December 18, 2016
We begin the fourth and last week of Advent. Mother Church has offered us these four weeks as a time to prepare ourselves for the upcoming Solemnity of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ. Advent, therefore, has a twofold purpose. It is a waiting time leading up to the commemoration of Christ’s nativity. With great joy, we celebrate the pivotal historical event: God the Father sending His Son, Jesus, to be born into the world to a virgin. It is the mystery of God becoming a human being. This historical event totally changed the course of humanity. For the first time in history, people saw the face of God; God became flesh to be with us and to remain with us.
It is very evident, as we meditate on sacred scripture, that God will come a second time. When the disciples asked Jesus when this will happen, Jesus’ answer was, you do not know the day; therefore, always be prepared. The second purpose of Advent is so we are always ready, waiting in hope for Jesus’ second coming. We certainly do not know when He will come the second time or when He will call us to eternal life. Both of these events could happen tomorrow. Therefore, let us take Jesus’ advice very seriously and always be prepared. Let us reconcile with one another and seek God’s mercy during this Christmas Season.
Advent and Christmas could become a very busy and stressful season: the buying of Christmas gifts, the writing and sending Christmas greetings, preparing home for your guests. Dear friends, do not let the holy day season addle you from the core of Christmas. It is about commemorating the great event of the Incarnation. It is about renewing our commitment with God. It is about waiting in hope. The best way to celebrate Christmas is being part of your family gatherings and being with God by participating in one Christmas Mass.
God bless you all.
December 4, 2016
Dear Parish Family,
We lit the second candle of the Advent wreath. As we move forward on our Advent journey, we hear about the life of one of the first personages of Christmas, John the Baptist. Do we know who John the Baptist is? Where does he come from? What is his mission? In order to understand the life and mission of this biblical figure, it is necessary to look back at the priestly class. They were part of the upper class in Jerusalem and surrounding areas. Many among this group of people were full of pride, overly indulgent, self-seeking, and religious only in external matters. The priest in the parable of the Good Samaritan is a clear example of them.
Zechariah and Elizabeth, the parents of John the Baptist, belonged to the priestly class. Zechariah himself was a priest and his wife was the daughter of another priest, a descendant of Aaron the high priest. Certainly this couple did have high linage blood to be proud of. The priestly couple of today’s gospel, nonetheless, was different. They did not live in Jerusalem but in a small town in the country hill of Judea. They were righteous in the eyes of God, blamelessly observing all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord. For many years they lived childless. As a priest, he was given the opportunity, by lot, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and offer incense. The Angel Gabriel came and delivered an astonishing message to him, ‘Your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son and you shall name him John’ (Luke 1: 6-10).
John the Baptist was born to this holy couple as God’s answer to their prayers. This prophetic figure of the gospel wore clothing made of camel’s hair and had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. His message was simple and clear, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’ and all Judea and the whole region around the Jordan were going out to be baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they acknowledged their sins (Matthew 3: 2, 5-6).
Dear brothers and sisters, let us listen to and make the prophet’s message relevant in our very lives.
Rev. Johnson Lopez
Father Lopez is Pastor of Saint Patrick Catholic Church in Rochelle, IL.