This week’s memory verse: Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.

Philippians 4:4
  • 12/15 – Luke 10:20
  • 12/16 – Psalm 113:1-9
  • 12/17 – Romans 5:3
  • 12/18 – Acts 16:33-34
  • 12/19 – Isaiah 61:10
  • 12/20 – Zephaniah 3:14-17
  • 12/21 – Romans 15:13

Pray the week: Lord Jesus, You gave us cause for rejoicing. Grant that we may be found awake, faithful, and indeed rejoicing at Your return.

In
advance.

“Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

Two weeks ago, we reflected on God’s wake-up calls delivered through the prophets. Delivered to us too so we might be found awake and ready.

Last week, we focused on God’s proclamation of a truth, through His angels, that most would consider hard to believe. For God does things in vastly different ways. We come to realize, by faith, that God’s proclamation is God’s reality that He provided in advance so that we might have a chance to live up to His vastly different way. 

Today we consider the rejoicing in store for us, right this very moment, and to come upon Jesus’ return.

Each of these themes, wake-up calls, proclamation, and rejoicing are things given to humanity in advance of Jesus’ coming. We are reminded of them now because Advent is that time in advance of His returning. He is returning in power and might to take up those who are awake, to fulfill all His proclamation, and to gather us in rejoicing.

Isaiah tells us that the very earth, all of nature will exult, rejoice, and bloom. In his time of anticipated rejoicing, Isaiah reminded Israel to strengthen itself, to build itself up, to cast out all fear. Nothing should be upon us that would hold us down. So today, let nothing stop us from rejoicing. Let us prepare ourselves to enter singing, crowned with joy, and meeting together with gladness.

St. James clues us in: Behold, the Judge is standing before the gates. Do we think anyone will win who is just standing by asleep, unhappy, thinking it will never happen for them? Is just going through the motions enough? No! It is for those who are making it real, living up anticipating, and glad right here, right now, in this place, in this City, in this family.

Listen carefully again to Jesus’ very word: “Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” He has given us the best reason for rejoicing in advance of His return. He has told us, in advance, we are greater than John the Baptist. We are powerhouses of faith, strong to withstand because in advance we are awake, living up, and rejoicing.

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.

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.