Second Sunday of Advent – December 6, 2020 (Cycle B)

I.  Let the Light of the Second Candle of Advent Shine! Not all prophets wear camel skins and eat locusts! There are prophets among us right now who proclaim in their ministries, in their compassion, in their kindness, in their courageous commitment to what is right because it’s right, that Jesus the Messiah has come. At baptism each of us is anointed to be a prophet (one who proclaims), to do the work of transforming the world around us. Who are the “prophets” among us who proclaim the presence of God in our midst during this extraordinarily different and difficult time. How can we make the traditional and practical preparations for the coming Christmas season experiences of “grace?” John the baptizer invites us to repent—to turn away from what separates us from God. What most hinders my/your relationship with God on December 6th, 2020? Let the Light shine!!

II.  Holy Day of Opportunity:  The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary will be celebrated Tuesday, December 8th, with Masses at the Cathedral at 7:00am and noon. There will be an anticipatory Mass at Blessed Sacrament Chapel (7th and Sycamore Streets) on Monday, December 7th at 6:00pm. 

     In any celebration of the Eucharist, our focus is always on Christ, through whom and by whose Spirit we give praise to the Father. As we are the People of God, this is “our duty and our salvation” (Eucharistic prayer II). It is also Mary’s. Although she “far surpasses all creatures, both in heaven and on earth” (Lumen Gentium, #53), she is still “one with all those who are to be saved,” (#53). 

    God has endowed us with the gift of freedom. True, multiple conditions influence how that freedom is exercised. But, nonetheless, the gift is ours. Today’s Scripture reminds us that human beings have a choice to cooperate with evil or blessing. Furthermore, the consequences of these choices have incredible ramifications. We honor Mary because God favored her with a special grace and her decision to cooperate with it has blessed humankind. Are we aware of the grace of showered on us in Christ? How are we saying “yes” to God‘s will for our lives?

III. St. Nicholas, Compassionate and Generous! Many stories exist about Saint Nicholas, but one most frequently passed down speaks of a poor man who could not feed or clothe his three daughters. Upon hearing of this man’s dire situation, Nicholas tossed three bags of gold on different days through the man’s window so the man could tend to his daughter’s needs. Nicholas lived sometime during the fourth century and was Bishop of the city of Myra in Asia Minor. There is some evidence that he was imprisoned during the Diocletian persecutions and he later condemned Arianism, the heresy that denied the Son was co-equal with the Father; therefore, Arianism denies the divinity of Jesus (is that heresy alive and well today?!). His feast day is celebrated on December 6, but this year, it is overshadowed by the Second Sunday of Advent. So many of you mirror the compassion and generosity of this saintly man by sharing your time, talent, & resources. Thank you! Gracie! Merci! 

IV.  Patroness of North, Central, and South America! The story of the origins of the miraculous image of our Lady of Guadalupe is well known. Juan Diego, whose feast we celebrated Wednesday, December 9th, was a quiet, humble man; a poor peasant living in Mexico. When Mary appeared to him and asked him to tell the local bishop to build a church in her honor, Juan Diego became a very reluctant messenger. The bishop would not believe him. Of course, he did not. So Mary filled Juan Diego’s tilma (cloak) with roses in December! When he emptied out these beautiful flowers at the bishop’s feet, a wonderful image of the Virgin Mary, dressed like a young Aztec woman, was imprinted on his tilma. You are invited to celebrate this Solemnity of Our Lady of Guadalupe at the 9:00am Mass Saturday, December 12th, as the Church throughout the Americas, North, Central, and South, honors Mary under this title.

V.  The Giving Tree: A Tradition of Caring: In an effort to keep safety a priority, our Giving Tree process is a bit different this year, but the focus is the same—to help make Christmas a bit brighter for the less fortunate!  We humbly ask for your support through monetary donations either by using a Giving Tree envelope (available at the doors of church) or by donating online with WeShare at Our Giving Tree volunteers will use the donations to purchase items that will be used to serve those on our Giving Tree.  Donations may be placed in the Offertory boxes at church or mailed to the Parish Office. Be sure to indicate “Giving Tree” on the memo line if you donate by check. Many thanks to those who have already donated! God bless you for your caring and generosity.

VI.  COVID & Quarantine are Full of Lessons!  As many of you are well aware, Fr. Sinoj and I contracted COVID and have been quarantined. I had a dream (or nightmare) one night that I should get my will in order and put the finishing touches upon my funeral plans! It was a thrill and relief to awaken to the morning sun! We are very grateful for your prayers, texts, emails, cartoons, food, cards, concern & care. Thank you! You make a difference! I am grateful to Bishop Medley who called immediately and ask how he could help. He generously volunteered to take the weekend Masses, plus most of the 12:05pm Masses. Thanks to Fathers Pat Reynolds, Joe Schoettle, Will Thompson, Ray Clark, and Jason McClure for “stretching” themselves to celebrate weekday Masses, accommodating our rather hefty Mass schedule here at Saint Stephen. A special thanks goes to our Cathedral Pastoral team who picked up the slack, and made things happen; they are wonderful at giving of their time, over and beyond the call of duty! I cannot tell you how blessed we are to have a competent, generous team! Thank you one and all!