Skip to content

Monthly Archives: December 2019

Christmas Day

December 25, 2019

Fr. Joseph Jacobi


Listen



Whenever I was a kid and I heard this soaring, poetic passage from the Gospel of John, I always heard the first words as “In the big inning”. I ate, slept, and dreamt baseball as a kid, so my ears would always perk up at this passage, and the Good News to me was that God was a baseball fan. Even better, God’s Son, the living Word of God made flesh, was a baseball player, because in the “big inning” was the Word and the Word was God….

As an adult, I’ve not left my love for the baseball behind, but I do now understand this famous passage from John’s Gospel in a slightly different light. Whereas the evangelist Matthew traces the beginning of the story of Jesus Christ way back to Abraham, our Father in Faith, John goes even further back. John goes back to the beginning, before the Creation of the world, to a time outside of time. This is where he traces the beginning of the story of Jesus Christ, to the Word who was God, and was with God, before anything in our world existed.

Everything that has ever existed in this universe came to be through him, everything that exists today and will exist tomorrow can only exist because of Him. Without Him nothing can come to be. In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, God the Father did so through His Son, the Living and Life-Giving Word of his eternal love. All life was created through the Father’s love for His Son in the creative outpouring of their Spirit. The first thing the Divine Trinity created was Light—“Let there be Light” and so it happened. Light came to be from the Father through His Son, and this light no darkness has ever conquered, nor ever will do so.

We watch in awe as God’s plan through His Son, the Word of Life, begins to unfold. From that Cosmic bang of love flowing from love, life as we know it began. From this soaring beginning in the first verses of John’ Gospel, from this celestial vantage point, we peer into God’s plan to make all people God’s children.

For suddenly and unexpectedly, the poetic prologue to John’s Gospel shifts with the shocking statement in verse 14: “And the Word became flesh.” (1:14) We move from the vastness of the universe to a single person, from the enormity of the cosmos to a single person.

Wonder of wonders, the Divine Word, which existed before time, chooses to become part of time by becoming flesh and dwelling among us, literally, “pitching his tent among us.” It is awe-inspiring to consider how the infinite Word limited himself to this finite world, the One through whom everything has been created becoming forever part of His Creation. God could have saved us from afar, but instead takes our human nature to Himself, as the Eternal Word dwells among us in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.

Only one word can even begin to explain why the Eternal Word would draw so near to humanity—LOVE. Love for human drives the Divine Word of God to share fully in the human condition, not just in our material bodies, for the Greek word for flesh, “sarx”, encompasses everything we experience as human beings. So the Son of God, the Eternal Word of Love, embraces our humanity, with all its joys and sorrows, delights and disappointments, from the time he is born in a rush of blood and water to the time of his death, as blood and water pours forth from his pierced side.

God came into human existence with all of its limitations and all of its flaws. The Word of God, out of love, embraces our brokenness and lowliness. The Eternal Word of God wants to be close to us, among the small and in the straw, so he can express in human words His love for us and in human actions show us what that love looks like.

The God through whom the cosmos has been created has come close to us in Jesus Christ, in all the specificity of being human, even down to the freckles and the fingernails. This is all part of God’s plan to save us and make us His own, His people, his prized possession. To continue what God planned from the first day of Creation— to pour God’s life and light into our world, to become part of the world God created, so that grace upon grace could flow into our lives.

For the Word became flesh in human history, this remarkable act of love took place in time. “The gift of the Law came through Moses while grace and truth come to us through Jesus Christ.” (1:17) But we must take great care in understanding this contrast, because too many Christians mistakenly think that one grace (the Incarnation) replaces another (God’s love for Israel as expressed through the gift of the Law).

The challenge comes in the translation of one little Greek preposition, “anti,” which carries two possible meanings. “Anti” can carry the sense of replacement, which is the way our lectionary translates it from the Revised New American Bible—”grace in place of grace” (1:16). But “anti” can also carry the sense of temporal order, which the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible translates as “grace upon grace.” It’s one of those amazing things about our faith, that to arrive at a better understanding of the Word made Flesh we need to better understand one little word in the human language.

