Get Shocked!

Dear Parishioners,

I taught recently the 4th graders in school during their religion class about the liturgical season. We spent, of course, a decent amount of time on Advent. Why purple for Advent (and Lent as well)? (My brother-in-law, who is from Minnesota and is a Vikings fan will love this post.)

Purple, a fusion of red and blue, is an interesting color. Blue symbolizes calm, steadfastness, and stability. Think of a deep blue sky or sea. Red, on the other hand, symbolizes passion, energy, and movement. Think of fire. Purple combines the steadiness of blue and the fervor of red. In Advent we are called to be focused, recollected, and somewhat solemn as we prepare for our Lord's coming into our lives at Christmas. But we are also called to be alert and excited—and for the same reasons.

The segment from Isaiah (Is 40:1-5, 9-11) in our first reading has this mix of emotions. “Comfort, give comfort to my people,” we hear in the opening line. “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,” continues the prophet. This is quite blue.

But it turns red quickly. “A voice cries out...cry out at the top of your voice.”

Read more...

Happy Advent!

Dear Parishioners,

Happy Advent! The Israelites before Christ waited for a savior to come into the world, and, in a way, we wait too. Look at this line from the Prophet Isaiah in the first reading: “Why do you let us wander, O Lord, from your ways, and harden our hearts so that we fear you not?” (Is 63:16). Could we not today ask that same question?

God came into this world when he took on flesh 2,000 years ago. But he needs to come again into the world, and he needs to come more fully. By ‘more fully,’ I mean he needs to come more completely into our lives. We do not know Christ as well as we ought. We do not love him as much as we could. Advent is a time to deepen our love and knowledge of Jesus—to allow him to come into the world.

Jesus intends to come again, which means he intends for us to have a better relationship with him. This is why he tells us to watch in the Gospel. Be on the lookout this Advent season!

Read more...

Kings and Queens

Dear Parishioners,

Today is the Feast of Christ the King. I'd like to incorporate in my little scriptural reflection an homage to Claudette Link. Claudette will be retiring from the parish staff on November 30th. Claudette raised her family at St. Juliana and has worked at the parish for nearly 25 years.

The parish secretary is on the front line, answering phone calls, meeting visitors, etc. A person's impression of the parish can be affected by the personality of the secretary. Well, I would bet people's impression of Saint Juliana was that of a caring, joyful, and vivacious place. Because that is the type of person Claudette is! Claudette genuinely cares about every person she meets, and usually instantly becomes friends with that person.

Read more...

Buried Treasures

Dear Parishioners,

We all have different gifts. Some are blessed with athletic or musical talents, some are blessed with financial acuity, some are blessed with affability, and some are blessed with the ability to grow facial hair, particularly mustaches (myself). Whatever your gifts are, they are given to you by God and need to be put into action. That is one lesson from the parable this Sunday about the talents (cf. Matt 25:14-30).

The man given only one talent who fails to invest it but instead buries it in the ground until the master comes for the accounting, is scolded. He not only has the talent taken away (and it is given to the servant who was originally given five talents and then made five more), but he is thrown out into the darkness. This isn't about the master being harsh. It is about the servant wasting the opportunity.

Read more...

This is the end, my only friend.

Dear Parishioners,

I've had stuck in my head this past week "The End" by the Doors. This is the end. My only friend, the end.

Saint Paul writes about "the end" to the Thessalonians. He wants them to be aware of the end; to be as knowledgable as possible about where all those who have died currently are. “We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, about those who have fallen asleep, so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope” (1 Thess 4:13).

Read more...

Looks can be deceiving.

Dear Parishioners,

Do you care how others perceive you? Are you hyper-sensitive to how you come across and, if so, do you try to appear better than you think you are? If so, then our Lord's message in today's Gospel is intended for you. Read it, pray over it, and allow it to pierce your mind and heart so that it can help you in this area.

The Pharisees, says Jesus, focus too much on their appearances. “All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi’” (Matt 23:5-7).

Read more...