Bulletin – 2nd Sunday of Advent

  • Mass on Sunday, December 5, 2021, at 10 A.M.
  • COVID precautions are still in place. Vaccinations and masks are required.

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Dear Friends,

Our Advent journey continues–as we strive to more fully find Jesus in our hearts — in our midst — all around. Ponder these questions and come; pray with us this week.

Peace and love,

Pastor Kathy

P.S. If I can help in any way, please contact me by phone, 507-429-3616 or by email, aaorcc2008@kredig

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Readings:

  • Baruch 5: 1-9
  • Philippians 1: 4-6, 8-11
  • Luke 3: 1-6

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Homily – 1st Sunday of Advent

   My friends, the Christian Church universal follows the “beat of its own drummer,” as it were, each year beginning the Church Year, not in conjunction with culture, on January 1st or as those interested mainly with monetary issues, on October 1st, but following their own timetable.  Each and every year, for the Christian, begins and ends with our brother, Jesus, the Christ. 

   Advent, that wonderful, four-week period, give or take some days, leading up to Christmas, is intended to be a time of “expectant waiting.”  And, we might ask, what are we, as Jesus’ followers waiting for?  The simple answer is, for Jesus to come more fully into our lives.  In reality though, it could be said that “Jesus is already here!”  And with that thought in mind, perhaps a better word might be, “remembrance.”  We are “expectantly awaiting” that special season of joy wherein we “remember again” how much our God has loved us by choosing, as Creator, to come and live for awhile in the person of Jesus, among the “created.” 

   We might ponder during these 4 weeks of Advent and this year we are given a full 4 weeks of time, (determined by when the 25th of December falls each year) just why our Creator God would choose to do such a thing. 

   The perhaps, simple and easier answer in the past, especially before Vatican II was to paint a picture of a sinful people, us, in need of redemption and because our sins were so great, only the Son of God could repair the human “damage” done—through his own death on the cross. 

   Prior to Vatican II, we all were taught to believe this erroneous “truth,” and also not to question the belief.  With the Second Vatican Council, when good Pope John rightly said that the Church, “needed to open some windows, letting some fresh air in,” were we, the faithful, given permission to question the beliefs that for eons we were required to blindly believe.  Because after all, we know that having a people all believing the same thing, no questions asked, are by those in charge, thought to be must easier to control. What ever happened to the notion of, “the Spirit is continually renewing the face of the earth?!”

   Also, the idea of a Supreme Being choosing to come among us—not as a “vindictive despot,” but as a loving brother, friend—for no other reason than, to show us that we are loved, treasured and to show us the way, are concepts that at times, can be, without a doubt, “messy.” How are these, “in charge,” “to corral” folks in?  And that is perhaps the point.  The hierarchy of the Church are not called to “corral or force,” and punish when “their” wishes are not followed, but as the psalmist says today in number 25—to instruct, lead and teach—in other words, “the steadfast love and faithfulness of Adonai,” who simply wants to be in relationship, “friendship” with us. 

   The term, “Adonai,” if you are not familiar with it, is one of, “reverence” for God in the Greek, used in the Priests for Equality translation of the Scriptures that we use at All Are One.  It is another way of saying, “lord” which they chose not to use as it indicates a top-down relationship which by much of New Testament Scripture seems to indicate that our God, in Jesus, doesn’t want. 

   The Church in its wisdom treats us in each new Church Year to one of the synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  “Synoptic” simply means, much in all three is similar.   The differences tend to show themselves due to the population that the book was primarily written for.  In this Church Year, 2021-2022, we will be using Luke who was writing for the Gentiles—folks like us and it is thought that he never knew Jesus in his lifetime but learned of him through Paul. 

   The “Jesus” that he shows us will appear as a teacher—one with ethical wisdom—someone who is confident and serene in his teaching, interested in placing the virtues of “compassion and forgiveness” before the followers and encouraging their living out these virtues. 

   So the fact that Luke will be raising the concept of “ethical living,” the first reading from the prophet, Jeremiah, is fitting— “The land will be called, Our God is our justice.”  Also, “I will raise up a branch of David who will do what is right and just.” 

   Additionally, Luke is the best of the three synoptic Gospels in sharing stories uplifting women.  This is true from the first chapter where two women, Mary and Elizabeth have prominent roles to Anna, in the temple when Jesus is presented as a baby, to Mary of Magdala in the garden after the resurrection.  For this reason, your pastor, along with other women in ministry, delight in this Gospel. 

