Reflection for the Third Sunday of Advent 2014

3402_Upward

God is sending
me?

The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners, to announce a year of favor from the LORD and a day of vindication by our God.

John the Baptist appears in the dessert preaching a baptism of repentance. The beautiful beginning of the Gospel according to St. John notes: A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. John came with a purpose based on a call from God. We too are sent to testify to the light, so that all might believe [in Jesus] through us. This call comes to us and this commission is given us at the moment of Baptism. We publically declare our acceptance of God’s call and commission as adults in Confirmation. We are strengthened and fed for this work in receiving Holy Communion. When we fail at our task we are renewed in the Sacrament of Penance.

It is hard to think that the Lord has anointed us. Really – Who, me? That seems like such a solemn and important thing. Think anointed and we may picture (as recent events indicate) the ordination of a priest, the consecration of a bishop, or the crowning of a king or queen. Prophets were anointed, King David was anointed – and yes we are anointed. As Christians we are anointed into the royal priesthood and into the family of God, the body of Christ. We are anointed as prophets, evangelists and leaders. The gifts of the Spirit are poured out on us – wisdom, understanding, right judgment, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. They are the tools given to us so we can fulfill our great commission, to proclaim the Lord’s favor to all and to baptize them into Christ.

Our anointing is solemn, it is important, and it is joyful and life-giving. That is why Jesus left us every tool and grace we need to carry out our commission. He continually calls us into unity with Him, complete unity with His eternal life-giving love and power.

Advent gives us the opportunity we need to reconnect to our anointing, our call and commission. It allows us to recollect and re-recognize the wonderful gifts God has graciously given us. It slows us to give Advent witness to a world that might think Christmas Day is the end of the season rather than the beginning of forty days and an eternity of rejoicing.

Yes, God is sending us with power and conviction. Let us bring glad tidings to the poor, heal the brokenhearted, and proclaim liberty to the captives and release to prisoners. Let us announce a year of favor from the LORD.


Advent and Christmas Holy Mass and Event Schedule

christmasschedule2014

Keeping Advent and the forty days of Christmas at your neighborhood church. All are welcome to join in prayer and celebration as we come to know, love, and serve the Lord and each other. He came to give us abundant life!

Advent

  • December 14: 3rd Sunday of 
 Advent: Holy Mass at 9:30 am. Parish Vigil Pot-luck dinner and Youth Christmas Performance
  • December 21: 4th Sunday of 
 Advent: Holy Mass and Confirmation at 9:30am. Greening of the Church and Free Lunch on Sunday

Christmas

  • December 24: Vigil of the Nativity
  • December 25: Nativity of the Lord, Holy Mass at Midnight and Morning Holy Mass at 10:30am. Festive Repast follows each Holy Mass
  • December 26: Feast – St. Stephen, Proto-Martyr
  • December 27: Feast – St. John, Apostle & Evangelist. Holy Mass at 5pm with the Blessing of Wine
  • December 28: Solemnity of the Humble Shepherds. Holy Mass at 9:30am
  • December 31: New Year’s Eve
  • January 1: Solemnity of the Circumcision. Holy Mass at 9:30am. Happy 2015
  • January 2: Solemnity of the Holy Name of Jesus. Holy Mass at 7pm
  • January 4: Feast of the Holy Family. Holy Mass at 9:30am
  • January 6: Solemnity of the Epiphany of our Lord. Holy Mass with blessing of chalk, charcoal, and incense at 7pm.
  • January 11: Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord. Holy Mass at 9:30am

Reflection for the 2nd Sunday of Advent 2014

23862

The power of
one.

John the Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. People of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins.

The power of one is really something.

The singer and musician Bono founded an organization called ONE that campaigns and advocates on an international level to take action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease. More than 6 million people have joined in as ONE. We also know the power of one vote. A look at elections over the past several years reveals that many are won or lost by very close margins. Every vote does count. A little research shows that many elections in the United States and elsewhere are won or lost by an average 449 votes out of an average 771,000 votes cast per election. A good group of those were won or lost by one vote. In mathematics, the number 1 is considered neither prime nor composite but in a class of its own. It is the multiplicative identity, so it is also a unit and a divisor of unity. John the Baptist was only one figure but prepared many for the Lord.

