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“Behold the Lamb of God…” “You are my beloved son…”

刊登日期: 2013.01.13
作者: Fr. Thomas Au 區耀邦神父  

John the Baptist inaugurated the public life of Jesus. He pointed Him out to others so that they may find Him. 

This year, in my parish, is a time for heightened preparation for the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the founding of the parish community, coincidentally, St. John the Baptist Church in 1862. Later, in 1875, a second parish was also established serving the Czechoslovakian immigrants. It was called the Holy Rosary Church. In 1970, the two parishes were merged to become the present Holy Spirit Church. On May 26, 2013 we will officially celebrate the joyous event of Jesus’ continuous presence in the Eucharist for these 150 years. The date itself is not significant. It is merely the most convenient time as it is a long weekend in the United States. 

In the United States the last Monday of May is called Memorial Day, originally set aside to remember those who died during the various wars in the history of the country: from War of Independence from the British, the Civil War that ended slavery, to the wars in this past century. But the most significant war for the parish is the battle of souls that Jesus came to rescue for the Father and all those who sacrifice themselves so that the Faith can be celebrated and passed on to the future generations. 

150 years ago, in June of 1863, the then bishop dedicated the first church here in Plattsmouth, Nebraska. The territory called Nebraska was just being opened with pioneers heading west looking for a way to reach California as well as places to settle. Christianity has always been the primary religion of the early settlers of the United States, with a minority of Catholics among them. They came from a divided Europe, often times with religion as the battle lines. Many of the young men that came were from poor families looking for a future. Just like many immigrants throughout history, the hopes and dreams of finding a new beginning kept them enthused and adventurous. Along with the Catholic explorers and settlers were priests that dedicated themselves to taking care of the spiritual needs of these young men and later their families. Some of these priests would periodically visit a number of settlements miles from each other, all on horse back. They would ride their horses over open country facing tremendous challenges including avoiding the often-not-so-welcoming Native Americans (otherwise known, no longer politically correctly, as “Indians”). And this was only 150 years ago! 

Because of the anniversary, I have been reading the lives of many of the priests that came from Europe and served in the parishes all these years. I also recognize the more recent pastors that preceded me, those I have known personally since I was ordained. I, indeed, stand on the shoulders of giants. Often times I ask myself whether I could have done what they did. I am not so sure that I could have. 

But like John the Baptist, my role is to point out to people where Jesus is already waiting for them. In turn, they will find that they are “the beloved son” the Father loves. All of us are to be like John the Baptist, “to be diminished so that He could increase.” And the less we are of ourselves, the more we are in Christ. And the more we are in Christ, the fuller we truly become ourselves, because we are created in His image. 

How are you fulfilling your role as “heralds of glad tidings” to those around you? 

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