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Pastor's Letter 20221204 - 04 December 2022 - Prepare the Way of the Lord

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December 4th, 2022

Second Sunday of Advent


A Message from Father Michael

Today’s Theme:  “Prepare the Way of the Lord”

Reflections on Today’s Scripture

(Isaiah 11:1-10)  For those who long for a world in which peace and harmony prevail, the daily work never ends.  Peace on earth will be the result of continual human effort and cooperation with divine ideas. 

Today’s text from Isaiah is one of the most familiar of Jewish Scripture, (and is often quoted by those whose interests are purely secular.)  Taken from his “Book of Emmanuel,” it represents Isaiah’s description of the ideal king—the long-awaited Messiah, who will establish a Kingdom of divine justice, among all peoples. This portends a world that would correspond, in kind, in an atmosphere of harmony, reminiscent, of Eden.


(Romans 15: 4-9)  If we live with patience, faith and mutual support, all our hopes and dreams can become tangible, enjoyable realities.  Those who learn the lessons of the past will be more able to produce a better future.

Paul told the Romans that their commitment to Christ would bring harmony to their everyday lives.  In doing so, they would become “strong” in their Christian faith, to the exclusion of “weak,” still clinging to the Mosaic law, with its traditions of the ancestors.  We must remember that during Advent, we are called to embrace, in mutual respect, patience and love, all those who still have not accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior—ministering to them in prayer, so they may one day come into the fold of believers.


(Matthew 24:37-44)  Remorse is one aspect of conversion; the other is positive growth and deepening commitment, manifested in deeds of love and justice.  Repentance is not purely an intellectual decision; returning to the Lord requires the totality of our energies.

For Matthew, John the Baptist represented the end of the first era that encompassed the age of Israel, from the patriarchs through the prophets.  Matthew’s call, like John’s, was a program of reform, and would remain a constant challenge to all would be worthy of the name, “Christian.”  Like Matthew, John’s baptism signified personal conversion, rather than simply ritual purification, and he acknowledged that it was merely preparatory to the coming of the Savior.  He believed that only the truthful heart, responsive to God’s grace, in sincere repentance, would be blessed with salvation.

God’s Promises

Our Advent Readings glitter with bright promises—of the wonderful things that would accompany the coming of the messiah—“…Mountains leveled; …valleys filled; …winding roads made straight; …deserts in bloom; …the poor seeing justice done; …the weak no longer exploited; …war banished from the face of the earth.”

Well, Christ has come—yet little seems to have changed!  So, one might well wonder about all the great Scriptural promises….  Famine and food shortages still can be seen in many populations around the world; poor people are still exploited; and world-wide peace remains just an “elusive dream….”

Generations of people, chronicled throughout Scripture and modern literature, have been led forward by promises.  Promises play a big part of our lives, too.  Parents who want a child to “be good” or do something specific, promise them some reward for their compliance.  Ideally, we hope that this enticement is sufficient, and the child is motivated to work or behave accordingly.  Most adults are reasonable, and also routinely are motivated to earn rewards for acceptable behavior.  Business managers incentivize their employees with bonuses and paid time-off, in addition to their usual salaries or commissions.  Married people promise lasting fidelity to one another, and build their lives on that assurance.

One of Scripture’s main themes can be understood to be the Faithfulness of God.  In spite of all the infidelities of His people, God will never forget the covenant (promise,) that He first made with Abraham.  Throughout Advent, we are reminded of the wonderful gift He made to us in the person of Our Blessed Lord, Jesus Christ, who opened Heaven’s doors to us.

But the wonderful assurances of the ancient prophets were not merely promises.  They were also judgments.  So Advent should be viewed as not simply about the past, but also the present.  It awakens us to the Savior’s presence among us now.  It reveals His true identity and the nature of His mission, which is to establish the Kingdom of God on earth.  We have a vital part to play in making His Kingdom a reality for others!  During Advent, we have another opportunity to commit ourselves to Jesus and His Kingdom….

Christ established His Kingdom, first of all, in Himself.  He is the “new Creation.”  In Him we see humanity restored to the true image of God.  Through His words and deeds, Christ inaugurated the Kingdom in our world.  Through His Church, He continues this work.  Christians must not “sit around and wait” for these promises to “fall from the sky.”  They should be understand as a blueprint of what humankind could achieve by the grace of God, given to us, so lavishly, in Christ.

The world is crying out for salvation.  Christians must spread the Good News, and not be afraid to speak out, fearlessly, and work diligently, against social inequity, proliferation of unjust wars, and the like.  Isaiah’s vision lives on in our midst as a task for today, and as a promise for tomorrow.


All through Advent, we make preparations for the coming of our Blessed Lord, Jesus, at Christmas.  We are “hopeful” because we cling to His promises.

Promises give people hope.  Hope gives people goals.  Goals motivate and energize people, encouraging them to struggle to attain some prize.

On the contrary, people without hope, goals and encouragement, tend to “stagnate.”  It’s been shown that even settled and satisfied people tend to fail to develop further, unless they have hope for some better future.  That’s the overarching reason socialism has failed everywhere it has been attempted, in large part because it rewards complacency, and lacks incentives for people to excel.

It is well to consider the true meaning of the word, “hope.”  Candidates for public office speak of it as an attitude of expectation; for “benefits to be realized in the future” from policies they promise if voted into office.  It’s not uncommon for people to put their hope in “flawed politicians,” so why not in God?

For the believer, hope is far more encompassing.  We hope” that our efforts in the “present” will make us worthy of life everlasting—the salvation of our immortal souls for all eternity.

Hope, then, is a vital part of life.  A substantial part of life is spent longing, and waiting in expectation of one thing, or another.  It is impossible for most of us to consider life without hope.  We draw our strength and our commitment to a great extent on the degree and quality of our hope.

It's important not to confuse hope with “optimism.”  Whereas optimism holds the promise of “better things” in the future, hopeful people, on the other hand, live in the present moment, replete with the consequences of all the choices human beings make.  We believe that our Creator has endowed us with free will, and our destiny depends on how we exercise it.

Isaiah’s hope-filled vision of the afterlife was embodied in eternal peace for all creatures.  He foresaw predators and prey living a “communal existence,” without any aggression or malice—quite foreign to their natures on earth.  After all, no one living would expect a wolf to lie down with a lamb under ordinary circumstances.  (You can view a number of video offerings on YouTube, of course, that suggest such predator-prey relationships are possible, but they’re hardly “natural.”)  Prey species owe their continued existence to constant vigilance for and successful avoidance of predators.  Isaiah’s picture of a time of universal peace paints a beautiful picture of existence, in eternity, wherein the strong would no longer prey on the weak.  (Very few of us realistically expect this to ever be the case during our lives on earth, however.)

If all things and all people were perfect, hope would not be needed….  Hope is required precisely because we live in an imperfect world.  For spiritual people, hope can be said to stem from promises made to us by God—and our faith in the life and teachings of Our Blessed Lord, Jesus—the only Son of God.  He is the foundation upon which our hope rests.  That hope is the anchor for our lives.

May God Richly Bless You!


We Gather Together.docx

To view a recording of today's Holy Mass, click here:  


Edited by Father Michael
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