In Greek neo-platonic philosophy, The One is the ultimate reality and source of all existence. The Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria regarded the number one as God’s number, and the basis for all numbers. Every Sunday we clearly proclaim that we believe in One God. Advent presents us two ways to look at one and one point of arrival.

The first thing we must look at during Advent is ourselves. Do we see ourselves as ‘the one’ and others as them? In our singleness, our self-identity, our oneness – which is really aloneness – do we fall short of Jesus’ call to be part of His body? Do we serve ourselves and hurt others in the process? Or rather, do we use the gifts God has given us as individuals to build up His one body?

The other thing we must look at this Advent is the One who came into the world and is coming again. Are we letting others know how beautiful it is to be part of the One in the family of faith? Are we preparing to meet Him, not just on Christmas as a single day, but prepared to welcome, live with, and abide in Him for all eternity?

Advent is a time of focus. We will all arrive at one point in time, a single point where we will live in unity or disunity with the One. Are we ready to draw into union as one with Him? The power of the One draws us, calls us, drives us, and gives us a choice. The power of the One is truly beautiful. Let us join as one in preparing worthily for the One.


Reflection for the 1st Sunday of Advent 2014

Countdown

What’s on your
clock?

Jesus said to his disciples: “Watch, therefore; you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’”

Many of us have heard of some of the most well know timekeepers. There is Big Ben in London and the ball that drops at Times Square on New Year’s Eve in New York City. Both are symbols of the passing of time. The United States Naval Observatory in Washington D.C. operates the master atomic clock ensemble which provides the time standard for the Department of Defense. FOCS 1, an atomic clock in Switzerland, started operating in 2004. It looses only one second every 30 million years. The Doomsday Clock at the University of Chicago is a symbolic clock face that represents a countdown to possible political related global catastrophe (a nuclear war or irreversible climate change). The closer the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists set the Doomsday Clock to midnight, the closer the scientists believe the world is to global disaster. We are also in the midst of a whole group of sports seasons – football, basketball, and hockey. The clock at the top of our bulletin represents the last ten minutes of the game.

What’s missing? Of course, the score! Who’s winning? That is a question we tend to ask as time draws down. Who is winning, we even ask that in our lives as time draws down. Have I won, am I winning?

That should be a question Christians avoid. If we are focused on our successes and failures, the winning and losing of everyday life, we aren’t responding to Jesus’ call, we missed His request of us. If we aren’t much concerned with success, but are just allowing time to pass, biding our time in quiet, waiting for time to run out, we aren’t responding to Jesus’ call, we missed His request of us. Jesus tells us: He has placed His servants in charge, each with his own work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch.

Advent is the season of the year that we should be taking account of our watchfulness, how we have responded to the Lord’s call. Are we at work for Him? We should use this time to redouble our efforts to be about our Master’s work, not our personal wins and losses.

All of the world’s timekeepers keep running, whether they are symbolic of the passing of time, predictive of the end of our times, or scientific instruments measuring its passage. We are always in the countdown period and our Lord’s return is near. What ends up on our clock will not be wins or losses, but how well we have responded to Him.


December Newsletter (delivered on Thanksgiving)

December, a journey through Advent and on to Christmas. Will you be going to church? If so, do you expect condemnation and judgment or joy? We should be expecting joy! This December is jam packed with events, from an ordination to our vigil dinner and children’s Christmas presentation, free lunch on Sunday, Christmas decorating and the joy of beginning the forty days of Christmas. Be an active part of the church this December, discover joy, and greet the Lord.

You may view and download a copy of our December 2014 Newsletter right here.

21971


Reflection for the 4th Sunday of Advent

WhatifLove

“When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.”

