Sunday, November 29, 2020

First Sunday of Advent


Jesus said to his disciples:  “Be watchful! Be alert!  You do not know when the time will come.  It is like a man traveling abroad.  He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his own work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch.  Watch, therefore; you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning.  May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.  What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’”   Mark 13:  33 - 37

Today we celebrate the first Sunday of Advent.  The old liturgical year has ended and we begin a new liturgical year, the Gospel reminds us that our time on earth is not permanent.  We are told three times that we must “Stay awake”! As members of the household of God, left in charge of the Church, each with our own task, we are called to take up our task and be ready.

It is so easy to miss the whole point of the Advent Season.  We watch and wait for the coming of the Messiah while at the same time we are bombarded by all the commercial messages we receive about shopping, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  During these short four weeks we are invited to journey to the manger.  We are invited to get in touch with our deepest yearnings.  Like Mary, we wait patiently, preparing for the birth of Christ.

We need to stay awake to what is truly important to us and prepare our hearts to be open to the coming of Christ.  This truly is my most favorite time of the year and I wish it were longer.  As we journey this Advent let us do so with great hope and trust.  Let us  create these spaces by clarifying what we are watching for during the Advent Season with the simple prayer: "Come, Lord Jesus, help me to grow in a greater awareness that you are my Savior. You have saved me from endlessly searching for the meaning of life. You have saved me from turning against myself by your forgiveness. You have saved me from endlessly searching for signs of your presence because you touch me through your Sacraments. You have saved me from thinking that the possessions or positions I have will save me and make me loved. Thank you for continuing to save me."

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Feast of Christ the King


Today we celebrate the end of the Liturgical Year with the Feast of Christ the King.  As a young child I remember singing the hymn, To Jesus Christ Our Sovereign King.

To Jesus Christ, our Sovereign King, Who is the world’s salvation, all praise and homage do we bring, and thanks and adoration.

Christ Jesus Victor, Christ Jesus Ruler! Christ Jesus, Lord and Redeemer!

Thy reign extend, O King benign, to every land and nation, for in Thy kingdom, Lord divine, alone we find salvation.

To Thee and to Thy Church, great King, We pledge our hearts’ oblation, until before Thy throne we sing, in endless jubilation.

This hymn somehow did not capture my image of a King at the time.  Now this day has a greater meaning for me.  In our reading today we hear the description of the final judgement when all will be separated as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  The judgement of the Son of Man will be based on our acts of mercy shown to the least among us.  Jesus teaches that when the Son of Man comes in glory, he will judge the nations, separating the sheep from the goats.

Last week’s parable of the talents taught us that the gifts that we have been given are intended to be used for the service of others, especially the least among us. Our judgment before God will be based not only on how we have used these gifts and talents, but also on how we have extended ourselves in service to these least ones. Indeed, Jesus tells us that whenever we have served these least ones, we have served Christ himself.

As we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King and prepare for Thanksgiving.  Let us take the opportunity to make conscious efforts to share with the least among us.  May we share generously and remember that when we serve others we are serving Jesus too.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Being Nice and Kind

When I saw the above sign on Facebook it spoke deeply to me.  Perhaps it is all that has happened in our country this week or the loss of Alex Trebek.  This simple sign speaks to me of a world I would love to see.  Tim McGraw's song, Always be Humble and Kind evokes the same sentiment for me.  It seems so simple yet it is nearly impossible for us to do.  Perhaps taking one small step each day will bring us closer to a world of peace, joy, and hope.

Hearing the news of Alex Trebek's death today brought a real sense of sadness for so many people.  Many expressed their gratitude for this life well lived. In several interviews Alex credits his popularity from the reality that he just kept trying.  When he first announced that he had stage 4 cancer there was tremendous shock yet he vowed to fight it and he valiantly did.  Ten days ago he filmed his last Jeopardy show which will air near the end of 2020.   I learned so much watching his show and will miss his poignant messages and his zeal for life.  May we take a moment to celebrate his wonderful life and remember to never stop learning.


Sunday, November 1, 2020

All Saints Day


Today the Church celebrates the Feast of All Saints and so we pray in our opening prayer:  God, our Father, source of all holiness, the work of your hands is manifest in your saints, the beauty of your truth is reflected in their faith.  May we who aspire to have part in their joy be filled with the Spirit that blessed their lives, so that having shared their faith on earth we may also know their peace in your kingdom.  Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen

Every year the Church recalls the example, witness, and prayer of the holy women and men who have been identified by the Church as Saints. These saints are more than just role models; they are family members with whom we continue to share relation, in a bond of prayer, called the Communion of Saints. Every year when we celebrate this day, the Gospel we proclaim recalls for us Jesus' teaching about happiness, the Beatitudes. We quickly note in this reading that none of those Jesus names as “blessed” or “happy” are expected . . . the poor in spirit, the meek, and the persecuted. Jesus' blueprint for happiness reflects little of what the world might call happiness.

What does Jesus mean when he uses the word “blessed?” This word is sometimes translated as “happy” or “fortunate” or “favored.” In other words, Jesus is saying that divine favor is upon those who are poor, who mourn, and who are persecuted. This might have been welcome and surprising news to the crowds who heard Jesus that day.

The Beatitudes can be understood as a framework for Christian living, an attitude of being.  Because of this, it is natural that we proclaim this Gospel on the Feast of All Saints. Saints are people who lived the spirit of the Beatitudes as Jesus lived. As we live this day let us remember that we too are challenged to model our lives on the spirit and promises of the Beatitudes.   May we always have an attitude of being!