   So, my friends, this season of Advent, just beginning, calls us to remember reflectively, the true reason for our brother Jesus coming among us—simply put, to show us that we are truly loved by our God, and to help us live our one, wonderful, human life in the best of ways—by watching how he did it. 

   The writer to the Thessalonians— Paul, says it like this: “May our Savior make you grow and overflow with love for one another and for all people—may Christ strengthen your hearts.” 

   From this it would seem confirmed that Jesus advocated more for a “heart” response than for one coming from the “head.”  And as in all of my homilies, friends, I try to bring us back to the present—how are we to see these Scriptures in our day-to-day lives?

   Luke’s Jesus seems to be calling us to “balance” in our lives—enjoy, but don’t get lost in over-indulgence.  Additionally, we are to “pray always.” I would like to suggest that the “praying” called for here might be more about daily realizing that we are in the presence of our God, than about the recitation of words.  And this “presence” that we should be aware of, is all around us, in all of created life.  And when did our world need this kind of realization more?

   There is a bit of apocalyptic writing in today’s Gospel—a topic that those in Jesus’ time were often mentally engaged in.  I for one don’t think that kind of “mental engaging” is important if we rather, keep our eyes on doing what is right and good, just and loving. 

   May each of you be blessed with love, peace, and joy during these days of “expectant waiting.”  May we each, always, hold the gratitude expressed at Thanksgiving time in our hearts for all that we have, and do all that we can for those who have less and struggle every day—some even, to eat. 

   Additionally, as we expectantly await Christmas, let us pray for our beloved country, so divided at present, to have an awakening to the fact that in order to survive in any meaningful way, we must BE for each other—listen to each other, and collectively find the ways toward justice for all.  Amen? Amen!

Bulletin – 1st Sunday of Advent

  • Mass on Sunday, November 28, 2021 at 10 A.M.
  • COVID 19 precautions are in place–all attending must be vaccinated and wearing a mask.
  • A blessed Thanksgiving to each of you! Be safe if you are traveling! I am very grateful for each of you!

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Dear Friends,

With this Sunday’s liturgy, we begin a new season and year in our Church–Advent–a time of expectant waiting for Emmanuel-God-with-us!

Come; be with us this week to ponder, and to prepare for this great mystery!

Peace and love,

Pastor Kathy

P.S. Please never hesitate to be in touch if I can be of help! aaorcc2008@gmail.com or 507-429-3616.

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Readings:

  • Jeremiah 33: 14-16
  • 1 Thessalonians 3: 12–4: 2
  • Luke 21: 25-28, 34-36

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Homily – Feast of Jesus, the Christ, Our Brother and Friend

My friends, as you know, this feast brings us to the official end of the current Church Year with next Sunday beginning the new one and the holy season of Advent—a time of expectant waiting.  If we were simply to take a cursory look at the chosen readings for today, you would think we are celebrating, “kingship,” as we humans understand that— “a lording over others.” But a deeper look really does say something more. 

   The reading from Daniel is probably closest to this human definition of being “a king” in that it places, “this One” in a “power over” position, saying that this is an “eternal” condition.  It would seem the question we need to ask is, “What is it that designates the ‘rightness’ of this ‘power over’ by Jesus?” It seems that the other two readings give us our answer. 

   The reading from Revelation speaks of Jesus, the Christ as “sovereign of the rulers of the earth.”  This writer, whom it is thought to be, John the apostle, further speaks of, “Christ—who loves us,” and goes on to say that “he freed us from our sins by shedding his blood.”  I would submit the part that makes Jesus, the Christ, “sovereign” is that [he has loved us.]  Let me say that again, perhaps in a bit different way:  Jesus, the Christ is “sovereign,” not because he has “died” or “saved us from our sins,” but primarily, and for no other reason than that, “he has loved us!”

   Finally, the gospel of John confirms this notion.  Pilate asks Jesus if he is, “King of the Jews.”  Jesus’ response seems to come from a man exasperated once again that the message of his life has been misconstrued.  It is almost as if he is saying, “If you want to think of me, as a king, so be it, as I can’t seem to convince you otherwise.”  But then, Jesus gives us the clarification; “I came into the world, to bear witness to the truth,” [and] “everyone who seeks truth hears my voice.”  And we do have to give Pilate credit, because if we read further in the Scripture story, we see that he asks Jesus, “And what is the truth?” We see that Jesus isn’t going to answer Pilate’s question because his whole life had already given the answer. 

