Christmas 2017 was yet again such wonderful celebration in Our Lady Crowned. We have something very special in our church and parish thanks to so many people who give of their talents, their time and their faith. The church was truly beautiful thanks to all who decorate, maintain and keep it clean so lovingly. The music and singing was wonderful thanks to all our choirs and musicians. Thanks to all our ministers of the Word and Eucharist who serve throughout the year. Thanks to all the church collectors and counters for their dedication and loyalty. Our church was so welcoming thanks to different parish groups who welcome people at the church door. Our church is blessed with so many people who work quietly and voluntarily. Thanks to all our parish groups and parish ministries who give of their time and talents to assist the parish. Everything ‘comes together’ at Christmas time and it is great to see. It is when people gather together in our church that we experience the presence of God with a sense of parish and community. May God bless you and your families.
The continuous fog and darkness of recent days has been very dreary. Despite the darkness, people and families have been very busy attending events and trying to remember everyone coming up to Christmas. Now that all the ‘things we must do’ have been mostly done, please God, we can have a bit more time and space for family and for ourselves to welcome Jesus Christ as our true hope and future. During the week, one of the church readings was from the Song of Songs calling on God to ‘show me your face, let me hear your voice’. It is written in the context of a beautiful love song. You know how it is when you see someone’s face that you may not have seen for a while or even just a few hours. When we the see face of those whom we truly love, our hearts are happy and content. In a sense, all is well in the world again. These Christmas days, please God, when we look on the face of the Infant Jesus in the crib, our hearts will be happy, content and renewed. It is a wonderful communication through the face of a tiny infant. We see the face of God and we hear his ‘word made flesh’. It is a subliminal communication between God and us, whom God loves. Make these days special for everyone and, if there is disagreement and bitterness, we pray for this infant to soften hard hearts and bring true happiness that only God can give. May your hearts, your life and your family be happy and content and truly appreciate that ‘all is well in the world’ with the ‘Emmanuel’ (God with us).
In just a few years the commercial phenomenon of Black Friday has developed. The responses of people are fascinating, sometimes almost panic not to miss a ‘bargain’ to non engagement from others who want to shop in the traditional way before Christmas. There is a big difference between thoughtful shopping for presents for people that matter and a headlong rush not to miss out on something. This weekend, in the church, we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King which is the final Sunday in the old liturgical year. We have not reached the first Sunday of Advent where we struggle to let ‘Advent be Advent’ i.e. a time of preparation and anticipation for the birth of Jesus. There is a deep wisdom in this extended schedule of preparation because we will not be disappointed at Christmastime. I am sure that there may well be people already disappointed with their Black Friday business and it is not even Advent yet! Trust in God and you will not be disappointed. Pope Benedict said in his first homily as Pope to ‘let Jesus Christ enter your life and you will not be disappointed’. This weekend, we take our time, we let Jesus Christ be our king and we are quite happy to wait for the greatest gift of all which will be the newborn infant king on Christmas night.
On this Third Sunday of Advent, it is more a case of John the Baptist introducing himself rather than the introduction of John the Baptist to us. John the Baptist announces his mission as a ‘voice that cries in the wilderness’. The voice is solitary and the wilderness is vast. It could be a description of 2017 as much as the year of the birth of Jesus. How does that voice reach our live, our hearts, our parish, our community and our society in 2017? The voice of John is authentic; it is not about himself but about announcing Jesus Christ. He puts himself second and his mission first. While his announcement may not have been welcome, his authenticity cannot be denied or overlooked. Surely this authenticity is needed of all those who announce Jesus Christ today? Secondly his message is relevant to the listeners. Surely that also is a requirement for 2017. It is an ‘existential’ message which is real to the lives of the listeners. That too is good guidance to those who announce Jesus Christ and the listeners. Authenticity and relevance reach through the centuries and ensure that we can hear and experience the presence of God in the newborn infant Jesus this year. As we light the third candle on our Advent wreath today, may the light of joy be authentic and relevant to all our lives.
These last few days have been beautifully mild after the terrible storms of the preceding week. It has not been an easy time for many people particularly, those without power supply for an extended period. In a sense, people are returning to normal and resuming their routine. Hopefully our weather will return to a routine pattern as well. Curiously, even after severe winds, many leaves stubbornly cling to the trees awaiting their time to gently fall. Indeed, much damage to trees occurred due to the fact that they were heavy with leaves during the storms. Thankfully, nature will soon decide that it is time for the leaves to fall. November can be a very dreary time and exactly mirrors our liturgical time of remembrance and prayer for the faithful departed. The falling leaves mirror the cycle of life and death. As always, Jesus Christ guides us to places where He has already gone Himself. That is the hope of our Christian remembrance and Christian prayer. Beginning on this Thurs. Nov. 2nd, we will remember and pray for those who have died with reverence and love. We remember as a Christian people reassured by a new and eternal life for those who have died and Christian hope for the bereaved. Death is not a distressing fracture but a continuity of life into eternal life. May all who have died rest in the peace of the Lord. Lord God, Whose days are without end and whose mercies beyond counting, Keep us mindful that life is short and the hour of death unknown. Let your spirit guide our days on earth and in the ways of holiness and justice, That we may serve you in union with the whole church, Sure in faith, strong in hope, perfect in love. And when our earthly journey is ended, Lead us rejoicing into your kingdom, Where you live forever and ever, Amen. (Order of Christian Funerals 332)