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Pastor's Letter 20201213 - 13 December 2020 My Spirit Finds Joy in Christ, my Savior

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December 12th, 2020

Third Sunday of Advent

“Gaudete Sunday” 

Today’s Theme: 

“My Spirit Finds Joy in God

My Savior”


John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness.

A Message from Father Michael

 Scripture Note

Our Sacred Liturgy for today deals with “joy”--but not a joy that can be obtained “overnight.”  It is joy that is found in service.  Christianity doesn’t have all the answers for all questions, but if you are yearning for real joy, happiness and peace of mind, you should prayerfully meditate on these readings.

To begin, we hear the post-exilic prophet, Isaiah, declare that he has been sent by God to user in the Age of Salvation for Jerusalem and all God’s people (Isaiah 61:1-11.)  (Jesus used this prophecy to announce the program of His own ministry.) 

Our Second Reading takes a very practical line, with Paul telling the Thessalonians how they should live as they await the Second Coming of Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:16-24.) 

The subject of our Gospel Passage is the same as last Sunday: the witness of John the Baptist to Jesus (John 1:6-28.)  John summons all to faith in Jesus.  He declares that he, himself, is not the light, and tells the people that unbeknownst to them, the light (Jesus) is already present among them.

Witnesses for the Light

The central role of John the Baptist was to be a “witness to speak for the light”—that is, Jesus.  And he proved to be courageous and effective.  He was a man of strong personality and principle.  Not one to seek a life of comfort, he lived not in a palace, but in the desert.  His lifestyle, as well as his personal integrity, lent credence to his words.  He was a living example of what he preached.  And, when his task was complete, he moved aside to make way for Jesus. 

Jesus still needs witnesses today.  Fortunately, there still are people who witness faithfully and no little personal cost.  Stories of people who have suffered persecution for their faith can readily be found.  Most of us have a memory of one or another historical figure who bravely stood for their beliefs and suffered unimaginable hardships because they refused to recant.   They are stories of people who bore witness “to the light” just as truly as John the Baptist.

Now, it’s our turn.  For many people in the world today, Christ has become a very dim and distant figure.  The words of today’s Gospel are literally true: “There stands one among you whom you do not know.”  Christ still needs witnesses—people who can effectively make Him present to other people.

However, we can’t be witnesses for the light if we are living in darkness.  A good life is a strong and effective witness, and in itself, is a proclamation of the Gospel.  When religious practice is divorced from life, a vital element is missing.  But when it leads to deeds, very effective witness is given.  No witness reaches our contemporaries as persuasively as the witness of those who do what Jesus commanded.

Without the witness of Christians, the face of Christ, already blurred by time, will continue to fade from our world.  He will continue to stand among us, unknown and unrecognized.  Hearts will remain broken and people will remain imprisoned in darkness, and the Good News will not be preached to the poor.

The task is not one for the individual Christian only, but for the Christian community as a whole.  It is easier to witness to Christ as a member of a supportive community.  So it behooves us, in these confusing times, to hold fast to them, even though conditions prevent us from gathering, as we would prefer, as a congregation. 

We can be beacons of our faith for all to see in the most mundane of human activities, even though our identities may be hidden by “masks.”  “Random acts of kindness;” “paying it forward;” and simple, common courtesy should and can be demonstrated by everyone, even during a pandemic.  These are but some of the ways in which we can embody the faith we all hold dear, and when/if asked, we can tell them where we “got the glow” of our beliefs.

The Meaning of Salvation

Our world is full of wonder, riches and beauty.  Nevertheless, it is also a broken world, full of poverty and wounded people.  It longs for, and needs salvation.  Many times, salvation is seen as purely a spiritual condition—as in the salvation of the soul from sin and eternal damnation. From childhood, we have been given images of heavenly cherubs, playing harps on lofty clouds, contrasted by red devils, toting pointed tridents among searing flames, when we think of the “afterlife.”  The desired heavenly existence was always preferable, although neither was remotely realistic, when intellectually scrutinized.  (We hold these images thanks to exposure to such famous Renaissance works as Dante’s Inferno, and Milton’s Paradise Lost.)   Moreover, it tended to be understood in a very individualistic and selfish way—“I save my own soul, and more or less, forget about the salvation of others.”  Also, it was seen too often as something that really only happened in the next world. 

Today, while we are more conscious of our common destiny, there is a tendency to go to the opposite extreme.  Salvation is seen in a purely secular sense—meaning freedom from want, suffering and oppression—from a purely worldly perspective.  These are economic and social issues, which occur even in developed nations, where still many vices and excesses exist. 

Biblically, salvation is a much deeper and a richer concept.  We are called to an existence much larger than the struggle for political or economic rights.  It’s the struggle against all the forces of death wherever they are manifested—a struggle for life in the fullest sense.  The Bible embraces the idea of salvation from the ills of body and soul.  The individual’s welfare cannot be conceived without consideration of others.  And, of course, it includes salvation from death, something not limited to this world.

We understand our salvation as being fulfilled in the death and resurrection of Jesus—“The Spirit of the Lord has been given to me…He sent me to bring good news to the poor, to bind up hearts that are broken; to proclaim liberty to captives, freedom for those in prison; to proclaim a year of favor from the Lord” (Luke 4:18-21.)   While He took care of His own needs, Jesus spent Himself in ministering to His brothers and sisters, especially the poorest and most wounded of His day.  He cared not just for their souls, but also for their bodies.  And He announced to them the Good News of the Kingdom of Heaven.  Salvation begins here, but its full blossoming is in the hereafter.

While we work for a better world for ourselves and others, we must not put all our hopes in this world, or in human efforts.  Our ultimate hope of complete salvation lies in Jesus, the One, Who was sent into the world by the Father.  Blessed are we if we do not lose faith in Him.    

May God Richly Bless You!

To view a live stream of this week's Holy Mass, Click Here: 

Canticle of Fellowship.docx

Canticle of Fellowship.mp3

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  • Moderator_02 changed the title to Pastor's Letter 20201213 - 13 December 2020 My Spirit Finds Joy in Christ, my Savior

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