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Pastor's Letter 20231203 - 03 December 2023 - First Sunday of Advent

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December 3rd, 2023

First Sunday of Advent


A Message from Father Michael

Today’s Theme:  “Staying Awake”

Reflections on Today’s Scripture

(Isaiah 63:16-64:8)  In this long poem, Isaiah recalls God’s past goodness to His people, who plead with Him to save them from their present sinfulness.  They asked themselves, when He comes, will He be Judge? Vindicator? Father? Redeemer? or, creative “Potter?”  When the burden of sin crushes the spirit, it is comfort, not scorn, that brings new hope.


(1 Corinthians 1:3-9)  Paul tells us that, as we await the coming of Christ in glory, the Holy Spirit keeps us steadfast in bearing witness to Him.  Waiting time is not “wasted” if each day is regarded as a gift of God’s patience, and is used to turn more fully to His goodness.


(Mark 13:33-37  We need to “stay awake” at our appointed tasks, because we do not know the hour when Jesus, our Master, will return.  Those who would prepare others to recognize the Lord must first become a clear and straightened “path” them to follow.  


Advent is a Time of Hope

It is said that while there is life, there is hope.  This has an even deeper meaning in reverse:  While there is hope, there is life…. 

Hope is strength, shedding light into despairing hearts.  It inspires the will to live.  It is the doctor’s most powerful ally.  It is a shield against defeat and failure.  It revives ideals and renews.  As long as there is hope, no situation is impossible.  

Advent summons us to wait, in joyful hope, for the coming of our Savior, our Blessed Lord, Jesus Christ.  In the final analysis, He is our hope….

The Servants

Today’s Gospel contains a short parable, about a householder who had a number of servants.  Before leaving on a trip, he gave each of them tasks to perform while he was away.  Urging them to be responsible, he said, “When I return, I expect to find you all awake.”  He singled out the doorkeeper for a special warning.  

Christ’s story ends there, with that warning ringing in our ears.  Taking it a bit further, concentrating on the doorkeeper, we learn the greatest responsibility is not so much that he may fall asleep on the job, as that he might become accustomed to it.

In the beginning, as it might happen to anyone, our doorkeeper was excited about his job.  He felt honored by the confidence placed in his skills and he liked the “uniform,” perhaps feeling like he was “somebody.”  He was conscientious to the point of being scrupulous.  At first, it became a “labor of love.”  

As time went by, however, opening and closing doors became very monotonous, and the novelty wore thin.  Slowly, but surely, the dust of “habit” accumulated on him and his “world.”  A deadly routine took over.  He was still responsible, still faithful at his post, but he was merely “going through the motions.”  His initial love and enthusiasm had evaporated.  His heart was no longer “in it.”  When his Master returns, he will undoubtedly find him at his post—awake, but not “alive.”  He will be “dead,” for he will have lost his “soul.”  

Habit gradually deadens us, and in the end, snuffs out all life.  We get sunk in ruts of tradition and conformity.  We forget how we once had dreams.  We sit in our armchairs, practicing idle and musty virtues, passing judgment on everything and everyone.  

What happens to us in ordinary life, happens in our Christian life, also.  We can get into a deadly routine, with the result that we are Christians by “habit only;” merely “going through the motions;” taking part in the rituals that have lost all meaning and freshness.  It all seems to “go in one ear and out the other.”  Even though the Liturgy changes, with different Biblical Readings, from year to year, the “face of Christ” can tend to blur, then vanish from our sight.

Advent presents us with a solution:  We need to be disturbed, now and again, with a “wake-up” call.  Advent provides an opportunity to “shake off the dust of habit” and let Christ come alive in our lives, once again.

The Lord is coming…He will come to each one of us at the moment of our death, and to the world, at large, at the end of time.  We don’t know the day, nor the hour of His coming.  But we know that any time is the wrong time for an unfaithful servant.  The faithful servant doesn’t fear the Lord’s coming—He welcomes it. 

Imagine how different our lives would be if we could really appreciate God’s love for us, more deeply!  We would experience the freedom to live in a way that draws us nearer to God.  Secure in our Father’s love, we could go to Him, confidently, to receive wisdom in our day-to-day situations.  Courage, hope and strength would be ours in times of struggle, as we experienced more deeply the safe haven of our Father’s protection.  We would love those around us with God’s love inside us.  Love would never be a “burden.”

So, let us live with hope, in readiness, by being truly alive, alert and responsible servants of the Lord and of one another.

May God Richly Bless You!


Recollection of Joy.docx

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Edited by Father Michael
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