I. Are You A Sheep? On this, the final Sunday of the liturgical year, we celebrate the solemnity of Christ the King. By concluding the year with this feast we are proclaiming our faith that Jesus Christ is the one and only king over all seasons, all peoples, and all of creation.
Joanne Rogers, the wife of famous children’s TV host Fred Rogers (known to most of us as “Mr. Rogers“) in the 2018 documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, recalls one of the last conversations she shared with her husband as he lay dying from stomach cancer. He ask her, “Do you think I’m a sheep?” Mr. Rogers had been meditating upon the Gospel we have for today (Matthew 25:31-46). She responded, “If there ever were a sheep, Fred, you’re one.”
Let’s take some time this Sunday to consider, if someone were to look objectively at the actions that have made up our life, would we be identified as a sheep or a goat?
II. The Giving Tree: Our parish tradition of caring continues with our Advent Giving Tree. In consideration of everyone’s safety but in an effort to continue this important outreach program, we are asking for your support through monetary donations rather than taking a tag from a tree. The method is different, but the focus remains the same—to make Christmas a bit brighter for those in need. Giving Tree envelopes will be available at the doors of church this coming week; you may also donate online through WeShare. God bless you for your amazing generosity!
III. Gratitude IS Good Medicine! People who have developed the virtue of gratitude are not only happier people, they also tend to be healthier. Gratitude is good medicine. Gratitude is not just a feeling that comes and goes like other emotions; it is an attitude that recognizes and receives every good thing in our lives—some of which is borne from life’s “not so good” experiences—as pure GIFT. While gratitude cannot be forced, it CAN be cultivated. Why not commit to bringing your family or a friend to Thanksgiving Day Mass on Thursday, November 26th at 8:00am (live streamed for those at home, this is the only Mass on Thanksgiving day at the Cathedral). Bring a bag of non-perishable food for those not so blessed.
IV. Advent Calls Us To Be Mindful of God and Alert to God’s Ways. Next Sunday, November 29, we begin the season of Advent, a hopeful season in which we are called to be alert and watchful. Advent anticipates the great celebration of Jesus’ birth and his Incarnation into human history. While Advent prepares our hearts for Christmas, we are also called in a special way during Advent and throughout our lives not only to “anticipate” something that already happened—Jesus birth—but to be alert for the signs of God’s presence in our lives, even during this COVID-19 time.
V. The Naked Truth! What is your definition of Church? A big part of “belonging” to the Church, the “People of God,” is sharing your life, sharing who you are and what you have. Let’ face it, I will be accountable for how I have used everything God gave me. The naked truth is: Everything I have belongs to God. That’s the heart and soul of stewardship. So I have a need to share my time, my talents, and yes, even my money. This doesn’t make sense at all unless it is connected to faith, my personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and his Church. “The biggest mistake people make is that they think stewardship is a finance program. It’s not. It’s much more. It’s a spirituality program.” (Msgr. Thomas McCread)
If you have not been involved, start somewhere. Get involved in one of our ministries. We can certainly use more people to work in the Social Concerns outreach ministries; we need more Ministers of Care to visit and take Communion to the sick and shut-ins; RCIA involvement (have you thought about inviting someone to RCIA?); we need people with technology skills; we need more liturgical ministers (cantors, music ministers, lectors, servers, Eucharistic Ministers, sacristans, and especially hospitality ministers), etc. Please return your stewardship form by Thanksgiving Day!
VI. Always Grateful, But Always In Need! Our St. Vincent de Paul Society is helping many more clients than this time last year. Next Sunday, November 29th, will be our “5th Sunday Collection.” You are so generous and that generosity has helped so many. Thank you.
VII. In Memory/Honor of: an intimate and spiritual way to remember a loved one is to make a donation toward our altar flowers for Christmas. This is also an appropriate way to honor someone living. You can sign up electronically on WeShare or use the envelope in your tithing packet marked “Christmas Flower Offering,” or you can simply drop an envelope in the offering boxes at the doors of the church. These flowers—living memorials—will grace our sanctuary and church throughout the Christmas season.
A Prayer—Where should I begin, Jesus, to unclutter my life? I have yielded to temptation and filled my days with more commitments that I can comfortably manage. Help me to make myself a little less busy. Free my time.
I have crowded my space with too much baggage: with gadgets and conveniences and possessions. Help me to let go of whatever I cling to. Free my hands.
I have filled my head with trivial distractions: News and weather, gossip and prejudices. Help me to focus on more important concerns. Free my mind.
Jesus, my life is cluttered with more idols than I realized. I have given them a reverence they do not deserve. Teach me to renounce their claim on me, and end my divided allegiance. Guide me to a simpler life and more generous service. Amen.
(Bishop Kenneth E. Untener, 1937-2004)