FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT/CHRISTMAS

Say YES and let Jesus do the Rest!

For a moment, let’s all think about our day timers. Whether or not it’s electronic or hard copy, for most of us we have the next two or three months planned out already. We know just what we are going to be doing, we know when, and with whom we are going to meet. There is a real comfort in that as well, as most of us like to know what’s coming ahead of time.
Think also about growing up, and having a desire to enter into a certain profession. Likely, you got an education in the field which prepared you to work and be successful in that field. Again, there is a real security in knowing you are prepared for what’s coming in your life.
This makes Mary’s “yes” in my mind all the more remarkable. Think of a 12 to14 year old girl during the time of Jesus, being asked to say yes to God, and to be completely in the dark as to what the future would bring her. I’m sure she would be aware of the coming of the Messiah, and that he would come to save the world. But, I’m also sure that she had no idea that the saviour would come through her. Still Mary said yes. Mary and Joseph knew what society at that time did to unwed mothers, but still she said yes. However, while Mary must have been frightened, she also had a faith in Jesus and allowed her to say yes. She knew that if she said yes, that Jesus would do the rest. This week I learned about a story of a Sister, and a Priest who live in Haiti. They came from very different backgrounds but were both called by God for very special tasks. Father Charles is in the process of building an orphanage in Haiti, that will provide a home for children in an area that is in great need of an orphanage. Sister Therese is creating a spiritual retreat centre and agricultural centre for the people of Haiti. Both projects are in different stages of completion which is remarkable as both ideas started from desire, with no money, or people, or other resources. And of course it was able to progress because both Father Charles and Sister Therese said yes, and Jesus is doing the rest. I don’t mean that we say yes, and then we sit back passively, however when we say yes, Jesus guides us, and helps to take down obstacles that are in our way, Just like he helped Mary, and guided her.
This is our call as well this Advent and Christmas, all we have to do is to say yes, and Jesus will do the rest. I would like to wish you all a Blessed and Merry Christmas.
God bless you! Deacon Dan

THIRD SUNDAY IN ADVENT

What do we really need?
The theme for this third week of Advent is joy. Ever since I realized that, I have been going around whistling the
song that our 8:30 children’s choir sings. “There will be joy joy! joy ! Joy! …..in the morning on that day. People
at work are used to me walking the halls singing some song or another.
The Gospel reading this week points us to Jesus through the witness of John the Baptist. John the Baptist baptizes
with water but there is one coming after Him who will baptize with the Holy Spirit. This appears multiple times in
the Bible. Last week in our Gospel, we heard the first six verses of the first chapter in the Gospel of Mark. It is
worth noting that if we read the next two verses, we would hear, “After me is coming someone who is more powerful
than me…I have baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” When the time had
come, John led his own disciples to Jesus and indicated to them the Messiah, the True Light, and the Lamb of God
who takes away the sins of the world. John, himself, was not the light. He came to testify to the light. He didn’t
spend time thinking about his shadow. He just allowed the light to shine on Him.
Ultimately isn’t joy exactly what John the Baptist is pointing us too when he points us to Jesus? A relationship with
God, through a life in Christ is the absolute true joy of our existence. Even our creation by God was out of joy and a
desire to be in relationship with us. Joy is at the centre of Christian life, even through the struggles of everyday life.
We hear a lot at this time of year about what we want, especially for Christmas. However, what gift that we receive
will bring us ultimate joy? Don’t get me wrong, I love giving and receiving gifts at Christmas time, it is a wonderful
tradition. To experience real joy this Advent and Christmas, I feel we need to think about what it is that we need,
not what we want. What is coming between us and God at this time in our lives? What is impeding us from living
in the light of Christ? What is hurting our relationships with others? Now is the time to remove these barriers in our
lives so Jesus can flow through us, and we can point others to Jesus, just like John the Baptist, so we can cry out and
make straight the path to Jesus. Let’s share that joy this Advent and Christmas just like our children’s choir who
sings with such joy. We will feel it on the Christmas morning, but also throughout our lives.
God bless you all, Deacon Dan MacDonald

SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT

Helping our Faith to grow

I love the aspect of Advent which makes us slow down, especially in the midst of all the busyness that goes on
preparing for Christmas. I noticed that just the act of lighting the Advent candle, by its very nature, makes us take a breath and slow down, even for just a few moments. I love the Advent wreath because it has such symbolism tied to the Christmas and Advent seasons, and all to our faith journey. For instance, the circle of the wreath symbolises the eternity of God (the Alpha and the Omega). The wreath is green because it represents hope and new life. Advent is really a time when we need to step back and perhaps slow down a bit, to become more pensive and thoughtful in our approach. That may be why we hear in our readings today that St. John the Baptist was a voice “crying out in the desert.” And what was John’s consistent message? “Prepare the way of the Lord.” That is what we hear throughout Holy Scripture on this Second Sunday of Advent.
Learning even simple things like what I just mentioned about the Advent wreath helps me to grow in my faith. That I believe, is why it is so important to teach the many aspects of our faith to our children, because it is so rich and learning often helps us grow in our faith. Every word in Holy Scripture has some importance. When St. Mark
proclaims that what he is writing, and what we are about to hear, is the “Gospel of Jesus Christ,” it tells us how I
mportant it is. Most are aware that the word “Gospel” meant “Good News.” Fewer are conscious of the fact that in
Roman times it had another meaning and translation — “Glad tidings.” When we hear that term, many may think of Christmas and the birth of Christ. However, glad tidings or good news also includes Christ’s saving grace and death. It goes back to what we have been hearing in recent weeks that it is time to prepare for the coming of the Lord. Part of that preparation is to prepare the way of the Lord, especially within each of us. That is what we need to be doing now.
We had a lovely experience in my own family when we read Monday’s reading about the centurion, and how he had such a strong faith in Jesus, that he went personally to find Jesus and ask him to heal his servant. Just reading through that reading and seeing the faith of the centurion helped me and my family grow a little more in faith. This Advent, let us grow together as families and as a faith community in order for Christmas to be an even more blessed event. God bless you all, Deacon Dan MacDonald