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Pastor's Letter 20201220 - 20 December 2020 - The Never-Ending Pursuit of God's Will

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December 20th, 2020

Fourth Sunday of Advent Today’s

Theme:   “The Never-ending pursuit of God’s Will”  


"Be it done unto me according to your will."

A Message from Father †Michael

It’s not uncommon that when a mother is expecting a baby, the whole family is expecting with her.  There is joy in expecting a beautiful “happening” to come.   We also experience excitement in anticipation of a vacation trip, that will be an entirely new experience.  We inquire of friends who have been to the same place we are about to see, anxiously listening to their recollections of the destination(s) we hope to reach.  That way we can better prepare ourselves for the experience.   Expectations keep us young, because we look to the future instead of to the past. There are always new and exciting aspects in life, if only appreciate them with the gift of wonderment, which children possess in abundance, and grownups should never lose.... Christmas is such an “event to come”—a time when God reveals “the mystery kept secret for long ages.”  Christ wants to be present to us; to give us an image of Himself in Jesus Christ—an image we can perceive with our weak human senses.  Christmas is great every year, but only for those who are expecting “Emmanuel—God with us” in faith and wonderment.    

Scripture Note

Expectations in Scripture, with which our Liturgy today continues, are found when David was king of a united country, with Jerusalem as its capital (2 Samuel 7:5-16.)  His intentions of building a house for God, were preempted by God.  Instead, it was the Lord Who built a dynasty for David to last forever.   When Jerusalem was first destroyed in 587 BC, it seemed that the promise would not be fulfilled.  Nonetheless, faithful people remained hopeful that a Messiah would come from the house of David.  

Their expectations were finally fulfilled in the person of Jesus.  When we read in today’s Gospel that the angel Gabriel told Mary she would become the mother of the Redeemer (Luke 1:26-38,) those words echo God’s promise to David: Through Joseph, the Messiah would be of the line of David.  (Faithful Catholics have long repeated the angel’s words in the prayer, “Hail, Mary…” which comprises the bulk of the Rosary—a multi-decade setting of prayers for intercession of the Blessed Virgin, and contemplation of the mysteries of the life of Christ.  As a result, “rosary beads” have long been the hallmark of the public vision of Catholics, many of whom are buried with them entwined in their fingers.)  

Our Second Reading emphasizes the continuity those of Old Testament promises that have been fulfilled in the person and life of Jesus (Romans 16:2-27.)  They reinforce God’s plan of salvation for Jews and Gentiles, alike, both of which came to fruition in Jesus.

Our “Fiat” to God

Today, many seek fulfillment and happiness through “doing their own thing.”  We often hear people say, “It’s what I want that matters.”  They believe happiness lies in having no commitments, no one to whom they must answer—no one whose needs or problems will ever constrain them.  

Lucky for us, most people believe it is good and necessary to do those things about which we care deeply, and to which we feel “called.”  Nevertheless, human nature being what it is, we have to be en garde.  A great deal of selfishness can be found in having merely a self-serving approach.  Often, it means taking the easiest path, in the belief that true freedom and happiness lies within.   Unfortunately, many have found that that way is more likely to lead to slavery and unhappiness.  

Consider this important truth:  Freedom, happiness and fulfillment are more likely to be found in the acceptance of duty—fostering the attitude that, inevitably, they ensue from loving acceptance of one’s obligations.  The more difficult the task to which we devote ourselves out of love, the more it will exalt us.  We see this in Mary’s example, as portrayed by Luke.  She didn’t answer the angel’s commission with a response, like, “Sorry, but I have my own plans—I want to do my own thing.”   Instead, her “fiat”--her now familiar response was: “May it be done unto me according to your word.”  In her answer, she showed she was willing to accept God’s plan for her, without question.  

