We began 2018 with the loss of artificial light: A power outage that lasted from 4:30 to 8:30 a.m. on January 1. These outages have become a fact of life as Venezuela's economic crisis worsens. There is a spiritual darkness here much worse than when the electricity goes down before dawn. There is the loss of joy and hope as children die of starvation and diseases that once had been nearly eradicated; the mourning of old people as their children and grandchildren flee to other lands, perhaps never to return; the fear of someone trying the lock on your front door in the middle of the night.
But there is the light that no darkness can overcome, and that is the light of Christ. We began the chuch's year by lighting Advent candles and celebrated the beginning of the Christmas season with the baptism of Emily Antonella Torres on Sunday, December 24. Her mother, Deisi, was baptized at our mission in 2007, along with her sisters, Yexi and Yaneth, and brothers, Yovani and Jhonny. Yexi's daughter, Diana, was baptized on January 8, 2017, at the consecration of our chapel. Deisi and Yovani were confirmed on October 25, 2009. Yaneth was confirmed on December 15, 2015.
The following Sunday, December 31, we remembered the circumcision and naming of Jesus. On Wednesday of the following week, we began a vacation Bible school (since schools were closed and most people were on vacation until January 6). The theme of vacation Bible school was "epiphany" as the manifestation of the divinity of Jesus Christ.
On Sunday, January 7, we remembered the visit of the Magi to the baby Jesus in Bethlehem and celebrated the first anniversary of the consecration of our chapel. Our preschool resumed on January 8. In the weeks that followed, I shared with the preschool children the stories of the baptism of Jesus and 12-year-old Jesus in the Temple. We concluded the season of Epiphany with the celebration of the Transfiguration of our Lord on Sunday, January 21.
The book of Genesis says that in the beginning God created light by the power of His Word. The Apostle John says that by this Word all things were made, in fact, because the Word existed in the beginning with God, that is, with the Father and the Spirit who hovered over the face of the great deep. This Word was God, along with the Father and the Spirit, and it may be spoken of as the Son, for it it was begotten, but not made, in the mind of the Father from eternity. This same Word was made flesh in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, and He became the light and life of men through His death and resurrection. By the power of the Word that created the world, sinful humans gain new life through baptism. In this there is joy, hope and love that lasts forever, which casts out fear, sadness and despair. Amen.