This week’s memory verse: Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Romans 10:9
  • 12/8 – Acts 18:26
  • 12/9 – Acts 1:8
  • 12/10 – Luke 8:1-3
  • 12/11 – Ezra 10:7
  • 12/12 – Proverbs 4:23
  • 12/13 – Joshua 1:9
  • 12/14 – Titus 2:1

Pray the week: Lord Jesus, Your prophets, angels, and the Forerunner John spoke Your proclamation. Grant that I may live it.

In
advance.

Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance. And do not presume

Last week we reflected on God’s wake-up calls. God is diligent at wake-up calls. He gives us this opportunity of Advent in advance so that we may be prepared. He gave us the first coming of His Son, His life and word as model so we may live awake, active, and expectant for His return.

This week we reflect on His proclamation – proclamation of a truth people so often wish to avoid for God does things in vastly different ways.

Consider the words of Isaiah. Would anyone expect the wolf, lamb, leopard, kid, calf, and lion to live and eat together in peace, guided by a child. Would anyone expect a baby to play together with snakes. Could we believe that a day will dawn where there is no ruin or harm? That’s the thing. It sounds all so great, and fanciful, and maybe someday – but you’ve got to be kidding me. Look at the world today!

God isn’t fooling! Those pretty words from Isaiah that begin in justice for the oppressed and right judgment for the afflicted, the casting down of the wicked and ruthless are God’s design and proclamation. He has told us, His faithful, that this is the way it shall be. This is what we must endeavor to bring about. This is the Kingdom life!

Paul tells us this was: written for our instruction, endurance, and encouragement so that we might have hope. This was written down as our instruction manual so that we might break down artificial barriers and preconceived notions. Who would think that the gentiles might be co-heirs? God did. Thus we rejoice for the gift we have been given in Jesus.

Each of the characters of Christmas brought a part of God’s proclamation. The prophets gave the wake-up call. The angels exceedingly rejoiced in God’s gift of His Son, Jesus. John, the Forerunner, proclaimed the way it must be by God’s design. John came in advance. He picked up sinners (lions, leopards, wolves) so they could eat and rest together with the lambs, kids, calves, and children. Those who confessed were freed. John held out the truth to those who wanted to pretend that things wouldn’t change. Who warned you, he said. He called them to change.

God’s proclamation is God’s reality, His truth. He provided it in advance. Advent gives us the chance to live up to His vastly different way.

Peace.

Advent is here and Christmas is less than four weeks away. As we enter this season of expectation, thoughts turn to where we should be versus all the anxieties found in our daily life. As we enter this season and approach Christmas, let us consider peace. Peace is mentioned more than 429 times in the Bible. In the Bible, peace is taught as the Shalom of God. Being of God, Shalom, peace, encompasses many meanings including totality or completeness, success, fulfillment, wholeness, harmony, security and well being. Shalom is an ordering of life ordained by God through creation and established with God’s people in the covenant. Shalom is a place of being where chaos cannot exist. Chaos is those things we all abhor – sickness, war, social strife, any violation of the covenant and God’s law of love. As we enter Advent, let us consider the place of peace in our lives. Where are we in terms of the totality or completeness, success, fulfillment, wholeness, harmony, security and well being God desires for us? Where are we in relationship to Him and each other? Are we living His Shalom or are we enveloped by chaos? The Church presents Advent as that time to re-enter the Shalom of God. We have this short period of time, set aside – really separate – where we can retreat and pray, worship (communally in church), study (Biblical reading), fast, share (get rid of the excess we have), re-connect, and holistically enter into God’s peace. To do otherwise is to allow ourselves to slip into the abyss of chaos that is screaming around us. Jesus is inviting us into his peace. He is constantly doing that. He wants us to be prepared, settled, rested, and ready for His return, both symbolically at Christmas and in reality. As we stand before the manger, at Christmas, throughout its forty days, and thereafter, let us do so in peace.

December, Advent and the approaching Christmas season. So much going on – be part of it. We are reintroducing Candlelit Rorate Holy Masses every Wednesday in Advent at 7am. We have wafers/opłatek available for you to take home. We will bless and light the Advent wreath on December 1st, have our Vigil/Wigilia dinner on December 15th (come and partake) and the greening of the Church on December 22nd (come help decorate). We have our food and clothing collections ongoing for those in need in our local community. Of course a whole schedule of Holy Masses for Christmas, including a true Solemn Midnight Holy Mass, the blessing of wine on the Feast of St. John the Apostle and Evangelist – and so much more.

Read about all this and a reflection on generosity in our December 2019 Newsletter.

This week’s memory verse: “For the Lord God does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets.”

