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Month of January

'The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe
Proverbs 18:10

Month of January

Month of January

January is the start of a year, an opportunity to renew and refresh our journey through life and in the liturgy of the Church the Sundays after the feast of the Epiphany begin by talking about the revelation of Christ to the world. Following on from the Epiphany – the showing – of Christ to the world, the theme continues by presenting us with who Christ really is. In many ways that’s the theme of all of the Gospels: the final revelation of God in Christ. We may think we know who God is, but one look at the history of religions show that that same question has always been hanging over people’s heads. In the bible, it has been around since the snake introduced doubt about God into the minds of Adam and Eve. It is about a particular way of reading the events of life, just as faith is about reading the events of life in a particular way, just as love is and hope too. We don’t understand our life or the truth as simply bald facts, we approach life from a particular perspective. Hopefully the love and support of our parents is basic starting point for all of us. But what happens when it isn’t? This year in the readings we take the question of who Jesus is from Matthew’s perspective. He is very insistent that if we want to really understand Jesus ,we have to fit him into a tradition of faith. Jesus is the fulfilment of the promises that God made through the prophets that he would send a saviour for his people. Because he is the fulfilment of these promises Jesus is also the manifestation of God’s mercy for us. Talk of mercy sounds nice but it quickly sours if there is no evidence of it in life and for Matthew the evidence for it had to be seen in the community of disciples that Jesus gathered to himself; they were the place of mercy. Their lives would be the manifestation not just of the mercy of God in action, but also the manifestation that Jesus was indeed the fulfilment of the promises of salvation that God had made to his people. But what happens when it isn’t, what happens when the disciples are less than witnesses of God’s mercy? Then Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel can be quite strict. There is always the opportunity for forgiveness, but the community by its forgiveness, by the justice with which we live our lives, by our integrity, the community must be a clear sign of the goodness of God in a world that does not see that clearly. And when it comes to our turn to be tempted about the true nature of God, then we have in the community a support and a guide. Just as love can never exist in isolation, neither can faith or mercy, we need others if we are to love, we need others if we are to believe and we need to share with others the mercy we have been given and the mercy we give. January comes round every year to remind us that in this journey through life we are on there is always an opportunity to begin again with ourselves, with others and with God.