Fr Bob Writes – November 27, 2016 – First Week of Advent

This Sunday is the beginning of Advent, and so marks the beginning of another liturgical year.  This coming year our Sunday gospel readings are mostly drawn from the gospel of Matthew.

Advent affords us the opportunity to reflect on the longing and hope that preceded Christ’s birth, just as it beckons us to look forward to Christ’s return at history’s end.  In effect, we are positioned between the two comings of Christ – his birth 2000 years ago, and his coming as Savior and Judge at the end of time.  In between, however, there are countless ways in which Christ can be said to be always “coming” to us – in the sacraments, especially the Mass, in his word, in the poor and in one another.  In all these ways Christ is constantly in breaking human history and our history.  Watchfulness, alertness, and ready response should be our posture before all these comings.

I remember going with our mission team to Peru one year.  During that mission, we visited a prison to talk to the inmates and pray with them.  Some of the prisoners had started a drama group, and during our visit, they put on a little play.  It was all about a rich man who receives a message in a dream one night that Jesus would be coming to call on him.  So the next day, he waits indoors all day, and receives three visitors: a poor man looking for alms, a sick child asking for money to buy some needed medicine, and a man asking for money to feed his family.  The rich man rudely turns them away, saying he has no time for them, as he is expecting a very important “visitor.”  At the end of the day, he is very angry that Jesus had not come. But that night, he is shown in another dream that Jesus had in fact come three times- in the persons of a beggar, a sick child and a needy father, and been turned away each time.

This Advent, may we be vigilant with our eyes and ears open for the different ways in which Jesus wants to come into our lives and be ready to receive him, no matter the different guises in which he may choose to drop by for a visit.

Happy Advent everyone!!

Fr Bob Writes – November 20, 2016

This Sunday, the Feast of Christ the King, is the last Sunday of the Church’s year.  The following Sunday begins the Advent season, and the start of the new Church year.

So this Sunday is a time for looking back, to all we have accomplished or failed to accomplish for the Lord, during the last year, the Year of Mercy. But much more, it is the opportunity to look forward, to all that the Lord has for us in the year ahead.

Pope Francis captures this spirit of joyful and hopeful anticipation very well in one of his General Audiences a couple of years ago. This is what he said at that time:

“We must not grow weary, then, of keeping watch over our thoughts and our attitudes, in order that we may be given even now a foretaste of the warmth and splendour of God’s face – and this will be beautiful- which in eternal life we shall contemplate in all its fullness.

Forward, thinking of this judgment which begins now, which has already begun. Forward, doing so in such a way that our hearts open to Jesus and to his salvation; forward without fear, for Jesus’ love is greater, and if we ask forgiveness for our sins, he will forgive us. This is what Jesus is like.

Forward then with this certainty, which will bring us to the glory of heaven!”

Benedictine Abbot Boniface Wimmer once said: “Forward, always forward, everywhere forward!  We must not be held back by debts, bad years or by difficulties of the times. Man’s adversity is God’s opportunity.” As you look forward to the year ahead, how do you feel about it, a sense of anticipation and hope, or of dread and anxiety?  Which attitude would God wish you to have?

Fr Bob Writes – November 13, 2016

This Sunday after 10.30 am Mass, we will have our annual Ministry Fair. This is the opportunity for our parish members to contribute to the vitality of our parish community by signing up for one of the many ministries available at the parish. Reader, Eucharistic Minister, Altar Server, Children’s Liturgy, Pastoral Outreach, Adult Faith Formation, Knights of Columbus, Catholic Women’s League, Choir, etc.

A couple of weekends ago, Fr Ben St Croix led us in a weekend seminar on the Gifts of the Spirit. He showed us from Scripture that everyone in the Church has one or more such gifts, and they are given to us so we can all contribute to the upbuilding of the Church and the carrying-out of its mission to bring the gospel to the ends of the earth. No one person has all the gifts, so we need each other to pool our gifts so we can function fully as a vibrant community. Each gift is directed towards a particular ministry, so that in carrying out that particular ministry, we are exercising our particular gifts and feeling fulfilled as a result.

As you go around the different ministry stalls this Sunday in the hall, you might well feel a drawing to a particular ministry. That would be a sign from the Holy Spirit that he has given you gifts necessary for the joyful carrying out of that ministry. Please take the step forward of introducing yourself to the person at that particular stall and finding out what is involved in it.

There used to be in England, during the Second World War, a picture of an army captain pointing a finger outwards and saying “Your country needs YOU.”  Let me take a leaf out of his book, and point a finger at you and say “Your parish community needs YOU- to be the best version of itself that it can be.”