maar zeker ontbrak niet de hoop en het vertrouwen in de toekomst!
Our Baptims and the Baptism of the Lord
Dear Friends, brothers and sisters,
We have come near
to the end of the Christmas season.
The message of Christmas
Our Lord and God became man
and was born on Christmas day,
so humble and meek;
On the first of January
we contemplated the mystery
that Jesus took flesh from the Virgin Mary.
She, a young Jewish girl from Nazareth,
became the mother of God.
She was open for the will of the Lord,
prepared to do
whatever God would ask from her.
Thus she became in a unique way involved
in the mystery of our salvation.
A few days later we celebrated
that three wise man came from the Orient
full of the desire
to find the newborn king
that God had promised to the world.
Important though they were,
they knelt down before this child
and adored it, they bowed down,
while they presented their costly gifts.
What it means to be a christian
In these events,
that we have celebrated
during the past weeks,
we notice the essence
of a Christian attitude.
If you want to be a Christian, a Catholic,
be meek and humble like Jesus,
be prepared to leave everything behind
and dare to be the least;
if you want to be a Christian, a Catholic
be prepared to open your heart
to fulfill the will of God;
seek Jesus, adore Him, pray and follow Him,
if you want to be a Catholic Christian.
The Christmas-season shows us
what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
And those who closed their hearts...
On the other hand,
we also have met in these weeks
people that closed their hearts
for their Lord and King
and for His Mother, heavily pregnant:
the owner of the inn in Bethlehem
- for him this Mother and her baby
were inconvenient -
and king Herod and his man,
they were perturbed
while they saw in this infant
a threat for their power and might;
Herod had all the male children killed.
In fact, these people made a choice
for themselves and for their own interest,
they shut themselves off
for the need of others,
for what is right and just.
And I tell you
that temptations have not changed so much
in 2000 years!
Are you humble or self-important,
meek or violent.
Inclined to safeguard your earthly possessions
or looking forward to the heavenly reward.
Are you a spiritual person or materialistic?
Do we act out of aggression or hatred
or do we act out of love?
Let us ask for God’s grace
that we all may make the right choice
and do the right thing!
Inner balance and peace
It is not always easy
to do the right thing,
since we all have our emotions
In this pandemic for instance,
a huge problem is domestic violence
and mistreatment of children.
This problem has increased now a lot.
Why? I think many people
have lost their balance,
their inner peace,
their rhythm of life.
If they could pray
and open their hearts for God
and His blessed Mother,
I think they would obtain some inner peace
and their situation would change.
We all need grace, a lot of grace!
We are simple, limited people.
We would do so much wrong on our own,
it’s grace that saves us,
it’s grace that guides us.
If we live on our own,
our lives will become superficial
and it goes from bad to worse,
so we have to open up for grace!
The greatest gift
But in fact, we have already received
the greatest gift of His grace...
Today we celebrate the Lord’s baptism.
Jesus was baptized
by Saint John the Baptist
and there, on the banks of the river Jordan
Christian baptism was announced:
“I have baptized you with water”, John said,
“he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit”.
That’s the essence of baptism
in the name of our Lord:
Yes, we are baptized
with the holy Spirit.
What does that mean?
It means that we have received
that greatest gift: divine life.
The Lord our God, our heavenly Father
has adopted us
as beloved children.
What Jesus is by nature
- God’s beloved Son -,
we are through adoption:
of a merciful Father.
Ask for grace!
So, if we ask for grace,
if we ask for God’s help,
we ask in fact that the holy Spirit
who is within us,
may become more and more
a living reality in our lives.
Let's ask the Lord
that we may live
by the grace of our baptism
with peace, love,
and all the gifts of the holy Spirit!