May Advent hope lift you to peace!
Advent season is special for all Christians because, as the first reading expresses, we long to experience God. We need God’s help to turn away from sin and to be freed from things that weigh us down. In the Gospel, Jesus tells us to watch! He means that we have to keep God foremost in mind and be on our toes to recognize his presence and action around us. Advent is a time of hope and a time of preparation! I have been thinking about the event of the Annunciation and how Mary and all the Jewish people must have been hoping that God would deliver them from oppression and sadness due to the Roman occupation of their land. We are told that Mother Mary made the effort to be ready for God’s presence and action by reflecting on God’s Word and by prayer. Advent is a time when we are invited to follow Mary’s example and like her, we too will experience God’s love and strength more deeply in our lives.
As you know, Advent means “coming” which tells us that God is no doubt up to something! I know that this time of year we are usually up to something too! In fact, perhaps too many somethings! I can’t think of a time when we are busier than Advent. It is important for us to gather, connect and appreciate the joy of our families and friends. While we are doing that, Jesus reminds us to “watch” for something special that is from God. Some of our family of faith are perhaps closer to Mary this month because they are expecting the gift of a new life in their homes. For some of us, this is the most difficult time of year because we may feel alone or experience the pain of loss for loved ones. As we journey into this special season, we can watch for ways that we welcome Christ more deeply into our lives and also make Jesus known and loved like never before. May God bless you all! +++ Fr. Peter
May the peace of Christ reign within you!
This weekend we celebrate the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King, which concludes the liturgical year. For the past couple of weekends, the readings and Gospels have been directing us to reflect upon the ways that we have been using the gifts that God has given us and the account that we will give for how we’ve used them. The Gospel this weekend depicts Christ as the sovereign ruler and judge of all. The message is simple and clear: those who have listened to God, the shepherd/guide, are the ones who have worked in the world caring for others, while those who did not listen to him are those who decided to serve themselves.
Most of us who attend Mass on a regular basis hear and understand God’s call to service. The Word of God has living power and it invigorates the community, strengthening us in faith ready for action. The Word penetrates and divides soul and spirit, joints and marrow, it judges the reflections and thoughts of the heart. The Spirit of the Word guides our discernment in what is true and false what is good and bad, what should be done and what should be avoided. Our True Shepherd not only shows us the way, he also gives us strength and inspiration with heavenly food. Jesus comes to dwell within us through the Eucharist and we actually become his own hands, his eyes, his voice, his ears in the world and our actions show his presence. This is one of the ways we can understand part of the Angelus: “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Those who follow the shepherd find joy in doing the works of the shepherd. The noble heart that loves and serves God through faith-filled, humble service experiences a levity of spirit that simply cannot be described! It is a foretaste of what is to come! May Jesus, our Shepherd King, fill you with lasting joy! May we come to eternal joy with him! God bless you all! +++ Fr. Peter
Peace and grace to you!
The first scripture reading depicts a woman of virtue who is industrious in all her affairs. It seems like there is nothing she hasn’t thought of and that she has applied herself to become expert in every detail of running her household. Her family must feel blessed to have such wonderful care and wise counsel! It is obvious that she is thoughtful of others too because she makes it a point to provide something to share with those in need. This woman mindfully serves the Lord and models good stewardship and we see how God blesses her with abundance.
The Gospel parable praises the people who are most industrious at using their goods for gain, doubling what they have for a profit. The ones who doubled their wealth were praised while the one who, out of fear, took no risk and made no effort to gain was condemned.
As Christians, we don’t usually look at ourselves the way the parable invites us to. We don’t think of God as a stern master who expects a lot from us. The story effectively creates within us a sense of urgency and dread. We are supposed to want to be the praiseworthy, industrious stewards and avoid being like the lazy one that just made excuses for why he couldn’t make a profit. As we approach the Solemnity of Christ the King, we must consider the gifts and talents that we have received from God and how we have used them. It is also important to reflect upon the forces of fear and self-interest and the times that they have influenced us away from living more fully the way we really could. For his part, God doesn’t hold anything back from us; he gives his all even when we don’t deserve it. Like you, I want to respond to God more generously with what I have received for the good of all. The best way for that to happen is to give God his rightful place as the priority of my life. If I truly place God first and trust that whatever I have belongs to him, I am more free to be generous in love and service to God. There is joy and peace in that! One secret I do know, God cannot be outdone in generosity! If I give a little, God gives abundance in return!
God bless you always! +++ Fr. Peter