Homily-0116

January 16: “God always gives us more than we need!”

January 16, 2022                   Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Introduction

If you enjoy a good glass of wine or two, you can really appreciate today’s gospel.

  • Jesus takes the simple element of water and changes it into the exhilarating taste of good wine.
  • Water is necessary for life, but wine brings joy.

Wedding Feast

Picture that you are at the wedding feast.

  • Imagine what must have been going on in the mind of the wine steward.
  • As the wedding feast begins after the exchange of vows, food and wine are served.
  •  Initially, there seems to be lots of wine and the guests are enjoying themselves and having a good time.
  •  Then as the day turns into evening, you notice that the wind is running short and before long it is gone.
  • This could prove to be a disaster for the wedding and great embarrassment for the family of the bride.
  • Then a young rabbi from a neighboring village of Nazareth tells you to fill up six large stone water jars.
  • They are not for wine, but for ritual purification.
  • This is no small task since the jars hold around 30 gallons of water each and you have to go back-and-forth to the well with buckets of water to fill them up.
  • This takes a while but you complete your task.
  •  The teacher then tells you to do something strange.
  • He tells you to draw some of the water out and bring it to the steward in charge for tasting before it is served to the guests.
  • You know it’s water because you put it in there yourself.
  • Imagine how bewildered you would be by such a command.
  • However, you do it.
  • As you walk across the courtyard toward the head waiter you turn around and noticed Mary and Jesus standing by the stone water jars. 
  • They motion for you to keep going.
  • You hand the cup of water over to the head waiter expecting to be scolded.
  •  What a surprise! He tells you, “how clever, you chose to serve the best wine last. Usually people serve the best first and then once people have had enough they serve the cheaper wine. I commend you!”
  • This is an astounding miracle! Jesus with his divine power effortlessly changes gallons of water into gallons of wine.
  • To appreciate the extent of the miracle, realize that each of those jars contain 30 gallons.
  • There are six of them.
  • If you do the math, you will realize that water into wine produces over 150 gallons of wine. Imagine that!

That miracle of Jesus showed forth his glory so that his disciples made believe in him.

Story of elderly man

Sign of God’s power

This is Jesus’ first miracle or as Saint John calls it a sign.

  • It is a sign of the coming of God‘s kingdom and the revelation of God‘s power.
  • God created all things and can do all things.
  •  Frequently God displays his power and care in the most unexpected ways.
  • If Jesus can turn water into wine, there is very little that he cannot do.
  • God cares for each of us in a most spectacular and personal way.

It reminds me of a story goes something like this:

Elderly man

Once there was an elderly gentleman who volunteered to build some crates to hold clothes that his Baptist Church was sending to an orphanage in China.

  • When he finished building the crates, he helped pack them full of clothes and load them onto the truck. 
  • On his way home he reached for his glasses which he believed were in his pocket.
  • Somehow the glasses had fallen out of his pocket and end up in one of the crates on the way to China.
  • The old man had very little money and was unable to replace his new glasses.

The little guy was upset and thought to himself, “here I am trying to do something good to help others and now I have no glasses. It doesn’t seem fair.”

Director of orphanage 

Several months later the Director of the Chinese orphanage came to speak at the little church.

  • He began by thanking people for the shipment of clothing.
  • However, he said, “I want to thank you for the glasses that you sent me. I was desperate and had no money and there was no way I could purchase my glasses that were destroyed by the communists”
  • “How surprised I was when I open the crate and found a pair of glasses. The amazing thing is that when I tried them on, it seemed as though they had been custom made for me. I want to thank you from the very bottom of my heart”.
  • People were a little confused because they knew there were no eyeglasses put in those crates.
  • However, the little guy in the back of the room sat there with tears streaming down his face.
  •  At that moment he realized that God in his goodness and power had worked a miracle.

Conclusion—Do whatever He tells you

God, who has the power to create the universe and turn water into wine provided sight for a man thousands of miles away.

