12/11/2016-Word of God Speak!

     The insight we gained this past Sunday is an insight that we want to hold on to and go deeper with as we move forward. St. Paul helped us to understand that the proclamation of the Word of God has a special power to inspire and encourage us to a great confidence in Jesus, to a loving longing for His coming, to prepare ourselves to encounter Him and to welcome Him into our lives. The message of St. Matthew ought to have inspired us in that one man-St. John the Baptist, by God’s power, was able to prepare an entire nation to encounter and welcome Jesus. Isaiah’s message showed us what Jesus would do if we were to welcome Him into our lives and what Jesus will do definitively at the end of time: He, by the power of the Holy Spirit, will restore that harmony, peace, unity and intimate communion with God and one another that our heart longs for.

WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE? Were you inspired by the proclamation of God’s Word? Or, is your disposition more one of: I am perfectly fine doing absolutely nothing to prepare for Christmas -it doesn’t matter what I do, it will be the same old Christmas just like the year before. From what we learned from St. Paul, we know for certain that the blockage or obstacle is not on the part of God. As we gaze upon Jesus on the Cross in our beloved Church, we know that God has not failed us; God has not abandoned us; God has not given up on us; and God is not judging or condemning us. So, if there is a blockage or a wound, it has to be on our part. One of the most common wounds that inflict those of us in the Western Hemisphere is this outlook on life that sounds like this: my life doesn’t matter. This may be a result of frustration after frustration as we see our life’s goals unfulfilled or come crashing to the ground. This wound might also express itself like this: as long as I don’t hurt anyone else, it really doesn’t matter what I do or don’t do. For now, once again turning to Jesus on the Cross, we can conclude that this outlook on life is not reconcilable with the Good News of Jesus Christ. No one can stand before the Cross of the Son of God and say: my life doesn’t matter. Hence we began to understand the passion and boldness of the preaching of St. John the Baptist as he exhorts us to repent: to turn our backs to this outlook on life, to turn our backs to our anger, to our sadness, to our discouragement, to our lust, in a word, to all that makes our lives ugly and robs us of our joy.

WHAT’S NEW WITH THIS PICTURE? So now, let’s return to God’s Word, but with a disposition that reflects all that God has done for us in His Son, Jesus. My life matters because . . . My life matters because God loves me so much He sent me His Son. The Gospel of Matthew is about St. John preparing us to encounter and welcome Jesus into our lives. My life matters because God has a plan for my life. John the Baptist didn’t have fancy shoes, fancy clothes, a nice chariot, or a fancy home, and God still chose to need him. Because John said yes to God and believed in the Good News, his simple life was able to prepare an entire nation. Although you and I might not have the same sphere of influence as St. John the Baptist, God is still counting on us: your spouse needs you, your children need you, your friends, your neighbors, your co-workers, and your parish family needs you! My life matters because God sent His Son Jesus to lead me to heaven. In Isaiah, we have that powerful image of the harmony that Jesus will restore through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. There is no trial, no difficulty, no hardship that cannot be overcome through the gifts of the Holy Spirit. My life matters because God loves me and cares about me. In St. Paul, we see how He speaks to us as a Father speaks to a child. When I am open to hear the Word of God, when I pick up the Bible with a desire to hear the voice of God, I do hear His voice and this encourages me and inspires me.

DO YOU WANT TO SEE ALL OF THIS COME ALIVE? On Wednesday, December 14 that 6:30 pm, we have our monthly Praise and Worship evening. During this hour of prayer, song, and supplication, you will experience the power of God’s Word and Presence to touch your life. Jesus, the Son of God, will be enthroned on our altar. Coming together as God’s family to pray and to praise the Lord is a fitting preparation for our celebration of Christmas! As much as I would love to see all parishioners come to this hour of prayer, I want to especially invite all those involved in any form of ministry or group at St. Louise: ushers, greeters, lectors, EMEs, Knights of Columbus, St. Vincent de Paul, Christian Women, and our Seniors. I so desire that this spending one hour a month in prayer together before the Blessed Sacrament become not just part of the fabric of who we are and what we do, but also the source of our unity in Christ Jesus!

CHRISTMAS EVE  We are all looking forward to the beginning of our celebration of the Nativity of Jesus with our 4 pm Christmas Eve Holy Mass which begins with our Christmas play! We will also have a beautiful Holy Mass at 10 pm on Christmas Eve to celebrate the Vigil of Our Lord’s Birth. After observing that the attendance at the Midnight Mass was on a steady decline, it seemed prudent to rethink our schedule for Christmas Eve. When I served in Lapeer, at Immaculate Conception for two and a half years, our music minister made the very same observation to Fr. Doug and I. He recommended moving the Christmas Eve Vigil from Midnight to 10 pm: it worked! More people and families came to the 10 pm Christmas Eve Holy Mass. I pray that we will all be humble and open. It is not easy to serve well over 900 families and please everyone and maintain everyone’s personal preferences and routines. For the sake of facilitating a greater participation and in an effort to move forward, I hope to see many of you at our 10 pm Christmas Eve Holy Mass.

CHRISTMAS DAY AND NEW YEARS It is a long standing custom here at St. Louise that our Christmas Day and New Year’s Day Holy Mass schedule have Holy Mass at 9 am and 11 am. This year, both Christmas and New Year’s fall on a Sunday.So, for two Sundays in a row, we will have Holy Mass at 9 am and 11 am. I want to ask you to reflect on your experience on these two Sundays. I have received requests from parishioners involved in ministries to transition to two Holy Masses on Sunday morning as opposed to three. I am not ready to even begin that discussion nor do I have any plans on changing anything. But, as I get more and more requests from parishioners, I want us to prayerfully reflect on our experience on Christmas and New Year’s!

Have a blessed week and remember to pray for one another