Saturday, December 15, 2018

3rd Sunday of Advent Year C - 2108

The scholars tell us that John the Baptist may have been a member of the Essene community.

They were a group of Jews who separated themselves from the rest of the Jews and tried to live a more ascetical and focused religious life. 

This may be why John the Baptist lived in the desert by himself and spent his energy preaching repentance and did not have a family and career.

When we read the Gospels it becomes clear that John 
was a man driven to proclaim the truth no matter what the cost.

We all know that in the end his prophetic witness would cost him his life.

When he preached John minced no words.
He said what he thought God wanted him to say without fear or hesitation.

Because he was authentic and practiced what he preached,
people were attracted to him.

They came to be baptized because they had broken God’s law,  were not happy or were looking for more.

They came to the Jordan because they wanted to be righteous in God’s sight.

They came to be baptized because no matter who they were or what they had done John accepted everyone.

Case in point the soldiers who came to John in today’s Gospel were probably Jewish soldiers working for the Romans.

No Jew would talk to them,  give them any notice, or show them any respect. In the eyes of their contemporaries they were traitors they were to be shunned every by their families and friends

Yet, John spoke with them and encouraged them.

It was the same with the tax collectors they were also Jews who worked for the Romans and were despised by the Jews.,

Yet, John spoke with them, saw their potential, and challenged them to live holy lives just like Jesus would do during his ministry.

You see in addition to being a prophet, John was also merciful man who accepted anyone who was repentant no matter what they had done.

During his papacy Pope Francis has preached about God’s mercy over and over again. He went so far as to declare an extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy.

Pope Francis wants the institutional Church to be more merciful, he wants all 1.2 billion members of the Church to be more merciful, and he wants us to be more welcoming toward sinners. 

All of us need to be more generous and more forgiving. 
All of us need to let go of past hurts and reach out to those who hurt us.

Our Holy Father proclaimed 
“The church is the home that accepts everyone and refuses no one … the greater the sin, the greater the love that the church should show toward those who [repent]” 

We the Church should always promote the reconciliation with adversaries Our Common life should be occasion to promote solidarity, hope and justice in the world. 

Catholics should be the hearlds of God’s limitless mercy and should engage in corporal works of mercy.

We must never forget that God’s mercy flows through the Church, 
the sacraments, and it also needs to flow through each and everyone of us.

Yes, God shares his mercy with us and through us.

In the Gospel of this Third Sunday of Advent, John the Baptist is asked by the people what they should do to prepare for the coming of the Messiah. 

John’s response starts out with what we call the “corporal works of mercy.” “Let the person with two coats give to the person who has none. 

The person who has food should do the same.” 
In other words, show mercy to those in need — without conditions.

This Advent is the perfect time for every Catholic to lovingly and gently help people seek God Mercy. (Mercy Monday Last Call)

And when someone seeks God’s mercy we need to grant it recklessly without reserve… for that’s how God loves.

On this gaudete Sunday or joyful sunday, we have reason to rejoice… for God’s limitless Mercy is ours for the taking and ours to share   


Saturday, December 01, 2018

1st Sunday of Advent Year - C 2018

May the peace of Christ Reign in our hearts.
Last summer was a summer of packing, finishing projects and goodbyes lots of goodbyes.

My nephew Matthew even flew in from Detroit to say good bye.. 

I’m not exactly sure where everyone thought I was going but that’s how the summer was and it was very touching.

Whenever Matt visits we like to hike  and in the past he was surprised at how well I could walk up those hills.

With all of the goodbyes last summer I did didn’t get my hiking in as often as I was used to

When Matt visited lask summer he wanted to go hiking again.

I decided to hike up Talcott Mountain.
It’s a short pretty steep climb

Usually I can make up without any problem
But this time it was really hard and I even had to stop once on my way up.

When we got to the top Matt (ever the tactful one) looked back at me and said wow Uncle Rob what happened to you, you’re really sucking wind. 

I was amazed at how much I have gotten out so shape in just a few weeks. My struggle up that hill was an eye opener.

In today’s gospel Jesus warns us about becoming drowsy, spiritually complacent or better yet, spiritually out of shape. 

He reminds us that unless we are vigilant,
unless we concentrate on being good, holy, generous, people all the time, our spiritual lives will suffer. 

Just like I learned that it doesn't take long time to get out of shape physically, it doesn't take long to fall out of shape spiritually either.

When we don’t make it a habit of giving God time it becomes harder and harder to give God time and to turn our lives around.

When we don't make it a habit of going to confession it becomes harder and harder to come back to the grace of the sacrament.

Some of you haven’t gone to confession in years and you know you should and many of you even want to go but the longer you are away the harder it is to get back. 

When we regularly don’t place the needs of others, before our own it becomes easier and easier to become self absorbed and even narcissistic.

Many people have simply grown used to seeing other people in need or suffering and feel absolutely no urgency to do anything about it. 

It is so easy for us to fool ourselves into thinking that we have lots of time to get our spiritual house in order or to get in shape spiritually

We reason, there's time for holiness, there’s time for God, it’s just not yet.

St. Augustine will always be remembered for his line… 
Give me Chastity O Lord but not yet.

We say things to ourselves like 
Lord help me be holy … just not yet.

The Gospel warns us that we know neither the day or the hour and that if we are not ready the day of the Lord’s coming will catch like a trap.

Remember getting in shape spiritually takes time like getting in shape physically. Only the practice of virtue over time will get us in shape spiritually.

If I want to make it to the top of Talcot Mountain without getting out of breath going up once won’t do it
Going up twice won’t do it.
I have to go up over and over and gradually I’ll get my stamina back and make it to the top without difficulty

It the same with getting in shape spiritually. 
One effort, one moment of prayer, one rosary will not make a difference

Because our Church understands our human condition.
she gives us the season of Advent in the hope that even with all the confusion that the Christmas brings we will make an extra effort to enter deeply into the mystery of God’s love for us. 

I don’t know about you but this is my 63th Advent. 
Let’s say Advents 1-18 don’t count because I was still growing up.

That means I’ve had 45 advents to amend my life a
nd grow closer to God.
And all I can say is that I know I could have done better.

I know that there have been and still are periods of spiritual drowsiness or hyper busyness even in my life as a priest.

We all can do better and deep in our hearts we want to do better.

This year on this first Sunday of Advent 

Let us commit ourselves to one concrete thing which will help us to be holier and more generous men and women.    

See you at Mercy Monday