Weekly Clergy Devotions
Posted: Sunday, December 16, 2018
3rd Sunday Advent
The crowds, in the gospel today, are looking for answers but not the kind that are usually asked. They are seeking guidance on how to change their lives in a way that conforms them to the will of God. They are inspired by the message of John the Baptist to turn away from sin and to make their lives holy. We too should be asking such questions seeking nothing less than holiness in our own lives. As we prepare for the coming of the infant Jesus how are we doing with the most important aspect of our lives, that of preparing our immortal souls for our final destination?. We might want to listen to John the Baptist and pay attention to how we act in our daily lives and how we treat our neighbor so that we might be examples of that Christian love that all Christians should be known for.
Deacon Bill Watzek
Posted: Sunday, December 9, 2018
Have You Ever Witnessed the Power of a Siren?
Have you ever witnessed the power of a siren? I myself never really had the experience until years ago, when I came to the U.S. If I remember correctly, I was walking by the side of a road at the time, and traffic was moving normally at first. Then, suddenly, the sharp scream of a siren pierced the air. And even before I could tell from where the sound was coming, all the vehicles suddenly swerved to the sides of the road and stopped moving. It was only a few moments later that I saw the flashing lights of the emergency vehicle and the ambulance was able to speed past without stopping.
I mention this because something like a siren is sounding in our readings today. In the Gospel, we’re told that the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert. And this word has an effect very much like that of a siren. Not only does it motivate John the Baptist to devote his whole life to God, but the word also prompts him to sound the alarm to others around him.
On this second Sunday of Advent, John the Baptist begins to tell all of us to do something very similar to what those drivers did when they heard the siren. He tells us to prepare a way for the Lord and make his paths straight to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Lord. Like drivers respectfully moving aside to make way for an onrushing ambulance, we too are called to swerve away from our own sinful tendencies, so that God might be better able to enter our lives, and lead us to safety. And it’s not just our sins as individuals but also as a society. We are to turn away such as from our tendency, such as, to discriminate against people, to treat them unfairly, simply because of their nationality or the color of their skin. For this is what advent is all about. Indeed, we need to prepare the way for the Lord who is coming to save us.
Fr. Dominic Toan-Tran
Posted: Sunday, December 2, 2018
This Sunday begins Advent, our great season of preparation! Our knee-jerk reaction is perhaps intimidation when thinking of all the “holiday” preparations we feel we need to somehow cram-into our already packed schedules. We also often have so many Christmas parties to attend (and no one enjoys them more than I do!), yet so many are scheduled long before Christmas even begins! This is contrary to the sobering tone of today’s readings, which remind us to take a good look at our lives to see if we’re ready to greet Jesus in-person. In other words, now is the time to determine if we’re on our best behavior not just for Christmas but all throughout the year! It’s wonderful that here at St. Joan’s we have beautiful reminders to keep our focus on what’s more important than creating that “perfect holiday.” For example, our Advent wreaths point to the reality of the fast-approaching celebration of one of the most joyous and peace-filled days of the entire year! However, Advent was never meant to only be for the preparation of the baby Jesus in the manger on Christmas, but for the preparation for Jesus’ triumphant return in glory! But even if we’ve concluded we’re not yet prepared because we are not yet living our discipleship to the full, we should never despair. With God’s help we can strive more this Advent season to live more consistently and totally our vocation of love, so we will be best prepared for not only our Christmas celebrations—but also for our eternal celebrations!
Fr. Martin Dunne III
Posted: Sunday, November 25 2018
Christ The King
In His exchange with Pilate, Jesus makes the point that His kingdom is not of this world. Jesus is speaking more to the nature of His kingship in terms of its origin. In fact Jesus states that He is not of this world and His disciples are not of this world. Jesus receives His kingship from the Father and the disciples receive a new spiritual life from the Father as His children through Jesus. This new Kingdom comes about not from human origin but from the power of God. We catch a glimpse of this kingdom in our reading from Revelation which states that “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “the one who is and who was and who is to come, the almighty.” He is the Lord our King and our savior the one who deserves our praise and our love. So on this feast of Christ the King of the
Universe let us join with the angels in crying out Holy, Holy, Holy God, King of heaven and earth! Amen!
Deacon Bill Watzek
Posted: Sunday, November 18, 2018
Where Are You Seeking Your Rest Today?
As we ready ourselves for the end of the Church’s Liturgical Year our readings invite us to carefully prepare ourselves for the end of time. However, what will the end of time look like? The first reading describes it in terms of people waking up from sleep. There is going to be a time of great distress, and of those who lie sleeping in the dust of the earth, many will awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting disgrace. Not just in our own day, but even at the end of time, some people will wake up well, and others very poorly. Some will find safety and others disgrace.
Indeed, what makes all the difference is where people choose to find rest? Disgrace is found by those who seek refuge only in passing things that do not last. In the gospel, Jesus goes so far as to say that even heaven and earth will pass away. Everything about this passing life will eventually be no more, even our beautiful houses, in which we take such pride. There will come a time when it will no longer be here. But, if this is true, where then are we to seek rest and find safety when we finally wake up from sleep?
The only truly restful and safe place is to be found in God alone. More specifically, we only arrive at true safety when we rest in our Lord. As He tells us in the gospel, heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. The Lord’s words do not pass away, because they are not mere words. They are matched by His single act of undying love. So dear brothers and sisters, where are you seeking your rest today?
Fr. Dominic Toan-Tran
Posted: Sunday, November 11, 2018
This Sunday we celebrate Veterans’ Day, which originated exactly 100 years ago today when the end of fighting was officially declared for World War I. The hope and belief at that moment following the loss of an estimated 37 million lives, there would never be any war again. We daily receive reminders that this hope is yet to be realized. A major reason this has certainly not yet occurred is that the world has not yet accepted the reality announced in the 2nd reading: that Jesus gave his entire self to free us from all sin and offer us salvation. The more we can recall this reality the more peace in the world will gradually become a reality—because that peace would have begun in ourselves. An immediate benefit is realizing that we are causing less harm to ourselves by recalling, and clinging to, the peace offered by Christ! And just as stress is contagious, so is peace! If people notice us remaining calm, cool and collected in the most stressful situations, people will begin wondering how we stay at peace. These are our best opportunities to show that our peace is based on the salvation which puts everything else in life in the right perspective—the perspective that no temporary pain can compare to the eternal joys which await us!
Fr. Martin Dunne III