Pastor’s Column January 13, 2013
I would like to take a few moments to again thank everyone who made this last Advent and Christmas Season so beautiful. The decorations at both parishes were simply beautiful. The nativity scenes, the trees and lights, flowers and candles were wonderful. The music especially with our two choirs was just incredible and added so much to our worship and praise of our God in these liturgies. The lectors and servers, the extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion and Sacristans all did such a great job. Our custodians made sure the snow was shoveled and kept us safe from the slippery sidewalks and steps. I would also like to thank everyone for your generosity in the many cookies and bars, popcorn and candies, books and cards that I received. I feel very much loved by all of you and I am thankful that God gave to me these two beautiful parishes to begin my ministry as a pastor in our Holy Catholic Church!
But by now most of us have moved our focus away from the busyness of the holiday season. We have prepared and gotten ready, awaiting in great expectation during the Advent season, the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ at Christmas. We have spent time in front of the Nativity Scene, reflecting on the poor surroundings of the stable and the straw, the shepherds and animals all around, Mary and Joseph, a poor peasant family. The God of the universe, the Creator of the stars and sky, the sun and the moon, the earth with its mountains and oceans, and of course us, small little humanity, He comes to be with his creatures. He comes with a purpose though, to save us eventually from our sins. Remember that Jesus (God) does not come to condemn us but rather to save us. The heart of the law is mercy. And our heavenly Father reveals to us an image of Himself in Jesus, one that is very loving and caring, kind and gentle, compassionate and merciful. He could have been a great king in this world but chooses to live in poverty, knowing what if feels like to suffer want. Epiphany or the manifestation of the Christ to the world happens shortly after Jesus’ birth. The Three Kings or Magi come to worship the newborn King. They bring their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Jesus is a King but one that will know what it’s like to be poor, to experience life’s difficulties. He will walk with us and talk with us. He will be one of us. At the Baptism of the Lord, Jesus will begin His public ministry. Jesus will be baptized in the Jordan River and travel around the Jewish world of that time. He will heal and cure many from terrible diseases. He will perform great miracles and cast out devils and demons. Jesus will begin his journey to the cross for that is why He came into this world, to offer Himself up for many, to save us from our sins.
But let us not get too far ahead of ourselves. We just celebrated God’s visitation to poor humanity at Bethlehem. Jesus has now grown up and begins His public ministry, helping us to grow in faith, trust and love in understanding why He comes to dwell among us. Let us remember that we have a God that desires all of us to share eternal life. So much so, that He sends us His only begotten Son to help us on our way to eternal happiness, where our true home lies. This world is only for a short time. We may live for only 70, 80, 90 or 100 years if we are lucky. Compared to eternal life, it is but a moment. Our eyes need to be on what really matters in life. Our parents gave us a great gift in birthing us into this world, but what a greater gift it is to help us be born into the next. When we choose to live a good life, based on good values and high principles, we begin to experience that peace and joy that surpasses all understanding. It is in God, living out his plan for us that we gain happiness in this life and the next. If we can, let us learn to make God always first in our life, making Him our top priority.
Peace, Fr. Tom