Wednesday of the Second Week
Isaiah 40: 25-31
Matthew 11: 28- 30
Do you remember learning to ride a bike? Our first bike may have been a tricycle, our parents did not want us to fall. Then we graduated to a bike with two wheels but before we could learn to ride it training wheels were added so we can learn balance. Then when we had mastered the art of balance we were set free to ride. Today we learn about balance, on how God is holding us steady, when we may be feeling faint and weak.
The prophet Isaiah tells the people that God never tires of strengthening the weak, the faint, or those ready to fall. He encourages the people to have hope in the Lord and they will soar like eagles they will run and never grow weak. Just like learning to ride a bike, Isaiah wants the people to know God will not let them fall.
In our Gospel, Jesus knows the purpose of putting training wheels on bikes, it is to learn balance, as he says, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest.” The yoke Jesus is talking is a two-sided yoke, we are on one side and Jesus is on the other side.
Today is the day that our training wheels are taken off and we come to know about balance with God’s help! It is about knowing that God is with us holding us up to get through this day. He will not let us fall, he will keep us nice and steady. No matter how fast we may go, he will not let us crash or veer off course.
The Eucharist, may we give to our Lord God all of our burdens, so we can ride free with him and know peace.
Tuesday of the Second Week
Are we surviving or thriving today? Is there a better way for our lives to be lived today? Our readings bring us some spiritual truths to use to help us thrive.
In our first reading from the prophet Isaiah, he writes to a people who are just barely surviving because they are being held in captivity in Babylon. He speaks words that will help them thrive as he says, “Comfort, give comfort to my people.” He goes on to say they will be set free, and they will return by a pathway through the wilderness. They will then go to the top of the mountain and cry out in a loud as they can about all the good that God has done. God’s people will thrive!
In our Gospel, we hear a great story that should help us thrive as Jesus tells the story of a shepherd who has a flock of one hundred sheep, but he notices that one is missing. He asks the question: “What is your opinion of what the shepherd should do?” What if Jesus had waited for the disciples to answer? He may have been greatly disappointed by their answers and discovered they were just surviving. They probably would have said, the shepherd would be foolish to leave the ninety-nine unprotected, he should stay with the ninety-nine. Jesus knows what it takes to thrive, not just survive. He wants us to know that he is looking out after us every second of the day.
If we are to thrive today, ask ourselves, “Is what I am doing bringing me joy?” What can be cut out that is bringing us down to just surviving? Advent is a time of great expectations, may we know how to thrive today in Christ.
Second Sunday of Advent
A couple here at the parish, have been trying to adopt a child for four to five years. So many times they would get right to the end and not get chosen. This was very disheartening as you can image. Recently the couple told me they were not going to renew their contract because it was just too difficult. The wife began visiting a very holy woman of the parish who kept telling her, “I am going to pray for a miracle that you get a baby.” Well, that very holy woman died on Thanksgiving Day and we celebrated her funeral mass here on Monday. After the funeral and after the luncheon I went to the rectory when all of a sudden I heard screaming coming from outside the front door of the rectory. This woman, who has been trying to adopt a baby is screaming, “They have a baby for us, I am going to be a mother!” Folks I cannot make this up. Our readings today challenge us to be people of hope because the best it yet to come.
In our first reading, the prophet Isaiah is always about hope. What is different about the prophet Isaiah is he is a prophet for the Northern Kingdom and the Southern Kingdom. Most of the other prophets were only in the Northern Kingdom or only in the Southern Kingdom. Isaiah can see both Kingdoms falling into destruction, but he continues to speak words of great hope when he says, “On that day, a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.” Isaiah is already preparing them for what is to come, which is total destruction, but he tells them, “They will be raised up.” If Isaiah were here today, he would be giving us the very same message. We must have faith, and hope, and trust in God!
In our Gospel, John the Baptism bursts on the scene at the Jordon River. The Jordon River for the Jewish people was a sign of great hope. Their ancestors crossed that river into the Promise Land. John the Baptist’s says, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” Let’s pull this apart and see the hope that John is talking about. To repent means to say, “I am sorry!” But for John he is saying, “It is not enough just to say, I am sorry. We need to change and show some evidence of that change.” When we say we are sorry to God, we need to show evidence of that and never go back to that sin! When we say, “I am sorry to another person.” It is not enough just to say those words, but we must never hurt that person in the same way again. John is the first to proclaim “the kingdom is at hand.” Here is where great hope comes! The “The kingdom of God is at hand” is referring not so much to a place, but to the stirring of God’s activity in our lives. John is saying, “Repent and live in hope! God is already working in you.”
