This week’s memory verse: Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Romans 12:12
  • 11/29 – Romans 15:13
  • 11/30 – Hebrews 11:1
  • 12/1 – Jeremiah 29:11
  • 12/2 – 1 Peter 1:3
  • 12/3 – Psalm 39:7
  • 12/4 – Colossians 1:27
  • 12/5 – Proverbs 23:18

Pray the week: Lord Jesus, You have called us to offer Your Holy Name as hope to the world. Grant that we, convinced of the hope found in You, may never cease in declaring it.

Hope!

Return for the sake of your servants, the tribes of your heritage. Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, with the mountains quaking before you, while you wrought awesome deeds we could not hope for, such as they had not heard of from of old.

We begin the season of Advent with this prayer from Isaiah. 

Isaiah’s prayer begs for the Lord’s return. In his prayer, even as our prayers often go, he wonders about the wrong in the world, the failure of God’s people to listen. He recounts the corruption that has made them unworthy, perhaps only worthy of abandonment, carried away like the wind. He recognizes that God was right to turn His face away from them. Just before getting to final despair, Isaiah recalls God’s Fatherhood to Him. Isaiah reminds God that we are the work of His hands and ends his prayer with hope.

The Corinthian Church was called to be the redemptive fellowship known as Church – the body of the saved offering hope to the world while expecting Jesus’ return. This is who we are too. We are to recognize our changed focus, from eyes cast down and living a hopeless existence to eyes looking up, preparing by building the kingdom, calling the unsaved, and offering Jesus’ hope as we expect His return.

Paul reminds us that Jesus has enriched us in every way, that we are not lacking in any spiritual gift and that as we expectantly wait, He will keep us firm to the end.

Isaiah’s pre-Jesus prayer is hopeful for overcoming. Paul, living in Jesus’ reality, reminds us that we hold the hope that overcomes all things.

Advent is the message of hope needed right now. We are reminded of that hope and our duty to offer it. The darkness, despair, and abandonment felt throughout these many months, the feeling that we are being carried away like the wind, is strong in many hearts and minds. As such, we must offer each other the reassurance of the hope we have and teach the worldly that there is a hope that overcomes. All need that reassurance of hope.

Today we move from the contemplation of the last things, the end times, to hope filled expectation. Indeed, the Lord has told us to be ready for His return looking forward to that moment when He will break through.

The answer to Isaiah’s prayer came in Jesus and continues in our redemptive fellowship, our being Church. We are Jesus’ breaking through and offering of hope to the world. For that purpose we have been changed. We stand in charge, each with our own kingdom task – to offer hope, for soon the Lord will break through in power and glory, light, and peace. May He find us expectantly waiting and offering the hope found in His name alone.

As usual, we will be gathering can and dry food donations now through December 20th. You may leave your donations by the Mary Altar. 

If you have good unneeded clothing to donate, it may be dropped off downstairs. The YMSofR will take these donations to local charities. 

We have put up our giving tree set up with ornaments. These 50 double sided 3”x3” Compassion International hanging ornaments each represents a donation option to help those in need. We ask you to pick one as a family and make a donation to change a life. We also have a beautiful ornament for you to take home. If you would prefer joining your donation to others for a larger gift, place it in the basket by the tree.

View the Compassion International video below to see hope your donation carries out the advent call to hope, peace, joy, and love.

This week’s memory verse: So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Hebrews 9:28
  • 11/22 – Revelation 17:14
  • 11/23 – Revelation 19:16
  • 11/24 – 1 Timothy 1:17
  • 11/25 – John 3:16
  • 11/26 – Hebrews 1:1-4
  • 11/27 – Zechariah 14:9
  • 11/28 – Psalm 22:28

Pray the week: Lord Jesus, You are King of all and most particularly over me. Grant that I may see the glory of Your Kingship in all I encounter and that I may serve You in them. Amen!

King of what?

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him.

Here we are at the end of our weeks considering Jesus’ teachings on the end time, the last things. Today, Jesus gives us a vision of what that day of days will look like.

Throughout these weeks, the Apostles in their writings, John’s letter, Paul’s letters, kept reminding us of who we are in Christ. John told us we are God’s children – we represent Him. Paul told us that we have power as imitators of Jesus and that we will be caught up with Jesus in the clouds; that we are in the light – not in darkness. We are reassured that we belong to Jesus. Belonging to Him is more than a superficial statement, it is an all-encompassing change in who we are and how we approach daily life.

In this vision of the future, a view into that day of days, we come to grips with the accountability God will demand of us. Jesus points to judgment based on our obligation to live out the commandment of love, seeing in the other the image of God. Did all-encompassing change take hold of me? Did I make Jesus happen in my life and in the world or keep Him stored away? Was I that saint of God in the world – in the smallest ways? Have I used the oil of grace given me, or toss it aside? Did I grow the kingdom one meal, one drink, one coat, one welcome, one visit at a time?

