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Spiritual Reflections

Radical freedom

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My brother Tom was always better with his hands than the rest of us were -- an important characteristic for a surgeon. One day, a few years into his career, I asked him, "How can you get up in the morning, go to work, wash your hands, dress up and then pick up a knife and slice someone open?" He replied that he was not "slicing someone open," but removing something that was hurting someone. His profession is science that strives to do the greatest good and the least harm. It is, in vocational terms, a continuation of the healing ministry of Jesus.

Breaking news

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"We interrupt our regular programming for this very important news." Some version of this familiar phrase has become the routine segue for informing the public of world events. When the "breaking news" announcement indicates that a world leader will be speaking shortly, the ambience may be all the more charged.

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Considering our vocations

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When we were children, our mother was not content with having us pray the ordinary grace before meals. No, at grace time, as well as in prayers before bed, there was a litany of sorts in which we remembered family and friends, and always ended with the simple prayer, "Please, God, help me to know my vocation and have the grace and strength to follow it." Mom was a firm believer that everyone had a vocation, a call to serve God with their best talents and deepest desires.

You are my beloved!

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Today, the community of believers in Jesus gathers to remember and celebrate his baptism. There at the Jordan, John clarified his role as precursor of Jesus. The baptism given by John was preparatory for the baptism that Jesus would bring: John's was with water, but Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit. There at the Jordan, Jesus was identified as "my beloved Son," and from that moment on, he would be the living Word and Wisdom of God. In all his words and in all his works, Jesus would make known to sinners the love and mercy of God.

Our Holy Family

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As far as we can tell, nothing in Scripture was written exclusively for cloistered religious. We assume our sacred authors had ordinary married people and their children in mind when they composed our biblical writings. The spirituality and theology expressed in them were meant to be lived in a real world populated by real people: husbands, wives, children, grandchildren, men and women who related to one another on a normal, human level. We especially must keep this in mind when we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family.

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