Monthly Archives: November 2014

1st Sunday of Advent

Marley's Ghost

Study:  When have I been swift to respond to the needs of others?  When have I been slow?

Pray:  Ask the Lord for the clarity of sight to perceive the real needs within my reach.

Serve:  Don’t wait…do!

1st Sunday of Advent Readings

Fr. Andrew’s Homily

A Christmas Carol

Part I: Marley’s Warning

Every year I enjoy rereading the holiday story A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.  I watch as many different movie and drama adaptations as I can, and I find in this simple tale much wisdom and insight.

The story recounts the life of Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserable old man who is visited on Christmas Eve by the ghost of his business partner, Jacob Marley.  Marley informs Scrooge that he will be visited by three ghosts who will show him the error of his ways.  During the visits we discover the story of Scrooge’s life, feeling both pity and anger at the circumstances and choices that have shaped him.  As Scrooge slowly changes, he finally discovers the joy and spirit of Christmas – just in time for Christmas Day.

The ghost of Marley begins this amazing process.  Marley is a wretched creature, wrapped in bandages and shackled by chains and heavy money boxes.  His words to Scrooge are direct and without comfort:  he must change his ways or suffer a fate worse than Marley’s.

Marley reminds Scrooge that the business of life is far greater than the work in their money counting house:
   “Mankind was my business.
   The common welfare was my business;
   charity, mercy, forbearance and benevolence
   were all my business.
   The dealings of my trade
   were but a drop of water
   in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”

This warning speaks to us as well.  Every day we pass through life amid opportunities to serve and love others.  Yet preoccupation can take us away from the deeper issues of life, separating us from the very people and events that can lead us into blessed happiness.

As we prepare our hearts during this Advent season, may we take Marley’s warning to heart.  We, too, must journey through this life, reaching out to those placed on our path.  May we be vigilant, waiting for the day when Jesus will return.  May we share the gift of our lives, anticipating the Christmas joy that awaits us.

The Feast of Christ the King

Christ the King

Study: Recall a time when you recognized God as the center of your life; a time when you hung on to faith – perhaps because other things were struggling.

Pray: Call upon the Lord to rule and guide your heart.

Serve:  What is the King’s command for you today?  How is the Lord directing you to help and serve another?

The Feast of Christ the King Readings

Fr. Andrew’s Homily

The Feast of Christ the King brings the Church calendar year to a close.  Next week begins Advent, and we will start a new liturgical year with the cycle of “B” readings in the Lectionary for Mass.

Why do we end the year with the notion of Christ the King?  Why do we place this feast here?  What’s the point?

The feast has several levels of meaning.  By calling Christ our King we are making a statement that Jesus is the Lord of our lives.  It means that we place Christ first, and that we serve the Lord Jesus with the allegiance of our hearts, minds, and bodies.  We belong to Christ, who rules us.

In addition, to claim Christ as our King means that we are members of his kingdom.  Through our baptism we are called to the community of faith, the Church, and we possess an inheritance that is ultimately not of this world.  We are citizens who have a responsibility to work together – for this world and the world to come.

Furthermore, the King will come at the end of time to call His faithful people home to heaven.  We believe that the world will end on a future, unknown day (and once again, let me stress it is an UNKNOWN date…).  This feast reminds us that in the end we belong to one home or the other, one Lord or another.

Finally, to say that Christ is our King reminds us that all our power, strength, hope, and direction come from Him.  The skills and talents we possess are from the King (who made us).  The forgiveness we cherish is from the King (who died for us).  The life of the Holy Spirit which sustains us was sent by the King (who asked the Father on our behalf).

Therefore, to claim Christ as our King is to make a statement about who we are.  As followers of this King we offer our lives in service to the one who is our Lord.  We make this King our first priority in all things, and we look upon Jesus Christ as both the beginning and end of our existence.

This is a good time for us to search and prepare our hearts.  As this Church year comes to an end we begin to make ourselves ready for the Lord who comes to us, that he might find us alert and watchful for his arrival.  May we renew our allegiance to Christ our King so that he will rule us with mercy, grace, and love.

33rd Sunday of the Year – Living in the Moment

Calendar 1

Study:  Have you ever had a time when you were not prepared to be “in the moment” and you missed something special?  How can you be more aware and attentive to the present?