“Grace upon grace” helps us better understand how the grace of the Incarnation (God becoming human) builds upon the grace of God’s love for Israel. Grace is not being replaced—it is accumulating!! God’s history with God’s creation, and especially with humankind as the pinnacle of His Creation, has been all grace from the beginning to now. First to Israel through Moses and now to us through Jesus Christ. The cosmic plan of God, which expresses love most fully in the Word becoming flesh, is an accumulation of God’s continuing love for us.

CONCLUSION: ALWAYS MORE With God there is always more, and then there is always more. The Living Word of God is proclaimed to us on this Christmas Day, feeding our souls. The Word who is God takes our flesh today in this Holy Communion, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Grace upon grace, as God not only has forever been joined to human life, but now we humans are filled with the life of God.

So that, miracle of miracles, everything human has the capacity to communicate the light and the life of God. By our loving others, we love the God who is love and life itself.


Christmas Letter from the Pastor

Dear friends in Christ,

As we gather to rejoice in the birth of the Son of God, I would like to extend a special welcome to all of our guests and visitors. If you have been away from the Church and desire to renew your practice of the Faith, please know that you are always welcome here at Holy Spirit Parish. On the back side of this letter is a schedule of major Parish Events for 2020.

This Christmas will be our last Christmas in this “temporary” church building, because the substantial completion date for our new church building is set for the end of April 2020. Archbishop Coakley will dedicate our new church building on Wednesday, May 20th. Once we move into our new church, we will use the present church space as a parish hall. Our new church will comfortably seat 700 people, and it is constructed to be expanded in the future for additional seating.

Our parish is one of five parishes in the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City which has been invited by Matthew Kelly’s Dynamic Catholic organization to participate in the Dynamic Parish Initiative. During the past 26 years, Mr. Kelly has spoken at over 3000 parishes about the genius of the Catholicism. He founded “Dynamic Catholic” about 10 years ago. Our parish has received books from Dynamic Catholic written by Matthew Kelly over the past several Christmases to give away. Recently Mr. Kelly started the Dynamic Parish initiative, working with select parishes to help increase parishioners’ involvement in a life of prayer, study, stewardship and evangelization. Last year 21 parishes around the U.S.A. partnered with Dynamic Catholic in this initiative, and this year an additional 40 parishes, including our parish, are doing so. Dynamic Parish is a 5-year initiative where Dynamic Catholic tests and researches its model of parish renewal, which combines: (a) the introduction of great Catholic resources, programs and events that trigger great moments which propel a Catholic to live their faith more deeply; and (b) the implementation of best practices to drive parish engagement through excellent communications, giving programs, invitations, hospitality, music and homilies. Through the generosity of many benefactors, Dynamic Catholic will be providing all of these resources, programs, events and consulting to our parish for free. (The value of this 5-year investment by Dynamic Catholic is between $500,000 – $1,000,000.) Deacon Paul Lewis is forming an implementation team which will work with Daniela Locreille, the consultant provided to our parish by Dynamic Catholic, as we move forward with this initiative.

The “soft opening” of this 5-year initiative begins with the Christmas book program giveaway, “Rediscover the Saints”. These books are available in Spanish and English, and there are study guides available in both languages which can be used by small groups of parishioners during the Lenten Season. (One of the advantages of working with Dynamic Catholic for our parish is that all the materials we will be provided are available in both English and Spanish.) The “Launch Weekend” will take place at all the weekend Masses on January 11-12 with the showing of a video by Matthew Kelly and distribution of material. The “Bigger Future” Survey will be conducted at all the Masses on the weekend of February 1-2. The “Dream Event” will take place on the evening of March 14th.

