Mass By a Lake

After 30 Years, Jesus Finally Begins His Public Ministry

by Father Brian J. Soliven on Sunday January 26, 2020

We hardly know anything about the first 30 years of Jesus' life, beside the details of his birth and that one brief episode when Mary and Joseph lost him in Jerusalem as a young boy. Other than that, it's a silent mystery. Now suddenly, in our Gospel reading for this Sunday, Jesus embarks on what would eventually turn out to be a three year public mission of healing, preaching, teaching, and finally culminating with his brutal crucifixion on Calvary.

Ask yourself, why does Jesus begin in the "the region of Zebulun and Naphtali." Why are the first words ever recorded out of his mouth are "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand"? And ask yourself, why now does he begin to call the first men who would eventually make up his inner circle of the Twelve Apostles? Why twelve? When we understand the historical context, it makes nothing but beautiful sense.

The Pastor's Prayer Journal

After the 8:30am Sunday Mass in Portola is over, my mad dash to Loyalton begins. I have a small window of time to make the trek through the winding roads of the valley to make the next 10:30am service. “Do you have the bulletins?” I ask myself. Check. “Do I have the proper vestments? Do I have my homily notes, with that beautiful moving quote of some saint that will hopefully make someone cry?” Check. Check. I run through the laundry list in my head, hoping I did not forget something important in the shuffle. At the same time, I try to talk to as many of you as possible. To be honest, I miss all of you. I care about you from the depths of my priestly heart. I want to know what has happened to you since last week, your joys, and your pain. “How can I pray for you?” I wonder. That little interlude after Mass is often my only engagement with 90% of the people God has entrusted me to shepherd and I try to make the most of this opportunity.

Glancing at my watch at this point, a wave of panic comes over me. It always seems to be five minutes before 10am, which means again I am going to be late! I rush to my car, thrown in the bulletins, the vestments, and turn on the car. Oh no my coffee! I always forget my coffee. I rush back into the rectory, grab my trusty red Yeti thermos and finally begin my drive. “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” I pray, as I make the Sign of the Cross. Ever since I was a 16 year-old kid, I’ve always asked God to grant me safe passage before setting on the road. Then I begin the rosary, every time. The drive between Portola and Loyalton is a prime praying occasion. It’s the perfect distance and the beautiful views make it easier to enter into the mysteries of the rosary.

But then, as quickly as I begin this prayerful drive, a piercing sorrow will stab my heart. It happens each Sunday, on this most holy of days which God commands us to gather and worship Him. I look over to our neighbor and immediately see our Baptist brothers and sisters getting ready to begin their own Sunday service. As I drive up highway 70, I look down towards the right and see the Jehovah Witnesses getting ready to begin their service (their views of the Trinity differ greatly from orthodox Christianity but that will be a topic for another day). Then the drive takes me through Beckwourth and I see Sierra Christian Church getting ready to begin their service. Sadness comes over me, as I see first hand on how the followers of Jesus Christ have fractured. It’s not supposed to be like this. Jesus himself prayed as he was dying on the cross, “that they may be one as we are one—  I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” See John 17:22-23. As soon as Jesus left, we immediately begin to fight amongst ourselves. St. Paul in the Second Reading, writing in the year 56AD, chastises the church in Corinth,”I urge you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose. For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers and sisters…  that there are rivalries among you.” See 1 Corinthians 1:10-13. God wills one Church, but over the centuries, different groups break off and form their own church. I immediately begin to pray, “God, heal our brokenness. One day, may they all return to the Catholic Church, so that we can pray together again and be one holy family as you want us to be.”After the 30 minute drive is over, I grab those bulletins and my vestments, walk into the sacristy and getting ready for the 10:30AM Mass.