Amos 3:7
  • 12/1 – 2 Peter 1:21
  • 12/2 – 1 John 4:1
  • 12/3 – Hebrews 1:1-2
  • 12/4 – Hosea 12:10
  • 12/5 – Deuteronomy 13:1-3
  • 12/6 – 2 Timothy 3:16
  • 12/7 – 1 Thessalonians 5:21

Pray the week: Lord Jesus, Your prophets taught the way of preparation. Having experienced Your coming, help me to prepare for Your return.

In
advance.

You know the time; it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed; the night is advanced, the day is at hand.

God is great at wake-up calls. As personally expert at the snooze button, thanks be that He is eternally diligent with those wake-up calls.

The first to hear the wake-up call were the prophets. Jesus told us that “many prophets and righteous people longed to see [his arrival].” The prophets hearing God’s call took action. The proclaimed what was to come. They set forth, as Isaiah does today, a message of hope, peace, and joy. They lived in urgent and active expectation of what was to come.

We often get impatient in expectation of great things and can, at the same time, snooze. Maybe we snooze as an excuse. If I close my eyes, time may pass more quickly. But that isn’t what God wants of us. It is why He issues constant wake-up calls. He wants us awake and active, living His way and truth.

The anticipation and longing of the prophets, who for thousands of years knew by the Spirit that the Messiah would come, teach us how to prepare our hearts in this season of Advent. 

The prophets kept reminding Israel of their call to prepare and to live faithfully in expectation of the Messiah. Unfortunately, they did not listen and kept falling back. That failure to heed did not play out well.

The experiences of the prophets, their active anticipation, reminds us that Advent can be a season of reflection and repentance as we remember why Jesus came to earth. They teach us to faithfully endure as we await Jesus’s Second Coming. As we wait, let’s remember our waiting is necessary preparation in becoming the people He is forming and transforming us to be – living members of the Kingdom. Use the time wisely.

Paul calls us to active living, realizing what has already happened and what is to come. He calls us to throw off all that holds us back, to be awake and ready.

God is diligent at wake-up calls. He gives us this opportunity of Advent in advance so that we may be prepared. He gave us the first coming of His Son which we will commemorate in a few short weeks, and through that moment He gives us His life and word as model so that awake and active we live as He did and expectant for His return.

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.

Colossians 3:15

Welcome to this celebration of our thanksgiving.

What is expected here is the most boring and irrelevant homily / sermon ever created, which we have all heard at least 42 times (I’m guessing the average age here is 42 – and that means 42 Thanksgivings with Jesus jammed in there via a service and a sermon).

Here the preacher expounds on all the things we have to be thankful for – the stuff, the family around us, friends, our Church, and safe travels. Maybe some good luck at the casino?

Having heard all that, what are you and I left to walk away with? What has God given to be thankful for today, and for the times ahead? How is God equipping us to live everyday as His faithful followers and disciples, living in peace and thanksgiving?

Tough questions.

St. Paul was faced with a tough situation. The Church at Colossae (Colossians live in Colossae) was confused, distracted, ill-informed, going through the motions, and even getting the motions wrong. Sounds familiar? It sounds much like our lives today, even churches today. When do we catch a break?

Hey, here comes Thanksgiving. Perhaps we could get a break at Thanksgiving?

As we get nearer that day we hope to take a moment away from confusion, distraction, mis-information, and the day-to-day routines, the going through the motions, and even messing those up. We hope for respite. But one day won’t do it. The peace of Christ and thanksgiving won’t be made permanent in our lives by an annual observance.

Thanks be to God for St. Paul. As he did for the Colossians, so he does for us today. He’s writing to refocus us.To get us out of lives based on being fooled – and set on where we need to be and really want to be. Paul is working to equip us as Christ followers and disciples, to live everyday changed and on fire for God’s way of life, and to live our lives in true peace and thanksgiving.

Here’s Paul’s keys to the life we really want, to lives marked by ongoing peace and thanksgiving. Paul does this through what we call a bridge.

The musicians here, and those musically inclined know what a bridge is. It is a transformative musical statement connecting one section of music to the next.

The first section of Paul’s music is how we live together. He says: Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience, forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 

This is about how we live together as Christ’s followers and His disciples. Think of the cure that is here. We are made right with God and each other by living lives of compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience, forbearing one another, forgiving each other by wearing lives wrapped in love. This kind of life binds everything together in perfect harmony. This is the first verse of the song. This is the equipment we need to get over confusion, distraction, mis-information, and day-to-day routines. These are the tools we have right now to draw in those who will only know Jesus through who we are. We no longer just go through the motions, we make the motions, we change life around us into lives of Christ centered peace and thanksgiving. Let this be the way we call the tune.

Then comes the bridge followed by the second verse: Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Living lives of discipleship, being true full time followers of our Lord and Savior, Jesus, we focus on scripture and gathering. We teach each other, show the way forward through the wisdom we have gained, and then gather together to sing psalms and hymns with hearts focused on God the Father through His Son Jesus.

