John the Baptist, the cousin of our Lord, baptized on the Jordan River, as we all know. What's the significance of, as St. Hippolytus called it, “the Grand Jordan”?
Hebrew for "the descender," the Jordan River flows south from the Sea of Galilee into the Dead Sea. The Sea of Galilee, the largest freshwater lake in the region, teems with life. It is, of course, where Jesus spent most his time during his public ministry. The river Jordan connects this vivacious sea with its antithesis, the Dead Sea. The lowest point on earth, this body of water is one of the saltiest on earth, allowing nothing to grow, hence its name. The Jordan River is the connection between life and death.
This river is the borderline of salvation. When the Israelites were led out of slavery in Egypt into the promised land, it was Joshua's crossing of the Jordan River that marked their redemption. When King David fled from his usurper—son, Absalom, he crossed the Jordan River. When David was able to return victoriously, he re-crossed the Jordan. Before Elijah was taken up to heaven, he parted the waters of the Jordan so he and Elisha, his successor, could pass in safety. Elisha would return to this sacred river to cleanse Naaman, a Syrian, of leprosy. Finally, the “name which is above every name” (Phil 2:9) was baptized in the same waters. All in all, the Jordan River appears over one hundred times in Sacred Scripture.
Where John the Baptist performs his ministry is significant. “This happened in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing (Jn 1:28),” we hear at the end of the Gospel today. The Jordan River indicates to the people that salvation is drawing near. It is drawing near for us too, which is why we rejoice on this Gaudete Sunday.
Our parish Penance Service will be tomorrow, Monday December 18th at 1:30pm and 7pm in the church. Receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation is a great way to prepare for Christmas. Our school's penance service will be Wednesday morning.
The St. Juliana School Christmas Concert is on Tuesday, December 19th at 6:30pm. Good luck to everyone who will be performing. On Wednesday, our school's 8th graders will make their annual visit in the afternoon to St. Benedict's Nursing Home to deliver gifts and Christmas cheer to the residents. That Wednesday night at 7pm we will celebrate Mass for our RE program. The last day of school is Friday, December 22nd.
You may have bought books or have recalled seeing signs several weeks ago for the St. Juliana Book Fair. The fair was a great success and raised over $6,000 for our school! With these scholastic dollars we will be able to enhance our curriculum. I am incredibly grateful to Beth Soreng and so many others who put this together, and thank you to all who purchased books for your children and grandchildren—a win-win!
If you or someone you know is interested in becoming Catholic or making one of the sacraments, such as Confirmation, there is still time to get involved with RCIA. Please contact myself or Fr. Laurent and we will get you situated.
Finally, we look forward to having our seminarians, Deacon Robinson and Hank Lyon with us over the Christmas break. They’ll have to fight over who gets the top bunk in the rectory guest room. The loser, though, will be able to put the star atop the Christmas tree.
Yours in Christ,