  • God cares for each of us in a real and personal way.
  • The gospel ends with some excellent advice from the Blessed Virgin Mary.
  • She tells the chief steward who is in charge of the wine, “do whatever he tells you.”
  • Actually, these are the last recorded words of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Scriptures.
  •  Mary tells us the same thing: “Do whatever Jesus tells you.”
  • In the gospel the steward in charge of the wine surrenders to Jesus.
  • As long as he was in control there was no wine only water. 
  • He could never have provided enough wine for the guests by his own efforts.
  • Once he does what Jesus tells him, God‘s power is manifest.
  • The Blessed Mother tells us that we too, must relinquish control and do what Jesus tells us.

We were made for abundance of life.

Gospel Challenge 

Here is the gospel challenge for this week. Set aside 10 or 15 minutes.

  • Ask Jesus to come into your hearts as you spend this time with him.
  • Find a quiet place and remove the distractions.
  • Once you are aware of Jesus’ presence, ask him, “what is it that you want for me?”

 Listen! Then, do whatever he tells you.

The Chosen

In the series entitled. “The Chosen,” about the life of Christ, at the end of the episode which portrays the wedding feast of Cana, one of the characters observes, “God always gives us more than we need!”

  • God is there for us.
  • He is a God of abundance.
  • His miracles are the signs of his presence and care.
  • So, don’t be afraid and do whatever he tells you!
Baptism

January 9: • Even if we can’t see the whole plan and understand it, we know that everything will work out because of the power of God.

January 9, 2022                                             Baptism of the Lord

Introduction

I thought I would show you a picture of the traditional place of the baptism of Jesus administered by John the Baptist.

  • It is located west of Jerusalem in the Judean Desert not too far from the city of Jericho.
  • It is not located in Israel but in Jordan.
  • Most of the area resembles the Red Desert in southern Wyoming.
  • However, as you can see there is greenery around the Jordan River.
  • Actually, it’s not very wide and rather muddy.
  • My first reaction was I would not want to go down into those waters.

Imagine the Baptism of Jesus

It is easy to imagine John the Baptist standing there in the Jordan River.

  • He is rather primitive and unkempt, clothed in camel skin wearing a leather belt around his waist.
  • He has a rather wild look with fire in his eyes.
  • He is shouting out, time and again, “repent the Day of the Lord is at hand.”
  • Numerous people are lined up preparing to enter into the water for baptism.
  •  Among those standing in the line is Jesus.
  •  Perhaps initially John does not recognize him until he comes forward.
  • Although Saint Luke doesn’t go into a lot of detail, several of the other Gospel writers give us a glimpse into what may have happened.
  • John and Jesus are cousins. Perhaps he has not seen Jesus for a while.
  • However, once he recognizes Jesus, John tells him, it is not I that should baptize you, but you should be baptizing me. “I am not worthy even to untie your sandal strap.”
  • There is no arguing. Jesus says it must be this way for now.
  • With those words John baptizes him.
  • As Jesus emerges from the Muddy Waters, we find that wonderful declaration of the Trinity.
  • The Holy Spirit descends in the form of a Dove and God‘s voice is heard like thunder above the waters, “this is my beloved Son listen to him.”

Christian Baptism

Why would Jesus undergo a baptism? John preached a baptism of repentance for sin.

  • Obviously as God, Jesus is sinless. So, why would he come forward to be baptized?
  • The answer is simple: Jesus is baptized in order to sanctify the waters of baptism and to sanctify the sacrament of baptism itself.
  •  Later, in the gospel of Saint Matthew Jesus will commission his disciples,” go baptize all nations, in the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit.”

Anointed by the Spirit

We have entered those waters of baptism and been anointed by the Holy Spirit.

  • When Jesus came out of the waters of the Jordan River he was anointed by the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove.
  • When we came out of those waters of baptism we were anointed with the oil of chrism, the symbol of the Holy Spirit.

New life

Saint Paul in his letter to the Romans put it this way, “are you not aware that we who have been baptized into Christ have been baptized into his death so that we might rise with him to new life.”

  • In our baptism we died to sin and self so that we might rise to new life.
  • In our baptism we have become a new creation.
  • That old life of sin especially original sin is washed away in baptismal waters.
  • Remember those waters have been made holy by the presence of the Holy Spirit and of Jesus by his baptism at the Jordan River.

