4th Sunday of Advent I 20 December 2020
“Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.”
Brothers and Sisters,
The Lord is consistently communicating with his children. At times, his announcement comes through a divine messenger, like when the angel Gabriel visited Zechariah or the virgin Mary, greeting them both with extraordinary news. For most of us, God’s communications don’t come by way of an angel. Our Lord tends to employ more subtle methods, such as an inspiration that comes after reading scripture, hearing a comment provided by a loved one, or watching a sunset. Regardless of the delivery, God’s communications are always worth our hearing.
Yet, we are human, and at times, we can struggle to know what inspirations are the whims of our thoughts or actual guidance from God. In our confusion, we might even ask, “God, if you want me to listen, you’re going to have to be more clear.” Other times, we might successfully hear the Lord’s message but question the source. After all, even after having an angel appear to him, Zechariah still doubted. Thank goodness our creator knows our heart, and he has given us tools to communicate with him, those being prayer and trust. If we take the time to meet God in daily prayer and then trust that He will talk to us in a way that we’ll hear and understand, we will discover our right path. And as in any good judgment, it makes good sense to listen first before reacting.
Let’s look to Mary as our example. Close your eyes, imagine the angel Gabriel telling Mary, a teenager, that she was favored and would conceive a son, who would be great, and the Son of the Most High. Scripture tells us she was troubled and pondered the news, but still, she remained, listened, and then responded to God’s call to action. You or I might not receive the angel Gabriel. Yet, just like Mary, God is communicating and asking us the very same question; will we accept the power of the Holy Spirit upon us? Open your eyes, consider what God is offering and then ask yourself, how will you answer? During these last days of Advent, I encourage you to imitate the Blessed Mother and her faithful cooperation. No, we will not give birth to a little child, but by allowing the Holy Spirit to dwell in our hearts and souls, like Mary, we can bring Jesus into our homes, our neighborhoods, and our troubled world.
Mary’s spouse, Joseph, offers us another excellent example of listening and cooperating with God. In his letter Patris Corde, With a Father’s Heart, Pope Francis describes Joseph’s role by invoking a novel The Shadow of the Father by Jan Dobraczynski: Joseph was for Jesus, the “earthly shadow of the heavenly Father.” Determined, Joseph willingly accepted hardships and was committed to the care and protection of Mary and Jesus. As the Holy Father explains, “The spiritual path that Joseph traces for us is not one that explains but accepts.” We may not yet be able to articulate God’s reasoning for our lives, but we can accept the role of caring for and protecting Jesus with a firm resolve to bring Christ into our world, which is the best Christmas gift we can offer.
Speaking of Christmas, while our holiday celebrations may appear different and our wishes to be physically present with family and friends unmet, may our Christmas celebrations still be merry! It is with a grateful heart that I am with you to celebrate a second Christmas season. Please know that I will continue to hold your intentions in my prayers and wish you a joyful and peaceful season.
Some other notables:
- Please help us ensure we have a seat set aside for your next weekend at Mass. We request you reserve a seat for December 26-27 HERE.
- We are delighted to offer nine options for Christmas Mass. As we prepare for many visitors, it would be helpful to review our Christmas Mass Schedule and reserve your seat HERE.
- The Sacrament of Reconciliation is yet another way to prepare for Christmas. Come, the Father’s love awaits you with a desire to offer pardon and peace. Tuesday, December 22, 4-7 pm – Inside the Church and Outside in the Rear Parking lot. This will be the last opportunity for confession prior to Christmas.
- My sincere gratitude to all who are helping us prepare our hearts and minds for the celebration of Christmas. Thank you to the Ablaze Ministries that partnered with the parish to offer the two Friday Holy Hours, one dedicated for our Sisters in the Lord and the other for our Brothers in the Lord. Both were beautiful opportunities for sisters and brothers to grow in their willingness and desire to pray with one another, helping their relationship to become a source of God’s grace.
- Thank you to all who are preparing for beautiful worship this Christmas. To be able to offer nine Christmas Masses is a huge feat only possible through the talents and gifts of time offered by our many Mass ministers. Thank you to our AV ministers who have been hard at work learning a new system so that those joining remotely will appreciate an enhanced worship experience. Thank you to our Knights of Columbus who have been dedicated to ensuring your safety in the parking lot. Thank you to our Lectors, EMHC, Ministers of Hospitality, Sacristans, and our very talented musicians, it is through your gifts at Mass that many will know they belong to a community centered around Christ and have the opportunity to encounter His love at Mass. Thank you to the staff and Henderson Creative as they continue to work tirelessly and joyfully.
Thank you to Barb Smith and her team who have helped to transform, once again, our Church into a stunning place of beauty.
Prayer to St. Joseph from Pope Francis in Patris Corde.
Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer,
Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
To you God entrusted his only Son;
in you Mary placed her trust;
with you Christ became man.
Blessed Joseph, to us too,
show yourself a father
and guide us in the path of life.
Obtain for us grace, mercy, and courage,
and defend us from every evil. Amen.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help, pray for us.
St. Joseph, pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts, forever.
In the Lord,
Rev. Michael S. Triplett