My friends in Christ, we need to be the people who live in great hope, for the best is yet to come!
Friday of the First week
Taking off my glasses and taking out my glass cleaning rag say, “This is the hardest thing I do every day! I need clean glasses to see because without them I am blind.” Our readings bring us to contemplate what is causing blindness in our lives and preventing us from believing in God today?
In our first reading the prophet,Isaiah knows the people are blinded from believing. So he proclaims, “There will come a time when the house of Abraham will keep the name of God holy and with great reverence and they will live in awe of his holy name. If anyone is in err they will acquire understanding. If some are at fault, they will find understanding.” Are we there yet?
In our Gospel, two blind men call out to Jesus, “Son of David have pity on us.” This is the first time Jesus is acknowledged as the Messiah. Jesus responds, “Do you believe that I can do this?” They respond “Yes!” They may not be able to see Jesus but they know in their hearts that he is the Messiah and that he can heal them.
We too are blind in many ways. We are blind to God in our life we are blind to our self at times and we are blind to others at times and we need the help of Christ to change. We need to let the light the Christ into the darkness of our lives.
Let us this in this Advent season be healed of our blindness and trust in faith that we can be healed. The best is yet to come!
Thursday of the First week
Matthew 7:21, 24-27
As you know the foundation under the front of the church needs to be dug out and rebuilt. Here are the beautiful plans we hope to follow to rebuild the front of church Show the plans to fix the foundation under the front of the church and to re-do the plaza area. Having a strong foundation is important or the church will fall down someday. Our readings speak to us about having a firm foundation.
The prophet Isaiah writes to a people who have no foundation at all. He speaks to them to put their faith and trust in God and one day God will have them build a big strong foundation so a great strong wall will be built and in those walls will be a city of peace. However first they need to put their absolute trust in the Lord. For people in captivity, that will be hard.
In our Gospel Jesus is making the connection of building a home on rock or on sand. The home built on rock will be able to withstand all kinds of weather and if well maintained will last forever.
My friends in Christ our readings challenge us to look at our faith lives and see how strong our foundation is in Christ. Our foundation is strong when we just hear the words of Christ and let them sink deep into our hearts and we act on his words.
The plans for our front of our church are beautiful. Hopefully this Advent our foundation will be just as strong and beautiful in God’s name. Advent is about knowing the best is yet to come!
Wednesday of the 34th Week
Feast f St. Andrew
Is our lives just up for chance or coincidence or an act of God?
Is Jesus walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee and calling out to Peter and his brother Andrew who are fishing to ‘Come after me” and they do! Is this chance or coincidence or an act of God?
Is going a little further and seeing James and John the sons of Zebedee, and calling out to them to follow him and they do. Is this chance or coincidence or an act of God?
All other rabbis at this time would select the brightest and the smartest of the students to follow them. Jesus does not do this, thankfully, because I would had never been called. Jesus goes out and chooses those who he wants to follow him. Is this chance or coincidence or an act of God? This radical decision to follow the Lord cannot be explained except by God is at work.
Is our being here by chance or coincidence or an act of God? Advent is about our readiness when Jesus calls us. This will not be by chance or coincidence but only by an act of God.
The Eucharist is given to us, to be like St. Andrew, to drop what we are doing and to follow Jesus this day.
Tuesday of the First week
Wow! These readings are awesome! They challenge us to see ourselves through God’s eyes. We know the Lord, but knowledge is not enough. Advent happens when we take our dreams, our hopes, and our desires and believe that God is leading us somewhere that we could never imagine.
The prophet Isaiah speaks to a people who are broken and lost and have no idea if there will be a future, and he simply tells them, “From this small little shoot, will come a mighty king to lead you.” Then he goes on to explain all of the things that will happen that are very much unexpected, a wolf lying down with a lamb, a calf with a loin, and a child with a snake. We say, “That is impossible!” but God says, “Nothing is impossible with me.”
In our Gospel, the seventy – two disciples who were sent out with nothing and all come back rejoicing of all that they were able to do, in God’s name. It must have been great because this is the only time in sacred scripture that we hear of Jesus rejoicing. Remember these men were fishermen, tax collectors, and just ordinary men, and they were able to do great things because they believed. Jesus challenges them to be simple, like children and just believe! To be like children is to be accepting of those things right in front of us.
Advent is knowing God is on the side of all the underdogs, those who do not have a chance. Advent is believing the best is yet to come!