The alternate second reading today from the Book of Acts tells the story of a Gentile named Cornelius, who was the centurion of a cohort of archers that had come to Syria to enforce the Roman occupation of the area. Devout and God-fearing, Cornelius had generously given alms to the Jewish people of Caesarea, and God was so pleased that he sent an angel to Cornelius, who told him to invite Peter to his house.
Once he learned all that Cornelius had done, Peter said, “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him. You know the word that he sent to the Israelites as he proclaimed peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all” (Acts 10:34-36). Peter rightly recognized that the Holy Spirit had been poured out upon Cornelius and his entire household, even though they were Gentiles, and urged that they be baptized.
Today we celebrate Jesus’ own baptism and the beginning of his public ministry. At our baptisms, we became disciples of Christ and stewards of his blessings. Like Cornelius did with people he didn’t even know but wanted to help, we also should pray and give thanks to God, as well as share our time, talent, and treasure with others.
A new year of promise has begun. Isaiah’s words in the first reading today, “Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased, upon whom I have put my spirit” (Isaiah 42:1), apply also to us. It is time for us to realize that we are God’s stewards, step up, and do all that we can.
--Jim Wollak, Parishioner
Saint Brendan Church in San Francisco. Check out our exciting featured news articles.