Today is the feast of St. Andrew, one of the first apostles called by Jesus; one of the pillars of the Christian Church.
Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee and spotted two brothers, Peter and Andrew, casting a net into the sea. They were fishermen. He said to them: “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Today’s Gospel, Matthew 4:18-22, says that they at once left their nets and followed Him. Peter and Andrew put their faith in Jesus; became core members of His apostolic community and eventually died witnessing to Him.
You and I are called to be Andrew in our little corner of the world. As Baptized men and women, we are called to live in the company of Jesus; to be members of His body, the Church; to be nourished by His teachings and by partaking of His Body and Blood. And we are called to be fishers of men, each in our own way. We try to live out in our lives the teachings of Jesus; inviting others to join us by our witnessing to Him in word and action. And this discipleship can cost us. Think of the Christians of the mid East and other countries who continue to be martyred this very day because of their belief in Jesus. Think of men and women right here in our country who are laughed at or dismissed because they try to live out the teachings of Jesus. Being a follower of Jesus is challenging.
St. Andrew pray for us that we follow your example and faithfully follow Jesus.
Over a billion dollars in sales – that’s the good news – over a billion dollars in sales following Thanksgiving. And more to come! Expensive toys and outrageously priced gifts. Our society is obsessed with things and making sales. It’s what our economy thrives on: talking people into buying things that most of the time they don’t really need. It’s the holiday season. Homes are already lavishly decorated with inflated Santa Clauses and parties have begun. But where is Jesus in all of this?
Today we begin the holy season of Advent, a season of longing and waiting for the coming of Jesus. A season of preparation to celebrate His birth. Most people – including many Christians – have no clue as to what is really going on at this time of year. Few realize that the Lord of the Promise is coming, the one who comes to save us from our sins and restore us to our dignity as sons and daughters of the Father. Today’s first reading, Jeremiah 33:14-16, proclaims:
The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah. In those days, in that time, I will raise up for David a just shoot; he shall do what is right and just in the land. In those days Judah shall be safe and Jerusalem shall dwell secure; this is what they shall call her: ‘The Lord our justice.'”
The buying and giving of gifts; decorating and parties have their place – but so does Jesus. As we enter more deeply into this festive season, may we remember what it is truly all about and give thanks for the coming of the Promise, Jesus, Our Lord and Saviour.
It’s Saturday, November 28th, the last day of the Church year. It’s been a long year with its ups and downs for all of us – the good and the not so good, at times moments of refreshing joy; at other times periods of grief, anguish and sadness.
Our Gospel reading, Luke 21:34-36, is filled with admonition: Jesus says to His disciples:
“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.”
Jesus speaks of the end times that are to come; times that no one of us will escape. We are exhorted to be vigilant and to stand firm in our faith.
Tomorrow brings in a new season: Advent! It’s a season of hope; a time of waiting for the promised Saviour. Emmanuel – God is with us!
May we conclude this year with vigilance and open the new year with hope and yearning for the One who is to come: Jesus, Our Saviour.
I recently came across the following words of wisdom:
Courage is fear that has said its prayers!
We do not conquer our fears by denying them or trying to run away from them. We conquer our fears by facing them, by feeling the emotions and by making courageous choices in the face of the fears. By doing this again and again, we eventually overcome our fears. This is hard work. We can’t do it by ourselves. We have to turn to God; own our fears before God; surrender them to God; ask for God’s grace and then fortified with God’s grace, face the fears. And we have to do this again and again. With God all things are possible.
A Blessed Thanksgiving Day to all of you – here in the USA and elsewhere. We all need to pause and give thanks to God for all that God has given us and continues to give us.
As we pause to give thanks, I would suggest that you make a gratitude list. I would suggest that you list five general things that you are grateful for and five personal things. Following are mine:
- the gift of planet Earth which is home for all of us;
- the gift of the plants of the earth and all the things that provide us food;
- the gift of life no matter what phase we are in, young, old or middle aged; no matter what afflicts us, there are always good things as well as not so good things;
- the gift of water that cleanses us, refreshes us and sustains us;
- and the most wonderful gift of all: God’s abiding, loving, presence with us;
and now for the more personal
- the gift of faith in Jesus Christ without wish I would be totally lost in this life;
- the gift of my sister and her family especially my first great grand niece, Holly, born July 7th;
- the gift of my religious community, the Passionists, who have sustained me for these past fifty-five years;
- the gift of Joanne, Steve, Pat, Greg, Edwin, and others whom I call friends;
- the gift of Malcolm and Paul, good friends in my community, who are now basking in the loving presence of God.
And I have some very personal things that I am grateful for that I keep in my heart.
Let me conclude with the opening prayer of Mass today:
Father all-powerful, your gifts of love are countless and your goodness infinite; as we come before you on Thanksgiving Day with gratitude for your kindness, open our hearts to have concern for every man, woman, and child, so that we may share your gifts in loving service. Through our Lord. Amen!