Christ Is Coming!

May the hope of Christ’s light fill your hearts and minds!

The readings and the Advent season focus on the coming of Christ into the world.  Our ancestors awaited a Messiah with great longing and hope.  They looked for the coming of a Messiah who would free them from the forces of oppression, corruption, fear, injustice, poverty, hunger and hardship.  For them, he would be a great, wise and just ruler who would establish peace.  Their hope was based upon promises of the past, the stresses of the present and an enduring faith that in the future God, seeing the longing of their hearts, would fulfill the promises that had been made.  We have the same hopes today!  But what did they do in the meantime?  They lived just like we do now –with a day-to-day routine but they watched for God’s activity and signs of his arrival!

Today, it seems like our lives are busy 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Constant activity with irregular hours can cause problems of fatigue, anxiety, depression, insomnia and stress.  Even those who have regular schedules frequently get over-extended with activities.  Where are such people going to find a space of peace and rest to be refreshed from weariness so they can seek and find God?

For many, Advent is the busiest time of the year.  There is always something to plan, cards to send, gifts to buy, parties to attend, visiting family, friends and neighbors.  For some, it is the most painful time of year due to loss of loved ones, broken relationships, empty promises, and disappointments.  Where do they find a remedy?

In Advent, the Church invites all of us to make a personal interior shift so that we can experience the coming of Christ and his peace that we all long for.  I know that the activities of the season are important, in fact, even lifesaving because we do experience Christ’s love through each other.  But it’s also easy to get off track and forget what is most important.  We need to feel freedom from shame, guilt, fear, doubt, sadness, loneliness and longing or any other burdens we may have.  Turning to God with our hearts is the key!  The parish Reconciliation Service provides deliverance from burdens!  Jesus comes to free us; not to judge or condemn us!  Try to set aside some personal time with Jesus, Mary and Joseph.  Invite them into your home with a prayer and candles.  Spend time with them in prayer each day and make them feel appreciated and honored as your guests.  If you take the time to truly watch, you will see that God is present and actively coming into your life!  God bless you all! +++ Fr. Peter

Christ Our King

May the peace of Christ reign in your hearts forever!

This weekend the Church celebrates the Solemnity, “Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.”

The first reading recalls King David as the most loved Israelite king.  David’s life and leadership can only be understood in the context of his relationship with God and God’s chosen people.  Divinely appointed and anointed by the Prophet Samuel, David manifested a zealous faith in God and was commissioned to be a shepherd to the people.  David had his faults but he had a great love and honor for God.  As the ruler of a kingdom, he regarded God as the highest authority and promoted God’s covenant among the people.  King David knew and trusted God’s power over all human enterprise and relied upon God for daily assistance, especially when he fell into sin through human weakness.  David knew God as almighty and merciful!

All kingdoms have royal families and members of the royal families are heirs of the wealth of the kingdom.  The canticle from Colossians sings a hymn of thanksgiving to God who is source of all that is and to Christ, eternally one with the Father and the redeemer of all.  The cause for this gratitude is that all the baptized, are part of his body the Church.  They belong to a royal, eternal kingdom of grace, living in friendship with God.  In this kingdom, everyone shares God’s gift of royalty and enjoys the assurance of God’s eternal love and mercy because Jesus reconciled everyone to God.  No earthly kingdom or government in history can compare to that.

The Gospel depicts Jesus on the cross accomplishing the work of our salvation.  This is truly a moment of divine love because he embraced this torture and death in our place.  Furthermore, he forgave the one who asked for mercy, those who didn’t understand, and those who killed him.  Jesus still offers this gift of divine love and mercy to those who call to him!  Such is our King of Love and Mercy!

God bless you always! +++ Fr. Peter

Live In Faith Not Fear!

May the peace of Christ preserve you from all fear!

In this weekend’s readings we hear about things that will happen before Christ returns in glory.  In the first reading the prophet warns that those who do evil will be like dry stubble and consumed by fire, while the just will have reason to rejoice in their deliverance.  St. Paul encourages the community at Thessalonica to focus on implementing Gospel values in their personal daily lives as a means to avoid becoming vexed about what others are doing.  In the Gospel, Jesus gives the disciples a glimpse of the future and what to expect: wars, insurrections, earthquakes, famines, disease and signs in the sky.  Jesus also tells them not to worry for he will be present to help and save those who persevere.

