From the Pastor’s Desk
The Third Sunday of Advent
Dec 17, 2023
“I rejoice heartily in the Lord, in my God is the joy of my soul.”
Brothers and Sisters,
Throughout my life, I have experienced moments of being lost. It has happened to me while driving a car, walking on foot, and even while out on the water. One of the most memorable times was when I led my family aimlessly on Deep Creek Lake, much to their amusement. These days, I depend on GPS when I’m driving, but I still remember the feeling of being lost and how it can be overwhelming. When I find my way somewhere without any issues and accomplish a task simultaneously, like picking up groceries on the way home from running errands or completing pastoral visits, it brings me a sense of relief and happiness. However, I am aware that true and lasting joy can only come from God, and I find comfort in knowing that.
When it comes to relying on sources for guidance, we often turn to technology like mobile navigation apps such as Waze. However, it’s important to consider the credibility of the sources we choose to follow. In this regard, the biblical figure of John the Baptist serves as an interesting example. Despite being regarded as the least significant among prophets, John claimed to be a voice worth heeding. He consistently urged people to “Prepare the way for the Lord.” This message echoed the words of Elijah and the Prophet, who were considered significant because of their personal relationship with the Lord. It’s worth noting that Elijah and Moses appeared before Jesus during his transfiguration on the mountain, and they were expected to point out the coming of the Messiah.
In this reading from the prophet Isaiah, we can hear Jesus’ first sermon. He read these words and explained how they were written about him. This prophecy was given to us so that we can recognize him and know him when he comes. His grace transforms the world around us, and that’s why we should rejoice greatly—from the depths of our being. God satisfies us by offering the necessary healing and hope and provides us with freedom from our sins and, more importantly, freedom to love in his image.
Just as John was only a voice, we should reflect on the many voices in our lives. God has placed countless people in our lives to guide us. The Spirit speaks through many prophets even to this day. These authentic prophets all lead us to rejoice in the Lord always. Let’s be grateful to God for these many voices and ask Him to help us lead and guide others to authentic worship and praise of Him.
This year’s 4th Week of Advent presents a unique scenario with a condensed half-day, prompting questions about its implications for the 4th Sunday of Advent and Christmas. Instead of focusing on how many obligations can be met with one Mass, let’s focus on deeply connecting with Jesus at worship. To facilitate this, we’ve modified our regular Mass schedule to encourage wholehearted participation. For the 4th Sunday of Advent, we’ve arranged Masses on Saturday at 4:30 pm and 7 pm and Sunday morning Masses at 7:30 am and 9 am. In consideration of our ministers and musicians, we’ve decided to cancel the 11 am Mass, allowing them ample preparation time for Christmas Eve.
As we approach the joyous occasion of Christmas, let us remember the familiar schedule of our Christmas Eve and Day Masses from previous years. We will gather for 4 pm Masses in both the Church and the Parish Center Gym, with an online broadcast and an outdoor option. In addition, we will have 6 pm, 8 pm, 12 Midnight, and Christmas Day 9 am Masses to celebrate the gift of our Savior, Jesus. Let us come together in unity to commemorate this blessed occasion with gladness and gratitude!