Today, like most Sundays I got in my car for the forty minute drive to Mt. Irenaeus. Going to the Mountain as we call it is a Sunday ritual for me. The sun was shining adding a bit of luster to a fresh coating of snow we received overnight. Along the way I stopped at Giant Food Mart in Cuba, New York for orange juice and eggs. A morning at the Mountain is topped off with brunch for all following Eucharist in Holy Peace Chapel.
Today as I drove up the country roads that lead to Mt. Irenaeus I thought of my friend Paul Kelly who had recently died. I thought too of a couple of papers that are due for the graduate classes at St. Bonaventure University in which I am enrolled this semester. Being a perfectionist is not easy. I always want to do my best and there is always some anxiety as the final week dawns. When I arrived at the retreat center, I parked my car and greeted several students from nearby Houghton College. As I walked toward the House of Peace I was surrounded by little chickadees who flew about my head and slight above it. I thought of Paul and the Holy Spirit and how these little fellows seemed to be signaling that Paul was in good hands. After dropping off the food and then resuming my walk to the chapel I was again surrounded by this small flock of birds who seemed intent on accompanying me to Mass today.
I fetched my Blackberry to take a picture of these little birds who were so close to me in the bushes that lined the trail. One of them lit in my outstretched hand and with my free hand I was able to take a picture of my little feathered friend. At once I my eyes filled with tears and I thought of our seraphic father St. Francis. I was truly blessed today as I made my way up the path to the Eucharist. What a great blessing to hold one of these little creatures in my hand.
Today’s readings were special too. I loved the second reading from St. Paul and the one line that reads, “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it.” This was reassurance in God’s word that my paper and those of many more students would be completed. I’m sure that reading means something different to everyone, but to me today it was a great reminder that my life is ordered by a power greater than me. The gospel too is one that I love and each year it’s proclamation is special.
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar,
when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea,
and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee,
and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region
of Ituraea and Trachonitis,
and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene,
during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas,
the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert.
John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan,
proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins,
as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah:
A voice of one crying out in the desert:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.
Every valley shall be filled
and every mountain and hill shall be made low.
The winding roads shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth,
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” — Luke 3:1-6