Those who sign up for “Flocknotes” will receive text and/or e-mail reminders on a somewhat weekly basis about important happenings at our parish. Register for Flocknotes at: Flocknote.com/holyspiritmustang OR text “hsccmustang” to “84576.”

May God grant you much joy during this Christmas Season! Fr. Joseph A. Jacobi, Pastor

Christmas Eve

October 6, 2019

Fr. Joseph Jacobi


Listen



Many of you are probably wondering: What happened to the traditional Christmas story? What about there being no room in the inn for Mary and Joseph, Jesus being born in a manger, and the angels declaring good news of great joy to shepherds with the birth of the Savior?

That story of Christ’s birth comes from the evangelist Luke, but Matthew the evangelist brings his own perspective to the birth of the Son of God. Since we have recently begun the Year of Matthew, and Matthew’s Gospel will be proclaimed almost every Sunday between now and the end of next November, it is appropriate that this Christmas we hear Matthew’s infancy narrative.

Matthew begins his gospel with the genealogy of Jesus Christ, who is not only Son of Mary but also son of the Father of faith, Abraham, and the son of the greatest king Israel ever had, David. Matthew shares with us the whole story by recalling Jesus’ ancestors, reminding us that the Son of God joins himself to the human family forever.

Jesus’ family tree includes men and women, Jews and Gentiles, saints and sinners. It includes four women who give birth to ancestors of Jesus in unusual and sometimes scandalous circumstances, pointing to the most unusual birth of all— His birth from a virgin.

There are a lot of skeletons in Jesus’ family closet, but God works through each of them to prepare the way for the coming of His Son. The story of Jesus Christ is written with the crooked lines of liars and betrayers and the immoral.

The evangelist Matthew is faithful to the Old Testament insight that God frequently does not choose the best or the noblest or the saintly, but still works with them and through them to advance his plan for salvation. This “choosing” by God of imperfect and even sinful people to do His work continues with the adult Jesus, as he preaches salvation to Matthew the tax collector

and other sinners excluded from the Temple worship, calling them to be part of his merry band of followers.

The first part of the genealogy builds up from Father Abraham, who had no land but received a promise, to David, who rules as king in possession of that Promised Land. But the second part of the genealogy goes downhill from David, as kings follow him who lead the people away from God, and the eventual result is losing their land and being deported to Babylon.

King David himself was a remarkable combination of saint and sinner. He was not only the greatest king of Israel and a poet and a lover of God but also a murderer and a slave to his lusts. Yet, the sinner David and the corrupt kings who followed him are also part of the story of the origin of Jesus Christ.

Then the third part of the genealogy takes an upward swing with the joyful return from exile all the way to the birth of Christ. But what a curious cast of characters this progress involves. Except for Shealtiel and Zerubbabel, the first two, and the last two, Joseph and Mary, they are a collection of unknown people whose names never made it into the Bible, except for here.

Obviously, Abiud, Eliakim, Zadok and the rest never did anything significant, or they would have been mentioned in the sacred history of the Jewish people But while powerful kings brought God’s people to the low point of the exile to Babylon, unknown people, also saints and sinners, were the vehicles of restoration.

These who were considered “nobodies” to the rest of the world, carry on the lineage of Jesus’ family tree, carry forward the long and winding story of Salvation!

Matthew’s Gospel states that each of the 3 divisions in Jesus’ genealogy has 14 generations, but if you actually count the generations, you would find there are only 13 generations in the 3rd and final list leading up to Jesus’ birth. That is significant, because that means all of us since the birth of Jesus are the 14th generation, carrying forward God’s plan of salvation. We are the 14th generation, descendants of the Son of God, sinners and saints who God has chosen and who God uses to bring the good news of His love to the world.

If the beginning of the story of Jesus Christ involved as many sinners as saints, so has the sequence, so has this 14th generation. This includes Peter, who denied Jesus and Paul who persecuted him, and all the sinners and saints ever since, including us.

