And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’
ADVENT & NEW BEGINNINGS
As we now have entered the season of Advent, a time of preparation, where we make straight the pathways for the Lord, it is a good time to renew again our commitment to being faithful and loving disciples who follow the Lord by living differently and with a clear purpose in this world.
In Advent we have wonderful examples of the prophet Isaiah, John the Baptist, Mary and Joseph whose lives were changed by God’s call to follow Him. Each of them had to discern whether or not they would choose to follow God. They all had to make great sacrifices and faced challenges but fulfilled and completed their lives and discovered true happiness by following God’s will. We sing their praises now throughout history and they inspire us still today.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO COME TO CHURCH EACH WEEK?
The general understanding of the weekend celebrations is that it is a Catholic obligation, it is too long and often times people don’t get anything out of it. If this is your understanding of our weekly celebration of the Eucharist, then we need to change our approach to the liturgical celebration of the resurrection in which we are called to give thanks, be encouraged and sent out to share the Good News experienced at Mass and in our lives. I will be the first to admit that sometimes my homilies haven’t been home runs but I do know that if we don’t prepare, contemplate and understand the weekend Mass, we will lose out on how it can really change our lives and transform us into the saints of today. We are called to be messengers of the Good News!! How can this happen for us?
GAME PLAN FOR MASS
Take a look at the readings during the week leading up to Sunday. We publish a weekly podcast called THE WARM UP that helps you understand the weekend gospel. There are also countless ways to access the readings via the internet (US Bishops website) and reflections, such as that of Bishop Robert Barron. We need to get into regular practice of preparing so when we are at Mass, it is at least the second or third time we have heard them. This will also help us understand and connect the homily, the readings and our own personal experience.
GET THERE EARLY
We rush everywhere we go. From the grocery store to the arena, from school to home and all the other amazing things we do. One of the things we really can’t rush is Mass. If we are able to get there early and slow down our day, the more Jesus enters into our hearts. The parish has babysitting (9 & 11 AM Masses) and a Sunday Friends program (for children from 3 to 7 years old) to help parents truly enter into the celebrations while their children have other helpful faith activities.
WHAT IS GOD SAYING?
What is God sharing with you? What message does he want to give you through the singing, readings, homily and the reception of the Eucharist. How is he connecting with you through your prayer partner or from the minister of hospitality who welcomed you? Be attentive to the surroundings and search for the message. Jesus said that those who search will find. Being attentive and open to God’s message that is particularly for you at each celebration will help you in your own life journey.
DON’T RUSH OUT
Please don’t leave after communion — God isn’t finished with us yet. Being able to reflect after receiving the Lord of Life helps us slow down, contemplate and once again hear God’s call for each of us. The Mass doesn’t really end until we have joyfully sung our final hymn and had a chance to connect with others who have come to celebrate together. We certainly need to minister to each other and the more people there are at Mass the more powerful the celebration. Connect with people who have celebrated around you and get to know them. We are a family of faith that we need to know and support.
There is no better way to build your faith than to get involved as a disciple who seeks to make Jesus alive, real and present in people’s lives. The disciple must serve—must be the hands and feet of Jesus in the world. There are a million ways to get involved in the parish that will strengthen your relationship with Christ and put into action your prayers, thanksgiving and needs. When we serve and sacrifice for God and others, we are rewarded, blessed and strengthened in so many surprising ways.
What does it mean to be a faithful disciple? It means that we make straight the pathway for the Lord in our hearts, surrender to His love and follow wherever He calls us, trusting in Him completely. This is not impossible, but something we should all strive for through the life of our amazing parish.
HAPPY ADVENT EVERYONE!!!
Fr. John Jasica