Family of God

Not only have we become a new creation, but we have joined God’s family.

  • At Jesus’ baptism the Father said “you are my beloved son.”
  • In our baptism we become beloved sons and daughters of God our Father.
  • In baptism we join a new family.
  • God is our Father and we are brothers and sisters in Christ.
  • This is a new bond of relationship that we begin in baptism.

Application

By our baptism we are called to make a difference in the world.

  • Because of our baptism we share in the mission of Jesus.
  •  Jesus came to proclaim the good news of God‘s kingdom. 

Kingdom of God 

God’s kingdom is God’s vision for the human family.

  • In other words, God has a plan for the human race and it is built not on power, wealth or popularity.
  • To the contrary, that kingdom is built upon love, forgiveness and justice.
  • We have been chosen by God to be the ones to bear that good news of his kingdom.
  • Yes, it is possible that the world can be different. It can be different because of us.
  • By our prayers and our actions, we witness to the presence of that kingdom and witness to the truth.
  • Truth is at the heart of God‘s kingdom. Remember Jesus said,” I am the way and the truth and the life.”

Esther

In the Old Testament book of Esther, a man named Mordecai challenges her to step out, take a risk and save her people.

  • This is what he told her, “and who knows whether you have not come into the world for such a time as this?”
  • Think of it this way: God chose for us to be born in this time and in this place.
  •  It’s in this time and place that he invites us to work to build his kingdom in the world. 
  •  

Listening to Jesus 

Essentially, that means we need to spend time with Jesus and listen to his voice.

  • We need to listen to what he is telling us that we might be strong and faithful witnesses to the kingdom of God
  • It is not easy to be a Christian. God never called us to a life of comfort but to a life of greatness.
  • We just trust that God knows what he is doing and that he is in control.
  • Even if we can’t see the whole plan and understand it, we know that everything will work out because of the power of God.

Conclusion

Today when you leave the church and dip your hand in the holy water which is essentially baptismal water and make that sign of the cross remember your baptism and the greatness to which God is calling you.

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January 2: Journey Towards the Light

January 2, 2022                                                            EPIPHANY

Introduction

It would be very difficult to live in darkness.

  • One of the things that you notice this time of year is that the nights are long and the days are short.
  • Finally, with the winter solstice, days are now gradually getting longer.
  • Do you remember summertime when sunrise is at 5:15 AM and Sunset at 9 PM?
  • There is something in creation that longs for light.
  • Light means life. 
  • Have you noticed that in the summertime when there is a light on the deck all the insects gather around it? 
  • Have you noticed that if you have a plant near a window, it, gradually will turn and move and turn toward the light of the sun?

Readings

Today we celebrate the feast of the Epiphany.

  • It brings our celebration of the Christmas feast to a conclusion.
  • The readings that we have for this weekend mention light in some form or another nearly 12 times.
  • It seems appropriate that during these dark winter nights the readings focus on light.

Reading from Isaiah 

In the first reading, Isaiah has a magnificent vision. In that vision he sees the city of Jerusalem lifted up on a hill.

  • The radiance of the Lord shines upon it.
  • The glory of the Lord enlightens it.
  • That light and the radiance of Jerusalem attracts people to the Lord.
  • Jerusalem shines as the light of truth in the darkness of the pagan world. 
  • The glory of the Lord permeates Jerusalem.
  •  It is the holy city that attracts all peoples and nations to the Lord.

The radiance of Jerusalem together with the light of a star attracts the magi to seek out the Christ.

Light of the star 

In the gospel it is the light of a star that guides the Magi.

  • Over the centuries there has been so much conjecture over at the star and the magi.
  • However, it was that light in the night sky generated by that star that initially caused the magi to be curious.
  • That curiosity led them to investigate the celestial event.
  • That light led them to the conclusion that the Messiah, a king was born. 
  • Immediately they knew they would have to make preparations for a journey.
  • The light of that star guided them first to Jerusalem, and then on to Bethlehem.
  •  It was the light and radiance of the Lord upon Jerusalem that attracted them and ultimately led them.

Jesus is the Light

Although the light of the star figures prominently in the gospel, Saint John in his gospel reminds us that Jesus himself is the light.