In just a brief perusal of the news headlines, one can easily identify all the elements enumerated by Jesus.  There have been over 7,441 earthquakes in the world so far in 2022.  The people of the areas where the largest earthquakes occurred (Afghanistan & New Guinea) are experiencing the ravages of the aftermath: struggles for clean water, medical supplies, rebuilding sewer, water, gas and electric supply lines and restoring stable communications.  Meanwhile war-torn areas in the Ukraine, and the Middle East are still trying to rise from the rubble of war and civil revolt.  ISIS, though once subdued by US and international efforts, is expected to rise again through the withdrawal of the US from Afghanistan. ISIS’ previous murderous rampages displaced millions and killed thousands resulting in over 40 million refugees in the world.  They continue to hunt down and terminate Christians in areas that they rule.  To us who live in the Western World, it doesn’t seem that there will ever be a just and stable government in those areas.  There are a host of other violent hot spots around the globe, not to mention the continuing concern over the Southern US border where the Cartels are making millions of dollars trafficking people and drugs and establishing inroads into multiple US cities.  The nuclear developments in North Korea and Iran continue.  Here in the United States, it looks like we are anything but united.  The predominant news we get is filled with personal attacks and vicious battling over party-line agendas.  The media is flooded with misinformation and slanted propaganda.  Christian parents are on edge with what is being promoted in schools dividing parents from their children. Too much drama.

There are those who would like to have us all believe that these are definite signs that Jesus is about to return but no one knows the day or the hour.  It would be easy to get caught up in that kind of fear if you didn’t have faith and a prayer life.  Fear can distort our outlook on the world, it can become like a prison that disables us from the freedom to act with love.  Fear can prevent us from focusing on what’s really important: a daily life filled with light, love and meaning.  As Christian believers, our focus and efforts are always the same: we strive to bring the Good News into the world.  Google “Medical Miracles” and be amazed at all the entries of miracles going on around us.  The blind see, the deaf hear, the dead rise to new life, the lame walk.  God is always present and working in our midst!  We just have to look!  If we focus on Jesus and trust him, we can avoid sinking into fear filled living.  In living each day in faith, we can be confident that we will be ready whenever he comes, because he is already here!

May God bless you with peace and good health! +++ Fr. Peter

Life After Death

May the light of Christ dwell within you!

The readings this weekend highlight the fact of life after death and the reward or punishment merited by our actions during our earthly sojourn.  The first reading from the book of Maccabees gives a stirring account of the seven brothers and their mother enduring torture and death rather than violate the laws of God.  They believed that by remaining faithful, they would be raised up in the resurrection of the just to receive a reward from God but their persecutors would be condemned.  In the second reading, St. Paul exhorts the Thessalonians to truly live the faith despite the challenges of non-believers and evil forces around them.  The solid grounds that he uses for his encouragement is the reality of the resurrection to eternal life that they all hope for.  In the Gospel, Jesus teaches his hearers something about what the resurrection will be like.  The Sadducees doubted a resurrection, but pose a supposition that things in the afterlife will be similar or the same as they are presently in this world but Jesus informs them that such is not the case.  He says that there is in fact a resurrection and that those who are worthy to rise to eternal life will be like angels.  We won’t have earthly bodies but spiritual bodies.

I think all of us try to imagine what heaven will be like.  I used to ask my parents about it frequently when I was young and they encouraged me to use my imagination.  It was fun to think about– it still is!  In fact, many of us need to remind ourselves that our efforts to live the Christian life will have a reward beyond our dreams.  A thought like that can give us the courage and strength to endure the day’s difficulties and save us from temptations.  As in every age, we are bombarded by worldly influences that draw us to focus on power, wealth, self-satisfaction, pleasures and material possessions.  The Maccabees family were severely pressured to recant their beliefs to gain worldly things but they chose heavenly rewards over anything their torturers could offer.  Their faith was such that they could not live with the burden of having denied their God and their conscience.  Let us pray that we may always encourage one another in our Catholic faith through word and example of life and death.

God bless you all! +++ Fr. Peter