Sunday, December 23, 2018

Third Sunday of Advent - December 16, 2018

“Be Not Discouraged”
Since October 15, many of you have written of your concerns for the future. At Holy Trinity, people harbor concerns for how the new RocKenRo grouping might affect their cherished faith formation programs for children, youth, and young adults. Folks at St. Malachy parish have expressed regret over changes in the daily Mass schedule and in the scheduling of liturgical ministers. Parishioners at St. John of God speak with some worry for the future of one or another of their two churches. I thank those who express their concerns to me and to those who advise me. I ask you to continue to make your thoughts known.

At the same time, however, I ask you to speak calmly and judiciously. A few seem to imagine that by exaggerating perceived threats or offenses, they are likelier to win what they seek. Thus a (fictional) complaint, “It’s outrageous how Fr. Dave parts his hair! Sloppy hairstyling corrodes our Catholic culture! Especially in this time of scandal, Fr. Dave should be presenting himself as a good example for children and adults. When so many are leaving the Church, you’d best pay attention to complaints from me, because I’m a true hero of faith and morality for others.”

Maybe that’s how it works in worldly politics, but it shouldn’t be that way in the Church. An exaggeration is tantamount to a false accusation, denounced in today’s Gospel by John the Baptist. Contrast such a complaint with Saint Paul’s instruction to the Church at Philippi, “Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Perhaps some anxiety at loose in RocKenRo stems from fear of changes to come, or fear of losing a treasured past. These fears are understandable, and we should be patient with those who are afraid. But we do well to consider instead the future God has in store for us. Even in a time of suffering, the prophet Zephaniah could exhort his people, “Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged!” Likewise, we should trust the Lord’s plan for our future more than we cling to our own plans from months or years past.
So “make your requests known,” but do so from a posture of prayer and trust. Look for what is good, listen for what is true, and sustain your thanksgiving for these.

Elsewhere in this bulletin you’ll see a page entitled “Diocesan Group 330 [RocKenRo] Church Alive Campaign.” This is a summary of the three parishes’ status in Our Campaign for The Church Alive!, rounded to the nearest $100,000. The main point is that Holy Trinity still holds some leftover campaign funds, so these must be spent on the case statement—that is, the purposes for which the money was originally raised. So that’s what will happen.                                                            
                                                                                                               —Fr. Dave