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Dear Friends
A couple of weeks ago I ran across an article that claimed that almost 25% of Americans now identify themselves as atheists. The last time I saw a figure on the issue it was about 15%. The article also told the reader that fewer people are embarrassed about identifying themselves in this way.

You and I know that we live in an ever-changing world, not only technologically but culturally as well. Mores, morals, societal supports have all changed and, in some cases, disappeared. So, what, if anything, can we do about it? Our Scripture readings today give us the insight and direction we need to answer that question.

One of the staples of the Advent season, at least liturgically speaking, is the prophet Isaiah. He is read on more Sundays of the Advent season than any other prophet. It’s good to be reminded that the prophet was one who spoke for God, brought God’s message to the people, more than he was a seer, although some were. The prophet spoke a word about fidelity to Yahweh, as well as the consequences of the failure to reform. But the prophet could also speak a word of healing that would come for those who were faithful.

Isaiah’s words during the Advent season are those kinds of words; they are words of healing. And today’s 1st reading is especially pointed in understanding the healing offered to us and the Gospel tells us how to achieve it. Isaiah offers for us an image, a vision, of what the world would be like when the shoot (from the stump of Jesse – Jesus of Nazareth) establishes his kingdom. The wolf and the lamb, the leopard and the kid, the calf and the lion, the cow and the bear, the baby and the cobra – all of these mutually antagonistic pairs will live in peace with one another. Who would not want to see that world? These images symbolize a world in which “there shall be no harm or ruin.” Who would not want the fullness of justice and peace to flourish?

But that world will not happen by magic, nor will it happen because God imposes it on us. God never diminishes human freedom. That world that God wishes to create can only be created by the human acceptance of the vision Isaiah dangles before our eyes. It can only be achieved when the human heart yearns for that world and that yearning turns into actions, big and small, to realize that vision. It is, I believe, the reason that the Advent/Christmas experience stirs in us a renewed hope, every year, despite the reality of the world as we know it, that the remembrance of the coming of the Messiah should make a difference that lasts beyond the 25th of December.

But how do we get there? Where do we start? The Gospel answers that for us. When you cut through the doom and gloom, the dire warnings and threats of the Baptist, it is this line that stands out. “Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance.” The Advent/Christmas season not only invites us to yearn for the images Isaiah created, it reassures us that it can happen by the good fruit we produce in our lives. It is through this good fruit that we will build that world where justice and peace will flourish, and the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord.

The readings of Advent remind us that the world can be a better place, when we decide to be a better people. When that happens, the growth of atheists will be stopped dead in its tracks because people will see that the life of Christ is lived in his people, and the vision of Isaiah is becoming a reality.
God Bless,
Fr. Ron

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Mass Schedule

Weekend Liturgies
Saturday, 5:30 p.m.
Sunday
8:00 a.m., 9:30 a.m.,
11:00 a.m., 12:30 p.m.,
3 p.m. (Spanish), 6:30 p.m.
Weekday Liturgies
Monday thru Friday,
6:30 a.m., 8:30 a.m.,
and 12 noon
Saturday, 8:30 a.m. only
Holy Days
Eve: 7:30pm (anticipated)
6:30am, 8:30am, and 12noon 

 

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