The God who wrote the beginnings with crooked lines also writes the sequence with crooked lines, and some of these lines are our own lives and witness. If we think we are insignificant and unimportant, then Jesus’ genealogy gives us hope about our destiny and the vital role we play in salvation history.

By stressing the all-powerful grace of God, the genealogy of Jesus Christ presents its greatest challenge to those who will accept only an idealized Jesus Christ whose story they would write only with straight lines and whose portrait they would paint only in pastel colors.

He is Emmanuel, God-with-us, not God-apart-from us nor God-over-us. Out of love, the One who is without sin joined himself forever to sinful humanity. He is born to die to save us from our sins and to invite us to enter into abundant life with Him in the here and now. He becomes human so that we might become divine, so that we might share divine life in and through Him by the power of His Spirit.

The story of Jesus’ genealogy, the story of his life in Israel 2000 years ago, the story of his life with us now, reveals that God’s marvelous grace can work even with and through people like us. God can take the crooked lines of our life and make them straight to heaven’s gate. For every saint has a past and every sinner a future.

Which is why the child of Mary is given the name of JESUS, which means, “God saves,” and Jesus indeed saves us from our sins and from the wages of sin, eternal death. He reveals God with us, Emmanuel, by always saving us from our past and giving us a future bright with hope.

God is so humble He became one of us, one with us, Emmanuel. God longs to be known, and in Jesus we know Him down to the freckles and the fingernails. God is with us and making himself known in birthing and dying, in experiences of love and loneliness, fear and fidelity.

God shows God’s humility by using us, frail and fragile and weak and even sinful, to carry forward to others the Good News of His love for us in Christ Jesus. Like Achim and Ruth, Rahab and Rehoboam, Tamar and Solomon, we are bearers of the mystery of God.

So, we really have no excuse for not bringing Christ to the world by our lives of joyful love.

Thus, our lives can give glory to the God, who has given us a share in His glory, as we wrap the gift of our lives around the prayer:

“Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.”


4th Sunday of Advent

December 22, 2019

Fr. Joseph Jacobi


Listen



The story of Joseph, a direct descendant of King David, reveals how God’s ways are not our ways, nor are God’s thoughts our thoughts. As Joseph surrenders to the will of God, he chooses a family and a destiny greater than his small dreams.

As Joseph works through in faith the conundrum in which he finds himself, he discovers the following.

God’s plans are not my plans. I never planned on Mary being pregnant with a child not my own, nor the scandal and shame this could cause.

God’s worldview is not my worldview. I only see a small sliver of the total picture, whereas God sees all and knows all.

My dreams are too small, my hope too limited, my vision too narrow. God’s dreams are grander, God’s hope for me is limitless, God’s vision for my life is much more expansive.

Things are not as they appear at first glance. There is something more here than meets the eye. There is need for me to take a longer look, a deeper look, to look at my life from God’s perspective.

What Joseph teaches us, this just man who was very attentive to God’s will and faithfully obedient to that will, is that we must go beyond being so quick to judge a person or a situation. God works in the colorful space between black and white— God works in the arena of faith.

Joseph would teach us that being quick to judgment is a dead end. We need to pay attention to the way our mind is constantly judging, and we need to clear a space to stop the mind from judging. Whenever things seem simple and obvious, and the mind is feasting on certainty and outrage, go slow. There is more there than you think, only it has not appeared yet. Judgment stops the appearance of the more. It cuts down people and situations to the little you know. It closes possibilities.

Joseph, the just man, the one who knew the Law of God’s people (the Torah) inside out, teaches us that to fulfill the Law means going beyond it. The letter of the Law required him to publicly shame Mary for becoming pregnant with a child not his and then have her stoned to death. But Joseph reveals that the Law is to be used with compassion, not as a weapon to destroy others. This is one of the many truths Jesus learned from Joseph. Make the Law work for love, and you will find your way into the heart of God.

