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.
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.
In recent years, people's attempt to trace their roots and fill in the branches on their family tree has been greatly helped by the website ancestry.com. There, one can search through a wealth of public records in order to find the who and the where of family origins.
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.
O God of delight, fill our hearts with wonder-filled stories.
O God of Humor, enable us to laugh at your mischievous plans.
O God of Quiet, come! Whisper in our waiting hearts what you ask of us.
O Rising Sun, send your healing rays of love into our lives.
O God of Patience, draw us into the mystery of your love.
Blessed Fra Angelico produced various depictions of today's Gospel story of the Annunciation. Although the 15th-century Dominican painter created significant variations on the same scene, it is said that he never retouched his paintings because, like the iconographers of Eastern Christianity, he believed that he produced them under divine inspiration; thus, they should not be changed.