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Pastor's Letter 2021120521 - 05 december 2021 - Taking Up Our Cross

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December 5th, 2021

Second Sunday of Advent

A Message from Father Michael


Today’s Theme:  “All Mankind Shall See the Salvation by Our God”

Reflections on Today’s Scripture

As a conclusion to a comforting oration, our First Reading (Baruch 5:1-9,)comes to us from the beginning of the second century B.C.  This discourse is one of exhortation and consolation to the people of Israel.  In poetic language, Baruch reminds them that the affliction of the exile had come upon them because they had provoked the eternal God, Who had made them; and because they had grieved Jerusalem, their mother.   The Everlasting One makes known to them that their sorrows have ended, and their children will be restored to Zion.  


Paul opens one of three Pauline letters in today’s Second Reading (Philippians 1:3-11.)  His central message is a call for unity, perseverance, and unwavering witness to the truth.  The Philippians have not only received the Good News but have played their part in preaching the Gospel.  He prays that their growth in union with Christ will bring them an increased personal knowledge of the Christian reality.  This is not to be seen as blind or “wooden” adherence to a set of morals, but a mature and responsible acceptance, and a keen awareness of righteousness, through Christ.  


Our Gospel outlines the role played in Jesus’ ministry by John the Baptist (Luke 3:1-6.)  Luke strives to synchronize John’s activities as a herald for the Messiah, while illustrating the political situation in Palestine, and thus setting the events in the framework of world history.  “The fifteenth year of Tiberius’ reign” places it at 27-28 A.D., (during the time Pontius Pilate was procurator: 26-36 A.D.)  John is presented as an itinerant preacher whose message was repentance, with a view to forgiveness of sins in anticipation of the Christian message.  John is the link between the Old and the New Covenants, but he, himself, belongs to the former.  This reminds us that Christianity is an historical religion, an affair of people who live in a real world of political structures and religious institutions, with roots in Israel; and one ` that can never, with impunity, ignore its heritage.  Once again, we are reminded that the message of Christ is a call of comforting assurance of the forgiveness of sins and a promise of eternal salvation.

God has not Forgotten His People

No one likes to be forgotten.  Yet most of us have had some experience of what that’s like, even if it was occasionally.  Perhaps we weren’t invited to some event, or our contribution to some work wasn’t recognized or our birthday was forgotten.  Here, I’m talking about just being omitted or “passed over.”  But even that can be very painful, for it means to be ignored, or be treated as if you were of no significance.  

There is another type of “forgetting.”  When people forget all about us, this is a far deeper and more painful thing.  We feel we don’t matter to them; that no one cares about us; as if we didn’t exist.  We feel not just forgotten, but abandoned!  It’s worse if we are victims of false promises: “I’ll be in touch; I’ll write; I’ll call again, soon;” or the like.  

Sometimes we may feel that way about God, too.  Something bad happens to us, so we think, “God has forgotten me.”  This leads to the feeling that God doesn’t care about us; that He doesn’t love us any longer.  

But we can take heart…. Even though we may forget God, He does not forget us.  Advent reminds us of the wonderful promises God made to us, and shows how they are fulfilled in Jesus.  The great sign we have that God loves us is the fact that He sent His Son to us.  John the Baptist was the one who announced the Good News of His coming. We must always remember…even if everyone else were to forget us, God will not.  

Since we are likely to be remembered by others, we have a duty to remember them, especially those who have been good to us, and who have sacrificed themselves for us.  Christmas is a great time for remembering people. One small way we can to it is by the time-honored tradition of sending a simple card with a few words from our hearts.  It’s lovely to be remembered, even if only in a small way.  It’s a sign that someone cares.  

Prepare the Way for the Lord

When we listen to the words of Today’s Gospel we hear Isaiah’s cry: Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight His paths.”  But we should quickly realize that it’s not the Lord’s paths that need to be straightened, but ours!

Perhaps we let misunderstandings run on from year to year, meaning to clear them up some day.  We keep quarrels alive because we cannot quite make up our minds to sacrifice our pride and end them.

Or, we might let our neighbor starve, until we hear that that he is dying of starvation; or we let our friend’s heart “ache” for a word of appreciation, which we mean to give them some day.

Other times, we may pass people by, sullenly, not speaking to them out of some belief they are a “bother,” or even “beneath us,” or because of some silly spite. At the same time, we know that we would be filled with shame and remorse if we heard that one of them had died, suddenly.

We should always remember that “our time is short,” and perhaps that would break the spell.  Perhaps then we might instantly go and do the thing that we may never have another chance to do.  Let me repeat, “It’s not the Lord’s paths that have to be straightened, but ours….”  If there is some crooked attitude, or some crooked way of behaving, or some crooked relationship that needs straightening, let’s do it!  Then we will truly be preparing a way for the Lord to come to us.  

How difficult are things for one who walks a crooked path.  But how easy are the things for one who walks a straight path—the path of truth, honesty and goodness.  But to walk a straight path, one needs strength, wisdom and single-mindedness.  God doesn’t abandon us when we stray from the straight path, however.  He keeps calling us back from our crooked ways.  That is the mantra for the Advent Season: “come back to the right direction in our lives.”  

Sometimes our lack of compassion for others is the result of our own insecurities and weakness.  There are those who say we shouldn’t display our weaknesses, but rather, bear our burdens in secret for fear of losing respect.  Such people don’t understand this simple perspective: Our Blessed Lord comes to us in our weakness.  Consider this: if we were perfect, we wouldn’t need His assistance….  But with an understanding of our own pain, it is possible for us to offer our own experiences as sources of healing to others.  Those who don’t disguise their struggles, but who live through them, give help to those around them.  

We must make a commitment to walk the “right path,” every day of our lives.  The temptations and distractions of the world are incessant and they are “loud!”  But if we ask the Holy Spirit, in prayerful meditation, to grant us the strength to unveil the blindness in our eyes, the weakness from our wills, and the hardness from our hearts, our lives will be flooded with the grace of the Lord’s coming.  

May God Richly Bless You!

"Preparation time is necessary for your growth.  Trust and believe everything you are going through is preparing you for eternity."

~~Germany Kent, Author~~

To view a live stream of today's Holy Mass, click here:  https://share.icloud.com/photos/0Dy-OctISHodcukmZcVWt92Uw

Recollection of Joy.docx


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