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Second Sunday in Advent (Year C)

Dear Parishioners, I recently came across an excellent reflection on this Sunday’s gospel that I would like to share with you.  It speaks of the Advent Season, John the Baptist, and how we can prepare ourselves for Christ’s coming.  Let this be a reminder for us of what the true season of Christmas entails and how we can share this spirit to our loved ones… “Pre-evangelism” is a modern ministry term that refers to the biblical process of preparing people to receive the Good News of Jesus and the salvation available through him. In one sense it is very much like the agricultural process of preparing the soil to receive seed so that the seed has the optimal chance of germinating and springing into life. The farmer prepares the soil by plowing, tilling, and adding various soil supplements, depending on the condition of the soil. This process takes time, energy and money, however without proper soil preparation much seed would be wasted and the harvest greatly diminished.  John the Baptist was a herald of Jesus’ arrival on the scene and history of man’s salvation.  John’s austere life and straightforward proclamations prepared the way for the appearance of Jesus and the starting of his ministry. John was involved in “pre-evangelism” long before the term was coined, for he conditioned hearts to be receptive to the arrival of the Lamb of God, and Jesus’ work of salvation.  Consequently, when Jesus presented himself to John to be baptized, several of John’s disciples were prepared to follow Jesus, ultimately becoming his disciples. Because of John’s preparatory work the seed of Jesus’ words fell on the receptive soil of their hearts, bringing forth both growth and fruit. We know that Christ has come, that’s what we celebrate during this season of Advent. However, there dwells in our midst many people for whom Jesus’ coming does not exist. Though they may know his name and even use it when cursing, they don’t know who he is, they do not comprehend what he has done for them, and they have never encountered him personally. Many are bruised and battered by life, cynically rejecting the Truth, and steeling themselves against further hurt, they remain unreceptive to the seeds of Truth. […] The season of Advent is a prime time to begin this process with people we know. Advent lends itself to being friendly and expanding relationships. Casual conversations about Christmas plans, feelings, and traditions can easily overflow into a gracious and non-threatening sharing with others the real meaning of Christmas for us. Little kindnesses and thoughtful, unexpected acts of grace-filled giving can soften and melt hearts steeled by life’s hurts, communicating love, care and concern. We not only can be, but must be, heralds of Jesus especially during this season of Advent. Who knows? Perhaps God will use us in this season to herald his coming to a friend or family member who will hear him, for the first time. Father Philip

First Sunday of Advent (Year C)

Dear parishioners “When these things begin to take place, stand erect, hold your heads high, because your liberation is near at hand.” These words of Christ are valid no matter what year it is. They apply to all situations which seem desperate, all of the road blocks in our lives, all of the scenarios which seem chaotic and out of control. At first we’ll probably react with fear. There’ll be a temptation to believe in tragedy. But the Lord has taken tragedy off the table for us. Tragedy is the trap of fate: that fictitious belief in an outcome that has already been decided for us no matter what we do. Things would then simply take a turn for the worse and we would be left without a choice and with no hope. Our Savior voluntarily placed himself in that type of situation. They believed they had him and that it was ‘game over’. For our sake He allowed this to happen to Him in order to rid us all for ever of the prison of fate. Therefore, He has every right to say to us: “When these things begin to take place, stand erect, hold your heads high, because your liberation is near at hand.” That is a clear and powerful statement about the work of Grace in our souls. It states the deeply Marian way of reacting to sorrowful circumstances. That is what she did at the Cross. She was able to stand and that is a tremendous gift for us.  We could name Saint John Paul II who ‘stood’ his whole life. The Nazis, the Soviets, the serious attempt on his life,  Parkinson’s disease and whatever else anyone could throw at him; none of this could stop this man from standing. Saint Maximilian Kolbe, did he not stand in the midst of the horrors of Auschwitz? You’re probably thinking: what does any of this have to do with Christmas preparation? The Church has always understood that the Advent Season aims both at the Nativity and the Glorious Return of Christ in the end of time. Both of these mysteries require us to watch and pray, by the way. So don’t live this advent season thinking only about the Child Jesus, but rather consider too how the coming of this Child has ultimately liberated you from your fears and given you hope that you may stand tall through all of life’s challenges and beyond the end of time itself! Fr Sean Mary.