Rejoice always in the Lord!

Third Sunday of Advent

Zephaniah 3:14-18

Philippians 4:4-7

Luke 3:10-18

Gaudete Sunday

 

Rejoice in the Lord always! Again I say rejoice! How is that working for you? Who has been sick all week? Rejoice in the Lord always! Again I say rejoice! How is that working for you? Who has known a relationship that is slipping through your hands? Rejoice in the Lord always! Again I say rejoice! How is that working for you? Who is stressed out about work or all the things we have yet to do before Christmas? Rejoice in the Lord always! Again I say rejoice! How is that working for you? Who wants Christmas to be over because the memories of past Christmas are just too painful? Rejoice in the Lord always! Again I say rejoice! How is that working for you? The challenge presented to us today is to be able to Rejoice in the Lord always! Again I say rejoice! And know that it is working for us?

 

In our first reading from the prophet Zephaniah, there is a big challenge to us because the writer says, “If we know joy we are to shout it out and sing it from the rooftops.” The prophet is letting us know that because we believe in God we are not exempt from problems or difficulties, we need to know that God is on our side.

 

In our second reading St. Paul we need to remember that Paul is writing this from a dirty, dark, and cold prison cell, yet he knows joy. Paul gives us a three-step approach to knowing joy as he says, (1.) Do not be overwhelmed; the Lord is near. (2.) Let your kindness be known. (3.) Be a person of prayer. The most important of the three is to be a person of prayer. Troubles in our lives should always bring us to our knees in prayer.

 

In our Gospel, John the Baptist is the best example of what we are to do in rejoicing in the Lord. While John was in his mother’s womb, he leaps for joy in the presences of his cousin Jesus Christ. John could not see Jesus, but he knew of his closeness. In our passage today we hear the results of the crowds of people who come out to meet John the Baptists in the desert. The desert was a barren place to have crowds of people coming to John shows how desperate the people are to answers to their questions. The people ask, “What should we do?”  I love John’s answer, “Go home, back to your normal lives, and do what you know to be good and holy.” John’s answer is so simple we are almost disappointed in hearing it. John is letting them know that the ground they walk on is holy.

 

In this Advent Season may we know to “Rejoice in the Lord always! Again I say rejoice!” We do this by knowing the Lord has not forgotten us!

 

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We have amazing Teachers!

Friday of the Second Week

Of Advent

Isaiah 48:17-19

Matthew 11: 16-19

St. John of the Cross

 

Fr. Mike and I want to let the students who participated in any way in the Christmas Program yesterday to let you know you did a wonderful job. We enjoyed the program very much! Fr. Mike and I want also want to commend and thank all the teachers and support staff that helped make this production a wonderful event. Would all of our teachers and support staff to stand and be recognized? Please join me in thanking them for their hard work and dedication. We have amazing teachers and support staff here at our school and Fr. Mike and I are very grateful for they do!

 

Question: What do our amazing teachers do?

Question: Why do you think our amazing teachers teach?

 

We are blessed to have such amazing teachers. In our first reading from the prophet Isaiah we hear about the greatest of all teachers as the prophet says, “The Lord, your God, is teaching you these things for your good.” We come to our Catholic School to learn what God has to teach us.  

 

However, the biggest challenge is when we have amazing teachers, and we do not listen to them. It does not matter how amazing they are if we do not listen we are not going to learn anything from our teachers.

 

In our Gospel, Jesus says “I have sent an amazing teacher in John the Baptist, and you did not listen to him. I have come teaching you, and you did not listen to me either.   

 

We gather with only ten days left in this Advent Season to pay attention to our teachers and the great teacher of Jesus Christ. We do this by playing well on the playground, by not cheating and lying, by obeying our parents and teachers. God is working through our amazing teachers may we learn all we can from them and God this day.

Are we aware of the Holy Spirit and it’s movement in our lives this Advent Season?

Thursday of the Second Week

Of Advent

Isaiah 41:13- 20

Matthew 11: 11- 15

Feast of St. Lucy

 

Since arriving here at Holy Spirit Parish, I have been much more aware of the Holy Spirit in my life. As parishioners of Holy Spirit, it is good to be attentive to our patron. In this Advent Season are we aware of the movement of the Holy Spirit and what God is doing in our lives?

 

In our reading from the prophet Isaiah, it is good to be aware of what the prophet is saying because we do not want to miss all the good news for us. Isaiah says, “I am the Lord, your God, who grasps you by your right hand.” What a beautiful image for us in this Advent Season. The writer then goes on to say nine more times, “I,” meaning the Lord will do many things.

 

In our Gospel, Jesus is talking about John the Baptist. At the beginning of chapter eleven, John is in prison, and he sends his disciples to Jesus asking, “Are you the one, to whom we wait for?” Jesus responds, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard.” When John hears this news, he believes with great passion. The next time we hear about John the Baptist is in chapter fourteen when John loses his head.

 

Jesus says today, “There is none greater than John.” Wow! How that must have blown their hair back to hear this proclamation. Are we surprised to hear Jesus say, ‘the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John.”

 

In this second week of Advent, there is something much greater things going on, are we aware of all that God and the Holy Spirit are doing in our lives?

 

Are we surviving or thriving today?

Tuesday of the Second Week

Of Advent

Isaiah 40:1-11

Matthew 18:12-14

I have a terrible cold and it has settled in my chest and I have lost my voice. I have a sub coming in to help tomorrow. I gave this homily a couple years ago and I hope you enjoy it. God is good!

 

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 as load 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.

 

The power of God’s Word!