  • He is the light that has come into the world and this light is the life of the human race.
  • Furthermore, as the gospel reminds us, that light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not been able to overcome it.
  • The ultimate light is Christ himself.
  • Epiphany is the celebration of the manifestation of Christ and the manifestation of that light which has come in the world to dispel the darkness of sin and ignorance.
  • Regardless of what happens, that light cannot be extinguished and cannot be overcome.

Gospel Comparison

The gospel contains an interesting comparison between those who are moving toward the light and those who are moving away from the light.

  • In the gospel there are two groups.

Moving away from the Light

In the first group is King Herod and the religious leadership of the temple in Jerusalem.

  • Interestingly enough, when the magi come and announce they are seeking the Messiah, Herod and all of Jerusalem is greatly troubled by their announcement.
  •  If any group should have been interested in seeking out the Messiah, it should have been Herod and The chief priests and scribes.
  • They were aware of all the words of the prophets which pointed out the coming of the Messiah.
  • They should have been the ones who eagerly awaited the fulfillment of all God’s promises. 
  • However, that was not the case. 
  • When the light of the star pointed out the arrival of the Messiah, this group saw the light as a threat and became fearful.
  • Rather than moving toward the light revealed in Bethlehem they sought to destroy it.

 Essentially, they were moving away from the light.

Moving toward the light

The other group is represented by the magi.

  • Obviously they were moving toward the light.
  • They didn’t have the advantage of the Scriptures and the prophets of old.
  • All they did was gaze up into the sky and try to ascertain, by the guidance of a star, that an important event was happening and a significant person was being born.
  • Guided by the light of a star, they journeyed toward the Light itself.
  • For them, Jerusalem was radiant because the Lord shone upon it. 
  • Because of Jerusalem they were attracted by its light to the Christ.

Application

As we begin this new year, we have the opportunity to reflect on this question, “Are we moving toward the light, or are we moving away from the light? How will we know toward which direction we are moving?” 

Moving toward the light

If we are moving toward Christ who is the light, then we have that light in us that dispels the darkness of our own sinfulness.

  • That light becomes the basis of every decision and action of our lives.
  •  We are in harmony with the light because that light is our life.
  • As we struggle with the living the Christian life, that light reveals those places where darkness still has a hold. 

Yet, we journey toward the Light.

Moving away from the light

On the other hand, if we are moving away from the light, then those values that contradict the light are the ones that guide us.

  • In moments of decision and action, that light becomes irrelevant.
  • Like the people in the gospel, we have been blessed with the knowledge and the experience of the gospel. 
  • In Jesus we experience the revelation of the Father.
  • Jesus is the light that has come into the world.
  •  If we are moving away from the light, then the values of God’s kingdom do not find a welcome place.
  • Remember, it’s never too late to turn toward the light.
  • All we need to do is to examine our life and invite Jesus who is the light into those places where there is darkness.

Conclusion

We have just celebrated Christmas.

  • The light has come into the world. 
  • By our baptism we are children of the light.
  • As we begin this new year, let us continue that journey toward the light.
  • May that light fill us and bring us the consolation of knowing that the light of Christmas can never be overcome by darkness.
Welcome-Christ-is-Born

December 25: WELCOME, CHRIST IS BORN!!!!!

December 25, 2021 Christmas Day.

Christmas 2021                                              December 25, 2021

Introduction

This night/morning we stand before a mystery. We stand before an event that is impossible: God made flesh.

  • We stand before the cave of Bethlehem.
  •  We have been here many times before. The scene is so familiar
  • We recognize those present: there is Mary the young girl who has just given birth to her first child.
  • Standing nearby is her husband, Joseph who shelters her from the cold.
  • As our eyes look downward we see the newborn infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a makeshift crib.
  • The couple are young and afraid.
  • This is not how they hoped things would unfold.
  • Then as we gaze around that humble cave, we see the animals.
  • This is their home. Joseph and Mary and you and I are all visitors.
  • Wondrously, they have made room for us.
  • Without knowing it, they are characters in a divine drama.
  • This is no ordinary cave. It is holy, the intersection of heaven and earth.
  • As our eyes behold they heavens above, we see the sky lit with the glory of God and filled with angels.
  • There are the angels, archangels, cherubim and seraphim all with their eyes peeled toward Bethlehem. 
  • They sing of the majesty of God, “glory to God in the highest and peace to those on whom God‘s favor rests.“

And finally, crowning the entire moment is that magnificent star of Bethlehem.

