Saturday, November 26, 2011

1st Sunday of Advent Year B - 2011

This Sunday’s Readings

1st Sunday in AdventMay the Peace of Christ reign in our hearts.

With this 1st  Sunday of Advent we begin many things anew.

We begin a new translation of the Mass.

It is a translation which sounds a little foreign and maybe even awkward the first couple times you hear it.

However, it is a translation which the scholars tell us is much more faithful to the text of the Mass said all over the world.

It will be hard for us to keep it all straight for a while but sooner or later the old translation will fade in our minds and all we will know and love will be this new translation.

As you all know the first Sunday of Advent marks the beginning of the new Church Year.

The  page in our lives for this next Church year is blank.

While we have been created in the image and likeness of God,
and while God gave us the ability to understand and choose,
the best possible choice for a follower of Christ is to allow God to shape mold our lives.

As the Gospel pointed out we are at our best when we realize that we are the clay and God is the potter.

We are at our best when we allow God to mold us and shape our lives according to His will and His plan.

You know being a pregnant teenager never figured into Mary’s plan to be sure.

I am sure that  Mary’s pregnancy never figured into Joseph’s plan either but that’s what God needed and so they surrendered their will to God.

You know Elizabeth and Zachariah were childless and alone.

Having John the Baptist was great joy for them but if they had had their way they would have had John the Baptist when they were young.  

God had other plans. Elizabeth’s pregnancy even at an advanced age helped Mary accept God’s will in her life,  for as the Angel Gabriel said “nothing is impossible with God.”

You know John the Baptist was a courageous holy man.
From his childhood he desired to do God’s will.

The scholars tell us however, that there is a good chance that as he took his step into manhood he probably envisioned himself more as a zealot a kind of guerrilla warrior sent to drive out the Romans by force than a humble itinerant preacher.

Once he opened his heart to God’s will he ended up living in the desert and calling people to repentance through baptism.

In his youth he would have longed to die in battle,
instead he died in prison.

His head was presented on a silver platter as a gift to a girl who knew how to dance and her evil mother.

John’s words “He must increase I must decrease” haunt anyone who has ever heard them and understood them.

They could only have been uttered by a man who surrendered everything to God.

You know even Jesus... slowly came to understand God’s will in His life.

The Gospel of Luke  tells us  that “he grew in wisdom, understanding and love of the Lord.”

One day probably early in his life he must have realized that he had special relationship with God.

Some say at his baptism he understood that he was called to be the Messiah and accepted this call.

And then with the temptation in the desert he figured out just what kind of Messiah his father was calling him to be....

What is God’s plan for us this year ?
What does God have in store with us?
What challenges will we face?
What blessing will we receive ?

A wonderful Italian lady from New York and a dear friend always used to always say to me.

”Fr. Robert if you want to make God laugh tell him your plans.”

This new Church Year

Let us ask ourselves
Where do we fit into God’s loving plan for humanity?

Will be we be ready and attentive when he calls or will we have grow complacent.

Pray God let us be attentive and let us surrender ourselves to God’s will and God’s plan.

Friday, November 04, 2011

32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time Year A - 2011

This Sunday's Readings

This week I have a few questions for all of us to ponder...

How many of you have had a crazy week ?

How many of you got frustrated ?
How many of you lost power ?

Don’t worry I'm not going to ask those who didn’t lose power to raise their hands.

One lady told me...
“Father I almost feel guilty because I never lost power”,

I heard of another lady who pretended she didn’t have electricity because everyone else in her office lost theirs and they were upset.

How many of you still don’t have power?

How many of you received a call from one our High School Kids checking up on you?

We have great kids here in Berlin.. As I wrote in the bulletin Tuesday two of our High School Kids made 573 calls... they called and checked on every household with some one 80 or older....incredible.

How many of you just want life to get back to normal ?

I have come to understand in my own life that when things get tough, when some or many of my comforts are stripped away, when life throws me a challenge or 2 or 10, I really see what I’m made of.

And I think that this rings true for everyone.

When life throws us a challenge we really see what we are all made of... as individuals, as a family, as a parish, and even as a town or state.

When life throws us a challenge or challenges we learn how well we really are prepared to carry them.

The Gospel today tells us the story of the 10 Bridesmaids or virgins... five were prepared for the arrival of the groom even if he came late and five were not prepared...

And when the moment of crisis came and they were running out of oil the five foolish or unprepared bridesmaids were not able to get their act together soon enough to be admitted into the wedding.

The difficult circumstances that many of us have faced this week and how we reacted to them should give us pause.

It’s important that we reflect on this week and see how well we were prepared.

All of us should ask ourselves if were we prepared with the supplies we needed to weather the storm, (no pun intended,) and how could we have been better prepared.

But even more important this past week should cause us all to stop and ask ourselves....
How did we respond personally to this crisis?

Were we calm or did we get testy when some of our conveniences were taken away... ?

By the way the
conveniences we lost were things that many of our brothers and sisters throughout the world may not even regularly enjoy.

Perhaps the most important question we need to ask ourselves is this...

Were we completely self absorbed or were we able to think beyond ourselves and our own problems during the storm?

During this week of sacrifice and difficulties did we think of others ?

Did we call anyone or walk down the street and check on anyone ?

When we got our lights back or if we never lost them did we welcome anyone into our home?

Did we send warm food to anyone without a gas stove?

Did we look after anyone who was not a member of our family ?

If we failed to do even one of these things then not only weren’t we prepared physically for the storm but most importantly we were not prepared spiritually.

If we failed to do any of these good deeds it means that like the foolish virgins or bridesmaids we were not prepared to answer when love called.

You know I’m ashamed to say if something happened and I needed to run a mile right now I would probably fall flat on my face or die of heart attack.

I am not prepared to run even a mile, as much as I would want to run it I just wouldn’t be able.

But if I started running a little ever day
(easier said then done)..

If I walked then ran and walked then ran slowly but surely I could probably get up to a mile or more...

It’s the same way with the practice of virtue...

Like I can’t expect to run a mile today
We just can’t expect to be generous all of a sudden if you don’t practice being generous every day of your life.

If we don’t practice being generous then when when the storms hit,
when the wires fall,
when we are left in the dark and cold and someone needs us we won’t even be able to respond with a generous heart.

Like the foolish virgins we will not be prepared...

Fear not... 

A very wise man told me never waste a good crisis

Let us all make this past storm a moment of grace,

if we need to be better prepared with supplies and if we need our hearts to be more  practiced in generosity let’s begin  now

For we all know that someday in the not too distant future love will call gain and we will be better prepared to respond with a generous heart.

While we have time
Let us do good.