Jan 8: classes K-11
12: mass ministries by 5th & 8th
15: classes K-5/No evening classes
22: classes K-9 & sophomores
29: classes K-9 & juniors
Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.
~ Oprah Winfrey
Blessed 4th Sunday of Advent!
Each Advent season, we prepare to welcome Jesus into the inns and stables of our hearts. But Jesus’ coming wasn’t welcomed by everyone with choirs of angels. For St. Joseph, the first coming of Jesus was a bit more complicated. “When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.” For Joseph, opening his heart (and home) to Jesus meant, at best, appearing to all the world like a man who had impregnated his wife out of wedlock. At worst, he appeared a cuckold, raising the child of another man. God doesn’t always appear the way we expect.
For some of us, the birth of Christ is a bit relationally complicated. Perhaps over the past few months, a loved one has died. This Christmas, you’re taking it upon yourself to keep up the traditions and hold the family together. Welcoming Jesus means welcoming grief. Perhaps it’s a difficult relative (or two or three) and it’s all you can do to bite your tongue and swallow your pride while they’re under your roof. Welcoming Jesus means welcoming strife, discord, and tension.
Yet “do not be afraid,” the angel says. Do not be afraid. Why? Because we celebrate the birth of “Emmanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” Before Jesus’ earthly ministry would begin, Jesus would lose his father, Joseph. God is with us in our grief. Wherever Jesus went, he stirred up controversy and faced down challenging personalities. God is with us in our stress. The trick is, like Joseph, to allow supernatural grace to prevail. Joseph was a good man, filled with natural virtue in that he didn’t want to “expose [Mary] to shame.” Yet he was prepared to “divorce her quietly” all the same. Our natural abilities only take us so far. Where is receiving Jesus complicated this Christmas season? Are you relying on your own strength to get you through, or are you truly ready to accept the grace of Emmanuel, God with us.
Blessed 3rd Sunday of Advent to you all!
Who did you come to see? A version of this question is posed by Jesus many times in the Gospels. He asks it of Andrew and John when they begin to follow him. He asks it of Mary Magdalene in the garden of the resurrection. He asks it in today’s Gospel. “What did you go out to the desert to see?” There is something innately human about “seeing.” Animals have eyes — some with much more powerful vision than our own — but that’s not the kind of seeing Jesus is talking about. We could phrase the question several other ways. “What are you looking for?” “What are you longing for?” “Whom do you seek?”
It is in seeing for ourselves that our suspicions or hypotheses are confirmed, that our desires discover their fulfillment, and that we can rest for a moment in certainty. John the Baptist sought certainty of Jesus’ identity. “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” Jesus sends word to him based on the testimony of sight, observations of the mighty deeds Jesus has begun to work. “Go and tell John what you hear and see.”
God recognizes our desire to see. In the Incarnation, the Word is made flesh. The invisible is made visible. The supernatural is made manifest in an infant who can do little more than the most natural of movements as he feeds, cries, sleeps. We don’t need to wait for Christmas to see God. The work of God is all around us. Those blinded by sin “regain their sight.” People overcome backgrounds of poverty and violence to make world-changing contributions. Addicts grow and heal. Truth is spoken, and people listen. Let’s pray for the grace to see God’s movement in our lives this week. How have you seen the work of God?
Dec 11=3rd-5th reconciliation
6th-11th & parish reconciliation; 7pm; SA
2nd graders’ reconciliation workshop and sacrament; SA; 6pm & 7 pm
Dec 18=No Rel Ed Classes (changed from the original calendar)
Light the Advent candle two. Think of humble shepherds who filled with wonder at the sight of the Child on Christmas night.
Blessed 2nd Sunday of Advent to you all!
What does it mean to be worthy? There are a few different ways to approach this question. Today’s Gospel highlights two: the way of the Pharisees and the way of John the Baptist. Our faith values good works and discipleship. Perhaps, then, we “earn” our worth by adhering to the right doctrines and following the right pious practice. The Pharisees thought they were worthy. Due to their religious pedigree and proper procedures, they were self-satisfied. John the Baptist’s words to them are strong. “Do not resume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’” Of course, Jesus (and John) don’t omit the responsibility for moral behavior. John gives the Pharisees quite a strong warning in that regard. “Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance … every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”
It’s a question of attitude. Of disposition. It’s a matter of the heart. If anyone would be worthy in this scenario, it’s John the Baptist. Jesus himself will name him the greatest of prophets and a great man. John, however, recognizes his own lowly place in the grand scheme of things. “The one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals.” The Pharisees take pride in being “better” than others. John embraces humility in Christ being “better” than him. We don’t self-generate our own worthiness. We receive it as a gift from God.
In a few short weeks, we’ll celebrate the birth of Christ. Bishop Ven. Fulton Sheen wrote about the Nativity in his “Life of Christ”: “Because [Jesus] was born in a cave, all who wish to see Him must stoop. To stoop is the mark of humility. The proud refuse to stoop and, therefore, they miss divinity.” God invites us to prepare our hearts this Advent. When you consider your own life, where are you looking for your worth? This Christmas, are you prepared to stoop?