Love is the sun; Law is love’s furthest and often weakest ray. When you love the person through the Law, you shape the Law to the reality that is always more than you know. This gives life a chance to breathe and people a chance to change. And the deepest change will not be in other people, but in yourself. Love takes the beam out of your own eye. It does not focus on the splinters in the eyes of others.

We can imagine Joseph in his carpentry shop sharing with Jesus what he had learned. “Once something happened, and I was tempted to judge and punish. But I held back and waited and a deeper door opened—the door that is hard to find. I was led into a room of sun, a home for the Spirit. Your mother and you were there—and a presence of light who talked to my fear. It was a dream, but it was not sleep. The dream awakened me. It took the beam out of my eye.”

The invitation Joseph gives us is to see everything twice. To go beyond the first seeing of appearances by the physical eye, to the second seeing of the spiritual eye, which is the seeing of reality. Contrary to what our secular culture proposes, what is most real goes beyond the material–what is seeable by the physical eye–to a deeper reality–the spiritual.

To see everything twice and thus see where the Spirit of God is at work in our lives and in our world, means taking a step back with Joseph to marvel at the big picture. With our quick to judge mentality, we only see what is front of our nose and miss the bigger picture of the beauty of God’s presence and the mysterious working of the Spirit.

It’s like looking at a painting by Monet or any one of the Impressionist artists. If we were to stand only inches away from such a work of art, all we would see would be blobs of dried paint. But when we step back, the painting comes into focus as something beautiful and rich in meaning.

We step back to take in the big picture, to see things from God’s perspective, by entering into a regular habit of prayer. If we want to see how the Spirit is at work, we need to rest in the Spirit of God in prayer. If we want to be able to see the presence of Emmanuel, God with us, then we need to listen to Him speak to us in silence through his Holy Word. If we want to know the power of Jesus to save us from our sins, we need to ask him to reveal our life to us as it is, the good and the bad.

What are the promises which sleep deep within us? We can awaken to these promises by welcoming Emmanuel, God-with-us. For God becomes human in Jesus not only to reveal God’s self to humanity, but also to reveal man to himself, to reveal us to ourselves. God reveals man to himself in all his hidden possibilities.

We are bearers of the mighty mystery of God, each one of us, for all things are possible with God! When we join Joseph and Mary in making a home for the Spirit to breathe and move in our lives, then we enter into an endless adventure of love.


3rd Sunday of Advent

December 15, 2019

Fr. Joseph Jacobi


Listen



“Are you the one to come or should we look for another?” “Are you the one to come or should we look for another?” The question of John the Baptist gets right to the heart of the matter. Is Jesus the promised Messiah or is he not?

Jesus is certainly not doing what John the Baptist in Matthew’s Gospel expected him to do. Jesus does not come with fiery judgment and condemnation, he is not sifting the wheat and burning the chaff, but he comes with mercy and compassion for the wayward ones. However, John the Baptist, being a prophet, is aware of the prophetic utterances from Israel’s past. He would know of Isaiah’s signs of God breaking into the world, coming to save His people by healing the blind, the deaf, the lame, and bringing the dead back to life.

Perhaps John sends his disciples to Jesus with this haunting question, not for John’s sake, but for the sake of John’s disciples. After all, John certainly would have known his time on earth was limited. As a prisoner of King Herod and with Herod’s vengeful wife lurking in the background, John would have sensed that someone would soon be coming for his head. So, John addresses the doubts of his disciples by sending them to Jesus. They are to no longer rely only on what others say about Jesus; they are to go and know Jesus firsthand. Thus, even from behind prison bars, John continues his mission of preparing the way for the Lord.

The response of Jesus to their question, “Are you the one to come or should we look for another?” is not a direct answer. Notice that Jesus does not say, “Yep, I’m the one.” Rather he points to his works—the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the dead come back to life, and the poor are comforted by the good news. Those who are broken are now healed and made whole, what they were missing is now found. The deepest desires of the human heart for wholeness are happening in & through Jesus.

