We are still in the spirit of Christmas. As we celebrate The Holy Family; let us pause for a moment to look at the Holy Family and our own families and families around the world. Let us look at the joy of the family and the challenges of the family. Pope Francis said, “It is necessary to rediscover the plan drawn by God for the family, to reaffirm its greatness and irreplaceability in the service of life and society.”
The goodness and joy of the Holy Family are Mary and Joseph trusted in God and Baby Jesus was the joy of the family. The Gospel for the feast Holy Family for this year is from the Gospel of Matthew which tells us one of the challenges of that family. Mary and Joseph with Child Jesus in the manger, the angel appeared to Joseph and said, "Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you.” The Gospel says, the angel appeared to Joseph, I assume Mary and child Jesus might have been sleeping.
We may not have to do what they had to do, but if we look at the families around the world, we may see thousands of families may have to flee for their child, faith or political reason. Are we aware of them?
Let us come back to our life. Another story of the Holy Family is the story of the finding of Jesus in the Temple. The Holy Family had gone to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover; but on the way return, Mary and Joseph discovered that Jesus, who was only twelve years old, was not in the caravan. This Gospel passage was the reading for last year. Mary and Joseph searched for Jesus for three days, finally finding Him in the Temple amid the doctors of the law. When they found Jesus, the Gospel says, “they were astonished”; and Mary expressed her concern to Jesus, saying, “Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.”
As a parent how many of you experienced this feeling? Our days, even six or seven years old will say, “Mom/Dad, I know the way around.” When your teenager says, “Mom/Dad, I am old enough to know, don’t worry.” As a parent, you worry anyway, right? Can you think of a moment of astonishment? I am sure you can find lots of days you were in great anxiety. When a child says, “I know…” or teenager says, “I am old enough…” they don’t know exactly, but they are saying we are ready to explore/learn and grow. We have to look at it with astonishment, watch them grow. When Mary and Joseph found Jesus in the Temple, what Jesus asked them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” Jesus asked the question, but still followed the direction of his parents and went with them. As a child or teenager, are you ready to listen?
Family is a place to learn to listen. If we want to listen, we need time. Do we have enough family time? It is not in the car, but at home, around the table. A time to pray together, a time to eat together, a time to laugh together and so on. The Holy Family was not in a perfect setting, but the model of our families. Our families are perfect. Let us ask the Holy Family to bless our families.
I would like to express gratitude on behalf of St. Anthony of Padua Parish, to all those who donated towards our stain glass window projects. It is done and looks beautiful. Also, you might have noticed some new spotlights, so we can enjoy our beautiful stained glass windows. Thank you goes to Tom Miller's electrics for donating the lights and doing the work. He is still working on to make it brighter. Thank you.
"Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests." During Advent and Christmas season these words echo in our ears from the Scripture, Christmas songs and so on. Christmas…look at the lights in the neighborhood, decorations, music, people are so happy, there are groups going around and singing a carol. I love the season of Christmas. Do we have a moment to stop everything and experience the peace and joy of the Christmas, beautiful smell of fresh leaves of Christmas trees, wreaths, and so on? We are busy with Christmas shopping, baking cookies, writing cards, wrapping gifts and so on. As a priest I am worried, whether the church looks beautiful or not, how it is music coming along, working on my homilies and so on. We all need to find time to experience the joy and peace of the season.
Recently I listen to a Christmas son which starts with these lines:
“Christmas is all about you and God get-together forever
Christmas is all about you and God stay together forever.”
Two thousand years ago, God the Father was searching for parents to entrust His Son-Emmanuel, so he can stay with us and share the Good News with His people. Every Christmas reminds us of the Good News-the birth of Emmanuel-God is with us.
I might have shared with this life story of a father who had two children with special needs. They were twins and both of them died a month apart. When Dad started to talk about his two children, his eyes broaden wide and raise a big smile on his face.
He started to explain the story. He said God was looking down from heaven, holding two precious babies in his hands and was waiting in search of parents who will take care of these children with love and care. And God saw him and his wife and gave them those two children. They took care of those two children. They relocated their life for the care of those two children, one of them gave up the job to find time to spend time with the children.
Emmanuel- God is with us. He came to stay with us. Mary wants to share with us the Christmas story. She will tell us it was not easy to accept the call and to live that story. It was totally against the custom. Joseph wants to share his story. It was not easy for him either. But both of them listen to the angels, followed the guidance of the Lord. They both got together with the Lord and stay together.
What is our story? What we want to give each other at this Christmas. I think the most precious gift we can give is Time. Then the other gifts have more value and meaning. The husband gives time with his wife and vice versa. Parents time with children and children do the same. Find time to spend with God. The child is born, God’s newest deed, “Emmanuel”, God is with us!!
Mary was pregnant with Jesus and they had to go to the city of David, Bethlehem. Darkness came, and everyone was looking for a place to stay, Joseph and Mary were among them.
All the doors were locked, the inns were full…It was a busy day in Bethlehem, Everyone was busy…Mary and Joseph found a place and Emanuel was born in a manger…The shepherds and Kings came in adoration…The Angels sang “Glory to God in the highest…” The rest of the city was busy; the birth of the King was not noticed by many.
This Christmas let us find time to spend with Child Jesus. Let us make a resolution to find time every week to spend with him. Emmanuel-God is with us! I wish you all Merry Christmas!
