22 November 2020 | Solemnity of the Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
I myself will pasture my sheep;
I myself will give them rest, says the Lord God.
The lost I will seek out,
the strayed I will bring back,
the injured I will bind up,
the sick I will heal…
Brothers and Sisters,
Behold, I have good news of great joy: the King is coming! As the liturgical year draws to a close this weekend, Advent comes upon us as a season to anticipate and prepare with hope for the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, King. During these often lonely and challenging times, we deeply hunger for the care and compassion that only our Lord can provide. The prophet Ezekiel reminds us of God’s compassion and care. He is always close by, faithfully accompanying us in our suffering and struggles. Jesus is HOPE restored.
What is the most critical piece on a chessboard? Often, you’ll hear people answer, “the queen.” The queen is powerful in a symbolic sense, combining the rook’s political power and the bishop’s ecclesial authority. The queen commands attention, and for this reason, when a player loses their queen, they are perceived as losing the game. However, the king is the most important piece on the board – more valued than any bishop, rook, knight, or pawn. Unable to move but one square at a time, the king is vulnerable to constant attacks, so he must be protected. The game’s tried-and-true strategies focus on attacking an opponent’s king while protecting your own. Unlike real life, in chess, a king isn’t protected behind fortified walls sending forth armies to fight his battles. Instead, the king must step out, one slow chess move at a time, and in doing so, he makes himself vulnerable. Yes, the king moves slower and with less force than we’d prefer, but he is also willing to lay down his life for the least among him, even the lowly pawn.
What a magnificent analogy this chess king provides us for the real King of the Universe, Jesus Christ, and his generous, self-giving love. Let’s take note, and when it feels like we are taking one slow move at a time, ask God for his grace to strengthen our trust with each move forward. And every time we pause and then step out from our comfort zone and go BEYOND to help another, especially those who hunger, suffer, or are imprisoned, remember we serve Jesus our King. And in doing so, we not only advance his kingdom, but our simple actions in faith shed glory upon God.
This weekend, we give thanks and offer prayers for our police officers and law enforcement, firefighters and medics, and all first responders who are on the front lines for our community’s health and safety. Thank you for the many sacrifices you and your families make on our behalf. May the Lord bless you and keep you safe!
Thank you to those who have supported our parish, from your presence and prayers to your gift of time and service. My deepest gratitude to those who have trusted the parish with financial contributions; your gifts have helped us advance the kingdom of God through real good works. This past Friday, the parish shared with you our Letter of Position from the Finance Committee and the Income Statements of the Parish and School for Fiscal year-end June 30, 2020, and a message of stewardship from our Parish Administrator, Lisa Sliker. I embrace your perspective and would welcome the chance to discuss your feedback in-person. Please feel free to call or email me at MTriplett@archbalt.org with your thoughts. Please also join me as we take a moment to celebrate all that we have accomplished with God’s grace this past year. I’m humbled as I consider all the ways the Lord has worked through the ministries and formed disciples here at OLPH. All give glory to God.
Some of the key considerations for this week.
▪ Next Sunday, December 1st marks the 1st Sunday of Advent and the beginning of a new liturgical year for the Church. As we enter Advent, we do not rush ahead to Christmas, yet need to begin to plan for such. As we do, we thank you for your responses to our Christmas Mass Schedule Survey. We realize this is our fourth time requesting your feedback regarding our Mass Schedule and that can be boring. Each time it has been very helpful to know what works for you, for it does not make sense to plan without input. So we thank you for your input.
“Sign up” for Mass for November 28-29, register here.
- This Thursday we will celebrate Thanksgiving Day Mass at 9 am in the church and through Livestream. Traditionally parishioners are invited to bring an item from their Thanksgiving dinner for a blessing. If you are able to join us in person, please come with your items for a blessing and If you join us via Livestream, we invite you to have these items present for the blessing too. In all places, we remain united in prayer and blessing as we give thanks and praise to our Lord.
- Thank you to all who contributed to our Families Helping Families Thanksgiving Program. Fr. Stephen from our sister parish St. Veronica, has already reached out in gratitude. Expecting less this year, the parish was pleasantly surprised that the number of boxes increased from last year. With a deep appreciation that the Families Helping Families program supported many partners, we know your generosity truly assisted to feed those who hunger. For this and so much more, we celebrate Thanksgiving with grateful hearts.
- In honor of St. Cecilia, patroness of musicians and choirs, we offer gratitude and prayers for our wonderful OLPH music ministry. Our musicians and singers have been creative, flexible, and deeply committed to feeding the parish through their gifts during this pandemic. While we’ve been limited (and unable to bring back our choir yet), the beauty of their music lifts our hearts and minds to the Lord, while giving him authentic praise! Thank you!
- Our school concluded their first trimester, which saw great creativity and diligence from parents, students, teachers, and staff. If you would like to explore ways in which your purchases may aid our school please consider: 1-Christmas and special occasion gift cards may be ordered through our Scrip Program, (a portion of your purchase is donated to the school); 2-when using Amazon Smile search for “Our Lady of Perpetual Help School” in Ellicott City, or 3-send a holiday gift of fruit to your distant friends and family (or to your own table.)
- Ablaze Family Ministries offers a wonderful weekly podcast for families, Enkindle: Family Scripture Reflections, on the Sunday Scriptures, particularly for families with elementary and middle school children. I encourage you to check out Kristen Fisher’s reflection on the Throne. Kristen is a longtime parishioner of OLPH and the Director of Ablaze Family Ministry. Who do we place on the Throne in our Hearts?
- With the recent devastation and tragic loss of life caused by Hurricanes Eta and Iota in Central America, I encourage prayers and support for those communities. For those looking to help, Catholic Relief Services provides wonderful assistance to the affected countries. Consider donating here.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help, pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts, forever.
In the Lord,
Rev. Michael S. Triplett