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from fathers desk

Dear Parish Family,

If you are anything like me, your “to do” list is much longer than your “can do” list this week. We are in the final week of Advent and the fourth week of our “Are You Prepared?” Message Series. No matter how many lists I make, they keep getting longer. Yet in these final days of Advent, it is good to be reminded that the most important preparation is of the heart.

“Preparation is the key to success,” as my 6th grade teacher Mrs. Landy would always say. She tried to stress that homework and study dovetailed with the work of the classroom. Another teacher taught us, “daily study, leisurely review, excellent results.” His message was that cramming doesn’t work, but regular daily work is a better recipe for success. We cannot make up for lost time with one “all-nighter!” (Tell that to those who leave all the wrapping to the final evening!) ?

Preparation is also the key to “success” or richness in our spiritual lives. Like any relationship, our life in Christ requires regular attention, love, devotion and time. We need a plan for our friendship with God. On Epiphany, Jan 3, 2021, we will begin another message series on this topic: prayer and our relationship with God. Together, we will soak in the wisdom of Matthew Kelly’s new book: I Heard God Laugh. This approachable book is your parish Christmas present (Merry Christmas!) We have begun handing out copies in church and at the rectory. Please be sure to get one when you make a visit.

Today we enter into a very familiar moment, the encounter between Mary and Gabriel. This Gospel is soooo familiar that it can be easy for it to wash over us and not penetrate, especially as we review our to-do lists. Mary shows herself to be a model of receptivity. She ponders and questions but does not doubt. She enters into the mystery of the Incarnation. She accepts not only Gabriel’s message but also the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit. Mary doesn’t rush the conversation or the explanation. She takes it all in, one moment at a time. Mother Mary shows us what it means to have a listening heart.

By contrast, David in the first reading seems intent on plowing ahead with his plans to build a temple. Even Nathan the prophet is on board until God sends him a message at night. Often it is during the quiet of the night that the Lord speaks. The stillness helps to silence our hearts. Be sure to catch sight of “the Christmas Star,” the convergence of Jupiter and Saturn in the southwestern sky during these days of early winter starting right after sunset on December 21st. And in those moments, listen for the heartbeat of God, growing in Mary’s belly as we get ready for the arrival of the Christ-child.

This week we pray for the gift of a listening heart, for a heart configured after the heart of our Mother, who could receive Gabriel’s unusual greeting and receive the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit in order to inaugurate the beginning of a whole new world. Mary, Mother of God and our dear  Mama, pray for us!

Yours attentively,
Fr. Wilson