Congratulations: Philip Wagner completed lay leader of prayer training and commissioned last weekend at Immaculate Conception. The lay leader of prayer is commissioned to lead the community in prayer in the absence of priest. Congratulations Phil and thank you for your commitment..
The third Sunday of Advent is Sunday of Joy. It’s called Gaudete Sunday because today’s Mass begins with the opening antiphon: “Rejoice in the Lord always.” The theme for this weekend is joy and encouragement. We light the Rose Candle and rose vestment, a sign of joy.
On Rejoice Sunday, sets a joyful expectation for the Lord’s birth and the second coming of the Lord. At the same time, he continues to come into every day of our lives. St. Teresa of Calcutta, when she noticed her sisters showing signs of sadness, would say "get out with the people." They saw Jesus in the people.
The prophet Isaiah, in the first reading, encourages the exiled Jews in Babylon to believe that God is going to save them and transform their lives. The ultimate salvation comes through the coming of Jesus. In the second reading, James the Apostle encourages the early Christians to be patient, “because the coming of the Lord is at hand.” Today’s Gospel reading, we see John the Baptist and Jesus sending the message to each other.
John the Baptist is the last and greatest of the prophets of the old covenant. He fulfilled the essential task of all the prophets – preparing the way for Messiah. John pointed others to Jesus the Messiah at the River Jordan when he cried; behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
When King Herod throws John into prison, he sent his disciples to Jesus. John told them to ask Jesus, "Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?" And Jesus answered them, "Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is he who takes no offense at me." Here, Jesus encourages John the Baptist to accept his healing and preaching ministry as the fulfillment of the messianic prophecy of Isaiah.
Jesus told John’s disciples, “Go and tell John what you hear and see.” Joy is here among the people because they can see, hear, talk, and walk. They are healed physically, emotionally and spiritually. They are rejoicing.
What really makes for lasting happiness? Happiness comes from relationships. Jesus decided to come and embrace humanity, because He wants to relate with us, bring us back to joy. Many of our seniors will tell you that they really love their husbands or wives and continued to do so after their spouse died. In our faith, we believe that our loved ones who have gone before us are with the Lord watching over us now and waiting for us to join them later on. That makes us happy.
The greatest relationship we can possibly have is the one that brings us the greatest joy. That is the relationship with Jesus Christ. Real happiness comes from the encounter with God. May the preparation before Christmas bring us authentic joy at Christmas!
Child Jesus will ask you and me the same question he asked John’s disciples, “What we hear and see?” Do we see lots of joy around us?
Happy Feast of Immaculate Conception!
The Pharisees brought the woman, caught red-handed, before Jesus for judgment, and Jesus said, "Let the person who is without sin cast the first stone." They fell silent, and then, all of a sudden, a stone came flying from the crowd. Jesus looked up, surprised and amused, and then said, "Hold it, mother? I was trying to make a point, here." This is a humorous slant to the Catholic belief that Mary was born Immaculate to lead an immaculate life.
December 8 is Feast of Immaculate Conception. Because the Sunday of Advent takes precedent over Immaculate Conception, Feast day is transferred to Monday, December 9th. At the same time, we celebrate at Immaculate Conception parish because it is parish feast, we are going to celebrate the feast of Immaculate Conception along with Second Sunday of Advent. It is because more parishioners can participate in the celebration.
I take this opportunity to wish everyone the Happy Feast of Immaculate Conception, especially to Parishioners of Immaculate Conception as we celebrate the patron Saint of our parish. I would like to thank everyone who worked so hard to make this celebration beautiful, especially the Christian Ladies and KC’s for preparing the breakfast. I would like congratulate also our Confirmation Candidates and first reconciliation candidates who are introduced at Immaculate Conception and St. Anthony.
Mary was chosen and brought her to this world without sin. In the book of Genesis, we read, "The man called his wife Eve because she became the mother of all the living." Mary, the new Eve, bought Jesus to this world to give us life. If we look at Jesus' life, he starts his public ministry at the wedding of Cana in the presence of his mother Mary. And Mary was present throughout his life. Mary was there at the foot of the Cross, at his death and then at the Resurrection. At the foot of Jesus gave Mary as our Mother, mother of humanity.
Bernadette Soubirous at the age of 14 encountered vision of a woman named Mary on hillside grotto. She was a poor young girl so no one believed her, but the vision continued. Finally, the local priest asked Bernadette to find out the name of the woman and she replied Immaculate Conception. Today Lourdes, France where Mary appeared is a great place of pilgrimage and thousands of miracles take place.
Immaculate Conception is not about the conception of Jesus in Mary’s womb; it is about the conception of Mary in the womb of Anna. It is beautiful that we get a chance to reflect on the conception of Mary and Jesus during Advent.
The readings for the second Sunday Advent tell us about homecoming. We see a beautiful poem in the first reading from the book of Isaiah. This poem describes the beauty of the coming of Jesus. It reads, “A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse…”He is the one who is going to bring the community integrity. He is going to bring peace and harmony. The Baby of Bethlehem comes to establish his reign over the universe, and most especially in our very hearts. Mary brings Jesus for us, He brings us to the true home.
In the Gospel we see John the Baptist is giving the instruction to how to prepare for Jesus. They listened to him and followed the instruction. They received the baptism of repentance and renewed their life, so Jesus can come home – mind and heart.