I pray to God I can answer yes and be forgiven those times I missed the chances I had to minister to the Lord in the other. I know I have tripped and fallen along the way, I have missed chances, sometimes purposefully. Forgive me those sins!

As we celebrate this Solemnity of Christ the King, Lord call us back into conformity with Your Lordship and Your Rule. Forgive us of the opportunities we have missed. When we come to that next encounter with Your image in the other, give us the grace to see in the other’s poor, hungry, naked, thirsty, lonely, and apart eyes Your Royal presence. Recall to us Your Kingship.

Some Churches have renamed today’s Solemnity to Christ the King of the Universe. I ask you to consider how limiting that is! If Jesus’s kingship is limited in any way, He is not King. Rather, let us commit to the fact that Christ is King of every universe, every dimension, things seen and unseen, of my life, heart, soul, spirit, and mind, of my home and family, of the action of my hands, and of how I see every person, the other I encounter.

In these last days Lord, recall to us the all-encompassing change You have called us to be in the world. Lord, when You come in Your glory to rule over and above all, find us having accomplished all You have called us to do and more so.

This week’s memory verse: Granting an inheritance to those who love me, and filling their treasuries.

Proverbs 8:21
  • 11/15 – Psalm 119:162
  • 11/16 – 1 Corinthians 2:9
  • 11/17 – Matthew 6:19-20
  • 11/18 – Philippians 3:14
  • 11/19 – 1 Timothy 6:19
  • 11/20 – Malachi 3:16-17
  • 11/21 – Hebrews 4:14-16

Pray the week: Lord Jesus, You have provided me with great treasure and have called me to live the gospel, be Your presence in the world, and use Your gifts to grow Your kingdom. Grant me the grace to accomplish all You have called me to.

To…

His master said to him in reply, ‘You wicked, lazy servant!’

We have spent several weeks focusing on Jesus’ teaching on the last things, the end times. These teachings all point to what we are called to… to liveto beto use, and to grow.

We can see the pattern that developed over these weeks. The central message is about the ‘obligation to’ that comes from our baptism, our acceptance in faith of Jesus as Lord.

October 25th – we are called to live the great commandment – committed love of God and for each other.

November 1st – we are reminded of our call to be the saints of God in the world.

November 8th – we are told to use the oil, constantly provided by God, to build His kingdom and to be ready to enter eternity carrying the light we have provided to the world.

Today, Jesus reminds us of the treasure we have been given. Having faith is the receipt of treasure and the obligation to take that treasure and to grow it.

The talent given, in Jesus’ day, was worth about fifteen years of wages. It was a lot. Even the person who received only one talent received a massive treasure.

Being given treasure like that is a great thing. It is like finding big sacks of money. Rejoicing, we would perhaps throw the treasure in the air, roll around in it, but then – What’s next? The treasure of faith is a call to rejoice in what we have been given and an obligation to work investing it for growth.

The gospel shows us three people who received treasure. Two spend a second saying: ‘Wow, I have treasure!’ and then got to work with it. The other person gets treasure but doesn’t even rejoice in it. The treasure is an instant turn-off to them. Factually, this person doesn’t throw it in the air, or roll around in it, or rejoice at all. They don’t want to see it, so they bury it; get it out of sight.

The massive amount we are given calls us to live God’s treasure – attracting others to it, to be God’s treasure in the world, to use His treasure to call others by the light burning in us, and finally to grow His treasure by our work so we may return to Him with results.

The wicked and lazy find no joy in the gift, so they bury it. It is not because they are risk averse – like someone who prefers certificates of deposit in a bank to playing the stock market or starting a business – it is because they reject the gift completely. For us, how we rejoice in the gift, and whether we do all we are called to, quietly and slowly, or quick and dynamic, let us live the gospel, be Jesus to the world, and use His gifts to grow His kingdom returning to Him, on the last day, with what we have done.

This week’s memory verse: You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Psalm 23:5
  • 11/8 – Exodus 27:20
  • 11/9 – Psalm 45:7
  • 11/10 – James 5:14-15
  • 11/11 – Mark 6:13
  • 11/12 – Isaiah 61:3
  • 11/13 – Exodus 30:23-25
  • 11/14 – 1 John 2:27

Pray the week: Lord Jesus, You have anointed me and have filled my supply of oil. Grant that I may use what You have given me to bring people to You and grow Your kingdom. May I be found ready for You.

Oil, oil, and more oil.

“The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise.

For a few weeks we have been considering Jesus’ teaching on the last things, the end times, and our preparedness for that blessed day. Today’s gospel brings the reality of God’s expectation home to us.