In so doing, Mary made a complete gift of herself to God, and accepted the task He gave her.  Even though she could not have fully understood her mission, nor its implications, she trusted God would give her all the help she needed.   In effect, she said, “I don’t know what all this could possibly mean, but I trust that good things will come from it.”  She trusted so deeply in God that she was open to all possibilities.  She gave up control over her future and let God define her life.  

Virtually none of us will be confronted with such a visionary directive in our lives.  But life often imposes many duties upon us—to ourselves, to others and to God.  One wonders where the world would be if everyone simply thought only of themselves, and insisted on doing "their own thing; seeking their own freedom, happiness and fulfillment, independent of others and of God.  Further, even with much prayerful meditation, most of us find that it’s almost impossible to discern what the will of God even means, most of the time.  Our Creator has left that to us, to use our free will to make the best choices we can, trusting in the guidance of the Holy Spirit, within each of us.

No matter what path of life anyone chooses, many of our discrete decisions are continually made, guided by a thread of decency woven into our personalities.  We find that “thread” residing in our individual consciences.  It has been spun by many sources of guidance we experience throughout life.  Our faith teaches that even uneducated, backwoods individuals, living among the lowliest conditions imaginable, have within them an innate, God-given sense of what constitutes acceptable behavior.  Our belief that all human beings are possessed of an immortal soul, made in the image of God, therein, is confirmed.  Those lucky few who accept any particular obligation, in the manner Mary did, may not find happiness and fulfillment in the eyes of the world by its performance, but they certainly will find them in the eyes of God— and “deep-down,” they know it.  

Oftentimes, we can’t understand the full meaning of what we do, because it is completely hidden from us.  In such cases, we may be required to proceed in spite of difficulty, especially if our task has disagreeable facets to it, or, if those for whom we perform it are ungrateful, or perhaps even spiteful.  (Thoughts come to mind of the brave caretakers of patients in Alzheimer’s facilities, or even those in private homes.  Routinely, they silently suffer extreme hardships, even insults and rage, from those who need their care the most.    Such is the lot of many who suffer from this incredibly heinous disorder…and those who minister to them.  In recent months, most of us have passively observed the diligent efforts made by nurses, first-responders and doctors working in hospitals, ICU wards and makeshift facilities, for those afflicted with the devastating effects of COVID-19.   Collectively, these truly are the "Persons of the Year," most deserving of our admiration and gratitude.)

Herein, then, we can take another lesson from the story of Mary.  She didn’t’ say “yes” only once.  She had to confirm her original fiat many times during her life.  As a matter of fact, had she not given her consent, the world would not have been given a Redeemer!

Each of us has said “yes,” when we have undertaken commitments and responsibilities.  In so doing, we took a “leap of faith,” for we also didn’t know the full implications of that to which we agreed.  Only gradually, sometimes over long periods of time, do their full consequences become apparent...or not.   So, we also have to reconfirm our “yes” not once, but many times.  When we do, our convictions should be buoyed by our faith in God.  

Just as children ask many questions when given a task, Mary also did so.  Faith is not blind—maybe beyond reason, at times—but not against it.  But having asked questions, the answers to which might never fully satisfy us, we have to relinquish control, trusting in the Spirit within us, that we have made the right decision.  My brother, Donald, once sent me a quote that fits quite well when we accept what God has in store for us.  It goes like this: “God will never lead me to a place where His Grace will not protect me.”  What a profound way for us all to discern God’s plan for us!  When we are given duties, or maladies, or some other challenge of our life’s lot, we should accept them in the same spirit as Mary did.  Maybe we will not find happiness or fulfillment the way we thought we might.  Nonetheless, we will experience the greatest grace in life is when whatever we have to do, becomes what we want to do!  

May God Richly Bless You!

“Will what God wills and no one will ever take your joy from you.” ~~Ven. Fulton J Sheen~~  

To View a live stream of today's Holy Mass, click here:   https://youtu.be/cpzjbaaatNU


Advent Song.mp3

Advent Song.docx

Edited by Father Michael
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