Msgr Marucci's Weekly Message

FROM THE PASTOR’S DESK -   Second Sunday of Advent
December 8-9, 2018

From the Pastor’s Desk…

In September I had to travel to New York City to attend the Installation Ceremony of the Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem (EOHSJ), which is a Papal Order of Knighthood that still remains in the Catholic Church.  In its historical development, the Knights were appointed by the Pope to provide protection and defense for the Holy Shrines in the Middle East.  Today, the Knights and Ladies provide financial support to the Latin Patriarch to assist in the development of Christianity in the Middle East.  To be a Knight or Dame (Lady) in this Order is one of the highest honors bestowed upon the laity today.  And I am very proud that a few parishioners from St. Andrew the Apostle were given the title Sir or Lady, along with the honor of being inducted into this Papal Order.

However, one evening while taking Bingo for a walk, a man approached me and shouted Repent, Reform for the Kingdom of God is at hand.  As I continued to roll along the busy sidewalk, the man followed and kept shouting Repent….Repent… the world is coming to an end…hurry…..before it’s too late.  In response, I put my power wheelchair into high speed and rolled away quickly.  For the next few weeks I kept dreaming various forms of this incident and thought perhaps the Lord was reminding me that Life is short, so live each day in love and service for others.

I believe the people of Jesus day may have had the same feelings.  All the scripture readings of Advent have been chosen to give us a feeling of what it was like to live in the exciting, highly charged time of Jesus.  Prophecies from Isaiah and Micah eight centuries before Jesus, prophecies from Jeremiah and Baruch 600 years before Jesus, are telescoped to the first century.  These great visionaries of Israel had various ideas of what God had in mind for the future; and they all converged on Jesus.

At issue were the great questions:  How would the world end; what would be the fate of good and bad people; how would Israel fare; what would happen to the nations; would it be a horrible time or a wonderful time, a time of salvation or condemnation; could they hasten or hinder the timing; was there any escape?  And most of all – who would the Messiah be who ushered in this era, and how would they recognize him?

How many Advents have you lived?  Twenty? Forty? Seventy-five? How many Advents has the world experienced since Jesus’ first coming; how many more will it know until his final appearance? With so many Advents in our own personal and collective histories, surely there should be none among us who is not ready to meet and welcome the Prince of Peace and Lord of Justice when, at last, He does appear.  In other words, about being prepared, being forewarned and being ready to receive the coming Christ, we should offer no excuses. 

A few years ago, I had the privilege to preside and to preach at the funeral Mass for the Father of a dear friend. He was a World War II veteran and lived a fulfilled life to the age of 95. The mission statement of his life identified three priorities that were clear, concise, and straightforward:    1) no mission is too difficult; 2) duty first; and 3) no sacrifice was too great.

In preparing for the funeral the family shared various stories about Mr. Campione’s life. One story stood out to me that truly captured the character of this man. He was in the US infantry division and was one of the soldiers to land on the beach of Normandy.  As a young soldier he and his colleagues knew that they were not going to survive this mission. Realizing that he was facing the end of his life, he and his colleagues sought out a priest. He said that he made his peace with God that day. He often referred to “the big red one”, as he was one of the few survivors that landed that day. As he looked back into the waters, he noticed the blue waters had become blood red as many of his colleagues never made it to the shoreline.

I always admired how that event shaped Mr. Campione’s life. When he said that he had made his peace with God that day as a young soldier, he took that pledge seriously, and continued to live his life that way ever since. He never made excuses to live otherwise. When he returned home in 1941, he continued to serve as a different kind of soldier. This time, he served as a soldier in the Army of Christ, trying to live the commandments and the beatitudes as best as he could. As a young soldier he said "no matter the outcome, I felt so strongly my nearness to God. I was fully prepared to die. I had confessed all my sins.” He would thereafter live a life in harmony with Jesus, for this was the mission he had been given to do.  After all…No mission was too difficult; duty first; and No sacrifice was too great!

Advent is a season for us to strengthen our relationship with Jesus Christ.  It is an opportunity to reflect if all of our actions are appropriate in the Lord’s eyes.  For those actions that require change, begin with the sacrament of Reconciliation (December __= Communal Penance Service), ask for God’s forgiveness, and forgive yourself for mistakes of the past.  In gratitude for God’s mercy, make a new commitment to live as a better disciple.  Second, try to grow in greater holiness during the Advent Season.  Try to spend “six minutes a day” with Jesus, by doing the following:

Monday, December 7th, 2018

In today’s Gospel reading, we hear how Jesus healed the paralytic after his friends find a way to bring him to Jesus by lowering him down through the roof on a stretcher.  The paralytic needed other people – people with faith and courage – to bring him to Jesus for healing. 

Read the story again as though you were the paralytic.  Who are the friends that support you and help to bring you to Jesus?   Also, record in your journal those (or at least one person) in your life that needs your assistance and how you might support them and help to bring them to Jesus.

Tuesday, December 8th, 2018

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Today also marks the beginning of the Jubilee of Mercy.  Pope Francis lamented that the world today “has forgotten the works of mercy.”  Reflect on being chosen and destined for this new life.  Write a prayer in your journal today to the Blessed Mother asking her to show you the way to her Son.  Ask our Mother to teach you how to live a life of holiness and mercy, a life worthy of your calling.

Wednesday, December 9th, 2018

In the words of Pope Francis “20182018love for us is so great, so deep; it is an unfailing love, one that always takes us by the hand and supports us, lifts us up, and leads us on.” If you have ever known forgiveness, joy, serenity, or peace, you have experienced God's mercy. In your Journal, reflect on a time when you felt God’s mercy in your own life.  Who in your life needs your love, forgiveness and mercy?  How will you show love, forgiveness and mercy to that person this week?

Thursday, December 10th, 2018

The Corporal Works of Mercy are kind acts by which we help our neighbors with their everyday material and physical needs. The corporal works of mercy come to us from Matthew 25:34-40, where Jesus tells us that whatever you did to the least of these, you did it to Him.  Some easy and practical ways to Feed the Hungry include:  Keep granola bars in your car to pass out to people in need at stoplights, pick up leftovers at a local grocery store, bakery, or restaurant and deliver them to a food bank or homeless shelter, volunteer at a food bank, serve at a soup kitchen, prepare and take a meal to someone in your community who is seriously ill or welcoming home a newborn, bring a food donation with you each time you come to Mass.  Choose one of the suggestions above and note in your journal your commitment to feeding the hungry this Advent season. 

Friday, December 11th, 2018

Because God is merciful, we are to be merciful to each other. There are so many times in our lives when we feel we don't know what to do: How do I respond to someone who has hurt me deeply? How do I deal with my spouse, who is driving me crazy?  How do I discipline my child? In those situations, what if we use the criteria of love to guide all of our decisions? Which of your intentions, attitudes, and behaviors are not grounded in love right now? Ask God for the strength to choose concrete loving behaviors, especially when you find it most difficult. 

Saturday, December 12th, 2018

Pope Francis invites us to rediscover the corporal works of mercy this year: to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, visit the imprisoned, and bury the dead. We are halfway through Advent now and this is a good time to step back and evaluate how we are living our discipleship journey.  Do one of the corporal works of mercy today; try to bring another person with you to share this charitable work?  Write about it in your Journal? How did it make you feel to be God’s agent in this encounter?

Sunday, December 13th, 2018

Today is Gaudete Sunday – a name taken from the Latin word “Rejoice.” We light the pink Advent candle today – a symbol that we are closer now to Christmas than to the beginning of Advent. Do something today that gives you true joy. Perform a random act of kindness to someone you meet today.  Write about that experience in your Journal.