 

Second Sunday of Advent

Baruch 5:1-9

Philippians 1: 4-6, 8-11

Luke 3:1-6

 

Find the biggest guy in the church and invite him down for a wrestling match with me. I want to see who is more powerful, you or me! Would it make you worried at all that I was a state champion wrestler? You do not have to worry at all about that because I was not! Now let’s get ready to rumble, put out my right hand for a thumb war. Today our readings all about do we know the power the Word of God and allow it to speak to our lives and change because of what we have heard?

 

In our Gospel, the writer Luke introduces us to the most powerful political and religious leaders of the time of Jesus. These men reigned with power from palaces, fortresses, and temples and they had the power to change history. It would be normal for any one of these men to announce the power of God’s word coming into the world, but none of them do.

 

The announcement of the power of God’s word is given to John the Baptist. The first thing to know about John is he has to go into the desert because up to this time he has no power and he is given his power in the desert. John needs this power because he is not a farmer and he needs to eat, so he has to rely on God’s power for food. John eats grasshoppers and wild honey. John is not a weaver, so relies on the power of God to provide him clothing as John wears a suit of camel hair. It is in the desert that John receives his power and the message the world needs to know as he proclaims, “Reform your lives and prepare the way of the Lord.” Once John the Baptist has his power he took full advantage of it telling everyone that they had to be converted or they were going to be a like a tree cut down and thrown into a fire. In John’s heart, there was no time to waste; the time was now. One might think that this message was too much for people yet we are told that people flocked to him, to see him, to hear his preaching and to observe his way of life. 

 

We can know the power of God’s word in our life just by asking for it. God will grant us to it. I believe the more normal way of knowing God’s power in our lives is when we are in the desert, the wilderness of our lives, and we are struggling, confused, and troubled. The experience of my life tells me when I am in the desert is when God acts and speaks most powerfully.  

 

On this Second Sunday of Advent may we know the power of God’s word in our life and reform our lives and prepare the way of the Lord.

 

Wild Man to Holy Man!

Mens Advent Bonfire

Holy Spirit Parish

2018

 It is the season of Advent; a season when we are called to watch and wait for Christ coming.  A good role model for us as men and we are going to be hearing about this person in the next two weeks is John the Baptist. I say this because John the Baptist is the ultimate “Wild Man to Holy Man” and this is what we too are to do. I thought I would highlight the stages of John’s life that have significance for us.  

The first thing about John the Baptist is that everything about his birth; his parents Zechariah and Elizabeth being in their old age at the time of his birth, his father losing his speech and the naming him John and not after his father. All of this speaks to us of three things; that God always answers prayer, and there are three ways in which God answers prayer. The first is God says “Yes” to our request. We pray for this, but it seldom happens, although we like it when it does. The second way God answers prayer is “Not yet.” God tells us ‘not yet’ because we have more to do, we may not like this answer, but it happens many of the time. The final way God answers prayer is, “I have a better plan.” I am living proof of this plan, and it happens more then what we give God credit for doing. It takes a lot of discerning God’s will to allow this to happen.

The second thing about John that is good for us men is John has to go out into the desert to receive his message from God of what he is to do and say. In the desert, John is given his message, “Reform your lives, and prepare the way of the Lord.” The word of God is always in the desert of our lives. John the Baptist does not ask us to change the world, he only asks us to change ourselves! One might think John the Baptist was crazy, but people flocked to him, to see him, to hear his preaching and to observe his way of life.  We as men of Holy Spirit need to be strong enough to look at ourselves honestly and see what needs to be changed and make the change. The end result will be a better you, a better marriage a better family.

The final thing about John the Baptist that can help us as men is John doubted. As strong as John the Baptist appears as he was in prison he sends his disciples to Jesus and asks, “Are you the One we’ve been expecting, or are we still waiting?”  Even John had thoughts, “Maybe I have been wrong about my cousin; maybe he is not the promised Messiah after all.” When John receives a message back from Jesus that he is the One, John is willing to die for him, and he would know martyrdom. It is ok for us to doubt, to have fears, and to ask questions. However, when we are giving the answers from God of what to do, of what to say, there can be no turning back.

My friends in Christ, as we gather this night, we need to not only be here for ourselves but each other. We as men of Holy Spirit Parish need to stand together as men in Christ and to stand next to each other in good times and in bad.

I want you to see this! When I do this, what I am saying by this gesture is “Thank you for being here! I am here for you!” If you give it back it will tell me that you are here for me.

May we look to John the Baptist the ultimate wild man to holy man and be holy and grow in this Advent season.

A firm foundation!

Thursday of the First week

Of Advent

Isaiah 26:1-6

Matthew 7:21, 24-27

 

I am grateful that the walls of our church and chapel are made solid cement brick, and I am glad that the floor is a solid concert. The way the church and chapel are constructed should give us a sense of peace knowing it is built on a firm foundation. All of this speaks to what we hear in our readings today about building on a strong and firm foundation.

 

In our first reading, the Jewish people are being held in captivity and Isaiah gives them this reading. The reading speaks about a city big and strong with large walls to protect it. Many people come to the city to be protected. However, the city becomes prideful, and because of that the walls came tumbling down. Here is a stern warning to the people being held in captivity that one day they will be set free, and they will rebuild the holy city, but they are not to become prideful.

 

In our Gospel Jesus is speaking to his disciples, who may be thinking they have it made because they are in the inner circle of Jesus. Jesus gives them a firm warning, “Not everyone who says, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of my Father in heaven.”  

 

Our readings should make us feel a bit uneasy a bit unsure of ourselves. I say this not in a bad way but in a good way, to work harder. Advent is our time to build a firm foundation on Christ. It is about being hopeful that our God is going to come today and we will be ready.