Christmas 2016

Christmas 2016
God Bless Our Troops

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Sunday, December 7, 2008 - Pearl Harbor Day

Today marks the 67th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. When I was serving at St. Vincent de Paul parish in Shepherd, the deacon there, John Wilberding, always preached on the weekend closest to the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. He was stationed there in 1941. He lived to tell about it because he went to Mass that morning. When I planned the music for this weekend, Pearl Harbor never entered my mind. I am not at St. Vincent any more and so I didn't hear John preach about it. In fact, as an elderly deacon, John is not able to preach any more and so no one at St. Vincent heard him either. I find this sad because he still has much to tell us.

Last night at Mass, a friend of mine who served as a nurse in the Navy, asked if we were going to have a patriotic song. She remembered the date. She was alive when Pearl Harbor happened. I am bothered by the fact that it slipped my mind and somewhat ashamed. Those things that affect our lives tend to stay with us. I was not yet born when Pearl Harbor was attacked, but I can tell you exactly where I was when I found out my mother had died, or when John F. Kennedy was shot, or when my grandfather called to tell me my father had died, or when I heard about the World Trade Towers. Does my forgetting mean that I don't care? No, because I do care. It means that I am human. My memory isn't as sharp as it used to be, or is it that as we get older there is so much more to remember?

But we need to make an effort to remember. We need to pass these memories down to our children and grandchildren, lest they be lost.

In this second week of Advent, there just isn't any place in the liturgy to insert a patriotic song, but I can type up a petition for the prayers of the faithful for our men and women in service to their country and to all who died at Pearl Harbor. Remembering is the least we can do. Passing the memory on is the best we can do. Listen to the readings this weekend in light of the sacrifices that many have made for us - and then think of Jesus and the sacrifice he made for us. Think about what motivates this kind of sacrifice.

Word of the day:
Second Sunday of Advent
Reading 1
Is 40:1-5, 9-11

Comfort, give comfort to my people,
says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her
that her service is at an end,
her guilt is expiated;
indeed, she has received from the hand of the LORD
double for all her sins.

A voice cries out:
In the desert prepare the way of the LORD!
Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!
Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill shall be made low;
the rugged land shall be made a plain,
the rough country, a broad valley.
Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together;
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Go up on to a high mountain,
Zion, herald of glad tidings;
cry out at the top of your voice,
Jerusalem, herald of good news!
Fear not to cry out
and say to the cities of Judah:
Here is your God!
Here comes with power
the Lord GOD,
who rules by his strong arm;
here is his reward with him,
his recompense before him.
Like a shepherd he feeds his flock;
in his arms he gathers the lambs,
carrying them in his bosom,
and leading the ewes with care.

Gospel
Mk 1:1-8

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God.

As it is written in Isaiah the prophet:
Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;
he will prepare your way.
A voice of one crying out in the desert:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.”

John the Baptist appeared in the desert
proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
People of the whole Judean countryside
and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem
were going out to him
and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River
as they acknowledged their sins.
John was clothed in camel’s hair,
with a leather belt around his waist.
He fed on locusts and wild honey.
And this is what he proclaimed:
“One mightier than I is coming after me.
I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.
I have baptized you with water;
he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Thoughts from the cornfield:
I included the first reading today because we hear it whenever we go to a Christmas performance of Messiah. I never hear these readings without hearing the music that Handel wrote. Amid all of the dark readings we have heard over the last few weeks, comes this shining jewel of hope and joy.

Today we begin the Gospel of Mark and hear about John the Baptist who foretells the coming of Christ. John the Baptist was an odd figure - not aesthetically pleasing to the eye and many mistook him for the Messiah. He got in people's faces, most notably Herod, and got himself killed. Though John is not a Hallmark figure, not a warm fuzzy character, he is an important voice as we prepare for Christmas, because what motivated John? What motivated any of the prophets, and martyrs? What motivated Jesus? Why did Jesus come to us. There is only one thing that motivates any of us to do anything and that is Love. But it is what we love that defines us as people and maps out our destiny.


God bless our troops, whose love for their country and its people should never be forgotten - ever.

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