I remember the anticipation I felt as we drove to my grandparents’ home each New Year’s Eve. I so enjoyed the aroma of various meats, vegetables, dumplings and spices that filled the air as we arrived. Let’s face it though, as a young boy I also loved sneaking sweets just before dinner. I always thought I got away with it but I had fooled no one. My parents just watched, smiled and said nothing. They had wisely realized that these were childhood moments to be cherished, appreciated and even ‘hidden’ at times. Little did I know that in their actions I was also being taught how to treat others and deal with relationships. Over time, the education also grew and became more challenging but always provided greater insights.
Considering the impact my parents had in my life, I cannot help but wonder how Jesus, Mary and Joseph interacted with one another as a family. We honor them as role models and share our innermost thoughts with them. In many ways we feel we know this family quite well yet questions remain. For example, aside from Jesus’ early years and his time in the temple at age 12, little is known about him as a child, teenager or young adult. A single line in today’s Gospel reads, “The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom.” Reflecting on this verse however, I now realize this may not represent a gap or an open question at all. It could rather be an invitation for us to consider how Jesus grew up and learned the ways of the world by watching Mary and Joseph. It could provide us with our own opportunities within our own families.
We might define our family unit as traditional, nontraditional or communal yet we all are part of the one family of God. Armed with this truth and in celebration of today’s Feast of the Holy Family, I offer the following suggestions as we continue to hone our own ability to grow and participate more fully as active family members:
Happy New Year. Endless Blessings,
Deacon Luc Papillon
When politics are intense, and contentious, when hillsides and homes are burning, when the news sources offer a steady stream of grim stories, how do we lift our spirits? How do we find joy? Where do we find peace? We always need to have an answer to these questions because every year, every age, has its own agony.
Jesus chose just such a time to enter into our human history. Rome had conquered everyone in the known world. Millions had been forced into slavery, and most others lived at the margins of hunger, making only just enough to get by, from hand to mouth, day by day. Good farmland was hard to come by; so much of it had been depleted. Lives for peasants were hard and short. Judea was just a tiny kingdom, subject to the whims of Roman emperors and governors. Both Nazareth and Bethlehem were tiny backwaters.
It was that very moment and place of desperation that the Lord chose to enter into human history. In dark times, He is the unfailing light. In uncertainty, He is the Unchanging Word of God. In your struggle, He is strength. In poverty, He is the richness of the Father. In your loneliness, He is God with you and for you. He knows your story. He can feel your pain. He shared in it in His own time, and walks with you now.
I encourage you to place your burdens at the foot of the manger, where the Creator of All reveals Himself in the helplessness of a baby. I also invite you to take from that simple gathering, birthed by Mary and sheltered by Joseph, renewed commitment to foster the Lord in your own life.
May this Christmas time bring you hope, the real hope that endures all changes and human problems. May this New Year find you and all you love, richly blessed with all you truly need. May the Infant of Bethlehem be reborn in your home and life.
I wish you and all you love a Merry Christmas, and joy in the New Year!
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My Dear Parish Family,
In the Gospel today, John cried out in the desert, “Make straight the way of the Lord.” John is pointing to Jesus and encouraging us to abandon our crooked ways, our self-centered paths. John points to Jesus in his statement, and then recedes into the background. His actions say, “It’s not about me, it is about him.” I wonder what percent of our actions say it is not about me. How do we point to Jesus? Daily. Do we recede into the background?
It is easy to see examples of when folks are behaving selfishly, in general we seem to be less trained or focused on when people get things right. I want to stay positive ... I love that we have 466 parking spots at church and six of them are dedicated to visitors. When I see them full, I rejoice! What a dishonor it would be if able-bodied parishioners used those spaces. We are all grateful to the wonderful hospitality ministers that brew fresh coffee, 275 pots a year, 5 every Sunday plus Christmas and Easter. What a dishonor it would be to grumble about one pot that is a little delayed. Take it from St. John, it is not about me, it is about our Lord Jesus. How can we point to him? Offer others good parking and hot coffee.
I have been talking with middle school children about growing up and growing into a deeper, more lived out sense of Christian responsibility. I am proud to hear their ideas and even more proud to witness their actions such as hosting bake sales to raise money for hurricane and fire victims, picking up trash, saying ‘hello’ to people in wheel chairs, helping with Angel Tags.
There is so much goodness in the world! It seems it has to do with giving. Giving consideration to others ahead of myself. Giving to Angel Tags gifts. Giving time and so much talent at the Christmas concert. Giving prayers and words of encouragement to those in need. Giving the gift of ourselves, our time, to our loved ones. Consider going to a movie, mass or a ball game, baking cookies, helping to shop or wrap packages or decorate, whatever you are good at or want to be good at … try doing it for someone you care about. When we empty ourselves of
self-centeredness, we make space that fills up with the love of Jesus. We point to Jesus.