Pray:  Ask the Lord for guidance to both live in the present moment and plan for the needs of future.

Serve:  Who needs help right now?  How can you respond with faith, hope, and love?

33rd Sunday of the Year Readings

Fr. Andrew’s Homily

My universe is constructed by my desk calendar.  Without that simple little book I wouldn’t know what was the next event or who was the next person I needed to see.  My calendar keeps me on track, and it helps me to use my time as effectively as possible.

Often I find myself scheduling events weeks and even months in advance.  From weddings to workshops, holidays, concerts, sacraments, meetings, planning committees….indeed the list keeps going as I use my calendar to organize the many events that are part of my life.

Yet I know I am not alone.  Most households have “the calendar” – that monthly planner that coordinates sports schedules with doctor’s visits, conferences, dances, fundraisers, parties, and a host of other personal activities.  The calendar informs us about who needs to be where, when and with whom.

While calendars help keep us focused on what lies ahead, they do pose a danger.  We can get so caught up in what is coming that we forget to pay attention to what is currently going on.  In other words, we may risk losing the present moment when we worry too much about the future to come.

As we come to the end of the Church year, we focus on the “end times.”  People wondered when the world would end, and they worried about what the future would bring.  Yet amidst their anxiety about the future, we discover two central themes.

First, as Christians we do believe that the world will end.  We hold that there is a judgment and  we trust that our faith in Jesus will lead us to the Kingdom of Heaven.

Second, while we believe that the world will end, we also believe that no one knows when this event will occur.  Jesus himself reminds the crowds in the Gospel that many signs and events will happen, and many will claim that they have significance.  Yet the Lord reminds us that these portents are simply part of the world.

We find ourselves then, planning for the future even as we concentrate on living in the moment.  We plan and we hope; but in the end the best we can do is live this day with all our heart, trusting that God will place opportunities where we can live our faith, confident in the future to come.

The Dedication of the Lateran Basilica

St. John Lateran exterior

Study:  Think back to churches that have real significance in your life.  What was going on at the time?

Pray:  Step into a church and take a moment to pray.  First, reflect on your blessings – thanking God.  Second – offer your petitions for special needs and concerns.  The Lord is listening.

Serve:  Do you know someone who has a hard time getting to church?  Can you help them?  Do you know someone who has been away from the Church…can you help them?

The Dedication of the Lateran Basilica Readings

Fr. Andrew’s Homily

This weekend we celebrate a feast in the Church that is a little out of the ordinary.  Throughout the year we honor saints, angels, events in the history of salvation, and seasons in the liturgical calendar.

But buildings?

Yep.  The readings this weekend are for the anniversary of a dedication of a building – a church.  Now this is not just any building; the Lateran basilica has an important place in the history and significance of our faith:

  • Pope Sylvester I dedicated it on Nov. 9, 324
  • The land was owned by the Laterani family
  • Called the “mother and head of all churches”
  • Episcopal seat of the Pope as Bishop of Rome
  • Papal residence from the 4th century to 1309
  • Site of 5 Ecumenical councils

Now why would we do this?  Why take a day out of the calendar to honor a building?  Here are few reasons:

  1. Buildings are a part of life
    – living, working, learning, praying!
  2. This church is loaded with history
    – many great events happened here
  3. Buildings can inspire and shape our faith
    – form a community for prayer/service
  4. Our faith uses buildings as an example
    – temple, dwelling, refuge, house, etc.

The readings today use the idea of a building to help reveal God’s presence among us.  The image of a building (especially a Temple) develops several themes:

  • From the Temple of God comes life
  • All dwellings (temples belong to the Lord
  • Each one of us is a Temple of God
  • Jesus described his own body as a temple

Church buildings not only serve to gather us for prayer, but they shape the very way we pray.  They are places where we recognize the Lord’s presence in a powerful way.  By honoring a particular church this weekend, we pause to remember the role that buildings (especially churches) play in our faith.

A building by itself is nothing.  A building filled with people alive for Christ is awesome.  May this feast remind us that all our buildings and bodies are simply places – created by God in order to dwell among us.

St. John Lateran interior

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