If we are honest with ourselves, we have to admit that we have questions about Jesus. Like John and John’s disciples, we have certain expectations of Jesus, and when He does not live up to those expectations, then we can doubt if He truly is the One who is to come.

Some of us know a lot about Jesus, but do not know him. A number of us have heard others speak about Jesus, but we have not spoken directly to Jesus. So, John the Baptist sends us to Jesus, trusting that if we come to know Jesus, all will be well.

What in your life needs healing? What in your life seems broken beyond repair? What part of you seems feels as dry and parched as a desert? It is in these places of “lack” in our life, these places of need in our life, in these places where we seek wholeness, that the Lord is coming. He can raise up what is dead in us to new life, for that is Jesus’ desire.

He longs to open our eyes to see that we are “very good” in God the Father’s eyes and His eyes as well. He longs to unplug our ears so we can hear more clearly how much we are loved. He wants to touch our legs grown weary carrying the burdens of life that we might dance again. He desires to call us out of the tombs of fear in which we live into the light of a new day, a day filled with hope and rejoicing. Jesus wants to help us uncover our deepest desire, a desire for union with God, and then fulfill that burning desire with the gift of Himself.

Maybe we doubt whether Jesus can do all of this, because we do not know how to wait, because patience is not part of our life of faith. In the 21st century, where with one computer click we can order anything online and have it delivered that very same day to our doorstep, we no longer know how to wait for the gift of the Lord’s healing presence.

His delay in helping us, in healing us, is not because of punishment or vindictiveness. Rather, He may delay for any number of reasons. He may want our desire for Him to grow from something small to something big, so to be better able to receive all He wants to give us. He may choose to allow us to wrestle with that which afflicts us because like St. Paul’s thorn in the flesh, this means we will constantly turn to Him for help each day. If this “thorn” were yanked out of our life, we would trust in ourselves, be proud and strong and no longer need Him at all. Perhaps Jesus delays in doing what we want right away, because He knows that death is the ultimate healing for these finite bodies of ours that were not meant to last forever.

Whatever the reason for His delay, this Season of Advent and these Advent Scriptures reassure us to wait in patient hope, trusting that he is the One who is to Come and that He will come to set us free, to make us whole, to bring us new life. Because that is what He does!!

So like the farmer who does all he can by tilling the soil, fertilizing it, and planting the seed, we do all we can to prepare the way for the One who is to come. Like the farmer who patiently waits for the early and late rains to bring growth to the seed planted, we wait in patient hope for the living water of the Spirit to flow more fully into our life.

Like the prophets who persevered in hope, who kept looking forward into the future filled with hope, we take the same stance toward life with them.

As people of faith, we live in joyful anticipation, knowing the Lord will be faithful to what He promises. For He is the one our hearts long for, the one who will fulfill our deepest desires.

When we come to know the Lord’s desire to heal our brokenness, when we experience His saving love which makes us whole, then we want to be that for others. To be the answer to their question, “Are you the one?”

Are you the one who will help those blind to God’s mercy see it in you? Are you the one who will open the ears of those deaf to God’s goodness through your good deeds speaking to them? Are you the one who will help those crippled by fear to dance again? Are you the one who will bring those buried in despair to hope again?

Are you the one who is going to make the Kingdom of God more of a reality today?


2nd Sunday of Advent

December 8, 2019

Fr. Joseph Jacobi


Listen



“Repent” is the first word spoken by John the Baptist in Matthew’s Gospel (3:2). Repent is also the first word spoken by Jesus when he begins his public ministry in Matthew’s Gospel (4:17). The English word, “repent” comes from the Greek word, “metanoia”, which literally means, “change your mind.”

Repentance, this new mindset, leads to new actions. True repentance always includes a change in behavior, a change in the way one lives one’s life.