The Word made flesh

What is ultimately happening in this scene?

  1. In the opening words of his gospel, Saint John puts it this way. 
  2. He says, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. Through him all things came into being and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.”
  3. That simple scene in Bethlehem manifests something truly unbelievable.
  4. Although it may be simple and reflect the poverty of Joseph and Mary, it proclaims the majesty and the glory of God. 
  5. In that moment, all of the hopes and aspirations of the peoples and children of Israel are realized.
  6. The Messiah has come.
  7. God breaks into human history and God dwells among us.
  8. God’s promise to humanity, however is not exhausted.
  9. God promised to come some 20 centuries ago but he promises to remain with us. 
  10. The incarnation is an ongoing mystery.
  11. God continues to dwell among the human race.
  12.  One of his titles from the Old Testament is Emmanuel.
  13. It is translated: “God is with us.”

God enters into the messiness

The world of the first century 

God enters into the messiness of the human experience. 

  • The world of the first century was a mess. 
  • Life was not easy.
  • Israel and most of the western world were dominated by the Roman empire. 
  • The empire ruled with an iron fist and dominated by intimidation and fear
  • The vast majority of people were poor and barely able to make a living.
  • Life was hard.
  • Life expectancy was 40 years and most of those years were filled with toil and drudgery.
  • It was into that world that Jesus was born in Bethlehem.
  • He chose to be one with suffering humanity.
  • To that world he brought hope and salvation.

He came as the revelation of God’s transforming love.

Our messy world

Our world is not that much different from the world of the first century.

  • Our world seems to be in a mess as well.
  • The country is polarized.
  • People seem to be intolerant of one another. 
  • Additionally, people worry about the future and the economy.
  • Things cost more. Inflation is nearly 7%.
  • Additionally, the pandemic seems to be dragging on and on.
  • People are tired of COVID-19. Every several months there seems to be a new variance of the virus. 
  • People continue to get sick and some die. It seems as though there is no end to it.
  • Moreover, each of us struggles with our own personal issues.
  • People struggle with family issues, with sickness and unemployment.
  • Life is messy and at times difficult.
  • Yes, amidst all of this Jesus comes into our world and into our lives.
  • God promises to remain with us.
  • As a matter of fact, Jesus’ final words were “I will be with you always until the end of time” 

God is with us

 Christmas is a confirmation of that promise.

  • Jesus came into the world of the first century to be hope for the nations.
  • Jesus comes into our world to be our consolation and our hope. 
  • He wants to walk with each of us.
  • It is in the very messiness of our world and of our life that Jesus breaks through.
  • Curiously, he doesn’t take all of that away, but walks with us. 
  • Somehow, that is the mystery of salvation.
  • God is with us!

Conclusion

God did not need to come into our world.

  • God chose to come into our world.
  • He did so out of a profound love for the human family.
  • God meets us where we’re at.
  • He comes into our life in order to invite us to share in his life.
  • God offers an invitation to everyone.
  • If you have felt distance from him or for some reason have drifted away, consider that he is inviting you this very moment.
  • It is the opportunity of a lifetime.
  • God wants to walk with you.
  • He wants to share in the messiness of your life.
  • God came as a baby at Bethlehem on that first Christmas.
  • He comes to each one of us at this Christmas night/day
  • If you have been waiting for some kind of sign of God‘s love, maybe this Christmas is that sign for you.
  • The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
  • May you experience God‘s love for you tonight/this morning and know the peace and joy of that first Christmas.
4th-Sunday

December 19: “Lord let us see your face and we shall be saved.”

December 19, 2021                              Fourth Sunday of Advent

Introduction

Have you ever taken a moment to imagine what God looks like?

  • In the psalm response that we used for our Mass today, you said “Lord let us see your face and we shall be saved.”