    And friends, we know that the “truth” is about God loving us so much so as to become one of us. Paul states in Philippians 2, “His state was divine, yet he did not cling to that, but humbled himself and became like humans are.”  And we know that his most remarkable life was all about showing his human sisters and brothers, the way to live and to love, which is really the “truth” that Pilate was asking for but didn’t realize at the time.

   So if that was God’s intent, to be one of us and with us, why did the Church inaugurate this feast that really removes Jesus, putting him on a pedestal away from us, rather than with us? 

   Upon checking, we see that this feast is only a little less than a hundred years old being proclaimed by Pius XI in 1925.  It was a time in our Catholic history when Church fathers feared that God wasn’t being given due respect, so it seemed to them appropriate to inaugurate such a feast.  Too bad they didn’t look back to Jesus’ words to see what God truly wanted from and with humans—not a top-down relationship, king to subjects, but a “one-with” relationship, friend to friend.  So, it is for that reason that I suggest the name of this feast be changed to Jesus, Our Brother and Friend. 

   When we pick up on the discussion between Jesus and Pilate in today’s gospel and realize that Jesus isn’t about being a “king” and claiming an earthly crown, but about sharing the “truth” with us humans that we are loved by our God, nothing more, nothing less, then we can come to the truth that this feast is all wrong! 

   In truth, this proclaimed feast is really more about whom we as humans are—concerned with power, than whom our God is.  Further, and more distinctly, this reflects who Church Fathers are more than who God is! 

   So, my friends, seeing where this feast came from in our Church history and with my suggestion that our brother Jesus might want us to have a different view of why it is appropriate at the Church Year’s end to celebrate him, let’s refocus then on our present day, facing our world as he did his, not with a notion of “power over” as in “kingship,” but as in, “one-with” others, represented by, “kin-ship,”  as in “brother/sister/friend. 

   In my years as a chaplain, I was often in the position of facilitating a “Celebration of Life” for those who had died, and I always reminded families that they could best remember their deceased loved ones by emulating their good qualities in their own lives going forward.  In other words, if their deceased loved ones “showed love” by spending time cooking, playing with family members, teaching a skill, whatever it might be, then we would best emulate them by doing the same in our lifetimes.  And it would be the same with our brother Jesus.

    Jesus-with-us, Emmanuel, as we will celebrate in a few short weeks calls us to truth, justice, mercy, and compassion.  Sometimes, to act thusly can bring us upset and fear that we stand alone.

   At that time, we must remember the messages coming from the 1st and 2nd readings today—basically that Jesus, the Christ, our brother, and friend in our humanity is eternal, is forever! Also, that this eternal brother and friend sends us grace and peace through the Spirit of God to do that which we must do. 

   So friends, as we move toward the beautiful and holy season of Advent beginning next Sunday, let us focus on the One who came to be one-with-us, keeping our eyes on him and receive the strength we need to be his true followers, not as people who, “lord it over others,” but as ones who, “walk with others” in what life brings! 

   Psalm 93 gives us perhaps a final idea on the theme of, “reign.”  The psalmist says, “holiness adorns your house.”  Perhaps “holiness” which comes from being people of justice, mercy, compassion, and love, is more of a reason than, “power over” others to celebrate Jesus, on this last weekend of the Church Year.  Amen? Amen!

Bulletin – Feast of Jesus, our Brother and Friend

  • Mass on Saturday this week! November 20, 2021, at 4:30 P.M.
  • COVID precautions still in place–vaccinations required to attend mass and masks as well!
  • Happy Thanksgiving to all for next week if you can’t make it to church on Saturday. I know that I am thankful and grateful for each of you!

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Dear Friends,

With this week’s liturgy we do indeed conclude our Church Year and move toward the holy season of Advent, the Sunday after Thanksgiving .

Let us concentrate this week though on Jesus, coming into our existence as “brother” and “friend,” to show us the way.

Peace and love,

Pastor Kathy

P.S. Please be in touch, 507-429-3616 or aaorcc2008@gmail.com if I can be of help in any way.

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Readings:

  • Daniel 7: 13-14
  • Revelation 1: 5-8
  • John 18: 33-37

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