Tuesday, December 25, 2012

"Make Straight the Pathways of the Lord"

Today is called Guadete (which means Rejoice) Sunday. It is the Third Sunday in Advent, a penitential season - a time of reflection and introspection, as we examine ourselves to discover how faithful we have been in living God’s two greatest commandments and preaching the Good News to the poor. 

It is the time when we ask ourselves:
  • “How have we served instead of being served? 
  • “How have we cared for the least of God’s children, our brothers and sisters?” 
  • “How well have we lived those two greatest commandments: To love God above all and love one another as we love ourselves.”
In other words: How have we Glorified God by our lives?

God so loved us that he sent his only Son into the world – to live among us - in flesh – as one of us - in all but sin, so we could see his Glory and come to believe.

As we prepare ourselves during the Advent; making our selves worthy to greet the infant Jesus, the Son of God, we feel excitement at His coming.  We begin to Rejoice, anticipating the wonder of this great event - that changed us forever. 

A great Light is coming into the world.  Light that banishes darkness – forever.  He is the greatest gift we could ever receive – Peace - Hope – Love - Salvation - Life Eternal – The Glory of God - in His Kingdom of Peace and Love!

No one speaks plainer than John the Baptist.  His message is clear: “One is coming that is mightier than I . . . He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” 
John is the voice crying out in the wilderness – a world of sin, chaos, oppression and corruption.  He proclaims, “Make straight the pathways of the Lord.”

There is no doubt, - no ambiguity in his message.  When he is asked, “What should we do . . . to gain heaven?”
“Make straight the pathways of the Lord.”

In other words: Change your ways!  Do not let the distractions and allures of this world lead you astray from the path toward salvation.
“Make straight the pathways of the Lord.”
He tells them to change their old ways - put on new ways:
  • Give generously to those in need,
  • Share what you have
  • Feed the hungry
  • Cloth the naked
  • Care for the least of God’s children
  • Be honest - Do not cheat others
  • Be fair and just
  • Do not extort or blackmail
  • Do not use force of power or position to oppress others
The path toward righteousness is through love - love of God and love of all His people.

John’s words echo Jesus in the Beatitudes and throughout all his teachings.  He truly is the Herald of the Lord: Announcing to all that the Lord is near, showing the path toward righteousness: The way of love, the way to attain the Kingdom of God and everlasting life.

This Advent season, we need to ask ourselves, “What should we do . . . to gain heaven and everlasting life.”
  • How have I loved the Lord and cared for Him in my service to others? 
  • How have I loved my brothers and sisters as I wish to be loved?
  • How do I preach the Good News with my life, so that others will find in me the Glory of God?
  • How do I live, so that I too may attain the promises of salvation and life everlasting through our Lord, Jesus Christ?
What should I do to “make straight the pathways of the Lord” as I prepare to celebrate this life-changing birth of Jesus, the Christ?

Deacon Don Ron

First Sunday in Advent 2012

Today is a joyful day in the Lord! It is the beginning of Advent, a time of anticipation and reflection as we await the coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ. He is the fulfillment of God’s promise to bring forth a “righteous Branch to spring up for David:” The fulfillment of God’s promise to his people - of deliverance - so they may be saved and live in safety.

It is also a joyful day in the Lord because we welcome three people into our community - as they continue their journey in the Lord. We welcome Cameron into the order of Catechumens. We also welcome Maya  and Christian as candidates for full reception into the Church.  These three people have responded to God’s continuing call through the Holy Spirit in their hearts - to enter into a deeper relationship with the Lord and with our community.  As it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a Christian community to instruct and guide those who seek the Lord in love and hope to follow in the way of our savior, Jesus Christ.

It may seem odd that we begin this Advent season with this selection from Luke’s gospel. Jesus reminds his disciples of the end times, - where the heavens and the earth will show signs of impending destruction.  Nations will be thrown into confusion and people will faint with fear for what is coming into the world.

In the midst of all these things happening they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with great power and glory.  It is then that “the righteous will stand and raise up their heads because their redemption will be near”.

Those who live in fear and dread of these happenings are those who live lives of dissipation and drunkenness. They are those who worry only about the things of this world and life in the here and now. They cannot imagine what God has promised to those who love Him – Redemption, Salvation and Life eternal: God’s promise of his kingdom to come through his Son, Jesus Christ

We pray that we have the strength and courage to withstand the temptations of this world, so we may be counted among the righteous.  We pray that we continue to follow what we have been taught in our Lord Jesus: that we love God above all things and love one another as we love ourselves.  And in that love, we continue to guide and instruct others in the way of the Lord, so that all His children may gain eternal life and live with Him forever and ever.

As a Christian community, we are charged with spreading the gospel to all we meet in the world and to welcome the stranger among us.  The Lord directs us to lead other onto the path of righteousness, guiding and instructing them in His ways, so that they too may realize God’s promise and gain Life eternal.
So when the heavens and earth shake and tremble and we see the Son of Man coming in a cloud, we may all stand together; raising up our heads to be recognized among the righteous.

Deacon Don Ron

God's Greatest Gift

Buon Natale!   Got Jule!         Joy Noel!         
Feliz Navidad!        Merry Christmas!
Our Savior has come – Let us Rejoice and be Glad

Today we celebrate the greatest of all God’s gifts to us – His Son, Jesus – the Word of God made flesh. God, who loves us so much, that he sends his living Word to be among us; showing us the way home to our heavenly Father.

Christmas is a time for remembering - remembering those who are with us and especially those who are far away. It is a time of home, of togetherness - a time with family and friends – with all those people who mean so much to us in our lives.  And it is a time to remember the past: all those who have gone before us - who shaped and influenced our lives; giving us warm memories that bring us comfort and joy.

This truly is a time of celebration and great joy – for we celebrate God’s great gift, Jesus - and rejoice in remembering how much God loves us through His gift of love and compassion in the person of Jesus.  We remember and renew our relationship with God through this memory of the birth of His Son - the reason we celebrate today. 

But, this is not a celebration for this day only, but a celebration we only renew at this time of year – so we may keep it all year long,
W  in our Thoughts –
W  on our Lips and
W  In our Hearts.

Jesus, the Christ, our Savior, - the Word of God made flesh – who lives among us each and every day, - as he has for the past 20 centuries – remembered from generation to generation, - family to family, - people to people. 

He lives among us always, - not just inside this beautiful church, - but in this whole beautiful world – God’s creation and He lives within his people, - within each one of us, - whom he loves beyond all imagination:  For we are his most precious creation – for we are created - of Star-Dust and the Breath of God.

So, Let us keep Christ in Christmas today and every day:  Keeping Christ in our hearts – each and every moment of our lives.  Let us listen to the voice of God in the Word made flesh and live His Word in our thoughts, - words - and actions; sharing this greatest gift with all we meet in the world. 

For in this Christmas Season we are anointed:
  • To announce the Good News to the poor
  • To proclaim liberty to captives
  • Recovery of sight to the blind and
  • Freedom to the oppressed

AND what is this Good News?
Jesus, the Christ, our Savior is born this day
He is the Word of God living among us
Bringing us the gifts of:
  • Peace
  • Joy
  • Hope and
  • Love
Freeing us from the chains of sin and corruption
To live in his heavenly kingdom forever and ever:

Deacon Don