Unflinching honesty is essential for repentance to happen. John’s voice challenges all of us who are tempted to compromise our principles in favor of looking good and being popular. John’s message challenges us not to believe the lie that we can get what we want with the least amount of effort. John’s voice becomes our conscience when we are encouraged to disregard the needs of others in order to take care of Number One, or when getting caught becomes a bigger shame than what we are caught doing.

John the Baptist teaches the truth about a life of integrity, and the fruit of relationships lived in honesty and respect. He rails against arrogant reliance upon one’s presumed sense of privilege, against complacency, the shirking of responsibility, and disinterest in the welfare of others.

But why should we care about John’s call to repent or even make the effort to do so? Because, as he says, “the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” (3:2) John the Baptist will lay down his life preparing the way for the One who will bring about God’s Kingdom.

You thought God was far away in heaven, distant and uncaring. Change the way you think about God, for in Jesus, you will be able to reach out and touch heaven come to earth.

When we repent, we are able to dream about a whole new world. When we change the way we think, we can then imagine and live in the Reign of God.

In his writings, the Prophet Isaiah paints a picture of this new world, of a world where the rule of God reigns. Isaiah writes to a people submerged in a culture of fear, whose minds are controlled by fear, and we are that people. A politic of fear has frightened and divided us. So, like the people of Israel to whom Isaiah speaks, we are living through a pandemic of depression which kills hope, for hope is the casualty lost by the depressed.

People in sorrow and depression suffer from a sense of hopelessness and an impoverished imagination. They simply cannot imagine a world different from the one in which they feel imprisoned.

This Advent Season presents us with the opportunity to recapture, with Isaiah’s help, our imagination and capacity to dream into being a new world. Isaiah paints a beautiful picture of a peaceable kingdom, where not only human beings live in peace, but all of Creation is at peace. The peace in this kingdom is more than simply avoidance of conflict, but intimacy between predator and prey, as the wolf and the lamb come together in peace.

The long-awaited Messiah who ushers in this new way of living has already arrived. Heaven has come to earth in Jesus, son of Mary and son of God. The greatest truth which John the Baptist prepared people to receive is the truth that God is with us in Jesus.

When we know and believe this truth, when we receive Jesus who is the Truth of God’s love, then everything changes for us. When we re-orient our lives to make the Prince of Peace the center of our lives, then we change the way we think and act and live.

Salvation comes from God to us through Jesus, but God still expects and awaits a human response. The all-powerful God chooses to save and re-create humankind, but only with our cooperation.

The ongoing re-creation of humankind and of the world in which we live comes about through Justice. The way we humans help grow the Kingdom of God on earth is by working for justice.

When justice flourishes, human beings live in right relationship: in right relationship with the God who always saves; in right relationship with all members of the human community; in right relationship and with the created world.

Under the rule of God’s reign of justice, artificially created boundaries dissolve Strangers are welcomed with joy, and all people work together to meet the needs of all. The future toward which Isaiah points us, the future which Jesus brought into the present with his dream of the Kingdom of God, will not be characterized by exclusion, but by inclusion, for salvation in Jesus is open to everyone.

Salvation means the triumph of God’s justice, empowering us to witness to God’s reign, and includes the respectful and loving care of this earth and all God has created. Salvation is about much, much more than “saving one’s soul”—it is about sharing the saving love of God in Jesus with others and with all Creation.

If we want peace, we work for justice. Charity is a good thing, but we who dream the dream of God’s kingdom know that it cannot be the only thing. For we are called not only to feed the hungry, but ask “Why are they hungry?” We are called not only to lift up the poor with our gifts, but ask, “Why are they poor?” In a world where there is an enormous disparity between those who have and those who have not, we address the root causes of injustice, the structural nature of sin.

So that the broken may be healed and find peace.

