201712.10
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Prepare the way of the Lord

Our readings from Holy Scripture on this Second Sunday of Advent remind us of what we are supposed to be doing during Advent, in fact what we are supposed to be doing throughout our lives. The reading from Isaiah anticipates the coming of Christ and John the Baptist as it proclaims … “Prepare the way of the Lord.” This is a time of preparation for us.

That message is repeated in our Gospel from St. Mark as well. Today’s Gospel is the very beginning of Mark’s Gospel and it immediately gives us that same signal by declaring, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.” Of course, we all realize that the path to the Lord may not always be straight for us, but now, especially in this Advent season, is a time for us to correct that. God is waiting for us.

St. Peter in his Second Letter, from which our Second Reading is taken, indicates that “God… however…is patient with you.” We might consider, on this Second Sunday of Advent, that the Lord is giving us a second chance to respond to His call. One of the basics contained in St. John the Baptist’s messages was, that we need to get ourselves right with the Lord and, perhaps, straighten our lives out and turn them in a different direction. Let’s face it …we all have the wherewithal to change…and again…now… especially in this Advent season…is the time to do just that.

Pope St. John XXIII once stated during one of his Advent homilies, that… “We are all part of an immense family. This is proven by what is in our hearts during Advent and Christmas.” Now is the time to instill a genuine love in our hearts and in that way…truly…“Prepare the way of the Lord”.

Today we will carry out the annual church protocol of recommitting our support of Christ’s Church… and reassessing our capacity to make an equitable sacrifice. There are charities without number that are meritorious and are in quest of our support. There have been many suggested formulas put forward to guide us in making an appropriate decision, but they all propose that first and foremost would be allocating a percentage to your Church. Unlike our protestant brothers and sisters, you will not hear your pastor petitioning your financial support all throughout the year. That does not mean that your needed support is any less important. In fact with our brand new church and our resultant brand new mortgage, your support has never been more needed.

Because we do revisit our Stewardship of Treasure decisions, only once a year, many newly arrived parishioners, have yet to familiarize themselves with the pledge or commitment process, as our latest “Giving” statistics have indicated. The “on-line” giving process has been growing in popularity as it takes the hassle of remembering to write our check, and/or bring our envelope with us each Sunday. Once you have prayed over, and determined your pledged amount for the 2018 calendar year, give strong consideration to the benefits to you from, (and the ease of using) the “on-line”, safe and sound, electronic giving process. If you have any questions about the on-line process, please call the office and someone proficient in the process will get right back with you.

So once again, as we…as a parish family, as a united community…decide today what support we will pledge to God’s church for this new year, let us be mindful of the primary objective of being a participant, a supporter, no matter how much or little you can afford. Our primary concern is the percent of parish families that respond to the innate call to discipleship that originates with our Lord Jesus. Our sacrificial giving is indeed an important element of our Disciple Spirituality. It will be a reflection to our Lord of just how compliant we choose to be in living the sacrificial discipleship call, just as those first twelve followers and their successors responded. With the assurance of confidentiality, the value of your sacrificial gift will be between you and your Lord. That’s all that matters. The term “sacrifice” means there will be some degree of discomfort. The amount is truly of secondary importance. Stewardship, is recognizing that what we have received in this life, is not ours…but only con-signed to us in this life for doing good.

Stewardship is really, as we have often mentioned…a two-part “Act of Faith”. The first… Recalls that stewardship trains us to live intentionally…with regard to our resources. The second part… Recalls that stewardship is a cultivated practice that reveals itself gradually. Together these thoughts imply that you seek guidance in prayer, make a decision about your giving, and then put it into practice… one step at a time…each year…striving to take one more additional small step towards an increase in your gift. When you read this you may have already made your pledge during the weekend Mass. And if this is so I thank you profoundly. If you are still discerning your decision, please complete the pledge card as soon as you can, and be at peace with your gift, no matter how large or small, knowing that you have responded to His call to Stewardship.

May God bless you… as only He can… for all you do in His name,