Theophany

There is something deep in the human psyche which desires something concrete and tangible that can be seen and touched.

  • We want to see God.

Manifestations of God presence 

As a result, over the ages people have yearned to see the face of God.

  • However, God would not let anyone see what he looked like.
  • God always appeared in what we call a theophany.
  • A theophany is a visible manifestation that mediates God’s presence.
  • When God appeared to Moses, he appeared in the fire of a burning bush.
  • Similarly, on Mount Sinai he appeared again to Moses through a terrible storm of fire, thunder and lightning.
  • Finally, Moses implored him, “let me see your face.” The response was, “no one can see my face and live.”
  • Eventually, God gave in and let Moses see his back.
  • The prophet Elijah also wanted to see God’s face.
  • However, God would not permit it.

Skin on it

This reminds me of the story of a child who was afraid of thunderstorms.

  • One particular night there was a very violent thunderstorm.
  • There was lightning and thunder that would shake the house.
  • A little boy lay there in bed completely terrified.
  • He grabbed his pillow and hid underneath the covers feeling very frightened and alone.
  • During A brief break in the storm, the little guy jumped out of bed, ran down the hall into his parent’s room, jumped into their bed and hugged his mother.
  •  Naturally, she hugged him back. He stopped shaking.
  • She then asked him, “why didn’t you pray to God when you are afraid during the storm?”
  • His answer is quite revealing, he responded, “mom, I tied to but I needed something with skin on it.”

When it comes to God we need something with skin so we might see his face.

The Readings

That brings us to the readings for this weekend. 

God finally has skin.

Reading from Micah

Our first reading is a reading from the book of the prophet Micah.

  • We hear from him only once in the three-year cycle of church readings. 
  • Like Zephaniah, whom we heard from last week, Micah is not a well-known prophet like Isaiah, Jeremiah or Ezekiel.
  •  For the most part, he was a prophet of gloom and zoom.
  • However, this little piece we have today, is an exception.
  •  Here he makes an important declaration.
  • It is in Bethlehem, the smallest of the towns of Judah, that the Messiah will be born.
  • Bethlehem was a small village about 5 miles outside of Jerusalem.
  • Essentially it had no notoriety other than the birthplace of King David.
  • It was a place inhabited primarily by Shepherd’s and sheep.
  • Of all the places in Israel, it was probably the most unlikely place where the promised One of Israel would be born.

The gospel 

The gospel records the meeting of Mary and Elizabeth. It is filled with joy and exuberance. 

  • John the Baptist, yet to be born, leaps with joy in the womb because salvation is about to unfold. God who is faithful now fulfills his promise.
  • Now all people will finally get to see the face of God.
  • All of the speculation and anticipation of past ages from Adam to Elizabeth and John the Baptist, will be realized in Jesus.
  • Jesus is the face of the living God.
  •  If you want to see what God is like, you see him in the face of Jesus.
  • The Incarnation is a fantastic mystery.
  •  Here the impossible happens: The eternal God enters human time.

No one has ever seen his face before, but now he is visible.

Application

Our readings for mass today tell us two things. 

Bethlehem 

In the fact that God chose Bethlehem to be the place of birth for his Son, reminds us that, more often than not, God chooses the lowly and unexpected to be the channels of his activity.

  • No one would have suspected that Bethlehem would be remembered for ages to come as the birthplace of the Messiah.
  • Bethlehem not only had a place in God’s heart, but from the first Christmas it is in the hearts of all Christians. 
  • Frequently we assume God should act in a particular way.
  • However, we have to remember God will choose to act in the way he wants.
  •  Sometimes it is unexpected and an anticipated.

Example of Mary

Second of all, we have the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the gospel today.

  • There She is called “blessed” three times.
  • She is blessed because she is the one who heard the Word of God in the message of the angel and she kept it in her heart and conceived the Son of God.
  • We to must embrace that same living word, the Son of the God, that we might give him a central place in our lives.

Conclusion and Gospel Challenge

Christmas is only a few days away. Today we pray, “Lord let us see your face and we shall be saved.”