We have been given the gifts of the Spirit to bring about this peaceable kingdom. These gifts are given not only to the Messiah, the newborn King, but to all of his subjects, to you and to me. Wisdom and understanding, knowledge and counsel, strength and fear of the Lord. Empowered by the fiery love of the Spirit and with the Spirit’s gifts, we can prepare the way for the coming of the King of Kings, so that justice may flourish in his time and the fullness of peace forever.


1st Sunday of Advent

December 1, 2019

Fr. Joseph Jacobi


Listen



December often flies by in a flurry of activities. Parties and purchases press upon people, and there never seems to be enough time to get everything done. For many, it is the most stressful time of the year.

The Season of Advent invites us to take a step back from the crazy-busyness of this time of year and reflect upon the reason for our gift-giving and celebrating. God has visited Planet Earth, humbly becoming one with us in all things but sin. The God through whom all has been created, through whom everything holds together, has fallen head-over-heels in love with humankind, and like the best lover of all, wants to be with us in everything.

The Son of God left this world by ascending into glory at His Father’s right hand, but He has never really gone away. By the power of his Spirit he remains with us, stealing kisses from pinched lips and holding our hand in the dark.

These daily visits to us, these comings in mystery, are meant to prepare us for his sudden coming again in glory at the end of time. The only way we stay awake and prepare ourselves for his coming at our death or in glory at the end of time is by receiving Him now in the midst of the ordinariness of our daily lives.

These hope-filled days of the Advent Season remind us that the Son of God who came and humbly walked this earth and who will come again with power and might, is still coming in mystery, visiting those who are waiting, watching, and alert to his presence. Advent is not only a Season; advent is a way of life, of being constantly alert for the coming of the Lord.

Advent gifts us with the awareness that Christ has already been born in us by baptism and longs to grow His life within us. We wait for Him, we long for Him who is the reason for our deepest joy and greatest hope, because He has already come to us in bread and wine to deepen our hunger and thirst for Him. Those of us who have put on Jesus Christ in baptism and whose life has grown in us by Holy Communion, long for more life in Him. Our Advent waiting for Him, our longing for Him, is always a movement from something to something more, from life to a more abundant life in Him.

The secret of waiting for Him, and staying awake for his visits, is that he has already come to us and claimed us as His own. Something has already begun which he wants to bring to completion. Our life-long journey of faith is about welcoming Him as he comes to us in so many different ways.

The Risen Lord Jesus, by the ever-creative power of His Spirit, comes to us daily in so many varied ways. In the silence of our prayer, He comes to us. In his word in Sacred Scripture, he speaks to us. By the beauty of His Creation, he sings to us. Through other people, he touches us in love and challenges us to love Him present in them.

Sometimes the Coming One breaks into our lives like a thief in the night, and we are not ready for his coming, because we are not awake, we are not alert to the present moment of his visitation. We are not fully present to the present moment in which he is coming, because we live in the past of pain or the future of worry.

We are also not awake to his coming because we walk in the darkness of sin, which blinds us to his visits. That is why the Sacrament of Reconciliation is such an important way to prepare for his coming, by throwing off the deeds of darkness and walking in the light of his merciful love. To receive Him as he comes to us in Confession, freeing us from all those choices against love, in order that we might receive Him, who is love, more readily.

All of our life is Advent, a life in which we wait, actively present to the moment, trusting that new things will happen to us, new things that are far beyond what we can imagine or dream.

Attentive to the present moment of the Lord’s coming, we can look to the future filled with hope.

However, Advent ushers us into the challenge of believing that the world as we know it is not what God intends and that God wills to help us do better.

The prophet Isaiah tells us what God intends for the world: The life and prayer and witness of believers will attract all peoples to know and love God. He speaks of a time when weapons of war are transformed into tools for agriculture, and when human beings will care for one another and this Earth as they were created to do.

There is no excuse for a failure to look into that future willed by God.

Neither is there an excuse for failing this very day to start making it happen.