Monday, December 30, 2013

The Holy Family

Did you ever hear of a feast searching for a home? Today's feast of the Holy Family is one of those. We hear in our Gospel story how Joseph was told in a dream, "Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt." What a dream! Or was it a nightmare? To be commanded to take flight like refugees in the night, to have a newborn baby and no time to pack or plan, all this must have been frightening to say the least. Joseph was no stranger to life-changing dreams though. He had already been told in a dream to take Mary as his wife, even though she was with child. And now God was asking him to change course again.
Few of us have dreams like Joseph did, but we do share with him the challenge of reconciling our plans with the hard facts of reality. When things don't go our way, we can respond like the Holy Family, recognizing an opportunity to deepen our faith in God's providence. Their faith in God was like a spiritual compass that kept them oriented in the most unfamiliar circumstances. Let us hold up the example of the Holy Family by keeping God close to our family.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Fourth Sunday of Advent

In my travels I have visited many holy sites including the little town of Bethlehem where Jesus was born. It was in Bethlehem that I purchased a beautiful creche that was made by local artists with olive wood. It is this creche that holds the figures of the first Christmas story. It was this little insignificant stable that held the greatest gift for all of us. Jesus is God's gift of love for us.
It is good for our families to have a creche in our homes to remind us that God was willing to become one of us. It is even more important to open our hearts to allow Jesus to enter our lives.
God's choice of a place to live among us is breathtaking - he didn't need a palace or a temple. God came to dwell with us in the body of a woman, in the sinless Virgin Mary. He continues to live within each of us if we open our lives to him. This is the true meaning of Christmas - God became one of us and made his dwelling among us.
Fr. Russell and I wish you and your families a blessed Christmas. Together with all our parish staff and employees, we pray in eager anticipation of God's gift in the new year to come.

Third Sunday of Advent

Jesus' response, to John the Baptist's disciples when asked if he is the one to come, is that "the poor have the good news proclaimed to them." Jesus caps his list of miracles with this statement. In the same sentence where he reminds his listeners that he has cured the blind, the lame, the deaf, the sick, and even raised the dead, Jesus concludes by mentioning preaching the good news to the poor. How did that make the list of the supernatural cures?
The poor are not just those in physical poverty, but those whose sins have impoverished their souls. This of course applies to us. Because of this, we have cause to rejoice! We pause in this season of Advent, this season of anticipation, to remember that, in truth, our hopes have already been fulfilled. God has "visited and brought redemption to his people" (Luke 1:68). He is among us, Emmanuel, saving us even now.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Second Sunday of Advent

A cartoon showed a tall, robed and bearded man carrying a sign that read: "The End Is Near." The next frame showed a short, robed and bearded man carrying an unexpected sign that read: "The End."

When John the Baptist appeared preaching in the desert saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!"; he meant business. He was right then, and he is still right for us today: The end is near, and before we know it, it will be upon us.

Despite the warnings, we put off making any changes in our lives. This is the moment! Now is the time! Advent especially reminds us to examine our lives and renew our commitment to Christ. As John the Baptist put it, we are called to "produce good fruit as evidence" of our repentance. Only a truthful heart, responsive to God's grace in sincere repentance, will be blessed with God's gift of salvation.

First Sunday of Advent

Happy New Year! The season of Advent marks the beginning of a new Church year. The word Advent comes from the Latin Adventus, which means "coming". It is a time for quiet reflection, prayer and conversion in anticipation of the coming of Christ from two different perspectives. The readings and the liturgies during Advent prepare us for the Second Coming of Jesus at the end of the world. As we go about making preparations to celebrate Christmas, it wouldn't hurt to take a moment each day to prepare for the coming of Jesus. So don't scrimp on your spiritual needs because there are so many other things going on!

Our Lord Christ The King

Cicero said a long time ago, "A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all other virtues." Yes, we have much to be thankful for. Today we thank Jesus for coming to us in the Eucharist. The word Eucharist literally means, "to give thanks". On this feast of Christ the King we have an opportunity this afternoon to say thank you to Jesus by spending some quiet time before Him in the Blessed Sacrament. On Tuesday evening, our neighbor at the Ken Mawr Presbyterian Church, is hosting the annual Montour Association of Churches Ecumenical Thanksgiving Service. It is at this service that we as a community of believers can give thanks to God in a special way. On Thursday, we celebrate our national feast of Thanksgiving and as a nation we have the opportunity to thank God for what we are and all that we have. Yes, we have much to be thankful for, so please remember to thank God for the many blessings we have in our lives. "If the only prayer you say in your life is thank you, that would suffice."   -Meister Eckhart