Today we hear of Joseph as he confronts fear, doubt, and a decision about right and wrong.

The Gospel tells us that Joseph was a righteous man. Now, being ‘righteous’ or ‘just’ as an observant Jew meant that Joseph followed, lived, and abided by the law.

The law laid out the penalty for pre-marital sex and adultery. It was death for both the woman and man involved. Leviticus 20:10 states: “If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.Deuteronomy 22:22 states: “If a man is found lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman. So you shall purge the evil from Israel.

Since Joseph and Mary were engaged, Mary was legally Joseph’s wife. Mary was obviously pregnant – so in everyone’s mind she was an adulteress. By law Joseph could denounce Mary and she would be stoned to death. Joseph would cast first stone.

Joseph is shamed by Mary’s pregnancy. Joseph went home to think this all over. We can imagine his thoughts, the stress, the anger, the shame, and the hurt. What should he do? The law says put her to death, get revenge, and purify the community. What would happen if he didn’t follow the law?

Before his adopted Son would ever proclaim the value of forgiveness, before Jesus would say, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone,” or “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment” Joseph acted with true righteousness. Amidst the hurt, pain, and conflict Joseph decided against death. He would arrange a no-fault divorce, without admitting or denying paternity of child. This would save Mary’s life.

God would intervene through His angel to give Joseph all of the facts – that there is no human father for Jesus. More importantly, Joseph provides us with an example of true righteousness. This is the kind of righteousness we are called to live.

Death is the penalty for sin. Thankfully, through Jesus’ coming, we have been freed from death. Being freed, Jesus asks us to free others from death. This is not the literal death of the Old Testament imposed by stoning, but the sort of death we impose if we harden our hearts to those who have hurt us.

As Joseph chose true righteousness so must we. When we do, when we forgive as we are forgiven, when we free as we have been freed, we overcome death by love.


Reflection for the 3rd Sunday of Advent

10015

“Strengthen the hands that are feeble, make firm the knees that are weak, say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you.”

If we have been watching television over the past several weeks we may have encountered a twenty-four days of Christmas programming marathon. Twenty-four days of non-stop Christmas movies and shows. Among the shows we will certainly encounter Dickenson’s “A Christmas Carol.”

As we recall, his former partner, Jacob Marley, first visits Scrooge. Marley is fettered in heavy chains that he drags behind him. He tells Scrooge that he created these chains throughout his life by his lack of charity and love. We immediately understand and connect. We see our sins and failings as heavy chains that bind us, that prevent us from reaching heavenward.

Jesus told John’s disciples: “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.

In sin we are the poorest of the poor. We are blind. We are crippled. We become deaf to the call of love. We reap the wages of sin, which is death. Amidst all this Jesus comes to save us.

Jesus’ salvation is an ongoing grace in our lives. In Him we find the One who will break the chains that bind us. In Him we find clear vision. In Him we are healed. In Him our ears are opened. In Him we find the guarantee of freedom from death and the hope of resurrection.

Jesus’ offer of salvation requires our cooperation. We have to be willing to lift up the chains that bind us. If we lift them before Him and His Holy Church, and ask forgiveness, He will free us. If we ask Him to hear us in the sacrament of penance, which He entrusted to His ministers, we will be forgiven for: “He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’

Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would strengthen feeble hands and knees and give strength to the frightened. He would come with vindication – freeing us from the accusation brought about by our sin. He would exonerate us completely by paying the price for us.

Jesus came to save you and me. He came to free us, to take the weight from our shoulders, our hands, and our hearts. He came so in freedom we would be ready to stand before Him at His coming.


Reflection for the 2nd Sunday of Advent

mandela

By endurance and
encouragement

“Whatever was written previously was written for our instruction, that by endurance and by the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to think in harmony with one another, in keeping with Christ Jesus, that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

St. Paul speaks of endurance. This week we experienced the passing of a man of endurance. His quote on the front of our bulletin speaks of endurance. Read again his words: “I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.” The quote is taken from Nelson Mandela’s autobiography Long Walk to Freedom, published in 1994.

