On this 4th Sunday of Advent, we have the opportunity to look back on another year and answer the question: How did God bless me, bless my family? What are the blessings I/we have received? I know there are families who give thanks to God for the jobs they currently have. At the same time we pray for those who lost their jobs this last year and are still looking for employment. Employment can give people dignity and a sense of purpose.
Parents give thanks for the schools their children attend and the education the students receive. Remember the many children in the world who will not receive an education now or in the future because of their poverty or the lack of public schools.
Hopefully, students give thanks for their teachers who can open up the wonder of learning, the wonder of free exchange in the classroom, free from fear or persecution; having the opportunity to express ideas without fear of arrest or reprisal.
We give thanks that we live in a country with states that have no borders, no entry taxes, and the freedom to travel within those states by the transportation of our choice.
We give thanks that we can worship and express our faith in Christ without persecution, without fear, without recrimination and trust that all will respect the freedom to do so without causing harm to other denominational groups.
I am sure that you could name even more things to be grateful for as we anticipate celebrating and remembering the birth of Christ, the one who entered the world through the simple “yes” of a virgin named Mary. Mary is the first witness, the first disciple, a significant person who said “yes” that made an incredible difference for the world. Her basic faith and trust are profound in her response to God’s love, God choosing her for such a special role. She exhibits so many qualities that we can emulate by our willingness to respond to God’s love, to be men and women of faith.
Think about Mary’s “yes” and reflect on the ways that you say “yes” to your family, to your spouses, to your parents, and to your children. Think of the ways that you are giving witness to God’s presence in the world right here and now – giving thanks to God for all of God’s gifts.
As we approach the coming feast of Christmas, I am grateful for many things, my family, the people of Saint Anthony parish, my friends, and the people and priests I have served with over the years. I am particularly grateful for the Saint Anthony Senior group who raise money each year from their bake sale to support the liturgical needs of our parish. This year the Seniors’ funded a new humeral veil used on Holy Thursday or when we celebrate Benediction and a new white cope that can be worn when a priest celebrates a wedding without Mass. Thank you all for your commitment and support of Saint Anthony parish, we can’t do it without you.
Advent Blessings, Father Larry Hendel