  • Here’s the gospel challenge for this week. 
  • Carve out a few moments in your busy schedule.
  • Do your best to remove distractions, open your Bible and read the passage from Saint Luke that recalls the birth of Jesus. 
  • Let those familiar words once again stir your heart in preparation for the celebration of the birth of the Savior
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December 12: “the Lord is in our midst, he rejoices over us”

December 12, 2021                               Third Sunday of Advent

Introduction

“What should we do” That question is at the heart of the gospel story for this weekend

Gospel

In the gospel we find John the Baptist in the Judean desert admonishing the people to prepare the way of the Lord.

  • He tells them God is about to do something spectacular.
  • They had better be prepared.
  • As a result, people come forward and ask, “what should we do?”
  • Some of those present are ordinary people. John’s response to them is “share what you have.”
  • Even tax collectors come forward.
  • Remember the tax collectors in ancient Israel lived on the margins of society because they were considered traitors.
  • John‘s response to them is predictable. “Don’t cheat people.”
  • Even Roman soldiers come forward and ask the same question
  •  He tells them, “treat people fairly and be satisfied with what you have.”

Simple answer 

Essentially the answer to his question, “what should we do?” might be a bit surprising.

It is very simple: “Share with others, be fair, and do your work well.”

It seems so simple and ordinary.

God delights in us

Yet, God delights in us.

  • In the first reading from the book of the prophet Zephaniah, we have an interesting quote.
  • It gives us an insight to how God delights in every single one of us.
  • Zephaniah writes, “the Lord your God is in your midst; he will rejoice over you. The Lord God will sing joyfully because of you just like people sing at festivals.”
  • It’s hard to imagine that God delights so much that he just loves to sing.
  • It’s incredible that God sings.
  • Sometimes we forget how much God delights in us.

The diamond

Yet God takes the ordinary and he makes it extraordinary.

  • Think of a diamond. It is beautiful, and precious.
  • It is an impressive gift. More often than not an engagement ring contains diamonds.
  • As they say, “Diamonds are forever.”
  • Did you know that the base element of diamonds is carbon?
  •  Carbon is the same element that makes coal. 
  • Carbon is a rather ordinary element.
  • However, something wonderful happens deep down inside of the earth.
  • That carbon is transformed into a diamond. There is immense pressure and heat that occurs making the carbon atoms bond with four other atoms.
  • The result is a diamond.
  • In the same way God takes the ordinary and can make it extraordinary.

Make a good Confession

This takes us back to the original question in the gospel, “what should we do?”

  • The best preparation for Christmas is a preparation of the human heart.
  • That preparation involves a spirit of repentance and an openness to God.
  • Without a doubt, the best preparation for Christmas is to make a good confession.
  • The mercy of God is boundless.
  • If it’s been a while since you received the Sacrament of Reconciliation, make a promise now that you will make an examination of conscience and then go to confession in the next several weeks.
  • There will be a citywide Penance Service a week from this Monday here at St. Patrick’s with a number of priests available for confession
  • So, look into your heart and see where darkness still has a hold on you: Maybe it’s a lack of patience or maybe it’s selfishness or something else.
  • This time of the year we are particularly mindful of darkness and the shortness of days.
  • Jesus comes as light for the world.
  • Invite him to bring that light into your heart wherever darkness still has a hold on you.
  • God’s mercy is there for you.
  • If you are experiencing any kind of addiction that has a hold on you, ask Jesus to set you free.
  • Remember, God‘s mercy is boundless.

Conclusion

This is called “Gaudate” or “rejoice” Sunday since Advent is now half over.

  • Remember what Zephaniah the prophet said in that first reading, “the Lord is in our midst, he rejoices over us”
  • God so delights in us that he sings. I suspect that His song is a song of mercy.
Faith-Formation

Come One Come All Not Just for the New Members to the Catholic Faith!!!!! All are Welcomed!!!!!

Adult Faith Formation Starting Sunday January 9 there will be an adult faith formation class over in the Commons. Class will start after the 8:00 am Mass (9:10 a.m.) and end before the 10:30 a.m. Mass (10:20 a.m.). The classes will center around the seven Sacraments. We will discuss how the sacraments touch all stages life and the important moments of a Christian’s life of faith. Join us as we see the whole world through sacramental eyes.