In a spirit of networking, I want to share that in January, we will be looking for a new Business Manager for the parish. We will advertise both in and outside the parish. We trust that God will bring us the right person to manage our business processes, connect with the people that God brings to our doors, and lead us in ways to Encounter Jesus and Be Disciples.
In a spirit of giving, I want to remind everyone, including my own family, tis the season! To remember our favorite charitable organizations and of course the parish in year-end giving. It is easy to get busy and postpone this task. It is so important to keep the parish not only going, but growing. The fruit of the gifts of our hands is immeasurable. I am convinced that God is working in and through the people of Padre Serra Parish to point to Jesus. Thank you.
God bless you and all those you love this Christmas,
Parish Life Minister
For those who wish to provide immediate financial support:
Immediate financial support will be provided through the Cardinal McIntyre Fund for Charity. The goal of the Cardinal McIntyre Fund for Charity is service to the "neediest of the needy” and those for whom no other resources exist and donations are tax deductible.
These gifts can be made in three ways:
For those who wish to donate material goods:
Resources available from city and county agencies:
Dear Parish Family,
Happy and Blessed Advent. One of our family traditions is to get together and decorate the Christmas tree and house. We want the house to be festive, perfect to celebrate Christmas. One of the most important rules when doing this with a group of people is always leave a clear path so that others can get through. When we forget to do this, it never fails that someone will trip over the boxes, ending with a decoration casualty.
It made me think of our readings this Sunday. We are told, “Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her service is at an end. 1 A voice of one crying out in the desert: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.’ 2 The Lord does not delay his promise ... the day of the Lord will come.” 3
Like John the Baptist, we are messengers in service to one who is greater than we are. Our Baptism commissions us to call others to life as disciples of Jesus. Christmas is not just the celebration of his birth but a reminder his second coming is near.
I ask myself, am I clearing the path for myself as well as for others to receive our Lord? What clutter do I have in the way, which can trip my step or impairs my vision to see Christ in others? How do I help others to have an encounter with Christ? How am I making this Christmas Christ-centered? How will I help others have a Holier Christmas?
I am setting new goals for this Advent season to keep my focus on our Lord; will you join me? Participate in
faith-growing opportunities and bring a friend. Invite at least one person to join me for Christmas Mass, and to our home. Gifts that will last all year long, gifts of presence, encouragement, support, understanding, patience and unconditional love. Put faith into action, get involved or support a charity. Be a reflection of God’s Love to others.
May your Advent season be Holy.
Faith Formation Minister
1 Is 40-15
2 Mk1: 3
3 2 Pt 3: 9
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Happy New Year! Our liturgical year of 2018 starts today, with the beginning of the season of Advent. Advent is a time of preparation for 1. the Second Coming of Jesus Christ at the Last Judgement and 2. the commemoration of his first coming in history at Bethlehem. The focus really shifts to preparing for Christmas only from December 17th on. Until then, the Church calls us to prepare for the Lord’s return. Several phrases from today’s Scriptures speak of this.
In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah, speaking on our behalf prays
“Would that you might meet us doing right,
that we were mindful of you in our ways!”
I love the longing implicit in that prayer. But sometimes it seems like a tall order, since it seems so much easier not to be mindful of the Lord, and not to be always doing what is right. Murphy’s Law says that’s when the Lord will come, will meet us, so what hope do we have?
Responding to the first reading, we sing with the psalmist “Lord, make us turn to you, show us your face, and we shall be saved.” Make us? What happened to free will? Our friends who work 12-step programs may have something useful here. They advocate praying for willingness when it seems beyond our capacity to do right, to be mindful of the Lord in our ways. And honoring the sometimes incremental nature of surrender to God’s will, one can even pray for the willingness to be willing, or to become willing. While he will never force us, God can work with the tiniest crack in our defenses!
In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus exhorts us
“Be watchful! Be alert!
You do not know when the time will come.”
Just last week, we heard the Gospel story of the Last Judgement where Jesus separates the sheep from the goats – those who cared for him (by caring for one another) from those who did not. It is as clear a declaration as any that what we do matters – that God cares how we treat one another. So when we choose generosity over grasping, compassion over violence, we are in fact becoming Jesus’ disciples, and truly preparing to be met doing right, and mindful of the Lord in our ways.
In the second reading, St. Paul assures the community at Corinth (and us)
“…you are not lacking in any spiritual gift
as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
So, it seems, anxiety is not needed – just faith in God’s grace to help us be ready when Jesus comes again, when we can say, and mean: “Maranatha! Lord Jesus come!”
Worship and Music Minister
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