Baruch 5: 1-9 Philippians 1: 4-6, 8-11 Luke 3: 1-6
I must admit that Saint Luke is my kind of writer. As he begins to tell of the ministry of Jesus, he appreciates, as I do, the importance of a little bit of history. As we have heard, he give a list off historical individuals who were important in that part of the world at that time. Tiberius Caesar, Pilate and Herod represented the civil authorities; Annas and Caiphas were part of the religious government. As first announced by John, as we recall today, God entered our world, a real world, a world that has a history. This is what Saint Luke wants us to know.
What, then, are we to understand Saint Luke as wanting those who read what he wrote to do? We are to recognize that he is presenting what is a basic lesson of the Season of Advent. God is coming to be with us in our history, into the story of our lives. All of us have a salvation history, a history of the relationship with God, a relationship, if we are honest, have had its ups and downs through the years. All of us are being called, once again, to respond to this relationship with God within the history of our lives and to reflect our God in our lives and by our lives.
Along with Saint Luke’s account, we also heard from the prophet Baruch. He addressed the people of his time, of his history. It was a time when they had experienced a devastating defeat in the destruction of Jerusalem, the center of their lives. Baruch speaks to them with hope, consolation and encouragement. The defeat will be replaced with the victory of the splendor of God. The hills and valleys will be smoothed out. All obstacles will be removed so that a trusting and confident relationship with God can be achieved. A renewed appreciation of the presence of God with them will fill their lives, their history.
Along with these accounts we hear a passage from Saint Paul’s letter to the Christians at Philippi. It is a group that he deeply cherishes because of the admiration he has for their faith and the practice of that faith. His experience of them, which he reinforces in his writing, shows them to be a people who are confident of God’s presence in their history, in their lives. They are living what we are called to anticipate during this time of Advent.
As we hear today of the work of John proclaiming the beginning of the ministry of Jesus, we can be assured that God is truly with us, present to us in the history of our lives. God continues to be with us, not only as a memory of a person in history as was Jesus in his ministry at a time and a place in history, but also in our gathering here in worship, prayer and praise. In the Eucharist that we celebrate and share the presence of God in the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ that sustains us, refreshes us and renews us in our individual faith, and in our faith as Church, the present day reflection of that community in Philippi.
We now can go forth into the history of our lives that is today, that is this week to come, bringing down the obstacles that overwhelm us and filling the valleys that hinder us so that we might declare in word and in action our faith and trust in our good and gracious God.
Jeremiah 13: 14-16 1 Thessalonians 3:12 – 4:2 Luke 21: 25-28
I continue to be amazed at the degree of anticipation that is shown during this time before Christmas. This not only involves the earlier and earlier appearance of decorations, but, even the traditional Advent calendar that marks he individual days leading up top Christmas are now marketed not only with small toys or pieces of chocolate, but also with pieces of cheese and samplings of whiskey. All this seems to be a bit of a stretch from the simplicity of an Advent Wreath.
The anticipation for the celebration of Christmas is, in truth, an anticipation of the celebration of the degree of God’s love for mankind. It is the love expressed by God’s coming into our world in the person of Jesus Christ.
As a Church, Christmas is more than just a look back to the past. It not only acknowledges that in Jesus Christ God entered into human history. But it also celebrates that this same Jesus Christ comes to us now in the Eucharist we share and that he will come again, at some time and in some way, when his mission is accomplished and his reign is accomplished and creation is readied to be returned to his Father, ourCreator.
So it is that we hear our lovingFather speak to us through the Scriptures we have heard today. Jeremiah directs his thoughts to the waiting for Christ’s coming in history. His work will be to bring about what is right and just, to establish his kingdom, his reign, and to turn all of creation back on the road to the Father.
Jesus, in highly symbolic language, speaks of his coming again. It is a language that is not to be taken literally but to be understood as describing the completion of his work when creation is returned to our loving Father. It will be radically different than it is now. The status quo will no longer be upheld.
In the meantime, what are we to do? Both Jesus and Paul provide a reply. As we are convinced in our Faith that God, in Jesus Christ, came once into history, so we are also to be convinced that he will come again. Because of this, how we live out our daily lives is to be affected. Jesus is direct. Do not be tied up with self-satisfaction and worldly affairs. We have a higher and greater vision of the dignity and value of ourselves and thus our focus is to be on how God’s presence can be better experienced in ourselves and, through us, in our world. Paul counsels that we are to grow in our love for another. We ought not be lethargic and think we have it made but, rather, continue on a path of growth and improvement on a daily basis.