See, the bridge: And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful is the link between love of each other and toward all people and the loving and thankful service we need to completely focus on God. The “peace of Christ” ruling in our hearts binds us in the way that is more than a sermon, but rather is our toolkit for life. Equipped to live as faithful followers and disciples gives us cause to be truly thankful.

Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.

Romans 12:11
  • 11/17 – Titus 2:14
  • 11/18 – Isaiah 59:17
  • 11/19 – Revelation 3:19
  • 11/20 – Romans 10:2
  • 11/21 – Philippians 1:27
  • 11/22 – 1 Corinthians 9:27
  • 11/23 – Galatians 6:9

Pray the week: Lord Jesus, grant us zeal for Your Kingdom. Help us in laying ourselves aside so as to attain to Your glory.

In it
to win it.

The rulers sneered at Jesus. Even the soldiers jeered at him. One of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus.

In two of the three yearly cycles of readings, the Gospel for Christ the King comes from Jesus’ Passion and from His suffering on the Holy Cross, as in today’s Gospel. In the other year, it is the Gospel of Jesus separating the sheep from the goats at the final judgment. That separation is based upon what we have done. None of these Gospels outrightly gives us a sense of the glories of Jesus’ Kingship or the magnificence of the Heavenly Kingdom.

These Gospels, and the readings around them may cause us to wonder what it means to be subjects of the King, our Lord and Savior, the very Kingship we celebrate today.

Much of our world is focused on victory, isn’t it? The old saying, ‘You have to be in it to win it,’ doesn’t focus on being part of a community or a team. Rather, it focuses us on winning above all.

Winning, whether on the sports field, at work, in social circles, while cooking, or online is what we understand we must do. Especially in the Western world and in our country in particular, winning is prized, everything else classifies us as losers. Even our choices have to be winning choices. Is our chosen team the big winner, the champion? Is our favorite on the Great British Bake-Off going to make it?  Did we overcome in the Facebook political argument? Is our political party on top?

As our Gospels for this day show, winning, being champions, overcoming in God’s Kingdom and for our King is very different than anything the world expects. Being under the Lordship and Sovereignty of Jesus is not about winning at all – the winning was taken care of once and for all on the cross of Jesus. Our call in Jesus’ Kingdom is simply to be in it. Winning, as St. Paul would put it, is about being nailed to the Cross of Christ so to share in His victory.

Being under the King means we have to be seen as losers by the world’s standards. It means we never fail to go out of our way to help, to give, to sacrifice our agenda for another. It means life in the brotherhood and sisterhood of community. It means fasting so another may eat. It means speaking God’s truth to power. Yes, we who are in Christ have won. The glories will come if for now we are real with zeal for the Kingdom.

This week’s memory verse: But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.

2 Timothy 3:1
  • 11/17 – Matthew 24:36
  • 11/18 – Matthew 24:44
  • 11/19 – 2 Peter 3:10
  • 11/20 – Revelation 1:3
  • 11/21 – Revelation 1:7
  • 11/22 – 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
  • 11/23 – John 3:16

Pray the week: Lord Jesus, grant us the grace of preparedness for the times to come and the blessing of confidence in You above all things.

I know better
than God.

Lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven, when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire, leaving them neither root nor branch, says the LORD of hosts. But for you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays.

I have always wondered, really wondered about those who predict when the end will come, when the last days will arrive. More than that, I wonder why anyone would follow someone claiming to know.

As I mentioned last week, some people try to do biblical math, adding up various aspects of scripture, especially from the Books of Daniel and Revelation to reveal when the last days will come. As I also mentioned, I am not very good at regular math, and even if I were, I would not attempt it, it would be a foolish exercise. I do not know better than God. Consider also the many failed end time predictions that started with the Essenes in the 1st Century and continue through today. There are even predictions for the future stretching out as far as a googol (10100) years from now. So many think they know better than God. Don’t be fooled.

As Christians we need to act smartly, not foolishly. We need to have an understanding of last things that only comes from taking Jesus at His word – that not even He knew, and that we must be prepared. Sure, lots of things will happen as history unfolds, but those must not dissuade us. Justice and healing await us. 

As far as the end times, we cannot know it, we cannot predict it or figure it, but we have to live constantly expectantly for it is immanent. We must be Eschatologically focused. So, how do we do that?

We do that by looking to the totality of Jesus’ encounter with us and our encounter with Him. History did not start with His human birth and did not end with His Ascension. He is, after all, the Alpha and Omega. When we encounter Him in the Eucharistic celebration we are pulled into the totality of His eternity. We stand with Him from before time to beyond time. We must then stay Christ focused, following His model for life so that we are well prepared. We must live without fear, ready to give witness to Him by active ministry, mission, proclamation, and invitation. We don’t know better than God, but we know, as Jesus promised, that by our perseverance, we secure our lives.