Happy New Year! Today we begin a new Church year with the first Sunday of Advent. This is our time to prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas. As much as we buy and receive gifts the ultimate gift we all share is Jesus. Two thousand years ago the long- awaited promise from God to send a Savior was fulfilled as Jesus, the Son of God, came into our world. A good thought to contemplate as we get ready for Christmas is how much of a gift is Jesus to me personally, to us as the Church communally, to our nation, and to our world. We are challenged to focus our thoughts on the ultimate meaning of Christmas when we get too caught up in all the activities of gifts, cards, presents, and gatherings. Christmas is the birth of Jesus. He is the ultimate source of our hope, life, and peace.
At this point I am in the process of preparing for our upcoming Parish Mission which will take place on the evenings of Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, this coming Feb 26, 27 and 28. The retreat will be given by Steubenville Parish Missions from Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. Already we have formed a preparation group with nine specific tasks to get ready and have met with a director from the Mission Team at the university. What impresses me the most is the joy, faith, and love of those who are part of their Mission Team and the joy, faith, and love of the people of our parish who are part of our parish mission team. Just meeting with Martin from Steubenville and our staff is inspiring, encouraging, and hopeful. Jesus came into our world 2,000 years ago and He comes into our world every time we celebrate the Sacraments and pray to Him. What difference does He make to us personally? Do I really believe that He knows me and loves me? As much as we can be enthused by being loved by God, even more Jesus loves us. Look at the cross - what greater love can we see from Him than that? His love is unconditional and His mercy frees us from all that separates us from the peace, hope, and love only He can bring us and has done all in His power to bring us.
A key part of the Parish Mission will be to invite us to deepen our faith in groups that will help us to share our faith journey with one another and be enriched by one another. Intimate relationships involve more than just an hour of time one day a week and words of communication a few minutes a day. We carry the in our lives in our hearts, minds, and thoughts day in and day out. They encourage, motivate, inspire and enrich us and we reciprocate by doing the same for them. How good it will be to see that more clearly through our Parish Mission. That will be a great gift for ourselves personally, for all whose lives we touch, for our Church, and for our nation. Jesus is our greatest resource and through, with, and in Him we become a great resource for all whose lives we touch. In the weeks ahead I will be speaking more about our Parish Mission and will invite you personally as much possible along with our Parish Mission Team. Jesus is the gift that never stops giving.
May the words of Psalm be reflected in our minds and hearts every time we turn to God in prayer and come to His house to pray and encounter Him in the Sacraments.
I rejoiced when I heard them say:
Let us go to God's house.
And now our feet are standing
within your gates, O Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is built as a city
It is there that the tribes go up,
the tribes of the Lord.
For Israel's law it is,
there to praise the Lord's name.
There were set the thrones of judgment
of the house of David.
For the peace of Jerusalem pray: "Peace be to your homes! May peace reign in your walls! In your palaces, peace!"
For love of my brethren and friends I say: Peace upon you. For love of the house of the Lord I will ask for your good.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be. Amen.
Psalm Prayer: When you rose from the dead, Lord Jesus, you formed the Church into your new body, and made of it the new Jerusalem, united in your Spirit. Give us peace in our day. Make all nations come to your Church to share in the gifts in fellowship, that they may render you thanks without end and come to your eternal city.BACK TO LIST