From Father's Desk

From Father's Desk

From Fathers Desk web

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

As we begin a new year together as a parish family, we have been endeavoring to understand and appreciate what our mission is, and even what it means for us to begin to live out our parish mission statement.

When we say “church” we mean many things. It is the place where we go to meet, the worship we practice in that place, and even the people with whom we gather. “Church” carries all those meanings and more. As the church, as members of the Body of Christ, we are called to gather and worship but above all we are called to be united with Christ our head.

Dear Family in Christ,

Last week we celebrated the Baptism of the Lord, when Jesus inaugurated his public ministry. The truth of his identity begins to be revealed: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am pleased” (Lk 3:22) the voice from Heaven said as the Holy Spirit descended on him in the form of a dove. A beautiful epiphany - a wondrous revelation of the divinity of Christ.

Actually, over three weeks, the Church has presented us with three epiphanies: three moments in which Christ is revealed to us in a new and profound way. These three are often connected and considered together: the visit of the Magi, the baptism of the Lord, and today - the wedding at Cana.

Fellow Members of the Body of Christ,

Do you remember that famous line from The Blues Brothers: “We are on a mission from God!” This sense of mission gave Dan Akyroyd and John Belushi (Jake & Elwood) great confidence that they would succeed in raising the necessary funds to save the Catholic orphanage from closing. Never could a nun be called “the penguin” with such affection!

Jesus our Lord is the original missionary, the original one sent from the Father to accomplish not his own will but the will of the one who sent him. This word “mission” comes from the Latin for “to send.” The Prologue of John’s Gospel depicts how the Son is eternal with God and yet sent from God to pitch his tent among us. John’s account depicts this Christological truth, the clearest statement perhaps being: “I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me” (Jn 6:38). Other verses and nuances from Johannine literature and elsewhere support the case.

Dear friends,

Merry Christmas! A special welcome to family, friends and visitors joining us for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. We are glad you are here, joining us for this great feast day. There is much to bring before our Prince of Peace: our joys and sorrows, our struggles and successes, our losses from this past year but also our wins, especially the ways we have grown with the Lord. This life is a journey, a pilgrimage that unfolds before us, and the road is undulating with pitfalls and switchbacks but also hidden vistas. And while on the road, we count on the strength and support of loved ones, with the light and love of the Lord to guide us.

Today we commemorate and celebrate the event of the Lord’s birth, when the light broke through the darkness, and all was made new by the presence of the newborn King. We have been centering on the action of God breaking into our lives, miracles, those wonderful signs the Lord offers to reveal himself and show us a way. Today, we arrive at the culmination.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The transition of the season is underway. Advent begins with the Christian focused on the horizon, awaiting the return of the Lord. Think of a watchman on a tower peering out into the distance. As we move closer to Christmas, our gaze drops closer, nearer. For two weeks now, we were preparing with John the Baptist’s message. Now we turn directly to the moments that lead up to the Nativity of the Son of God. The first chapters of the Gospel according to Matthew and Luke recount these events. It is beautiful to spend each day in prayer with these few deep passages. Today we witness an intimate greeting between cousins, Elizabeth and Mary, the beautiful account called “The Visitation” (Lk 1:39-45). These details likely come directly from Mother Mary as retold to Luke.

In these accounts we meet people who believe in and expect miracles and we meet people who struggle. Some believe while others are prone to disbelief. Zechariah husband of Elizabeth - despite being a priest - was found to be lacking faith. Gabriel renders him mute for failing to believe the good news that John would be born to them (see: Lk 1:20). By contrast, Elizabeth and Mary show themselves to be women of faith. Where do we find ourselves on the faith-doubt scale?

Dear Parish Family,

This weekend a great confluence occurs. Gaudete Sunday, Bambinelli Sunday, the Memorial Garden Tree Lighting, and praying together for the miracles we expect. Gaudete Sunday is the Sunday of rejoicing. We rejoice because the Lord is near! Our vigilant watchfulness for the return of the Lord lightens as we receive more signs that Emmanuel (God-with-us) approaches. As God draws near, we light our Christmas trees and bless our Creche. The great miracle of the Incarnation draws nigh.

We are in the third week of our message “Expect Miracles.” By miracles we mean wonderful signs God does to indicate his plan and reveal himself. We began with the invitation to reflect on whether we believe in and genuinely hope for miracles. Or are miracles from a former time, just stories we hear about?  One key to miracles is that they must be recognized; we must notice in order to appreciate them. The Bible is full of God’s special action for salvation history, his interventions in small hidden ways as well as stunning public acts. And those who witness miracles, tend to expect them and believe that God will act. God will break into the humdrum to show his love.

Dear brothers and sisters,

Advent is a great season! I love the energy, and the egg nog, the lights, and decorations. All of the preparations that we make to welcome the Infant King, the Prince of Peace, the one who comes to show us the path of life and to guide us with his grace and word towards a life of true human flourishing. Yes, Jesus comes that we might have life and have it to the full (Jn 10:10).

Central to that fullness of life in Christ is our relationship with God. God wants to be connected to us; he wants to be part of our daily life. And a big part of his presence is learning to rely on him, believing that he will “show up” when we need him.

My dear parish family,

We had a wonderful Christmas Bazaar (now two weekends ago). I just want to extend special thanks to everyone who made that day possible. Coming together to pull off an event like that is, well, a little miracle. God inspired each person who served as they did, to love, to chip in, and make the day special. It was a full and rich day at OLPH and I appreciate everyone who answered the call to serve and to welcome folks from our larger community into our parish. I hope you each met someone new.

While mentioning “thank yous”, I need to extend a special and gracious thanks to the anonymous member who came forward to say, “If other members match it, I will contribute up to $25,000.” Another little miracle for our parish family to move forward in faith and make improvements on much needed areas of our campus. I hope that each of you will give something to support the $25k match campaign, as each dollar is doubled up to the match. Who knows maybe someone else will come forward to help us match the rest of it! What does Jesus say: ask, seek, and knock.  Well, it is time to ask with faith and confidence and wait for the good people of OLPH to respond with generosity, as the Lord has been generous with them. To be honest, I am excited by this campaign, but also nervous. It is always hard to ask for money. But we are not just asking for funds but for necessary improvements so that we can accomplish our mission.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This weekend we celebrate the last Sunday of the church year, Christ the King of the Universe. Next Sunday already is the first Sunday of Advent! But today we are focused on Christ Jesus as King, as Lord, as Sovereign of the whole universe. Immediately we each ask ourselves whether Jesus is Lord in my life and in my heart. If Jesus truly is ruler of all, then it is time to reaffirm that He is king of our hearts.

This week we wrap up the Harvest Principle Series. Over the past 5 weeks we have probed the reality that we reap what we sow. For better or worse, the seeds we plant in our lives and families and community, will bear fruit. I have enjoyed this message because of its emphasis on the living reality, the organism. Things are in motion; either we are growing, or we are dying; nothing is stagnant, and not just in one area of life but many areas. We cultivate the good and weed out the bad, all as the days pass and the seasons change. Even since we began this series the weather has shifted, and the bite of the winter wind has arrived.