4th Sunday of Advent
December 19, 2021
“I am baptizing you with water,
but one mightier than I is coming.
I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
~ Luke 3:16
Brothers and Sisters,
After discovering an empty mailbox (again) at the beginning of the iconic Christmas special, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Charlie Brown laments with melancholy, “Rats no one sent me a Christmas card today.” Our natural reaction to these circumstances is sympathy because instinctively, we understand that people should be together at Christmas, enjoying connections with their family and friends.
Yet, the season’s expectations can bring about behaviors in conflict with a joyful Christmas Spirit. Like falling prey to the stress of a created “busyness” or the false mentality of being unwanted. Still, sometimes, even when we are physically in the presence of those we love, our brains are in cyberspace, with our smartphones capturing all our attention. No matter the rationale, we may disengage and not prioritize time with family and friends, and in the process, miss meaningful connections this holiday season.
The account of “The Visitation” in today’s Gospel centers on the importance of vital relationships. After saying “yes” to the Angel Gabriel, despite the dangers of long-distance travel for a woman, Mary seeks council from a critical connection in her life — her older and wiser cousin Elizabeth. In response to their greeting with Mary, the Holy Spirit fills Elizabeth with understanding, and the infant in her womb leaped, an unborn child, the first to acknowledge Jesus in the Gospel of Luke.
While disengagement might be tempting this time of year, especially for introverts like me, who tend to retreat when tired or overwhelmed, we need the presence and support of loved ones. It’s what God intended. Remember, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there in their midst.” (Matthew 18:20). If you feel down or tempted to retreat, I encourage you to reach out to family, friends, and our fellow parishioners. Let us be present with and for one another! Through our most sacred human relationships, we can feel the presence of Christ and know our God is invested in us. Our upcoming Blue Christmas Prayer Service allows us to acknowledge the expected joy of the holidays can be bittersweet when mourning the loss of a loved one, experiencing a setback, dealing with illness, or with one of life’s many other challenges. Would you please join us Monday, December 20 at 7 pm in the Church (or Livestream) as we pray with and for one another?
And let us also accept the offer of mercy and forgiveness the Lord gives us in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This week, the Sacrament will be available on Monday, December 20 from 4 to7 pm, on Tuesday, December 21, from 4 to7 pm, and on Wednesday, December 22 from 11 am to 12 Noon, and lastly in the back parking lot from 6 to 7 pm. Please note there will be no Confessions scheduled on Friday, Christmas Eve, or Wednesday, December 29. During the first week of Christmas, Reconciliations will be available on Friday, December 31, during Adoration on New Years’ Eve from 8:30 to 10 pm.
Finally, in this year of the Eucharist, we are hopeful to have a complete celebration of Christmas Masses. Starting with Christmas Eve at our Outdoor Mass at 2:30 pm and then Masses at 4 pm (Church and Parish Center Gym), at 6 pm (Church and Parish Center Gym), at 8 pm, and then at Midnight and 9 am on Christmas Day. The Feast of the Holy Family (December 26) will not have a Saturday Vigil Mass (due to being Christmas Day), but we’ll have our regular Sunday schedule with Masses at 7:30 am, 9 am, 11 am (in Church and outdoors), and 5 pm. May you all have a blessed conclusion to Advent and a Merry Christmas! Please know of our prayers for your safe arrival and return for those traveling this Christmas.
St. Joseph, pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts, forever.
Rev. Michael S. Triplett