These thoughts summarize well what the Season of Advent is to be for us. Preparations for Christmas are all around us. We, ourselves, also prepare or Christmas. These preparations by others, or by ourselves, are a reminder of a greater preparation that we are to make. We are to improve ourselves and to improve our world. In this way we yo make the celebration of Christmas, which all of these things anticipate, a true celebration of our good and gracious God;
Daniel 7: 12-14 Revelation 1: 5-8 John 18: 33b-37
Any good presentation, whether it is a speech, a movie, a book, a television program or a story, concludes in such a way as to bring the diverse parts which preceded that to a satisfying closure, in a satisfying way that answers questions that were raised or solves mysteries which had been present. So it is that, as Church, we conclude today the annual cycle known as the Liturgical Year with the Feast honoring Jesus Christ as Universal King. Having spent the past year listening to and reflecting on the mystery of God and the revelation of the Good News of Jesus Christ, the conclusion is that Jesus Christ, in all hat he is an reveals, is the King, the epitome, of the universe, of life.
Today we heard from the prophet Daniel and the mysterious vision he had that the revelation of God comes through the “Son of Man” who is to be accorded all dominion, glory and kingship. From the book of Revelation there is a parallel image. The “Son of Man” is Jesus Christ who conquers death by being the first-born from the dead and thus surpasses all and everyone and is ruler of the kings of the earth.
These images make a certain amount of sense. They are filled with mystery and majesty. It might almost be called a very “Hollywood” image of “king.” As such, it gives the right sort of ending to the story.
But then we are presented with the gospel account of John. It is a sharp contrast. On the one had there is Pilate, a representative of the authority and majesty of Rome. On the other hand there is Jesus, a prisoner who is mockingly dressed and laughably crowned with thorns. He is asked, probably sarcastically, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Are you the “king” of those who bother to believe in you? Given a choice, we would more readily identify Jesus as “King” as envision by Daniel and the author of Revelation rather than the seemingly pathetic figure portrayed in the Gospel.
Yet, it is that contrast that defines the very nature of the kingship of Jesus, His kingship is not founded on trappings, externals, power, wealth or control. It is a kingship that speaks to the highest qualities found in God’s creation: justice, peace, mercy. This is what is found in the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. God came into the world in the person of Jesus Christ the King to make certain that we know and understand God as the source of all and that this God loves us and seeks to be joined with us. Jesus Christ, the epitome of the relationship we can have with God is thus King – of life; of the world; of all we are and can be as reflections of our Creator.
This is the truth to which his life and his ministry testifies. This is the truth that Pilate, representing the cynicism of a selfish world, questions and ridicules. It is the truth about the world and about retaion. It is the truth that there is no greater authority than that of Jesus Christ which he proved by dying on the cross and then rising from the dead. In this he conquered the ultimate source of all fear that ultimate instrument of all human manipulation and control.
The conclusion of this story of our Faith that is retold during the year is that the Kingdom of Christ, the living active presence of God with us in Christ is dynamic. It began when he came into this world and mounted his throne, the cross. It witnessed to its authority in his resurrection, overcoming death. It moves in the world today, proclaiming the meaning of that resurrection. You and I are to make known the reality of that kingdom in our lives. We do this by the way we live and we act with one another with peace, justice and mercy. We do this by the way we live out the Gospel in our lives in proclaiming that Jesus Christ is King and in revealing the truth about our good and gracious God.
Welcome to the website for Saint Mel Parish, Cleveland, Ohio. It is a pleasure to have you visit our site and it would be a blessing to us if you could join us in worship and prayer.
Founded in a developing part of the west side of Cleveland following the Second World War and serving growing families as they were established in the area, Saint Mel parish is centrally located in the West Park area of the city of Cleveland. As this dynamic area has changed over the years, the community of Saint Mel parish now consists of primarily older adults and smaller families.
After a proud tradition of Catholic education spanning sixty years, Saint Mel school closed in 2009.
Wherever you may happen to be, please join with the Saint Mel parish family in giving thanks and praise to God for the blessings which continue to be bestowed on its members, families and graduates.
Questions and Answers on the Abuse Crisis in the Church 11-12-18 (PDF Reader Required)