Oil was a primary product in biblical times, somewhat like today, but much more widespread in its application. It was a food product, was necessary to cooking and baking, kept the lights kit, was a cosmetic, and was used to make soap. When important guests arrived, they were honored by being anointed with oil.

Throughout Scripture, the symbol of oil was used to represent God’s anointing in both power and healing for both animals and people, His generous provision for the faithful, and the readiness of His people. We see kings, priests, and prophets anointed with oil. Mary anointed Jesus’ feet with aromatic oil at the banquet in Lazarus’ house just prior to His suffering and death.

The question seemingly before us today – when the end comes, will I have enough oil? But that’s not the real question. If we thought of it that way, we’d be saving up oil, hiding it away. The real question before us: Am I using the supply I have been given to prepare for the kingdom and do I trust God to keep my supply full, or am I unwisely sitting on what God has given, wasting it?

As the faithful, we should never worry about our spare supply. Our supply comes from our lived faith. It is constantly refreshed and restored by the grace of God. With faith and dedication to God’s gospel way, our lamps will never run dry. Take the lesson of the lamps that never went dry.

Maccabees, and the Talmud commentary on it, says that after the forces of Antiochus IV had been driven from the Temple, the Maccabees discovered only enough pure oil to light the menorah for a single day, yet it burned for eight days. Elijah assured the Widow of Zarephath that her jug of oil would not run dry during a multi-year drought. These examples point to God continuing to fill His faithful, to His restoring our supply of oil. We can and must burn and burn our lamps, showing the light of Christ, doing His work, preparing for His arrival, and trusting that we will never run dry. For the faithful, there will be oil, oil, and more oil.

God expects us to trust in His provision for our work for the kingdom. Let us set to work, never worrying about running out, and confident in what we will have to show for our work when Jesus returns. The light we carry and show each day and the lamps we hold when the end comes, when Jesus, the Bridegroom, is at the doorstep, will be our testimony for entry into the kingdom.

We know that our old self was crucified with him, so that our sinful body might be done away with, that we might no longer be in slavery to sin.

As I’ve noted in my past few reflections, the end is near! Well, the beginning of the end. As Christians we are to be always prepared for the end times, for the last things, as well as for our own personal end at the time of our death. We will be called to account for how we have carried out our lives, how totally on-board with Jesus we were. 

Throughout November we will pray for those who have died and are awaiting entry into heaven, who are going through a time of purification. Are we absolutely certain of where they are? Did we know the state of their soul or how on-board with Jesus they were? Absolutely not! That is between each individual, their confessor, and God. Because we cannot know, it is proper and charity to offer prayers for them. This is not something invented, rather it is scriptural from the Second Book of Maccabees:

He also took up a collection, man by man, to the amount of two thousand drachmas of silver, and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering. In doing this he acted very well and honorably, taking account of the resurrection. For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.

2 Maccabees 12:43-45

Your prayers, and offering of the Holy Mass, for departed loved ones helps them get into the Lord’s presence, it helps to atone for their sin, and is thus a worthy thing to do.  It is, in fact, a Spiritual Works of Mercy we should all be doing each day.

Unfortunately, the world, and sometimes the Church, avoids the topic of sin and its consequences. Accountability is a rare focus. Factually however, people sin, and sin a lot. They go forward, not thinking of the consequences, or of the need for purification and perfection before entering heaven. We certainly trust in the salvation won us from the cross of Christ Jesus. We know that He has atoned for our sins, but we must also stay on point, living lives that are pure and holy. We cannot cheapen Jesus’ sacrifice by failing to live the way He requires while sitting in our sins.

There are some important lessons for us to take from this: Take seriously the call to holiness and the gospel path; Do not judge others – no one can know a person’s inner soul but God; and Let us hold ourselves accountable. The call to holiness and to walk in the way of the gospel is absolute for the baptized believer. Hebrews 12:14 tells us: Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. We must all answer for how we lived this out. Let us get as close as possible right now while we have the opportunity and help those who have preceded us to do so by our prayers.

Second Corinthians tells us:

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

2 Corinthians 5:10

Judgment is a dreadful prospect, isn’t it? Being called to account for how I have carried out my life, how totally on-board with Jesus I was worries me. That is why what we do today, throughout November communally, at Holy Masses offered for deceased loved ones, and by our personal prayer and sacrifice is so important.  That is why it is so very important that we remain realistic and ask others to be realistic about us. Don’t canonize me at my funeral and pray for me.

I know I am not worthy of heaven, that I, as St. Paul told the Church at Rome (Romans 3:23): “have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” My sins stand in the way and I pray that my sinful body be done away with, that I no longer remain in slavery to sin and I work to get better. I place my hope in what Paul says next (Romans 3:24): That I am justified freely by His grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus

I am accountable and I am in need of purification. That is why I must work now. That is why I beg my children and ask my friends to pray for me when I die, each day, each November, and to offer as many Holy Masses as possible.