Mr. Mandela endured years of struggle in the fight for freedom, including 27 years in prison. Imagine yourself as standing up for what you believe, enduring struggles, facing prison – all for what you believe, for offering the promise of freedom to your fellow man. We can all follow in his example because it is the core of Christian faith and action.

The world counts Mr. Mandela a hero because of his endurance, the encouragement he offered; for standing up in the face of oppression. Through his endurance he brought freedom to his people. Not only did he endure for freedom, but also for a spirit of reconciliation and forgiveness in the midst of political and social change.

Think on these things – freedom, forgiveness, peace, and reconciliation. Our Fathers in faith, Paul, Peter, the other apostles, the saints and martyrs throughout history and even to our day endure prison and persecutions enduring to offer the hope and encouragement of scripture, the promises of Jesus to all.

We are called in this Advent season to reconnect to our call, to endure and to encourage. We call called to strengthen our faith and to offer the deliverance foretold by Isaiah and delivered by Jesus: Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide, but he shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted.

Let us live like Paul and Peter, like Mr. Mandela, calling all to learn, to be encouraged through scripture, to live in harmony and mutual support in the Christian community. Together in Christ we offer the world what we have – the message of true and eternal freedom, endurance, encouragement, reconciliation and forgiveness.


December 2013 Newsletter

The first day of December and the parish newsletter is complete, posted, and mailed – talk about Advent preparation! Our newsletter for December reflects on this sacred time of preparation for the Forty Days of Christmas and Jesus’ Second Coming. Check it out, stay informed and see our action packed schedule for Advent and Christmas. You may view and download a copy right here — December 2013 Newsletter.

ChristmasNativity_sm


Our Advent and Christmas Schedule

advent

  • Sunday, December 1st: 1st Sunday of Advent. Service at 9:30am. School of Christian Living study and presentation preparation follows.
  • Sunday, December 8th: 2nd Sunday of Advent. Service at 9:30am. School of Christian Living study and presentation preparation follows.
  • Sunday, December 15th: 3rd Sunday of Advent. Holy Mass at 9am with Advent Penitential Service. Children’s Christmas Presentation follows. Annual Christmas Vigil potluck Dinner with Main Fish Course provided by the parish
  • Sunday, December 22nd: 4th Sunday of Advent. Service at 9:30am. Greening of the Church follows.
  • Tuesday/Wednesday, December 24th-25th: Solemnity of the Nativity of our Lord – Shepherd’s Holy Mass/Pasterka at Midnight followed by a festive repast.
  • Wednesday, December 25th: Solemnity of the Nativity of our Lord – Service for Christmas Day at 9:30am.
  • Thursday, December 26th: Feast of St. Stephen the Proto-Martyr – please keep the persecuted Church and all deacons in your prayers this day.
  • Friday, December 27th: Feast of St. John the Apostle and Evangelist – Service and Blessing of Wine at 7pm.
  • Saturday, December 28th: Commemoration of the Holy Innocents – please keep all children subject to abuse and bullying in your prayers.
  • Sunday, December 29th: Solemnity of the Humble Shepherds. Service at 9:30am.
  • Tuesday, December 31st: Solemnity of the Holy Family – please pray for God’s blessings upon all families, that they may model the life of the Holy Family.
  • Wednesday, January 1st: Solemnity of the Circumcision of our Lord – Service at 9:30am.
  • Thursday, January 2nd: Solemnity of the Holy Name of Jesus – Service at 7pm.
  • Sunday, January 5th: Feast of the Holy Family. Service at 9:30am.
  • Monday, January 6th: Solemnity of the Epiphany of our Lord. Service with blessing of chalk, charcoal, and incense at 7pm.
  • Sunday, January 12th: Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord. Service at 9:30am.

Epiphany home blessings will take place starting Tuesday, January 7th and continue through Tuesday, March 4th, 2014. Make arrangements with Deacon Jim.

Christmas