Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Advent III

On the third Sunday of Advent the words of the prophet Isaiah are again fulfilled in a gospel account featuring John the Baptist.  The following may prove helpful in differentiating between John the Baptist and John the Evangelist:

John the Baptist was the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth.   Elizabeth was related to Mary, the Mother of Jesus.  Thus, John and Jesus were related.  (BTW:  These details are only found in the gospel of Luke.)

John the Evangelist was the writer of the 4th gospel.   He and his brother James were the sons of Zebedee and Salome were two of Jesus’ 12 apostles.  This John is often referred to as Jesus’ beloved disciple and is to whom Jesus entrusts his mother at the crucifixion.

The Gospel of John is the last of the four gospel accounts to be written.  Scripture scholars suggest that Mark’s gospel was written around 70 A.D. and John’s somewhere between 90 and 100 A.D. 

The following quote from the U. S. Conference of Bishop’s website offers some insight as to why  the  Gospel of John is different from the other 3 synoptic gospels.  (syn = similar     optic = point of view)

The fourth gospel is not simply history; the narrative has been organized and adapted to
serve the evangelist’s theological purposes as well.

So, what is the Evangelist’s theological purpose?  (What is he trying to tell us about God?)  Today’s gospel makes it clear that Jesus is the Messiah (i.e. the Christ) and John is his herald. 


The third Sunday of Advent reflects the joy of our closeness to the celebration of Christ’s birth.  We light the rose colored candle.  The entrance antiphon invites us “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice.  Indeed, the Lord is near.”   

Today’s music reflects this joy-filled anticipation.  The prelude “Emmanuel” (#56) is a contemporary setting of the O Antiphons by Steve Angrisano that is quickly becoming part of the advent repertoire.  “Beyond the Moon and Stars”(#46)  speaks of the light of the Lord and connects us to the light of which John the Baptist came to testify.   “Find Us Ready” (printed in the Advent booklet) speaks of our doing the work of the kingdom and preparing for Christ’s second coming.  We conclude with Curtis Stephan’s “Ready the Way” (#49) which sends us into the final full week of preparation before Christmas.


Thank you to those who have responded to the call to be part of our social concerns ministry.  Our e-mail list has grown to over 60 parishioners!

Anticipating great Christmas gifts in small advent packages! 


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Advent II

As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: 
“Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way.”
                                                            Mark 1:2
This line from Mark’s gospel illustrates a pattern of prophecy and fulfillment that will continue throughout the upcoming weeks. John the Baptist is the voice crying out in the wilderness of which Isaiah foretells.  Jesus is the shepherd who feeds his flock and gathers the lambs with care.

While scripture scholars continue to argue over when and who wrote these scriptural accounts the following timeline might prove helpful:

742 B.C. ———————3O A.D ————-60 A.D.————
Isaiah                          Jesus’ Ministry     Book of Mark

o   Isaiah began his prophetic ministry over 700 years before the birth of Christ.

o   Mark’s gospel was the first gospel recorded about 30 years after Jesus died. (Contrary to the popular phrase: “Matthew, Mark, Luke and John”)

Today’s music highlights the beautiful images contained in Isaiah’s prophecy. It speaks of the voice crying out in the wilderness as well as the promised comfort and well-being of God’s Kingdom.

The prelude (A Voice Cries Out) has been selected to help us transition from whatever held our attention prior to mass to the prophecies of Isaiah which we will be proclaimed during the liturgy of the word.

Our procession will be accompanied by instrumental music to accentuate advent’s being a season of preparation and expectation.

We respond to the penitential rite singing “Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee O Israel” praising God for the gift of forgiveness in Jesus.

I urge you to continue a liturgical new year’s resolution of openness, attentiveness, transformation and preparedness.  Be receptive to the gift of God’s saving Word and loving presence.

Anticipating great Christmas gifts in small Advent packages,


Thursday, November 30, 2017

Advent Quiz (Answers Included)


1.  How long is advent?   The quick answer is 4 weeks.
Be watchful!

2.  How many days?   This year it will be 22.
You do not know when the time will come.  Be alert!

As I write this article two thoughts vie for my attention. Together they form The Great Advent Conundrum of 2017. (My thanks and apologies to the play about a comet with the similar name.)

The thought in bold is from the first line of today’s gospel. (Mark 13:33) You will probably find it familiar as we heard similar words from Matthew during the last Sundays of ordinary time.

The second is a riddle that is both informative and frightening. Christmas on a Monday creates the shortest advent possible.

So what do we do?

One source I read suggests letting go of busyness for the sake of being busy and focusing instead on the small yet important things.  Here are just 4 ideas to consider today:

A New Church Year’s Resolution

1. Be open: 
Take on a posture of prayer. Stand, kneel or sit tall. Uncross your arms. Allow the peace and joy of the Lord to show on your face.

2.  Be attentive: 
Open the hymnal and focus on the words of the readings, prayers and songs. It will help crowd out distractions.

3.  Be changed:
Leave with a small but focused action plan.  Take a card from the giving tree.  Join the social concerns e-mail list.  See the good deed that comes to mind as the call of the Holy Spirit.  Act on that felling today.

4. Be prepared and tuned in
Follow the advice we give to students of all ages:  “Do the reading and come on time.”  Pick a day this week to find the readings for next Sunday.  Take a look at the connection between the reading from the prophet Isaiah and Mark’s account of John the Baptist.  Come to mass early next week.  Be ready, open, attentive, and ready to be changed.  Rinse and repeat.  (Just kidding on the rinse.)

Anticipating great Christmas gifts in small Advent packages,


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The end of the line (kind of)

Today is the final part of a four week series. Each segment has looked at the last Sundays in ordinary time from the perspective of today's gospel.  (Scroll down to see the entire series.) 

Prior to writing this last segment I clarified my reasoning for being so focused on Matthew’s account of the last judgement.

Part of the appeal is Matthew himself. The literal title of his day job (tax collector) might not have much cache. But reframe it to “he works in finance” or call him “a numbers man” and he suddenly Matthew takes on an importance more in line with the stories he tells.

Today’s gospel is a case in point. Matthew is the only evangelist to include this story in his gospel account. I am intrigued as to why the compilers of the lectionary chose this gospel to stand next to the gospels for the other 2 years readings for Christ the King:

cycle b: Jesus being questioned by Pontius Pilate (John 18:33b-37)

cycle c. The Crucifixion (Luke 25:35-43.)

Lastly, it might be the wisdom or sense of urgency that comes with maturity (ok....age.)
What about you? Perhaps you as I:

  • are tempted to ask Jesus when we saw him hungry, thirsty, imprisoned etc.

  • find his response to be equally sobering.

  • feel a sense of relief for more time and a chance to do better.

Today's music points to the reality of Christ as King of all; particularly the least, the last and the lost; those whom the world overlooks but who are sheep in the eyes of the Lamb of God, the Good Shepherd.

If you are not familiar with You Gather In the Outcast, you should check it out.

Particularly blessed and grateful this Thanksgiving,


This week's music:
Prelude                 He Is Exalted
Prelude                 Laudate Dominum       12 noon                
Processional         Crown Him With Many Crowns              BB 728         
Psalm                   R & A
Alleluia                 Choral Fanfare for Christ the King 12 noon                           
Offertory              You Gather in the Outcast                        BB 618
Communion          Behold the Lamb                                      BB 338          
Recessional          Soon and Very Soon                                BB 574            

Advent III

On the third Sunday of Advent the words of the prophet Isaiah are again fulfilled in a gospel account featuring John the Baptist.  ...