As we journey deeper into the season of Advent, we focus on this the second Sunday of Advent on the personality of John the Baptist.
“The Liturgy of the Word puts the adult John before us today and next Sunday to block our view of “baby Jesus,” and so remind us that the Advent–Christmas mystery is less about the child and more about the adult Coming One and the mystery of his life, death, and resurrection that he offers to us as our own mystery. We are called to make our way down to the Jordan with the hopeful and curious crowds to see this wilderness man. John had accepted the hospitality that the desert had offered him. Cruncher of the desert food of bitter locusts sweetened with wild honey, he is satisfied with the food of the poor; clad in rough camel hair, he is dressed like a new Elijah (2 Kgs 1:5-8); tempered in his spirit by solitude, John, in his turn, welcomes the crowds with a bittersweet message in sparse words that are honed to a fine cutting edge for slicing through consciences and exposing them to the truth.
Son of a priest though he may be, John does not deliver his message in the temple or anywhere else in Jerusalem, but on the banks of the Jordan River. At this busy crossing place, so significant in the history of Israel’s journey into the Promised Land (cf. Josh 3), John urges the people to cross over into God’s forgiveness through the waters of a ritual baptism of repentance. The Baptist invites us, too, to honest mindfulness of the water- not of the Jordan, but of our baptism – and to examination of our consciousness about our fidelity to the Christ into whom we are baptized. Despite the crowds he draws, John’s self-evaluation has nothing of self-exaltation. At this high point of his popularity he speaks directly to the people to point them away from himself to the stronger One who is coming, and declares that he is unworthy even to be a slave who would bend down and untie the sandals on the smelling and sweating feet of this Coming One. John resists the temptation of successful ministers: to allow our own popularity to become the main concern of our ministry. When we do this, we are proclaiming what we consider the good news of ourselves, not of Jesus Christ.” (Living Liturgy 2021)
We are now in the 7th week of the One Heart, One Soul Campaign that has been introduced by our Bishop to strengthen our local parish for years to come and assist parishes in our Diocese that experience serious financial difficulties and struggle to stay open. The name of the campaign indicates is taken from the Acts of the Apostles and inspires us to be like the first Christians. We are invited to be of one heart and one soul together, caring for and assisting each other. As I have done over the past few weekends, I will provide an update on the Campaign during the Lord’s Day Masses this weekend.
This Tuesday, December 8, which is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, our Bible Study group will begin a new program focusing on rediscovering Saint Paul’s special letter to the Philippians. It is not too late to join in this study! Please see the bulletin for additional information on how to be involved. Meetings take place on the Zoom platform so that social distancing is completely maintained.
Today we received updated Covid-19 protocols from our Diocese that reaffirm a number of procedures that are already in place (wearing masks at all times when in the church building, reception of Holy Communion mask protocol, mask exceptions and pew cleaning). The update states that “only pews that need to be used again within one hour need to be wiped down, by running a sanitized cloth along the tops and sides of each pew”. In our circumstances we will therefore need to sanitize only after 9am Sunday Mass at this time. Thank you to all the volunteers who have so generously provided their time and assistance to sanitize the pews since we reopened in June. Please know that we still need help after the 9am Mass on Sundays for the foreseeable future.
Since we now do not have to sanitize pews after each Mass, we can start thinking about bringing back the Wednesday evening Mass and confessions before the Mass. Volunteers will be needed to assist with seating arriving Mass participants and reading at the Masses. Please contact me or the parish office some time this week if you can help.
Join us for Sunday Mass in person to celebrate the season of Advent, but if you are prevented at this time due to the pandemic then actively participate in the livestreamed Sunday Mass on our YouTube channel here at 9am.