Latest Posts

Post Library


Raise Your Eyes and Look About: An Exhortation for 2024

Bob Bordone, Pastoral Council Member
January 5, 2024


With war raging in Israel, Gaza, and the Ukraine, with political polarization rising and the possibility of violence in an election year growing, and with government shutdown once again on-the-horizon, I have found it hard to say, “Happy New Year!” with a straight face during the past week.

That’s why Isaiah’s message in todays’ first reading spoke to me so powerfully:

“See, darkness covers the earth,
And thick clouds cover the peoples;
But upon you the Lord shines,
And over you appears his glory.”


Whaaat? How can this be?

It can be easy to gloss over this first reading from Isaiah to get to the familiar Gospel story of the Epiphany with the Magi, the star, and the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh that complete the Nativity scene.  But in preparing for this reflection, I felt myself drawn to Isaiah in prayer: What might it mean to know that, as darkness covers the earth, the Lord God shines upon me? And what might it mean for you and, more broadly, for our Paulist Center Community in the year ahead?

A glimpse of the answer might be in the verses that follow. Isaiah tells us, “Raise your eyes and look about you; they all gather and come to you; your sons come from afar, and your daughters in the arms of their nurses.”

As an active member of a closely-knit and deeply intentional Catholic community like the Paulist Center, I often find myself gazing inward, on the Center’s needs, concerns, worries, hopes, and struggles.

But as I prayed over these Scriptures, I am sitting with the imperative from Isaiah: “Raise your eyes and look about!” Right outside the doors of the Paulist Center is a world of hunger, need, and desire for the mercy of God, the welcome of community, and the embrace of real belonging. Pope Francis has urged the faithful of the Church to be a field hospital to the vulnerable, the weak, the sick, and the excluded over and over during his pontificate. Indeed, Isaiah tells us that when we raise our eyes and look about us, we will be radiant at what we see.

But looking about us isn’t always easy. And it doesn’t always feel radiant at first blush.

It can mean letting go of control, stepping away from routine, and acting boldly and prophetically. It might mean ruffling some feathers (in a Christlike, gentle, yet persistent way) to lull people from complacency and comfort.

But Pope Francis has urged us to be a Church that is “concerned more with those who suffer than with defending its own interests, taking the risk of novelty, in order to be more faithful to the Gospel.” This is no time for handwringing over scruples. And, sometimes, authorities are to be flouted in the name of the God’s love in the same way the Magi in today’s Gospel wisely heeded the message of their dream, defying Herod’s command to provide Jesus’s GPS location as they journeyed home to spread the Good News.

As I read Isaiah and consider the Feast of the Epiphany – when Christ was revealed to the gentiles and the larger world – I wonder how I can better extend a welcome and an embrace to those who are seeking an inclusive and authentically Catholic community.

And I wonder at what we as a broader community can do to raise our eyes collectively and look about us? Who is missing at our table? And how would we need to change ourselves to make space for them?

The sign that hangs outside the Paulist Center describes us as an “Outreach” ministry.

What could 2024 be like for each of us – and for our community – if we acted in a prophetic way – as if nations walked by our light? Isaiah tells us that if we raise our eyes, our hearts will throb and overflow. When was the last time our experience of faith, outreach, and the Paulist Center Community made our hearts throb and overflow? And how can we create more of that in 2024?

As you pray about what our community may offer and be in the year ahead – and what role you may have in that – I invite you to imagine the Paulist Center as the star in the sky above Bethlehem guiding the Magi—all those outside our community – to the peace, love, and saving grace of Jesus.

I pray and hope that each of us, in our own way and according to the promptings of the Spirit, might raise our eyes and look about in outreach to invite others in the Boston-area who yearn for a faith home that welcomes them with the love, joy, inclusion, and saving grace of Jesus.