Pastor’s Message December 30th, 2018

It’s good that we have come to the end of 2018, to celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. This is a good time to take stock of the preceding twelve months, to ask forgiveness for those times when we fell short of what God expects of us as His children, and to give thanks for the many bountiful gifts that we have received from our Creator. It’s also a time to look ahead with a firm resolve to make improvements in our lives with the help of His grace.  
   In May of 1953, a textbook salesman asked the famous author, Flannery O’Connor, about her very fierce devotion to her Catholic faith. He admitted he wasn’t much of a believer, but that he had briefly encountered the Faith twice during his time in New York City. He had studied and even taught at Fordham, a Jesuit school, and he had met Dorothy Day. He had become fascinated by Day’s Catholic Worker House, but said he couldn’t see, in his words, why Dorothy Day “fed endless lines of endless bums for whom there was no hope. She’d never see any results from that.” After spending time discussing the point, O’Connor admits that the only conclusion they could agree on was that “Charity wasn’t understandable” — ending her story with the almost question, “Strange people turn up, don’t they.”
That was probably what Joseph and Mary were thinking when they took the infant Jesus to the temple and were met by a just and pious man named Simeon and the prophetess Anna, who abruptly and unexpectedly inserted themselves among the Holy Family, praising God and speaking of the child Jesus (whom they had only just laid eyes on). Unlike the traveling salesman, Simeon and Anna understood hope, for the Holy Spirit had revealed to Simeon that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah. The moment he sees the child Jesus, Simeon recognizes that he has met the salvation of the world, and utters the prayer “Now you may dismiss your servant, Master, to go in peace, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people, Israel!” What a precious moment in the life of this young family! Further witness to the identity of Jesus was given by the prophetess, Anna, who spent day and night in the Temple court, praying, fasting, worshiping and waiting for God, who would again rescue Israel from its current untenable situation. She recalled how He done so in the past. She confirms the testimony of Simeon. On seeing the child, she somehow knows her many years of vigil are over; that in this child, hope and memory are wed in such a way as to be fulfilled. God had once again kept His promise of salvation and sent the Messiah to deliver them from their captivity — not just this time, but for all time. And here He is!  
Anna had made Israel’s memory her own; she has made the story of the scriptures the story of her own life. Accordingly, she, like any prophet, cannot help but to tell others that their hope is not in vain, that God has kept His promises to them and continues to do so.  
When we experience hope fulfilled, it seems we cannot help but tell of it. Whenever God’s fidelity is manifested before the eyes of the faithful, it elicits a response from them: they speak of faith to those in search of it.  
   Our mission as members of the Church and of this parish, is to build a fervent community of intentional and dedicated missionary disciples of the Lord, and steadfast stewards of God’s creation, who seek to become saints. The community of Catholic faithful in our parish is committed to the discipleship and stewardship way of life as commanded by Christ Our Savior and as revealed by Sacred Scripture and Tradition. We are committed to living out the four pillars of Discipleship and Stewardship, namely, hospitality, prayer, formation and service. We actively invite people to join us in prayer and worship, especially at Sunday Mass; we strive to provide well-prepared celebrations of the sacraments and other occasions for prayer as signs of hope and paths of grace to heaven; we study the Bible and learn more about Jesus and our Catholic faith; and we serve each other, especially those in need, by practicing charity and justice. These should be our parish New Year’s resolutions!
As we contemplate our personal resolutions, I invite you to seriously consider how you can advance on your own individual path of holiness by growing in faith, hope and charity as missionary disciples of Jesus, for “strange people” (strangers) do turn up at our door. Sometimes they insert themselves into our lives in such a way as to remind us that Christ has come, and there’s reason to hope in God’s fulfilled promises. Sometimes they show up at the door to issue a challenge to our style of charity, even though, ultimately, we can’t explain our charity or its results – or lack thereof – for that’s God’s business. Yet, there will always be endless lines of endless “bums.” There will also always be those who hear, as in Luke’s Gospel, God’s call to faith, hope, and charity. May we be among that number. There will always be those prophets who share their encounters with Christ with those still in search of Him. May we be among that number. May we also be among the number who tell others of the Good News which God has spoken to us, clothing the message of His fidelity in charity, and so fascinate the world into conversion.  
   I sincerely thank you for your kindness and generosity to our parish and to me during the past year, and I pray that God will bless you and your family in the New Year! May your New Year be blessed!