The Church begins a new calendar year with the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, who was the first to recognize the glory of Christ. Following that, the Church recalls the Epiphany and the baptism of Christ (“Epiphany” means “to manifest, disclose, discover, conspicuous“) by celebrating those who first become aware of Christ’s Divinity (John the Baptist, Andrew, John the Evangelist, Peter, John, Andrew, Simon Peter, Phillip, Nathaniel, those at the Wedding at Cana, the Magi).

John the Baptist, God’s chosen messenger charged with preparing the way for Christ, attracts the attention of powerful Pharisees (hyper-religious Jews) in Jerusalem who send priests and Levites (assistant priests) out into the wilderness to investigate (and to discredit) him; the Jewish leaders believe the unconventional John is a dangerous revolutionary and a false messiah because of his preaching and baptisms. When interrogated, John simply states that he is not the Christ (in Hebrew, “Messiah”), not Elijah (John is not Elijah in the flesh, but in mission) and not the prophet (a new Moses).

Instead, John the Baptist does what he has been charged by God to do: he turns attention away from himself to announce Christ. Using well-known words from the Prophet Isaiah (“I am a voice crying out…), John unequivocally confirms he is the anticipated fore-runner of the Messiah. When asked by what authority he is baptizing (a prefigurement of the Sacrament of Baptism), John refuses to answer, again pointing to the still hidden Christ who is so great that the powerful John is not worthy to untie His sandals. John’s choice to baptize in the Jordan builds off the miraculous crossing of the Jordan River where Israel first enters the Promised Land (Josh 3:15-17) to point to the Sacrament of Baptism by which souls enter the new Promised Land of Christ’s Kingdom of Heaven.

Awed by Jesus ChristPerson of the Trinity, Christ announces His coming through the Prophet Isaiah and causes the forerunner John the Baptist to be miraculously conceived. Son of God, Christ’s divinity is recognized and proclaimed by John the Baptist.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Christ calls John the Baptist unsurpassed in greatness (Matt 11:11) among those born of men. Marvel that even one as great as John the Baptist confirms he is unworthy to even unloose Christ’s sandals.

2) The modern culture embraces and celebrates “pride”, the first of the 7 Deadly Sins. Reflect on the humility of the great John the Baptist and pray for Christ to help you battle pride and grow in humility.

3) In the culture of oppressive political correctness, some Catholic men fail to acknowledge Christ or speak clearly about the Catholic faith. Pray for Christ to help you grow in knowledge of the Catholic faith and the fearless courage to proclaim it.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Joyful Mysteries

Daily Devotion – The Souls in Purgatory

Virtue of the Day – Prudence

Corporal Work of Mercy – To give drink to the thirsty

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To instruct the ignorant