Pastor's Corner

This page provides quick access to Fr, Michael's Pastor's Corner columns.

December 24, 2017 - Fourth Sunday of Advent

"GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST AND PEACE TO MEN OF GOODWILL" - the words of the Angels to the shepherds in Bethlehem is a powerful reminder to all of us that the celebration of Christmas is the announcement of peace for all. The baby in the manger is truly the Prince of Peace. He is here to fill our hearts with lasting peace and love. I take this opportunity to wish all the parishioners, "A Blessed Christmas and a prosperous New year 2018". Wishing you and your families the specials of this great time of grace, namely, Hope, Joy, Peace and Love!

The creator of this vast and wondrous universe entered our history on this night and became human for us. What this means, of course, is that God does not intend to destroy us but to redeem and restore us to be the people he created us to be. This Christmas story tells us that there is a way out of our sinfulness and hopelessness, because God is with us. We are not alone. There is a mighty God with in us to strengthen us in our weaknesses and temptations.

As Emmanuel, Jesus lives in the sacraments, especially in the Holy Eucharist, in the Holy Bible, in the praying community and in each believer, with the Holy Spirit who is transforming us daily into the "Temples of the Holy Spirit." Hence, each Christmas reminds us that we are bearers of God with the missionary duty of conveying Jesus to others around us by loving others as Jesus did, through sacrificial, humble and committed service. Sharing with others JESUS, the Emmanuel living with us, is the best Christmas gift we can give to, or receive from, others.

I pray that we may put on the attitude of gratitude for all the blessings of God. I pray that we may not be happy with the feelings of Christmas but live what we truly celebrate. Let us keep CHRIST in Christmas that the blessings of this season of Grace will remain with us now and always!

Fr. Michael

December 17, 2017 - Third Sunday of Advent

Last Sunday John the Baptist was introduced and NOW WE COME TO A SHARPER FOCUS ON HIM AS TO, 'WHO HE IS'. Although he dressed like Prophet Elijah, and preaches repentance and judgment, he is not Elijah. Not in the flesh but he had the spirit of Elijah in his mission. Nor is John the Messiah, though he has been anointed by the Spirit since the womb. In his own words, he is not the messiah, but someone who is not even worthy to stand before the messiah.

John prepares the way for the Lord. His baptism is symbolic, not sacramental. It is a sign given to stir our hearts to repentance. John points too us the One upon whom the Spirit remain; the One who fulfills the promise. In Jesus' baptism we are reborn and the Spirit opens a fountain that purifies us and gives to all a new heart and a new Spirit.

John comes to us in the Advent readings to show us the light that we might believe in the One who comes at Christmas. Today's Responsorial psalm tells us that the Mighty One has come to lift each of us up, to fill our hunger with bread from heaven.

And as St. Paul exhorts in today's second reading, we should rejoice, give thanks, and pray without ceasing that God will make us perfectly holy in spirit, soul, and body—that we may be blameless when our Lord comes.

Fr. Michael

December 10, 2017 - Second Sunday of Advent

ADVENT HAS ONLY THREE FULL WEEKS THIS YEAR. Christmas Eve's being on a Sunday means that the fourth week is only a short few hours. Israel, as known as Zion, Jerusalem, is in captivity, far from their holy temple, far from feeling any "comfort" or any sense of being carried or cared-for. We hear the Prophet shouting to the alienated, what he himself has heard. Our whole 1st reading contains promises and hopeful images of just what God is going to do.

All our Advent Readings and liturgies can be interpreted as a series of divine finger-pointing and demanding for the work of straightening our roads, filling in our valleys, leveling our mountains and then the Shepherd will be pleased and will return us. Advent is our prayer-time to get closer to God; this closeness is where the Spiritual Life is lived that is recovery. Therefore, Advent is the season to allow ourselves time for God's recovery of ourselves.

Today's Gospel contains the opening dramatic presentation, that all the verses of this Gospel are "Good News" of Jesus the Son of God. The first scene in the playing-out of this Good News is John the Baptist's fulfilling the prophecy we hear in our 1st reading. John clarifies so early in his preaching and baptizing that he is not the Son of God but points out to Jesus as the mightier-One Who will be the Giver of a new baptism in the Spirit. This Spirit will continue the reconstruction of our creation and will aid the recovery of our selves.

May we pray for God's guidance to receive the incarnate Son with gladness that the Joy, Peace of the season will remain with us all through!

Fr. Michael

December 3, 2017 - First Sunday of Advent

For ADVENT IS A TIME OF WAITING: waiting for the opportunity to celebrate God's intervention in human history; waiting for, and preparing for, Jesus' return. We hear from the book of Isaiah for the first three Sundays of Advent. It speaks of historical events in the life of the Israelites like wars, revolts, dethroned rulers. The prophet calls for an intimate relationship between God and his chosen people. During exile Isaiah recalls all the times in history that God provided protection, and begs for the Lord to come once more to their aid. He acknowledges that they have sinned, but is confident in God's abiding covenantal promise.

Like him we are to have confident hope in God's love for us. As our Father God shapes our lives with the loving tenderness of a potter molding clay. We hear this same confidence in the Gospel message of Jesus to his disciples. His words, Be watchful! Be alert! are instructions for how to live with assurance that we don't have to wonder or worry.

The nights are much longer than the days in this dark time of the year. We may be facing harsh difficulties, unknown risks or painful circumstances. Yet what the prophet Isaiah names is what Paul the Apostle confirms: In him you were enriched in every way, because God is faithful. We have already been given the graces we need to face our specific circumstances. In the words of Saint Paul in today's reading: you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

God is, indeed, faithful. The only question we must answer is, how are we responding to this awesome grace?

Fr. Michael

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