Bottom line: Mary shows us how to climb the Lord's mountain and walk in God's paths.
I begin by thanking you for your support for the Called to Serve as Christ campaign. We wrapped up the campaign last Sunday. I am touched by your care for elderly priests and religious sisters. I'm not beginning a new campaign but I do want to also thank you for your ongoing support of parish Stewardship. Your weekly contributions enable us to carry forward our parish mission. Rather than fill out commitment cards I am going to assume you will continue your current level of support. We do, however, have cards if you wish to increase your commitment or if you need to reduce your level of giving. I am grateful for every gift. If you make an identified donation (check or envelope) I will send you a quarterly letter acknowledging those gifts. The next letter will come at the end of January and will include the entire year 2019.
We are making a new beginning with this First Sunday of Advent. Generosity and gratitude are a key part of that fresh start. We bring to Jesus all we have and all we are.
In our first reading we have a beautiful image of renewal. Jerusalem - Mount Zion - becomes the highest mountain and people stream toward it:
"In days to come, the mountain of the LORD's house shall be established as the highest mountain and raised above the hills. All nations shall stream toward it..."
Bishop Robert Barron of Los Angeles has a nice suggestion for picturing this mountain. He says the best image is right here in Washington state: Mount Rainier. With only small mountains and hills nearby, Mt. Rainier rises up majestically. Imagine people streaming from all sides to somehow reach that summit. Isaiah says on that mountain nations will make a new beginning:
"They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again."
Instruments of violence will become implements of productivity and peace. How will this happen? Isaiah tells us:
"Come, let us climb the LORD's mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths."
The "house of the God of Jacob" of course is the Temple - the place of worship. When we together worship God, our relationships begin to sort themselves out. We have one God. We worship him because he created us, he has forgiven and redeemed us in Jesus, he is the goal of our existence. He shows us the way we should walk.
Jesus wants to show us his ways. How will he do that? This Advent I encourage you to find a time of quiet. At the start of the day, get a cup of coffee (if you need it), go to a place where you have candle, a crucifix or a sacred image. Maybe take the Word Among Us to find the day's readings or say a decade of the rosary or simply spend time in gratitude and petition. And if you want to find God's way, above all, do what you are doing now - weekly participation in Bethlehem, that is, the Mass.
We have example of Mary. In our parish logo you see her holding Jesus. Below we have the saying, "centered on Jesus, serving others". During Advent we have the Gospel of Mary with Jesus conceived by the Holy Spirit. What does she do? She journeys to the hill country of Judea to help her kinswoman Elizabeth - six months pregnant with John the Baptist.
Like Mary we want to live centered on Jesus, serving others. She shows us how to climb the Lord's mountain and walk in God's paths. Amen.
Resisting Happiness Week 1 - A Man Who Resisted Then Chose Happiness (Audio homily for First Sunday of Advent, Year A 2016)
One Taken, One Left (Audio homily for First Sunday of Advent, Year A 2013)
From Archives (Homilies for Christ the King, Year C):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
Take the Plunge Bible Study (audio resources) *New episodes for Ordinary Time leading up to Lent*
Are these homilies a help to you? Please consider making a donation to St. Mary of the Valley Parish.
Other Priests' Homilies, Well Worth Listening:
Fr. Frank Schuster
Fr. Brad Hagelin
Fr. Jim Northrop
Fr. Michael White
Fr Pat Freitag (and deacons of St. Monica)
Bishop Robert Barron
Bulletin (St. Mary of Valley Parish)
Parish Picture Album
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru