Archive for December, 2013

Making Our Families Our Greatest Blessing

Sunday, December 29th, 2013

Feast of Holy Family

Sir 3: 2-6, 12-14; Col 3: 12-21; Mt 2: 13-15, 19-23

Dc. Larry Brockman


We don’t choose them; they are our greatest blessing as well as our greatest curse; but they are also the bedrock of our society.  They are our families.   

Today, we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family.  It is our Parish Feast day, as well as the feast day for virtually all of us in this Parish because all of us either come from, or participate in a Family.   

First, and foremost, we all need to understand why the family is so critically important to society.  It is because the family is made in the image and likeness of God.  That’s right- God patterned our human families after himself.  You see, God is three persons in one God, the Trinity.  The three persons of the Trinity share their Godhead with us through a complex set of relationships and communications between themselves and us.  And each of the three persons has a special role.  God the Father- the Head, the Architect; God the Son- the Word of God, the enabler; and the expression of the Love of the Father and the Son- the Holy Spirit, who gives life to all things.   

Doesn’t that sound like the family- a complex set relationships between persons sharing in the dynamic of a unit, with each person having a special role.  Both Sirach and Paul tell us of the roles as the fathers, mothers, and children in the family unit.  Fathers have a special role as the leader, the head of the family.  Fathers and mothers must love and respect each other; and the fruit of the love and respect that Fathers and Mothers have for each other is their children, who carry forward the life and spirit of their parents.  And children need to honor and respect their parents by being obedient to them in all things.   

This family cycle is God’s will for us, and has repeated itself endlessly throughout human history.  It occurs in parallel with the creative and productive activities we are all called upon to do as we emerge from our parent’s families, and form families of our own.  Just like God continues in His creative and productive activities throughout time.  Men and women, coming together as a married couple, and having children- Such was, and is, the will of God for mankind.  And as long as our society follows God’s will and respects the family unity, society will prosper because new generations of healthy, stable people will continue the process.  But when we diverge from God’s plan, then problems develop.  Divorces, orphaned children, struggling single parents, and many other things occur when the basic family structure breaks down.  And so, it is the Christian family that is the ideal.   

Today, the Christian family is under attack, isn’t it?  Rather than a family unit that echoes the image and likeness of God secular society is pushing the individual, not the family unit as the basic unit of society.  This leads to alternate family structures and alternate life styles based on “choice” not on God’s will.   

Today, we need to take the time and effort to do whatever we can to build up our family unit in to a Christian Family.  We need to go back to a structure that echoes the Trinity; to go back to the simplicity and effectiveness of the Holy Family as the building block of society.   

To do that, let us all think back on the best times we had with our families on this special feast day- the special love that our Mom’s have given to us as little ones; the work and dedication that our Fathers have done to provide for us; the many hours our parents stood by us in times of trouble- sickness or when someone hurt us; the time and dedication they gave to help us to learn, to play sports; when they give us that special gift we wanted so much; that special camping trip Dad took you on; the concert Mom and Dad took you to; and the prom dress Mom got for you.  

When you really think about it, there are many times in your life like that when the love of God was reflected by the love your parents had for you.  Think of those things on this special feast.   

Now I know that there are some of you out there who have bitter experiences in your families.   Just the other day, for example, I heard a story about a friend’s family.  She was beaten frequently as a child, and grew up with very little education because the money that was dedicated to her education was squandered on something else.  But she rose above these limitations and vowed never to let these things happen in her family.  Rather, she became a loving, nurturing mother, and despite the abusiveness in her own family, speaks with honor and respect for her parents.  No matter what kind of family you grew up in, you have a choice: you can use the negative experiences as an indictment of your parents sins, and even as an excuse for your own lack of development.  Or you can learn from them, like the lady I mentioned.  You can also recall the positive experiences you had in your family.  And pattern your families to emulate them.   

Yes, you have a choice to make your family  The greatest blessing for your children;  And not the greatest curse.  The choice is yours.


The Stories of Two Faithful Women

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

Thursday of the Third Week of Advent

Judges: 13: 2-7, 24-25a; Luke 1: 5-25

Dc. Larry Brockman


Two women- that’s what we hear about this morning.  They had prayed all their life long, and hope was fading.  They were childless, and in the ancient Jewish society, that was considered a disgrace as Elizabeth mentioned candidly in the Gospel.  But their Faith was strong, so they still prayed, and both of them were rewarded for their Faith with a son.  Both of these sons, Samson and John the Baptist became great in the eyes of God and gave honor to their mothers and glory to God.  Samson saved Israel from the Philistines; and John the Baptist heralded the way for Jesus.  These two testaments to Faith are a great example for us all.  We, too, need to keep Faith and never give up on prayer.   

I am pretty sure there is something in your life that you have been praying for and it just seems as if your prayers are not answered- a child, like the women in today’s readings; a healing for an illness; the repair of a relationship; for someone to get out from under an addiction; some relief to a hardship- a new job, a little financial breathing room; the fulfillment of some dream- an accomplishment like a degree or a talent that you want to bear fruit.  And yet, whatever it is, it just doesn’t seem to happen despite your prayers.  But know that God always answers your prayers in your best interests.  The answers are yes, no, and not right now.   

Yes is something we all like to hear- but again, God knows best when “yes right now” is really the best for us.  “No” is a really difficult answer, isn’t it.  But there are reasons for “no”; just like there are reasons we say “no” to our Children.  God has plans for us that we cannot foresee.  Sometimes we only understand as time goes by that our prayers really were answered, but in a different way, and that things turned out better God’s way.   

Then there is “Not right now”, but in God’s time.  That’s a tough answer, too.  And it is the one God gave these two women for most of their lives.  But then, all of a sudden, their prayers were answered and their dreams came true.   

This, after all, is the message of the Advent season.  After waiting through the “not right now” period for so long, Israel’s prayer was answered.  The Jewish people longed and prayed for the coming of the promised Messiah.  They prayed for it for thousands of years- thousands of years!  God answered their prayer as “not right now” for those thousands of years.  But then, all of a sudden, He sent his Son, the Messiah.  It was an answer they didn’t expect, because they were looking for a King, not a helpless baby and so, it wasn’t foreseen as the most wonderful answer to their prayers.  But God answered their prayer by sending His only Son into the world as one of us to show us the way and to give us everlasting life.  We can see now how marvelous that answer to their prayers was.  That’s why we celebrate Christmas each year.   

In less than a week, God comes again in that unexpected way as a helpless child.  But if we take him inside, and listen to him, doing the will God has for us, our prayers will be answered, and just like John the Baptist and Samson great things will happen for us.

The Three Joys of Advent

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

Thursday of the Second Week of Advent

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Zech 2: 14-17; Luke 1: 26-38

Dc. Larry Brockman

“Nothing will be impossible for God”!  These are the words from the Angel Gabriel to Mary when Mary asks how the predictions by the angel could happen.  Mary went on to accept God’s will for her and all that the Angel foretold happened because when it truly is God’s will, it will happen as impossible as it may seem to us.  And Mary has appeared to certain worthy persons throughout the History of Christianity pleading with her human brothers and sisters to believe in her son; to pray, to accept God’s will, and to follow Jesus’ Gospel accordingly.   

Today we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  In 1531, a humble 57 year old Mexican peasant named Juan Diego experienced one of those appearances from Mary.  Mary was acting as a surrogate messenger for her Son Jesus.  She told Juan this simple message:  “My dear little son, I love you.  I desire you to know who I am.  I am the ever-virgin Mary, Mother of the true God who gives life and maintains its existence.  He created all things.  He is in all places.  He is Lord of Heaven and Earth.”  Then she told Juan to go to the Bishop and report all he had heard and seen.  Juan did as Mary asked him to do; and Juan followed in Mary’s footsteps and did God’s will for him.  Juan and Mary’s influence on Mexico as a result of that appearance is widely credited with the conversion of Mexico.  Indeed, all things are possible for God.   

Now we are in the middle of Advent.  Advent is the season for us to wait joyfully for the coming the Lord at Christmas.  We celebrate Jesus coming each year; and then continue during the rest of the Church year to complete our commemoration of our salvation history.   

And so, we already know that Jesus really will come this Christmas- just as he has every Christmas of our lives;  we should already be rejoicing, because we know it happened.  Jesus lived amongst us as one of us; suffered and died because he did God’s will; and was raised from the dead into eternal life; a life he promised to share with all of us who believe in him, repent; and follow his Gospel.  And in that certain knowledge that He will come; know also that he will come with a mission for us- the thing which he wills for each one of us to do- God’s will for you.  This is the time to reflect on that and to embrace God’s will for you joyfully just like Mary did in our Gospel and just like Juan Diego did in 1531.   

The joy we can experience from that kind of Advent reflection is threefold: first, joy over the reality of Jesus coming; and the promise of the second coming at the last Judgment where all of us who are Faithful will be rewarded with Everlasting Life; second, the joy of knowing that each of us was created for a purpose; for a mission; to do God’s will; just like Mary and Juan Diego; and third, the joy of knowing that we can do it.  Because nothing will be impossible for God!

Preparing For Christ

Sunday, December 8th, 2013


Second Sunday of Advent

Is 11: 1-10; Romans 15: 4-9; Mt 3: 1-12

Dc. Larry Brockman


“Prepare the way of the Lord-” that’s what we are all doing for the next 18 days- preparing for the coming of the Lord!  There are cards to be written, gifts to be bought, cooking to be done; decorations to be put up, trees to be trimmed.  And we are all engaged in preparing for the coming of the Lord when we do these things, right?  Not really!  Because as pressing and as important as those things seem to us, that’s not what John meant in this morning’s Gospel about being prepared.   

So, what does John say to do?  He says: “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!”  That’s John’s real message for us this morning, a message advising us to be ready for the coming of the King.  You see, there are two comings heralded by the season of Advent.  There is the coming of the Christ Child.  But there is also the second coming of Christ, and in these first two weeks of Advent there is a strong hint on the second coming of Christ as well as the coming of the Christ Child.   

That second coming is the one that Isaiah prophesies as well.  And what does Isaiah say?  He says that “with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips, he shall slay the wicked”.  Are you ready for that?   

Now many of you probably think about such a second coming as the Last Judgment.  But you know what, there is going to be an encounter with Jesus just like this when you die.  And that could come at any time.  Our readings have been making that point at weekday Masses the last couple of weeks.   

So, just how can we be prepared for the two comings of Christ?  John talks about what not to do, doesn’t he?  He scolds the Pharisees who come forward for Baptism because they were paying lip service to the whole process; they were just there to see what was going on and to be part of the popular activity of the time.  After all, people were coming out from all over Judea and Jerusalem to see John.  These Pharisees and Sadducees were just doing what everyone else was doing.  John implies that this is not what one should do.   

It’s kind of like us putting up Christmas lights and a Christmas Tree; sending out the cards and buying all the gifts.  These things are all part of the “holiday” culture of our time.  Everybody prepares in that way this time of the year.  But that is not what being prepared for Christ means.   

So what does John say to these Pharisees and Sadducees?  He calls them “a brood of vipers”, and says “who warned you to flee from the wrath to come”?  And then he says to them:  “Bear fruit that befits repentance”.  There it is- the message for all of us as clear as a bell.  Our preparation needs to be twofold:  First, we have to confess our sins.  Then, we have to bear fruit that befits repentance.  This is the kind of preparation that we are called to do for both of the comings of Christ.   

Every year, our parish has a Penance Service on a Monday night close to Christmas.  That service is the ideal way to fulfill the first of the two requirements- to confess our sins.  This year the Penance Service will be held on Monday December 16.  Not tomorrow night, but a week from tomorrow.  So all of us have sufficient time to clear our calendars so we can attend.  There are always more than a dozen priests there to hear confession at that service.  Typically, there are only 150 to 200 people there.  200 people in a parish of 3000 active families.  So, there will be room for you.   

Do you suppose that there are only 200 sinners in the parish, and the rest of you are sinless?  In the words of our pop culture Pro-Football commentators:  “C’mon man”!  All of us are sinners; all of us do something over and over again that we need to change.  We all need to first confess that- and so, all of us should be here on Monday night the 16th.   

But there is something else we need to do.  We need to repent as well.  Repentance means a sincere turning away, in both the mind and heart, from the sins of our past and from our self-centeredness, and then to focus on God.  So, John is calling us to bear fruits, that is, to show evidence that such a turning process is happening.  That’s a far cry from cards and decorations, and gifts and a lot of other things we do this time of year to prepare for Christmas.  And we have such precious little time to do it.   

What kind of things can we do to show that we have turned things around?  Paul gives the Romans some good advice this morning that might help.  He says that we can derive hope “by steadfastness and the encouragement of the scriptures”.  Yes, we need to exercise self-control; be steadfast against the temptations of the devil; and to read and practice what we read in the scriptures.  Then he tells us that we are to welcome one another; and to live in harmony in accordance with the teachings of Jesus Christ.   

Experience the real joy of Christmas this year.  It is a joy that comes from knowing that you are ready, you are prepared for the coming of Jesus.  Because you are right with God and ready to meet Him.

Building a Foundation that Lasts

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

Thursday of the First Week of Advent

Is 26: 1-6; Mt 7: 21, 24-27

Dc. Larry Brockman


The other day, my wife and I began watching a movie.  It was supposed to be a light romantic comedy about a biracial couple.  The girl brought the boyfriend home to meet her family.  The Father was immediately upset over the racial difference.  He looks for anything he can find to validate his prejudice and finds it easily, as this young man is no athlete.  So, he taunts the young man about not being a “real man”.  The young man lies to the father and claims he is into NASCAR to get him off his back.  In the next scene, the girlfriend chastises him for lying as she unpacks a teddy in her bedroom- the room they are assigned to stay in for the night.  So, in the first 5 minutes of the film, we have prejudice, taunting, lying, and living together outside of marriage all imbedded into the story line. 

We just turned the TV off in disgust.  We were simply surfing the free preview of premium movie channels.  This choice looked to us to be the best of the 10 or so channels.  The other films that were playing were movies about drug dealers and murderers, or were horror movies.  This, however, is what our society has to offer on a daily basis on the premium movie channels.  And yet, much of our society lives their lives glued to this type of media on a daily basis, !00 or so mindless channels of secular values that capture more and more of our time.  This is the sand that Jesus warns us not to build our lives on.   

Now Isaiah tells us this morning to: “Trust in the Lord forever for the Lord is an eternal Rock”.  An eternal rock!  That sounds like the foundation that Jesus recommends in the Gospel.  The Lord as the foundation for what we do in our lives rather than the shifting morals and values of secular society as reflected in the media that is front and center in our lives today.   

But just how do we do that?  How do we build our lives around the Lord as our foundation?  How do we avoid our foundations being clogged with the sands of the time.   

The first thing that comes to mind is Isaiah’s advice to keep the faith.  Our faith is important because it says that we really do believe- believe that there is a higher purpose to life than what this world has to offer.  And that God shared his Son with us to earn us a place in his heavenly Kingdom if- if we do his will.  That is what Jesus was talking about in the Gospel- doing the will of the Father.   

Second, we can’t have the Lord as our foundation if we do not know him.  It’s pretty hard to follow the will of someone you do not know.  Knowing the Lord means prayer and some reflection.  And Advent is the perfect time of year for all of us to reflect and get to know the Lord better.  I know it’s tough, because there is so much going on.  But it’s a necessary step that we all need to take to know the Lord.  Maybe we could all turn the TV off- and specifically, those movies that are an affront to our Christian Values, and instead, spend the time getting to know the Lord.  I recommend the perpetual adoration chapel.  Make it your “Advent Resolution” to spend an hour a week between now and Christmas getting to know the Lord.   

The Lord is coming- that’s what Advent is all about.  These readings today are about his second coming at the end of our lives.  Will he find you doing his will?  Or will you be glued to your I-phone, I-pad, TV or X-box absorbed in the culture of the day.  The choice is yours- Sand or Rock. 

The Greatest Gift

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

Advent Reflection Service

Dc. Larry Brockman


There once was a little boy who lost his mother about this time of year, right before Christmas.  The father was very poor, and was distraught over the loss of his wife.  He didn’t know how he was going to care for his son and work to support the two of them as well.  A wealthy couple came to the father and offered to take the boy for him.  They promised to give the boy everything he wanted or needed.  The father went to his son, and said.  Son, these good people want you to go live with them.  They will give you everything you need.  There will be lots of gifts on Christmas, and you will never have to worry again about your well-being in this world.  But the little boy looked up at his father and said.  “I don’t want to go”.  The father asked why, and the boy responded:  “Because they can’t give me you”.   

We have just heard the story of the Incarnation in the readings.  God’s greatest gift to mankind is wrapped up in the Incarnation.  The Incarnation is how God sent His only Son, Jesus, into the world to live as one of us- God, become man, and as the Church teaches, that means Jesus is fully human and fully divine.  Jesus became the bridge between God and man.  He showed us the way as the Gospels describe.  He showed us how we could be human, and still pleasing to God. 

For Jesus, that meant seeking and finding God’s will for him.  And so, he suffered and died for us, because he talked about God in a different way.  He talked about God’s laws being written into our hearts, and He acted as he preached.  That was God’s will for him, to spread the good news of how God’s law could be written into our hearts and live that way.  People hated him for that- for not living in the ways of the world and the establishment; but rather, living according to the dictates of his conscience; according to the promptings of God’s spirit dwelling within him.   

And the establishment thought they had gotten rid of Jesus when they crucified him.  But they were wrong- because God raised Jesus from the dead, showing us the path to everlasting life.  And so, He became our bridge between time and eternity as well.   

Yes, Jesus is God’s greatest gift to man, and so, we celebrate His coming amongst us each Christmas by exchanging gifts, a symbol of the gift that we all received from God on that first Christmas.  God the Father gave us a gift from His heart, the gift of himself.  It was the kind of gift that the son in our story sought.  Because things, wealth, power, and comfort, as much of a blessing as these things can seem for us, they are not what give us lasting joy.  Happiness from these things is temporary, and it is an external happiness, not an internal one.   

At this time of year, when we gear up to get each other gifts   We need to consider the real meaning of Gifts and giving at Christmas.  There is much to be learned from our readings today about gifts.   

In our first reading, Bible scholars tell us that  Ahaz was quite content with his own situation at the time even though his people were complacent and gthey were thresatened by an invasion..  People were well off; and so, the Israeli Kingdom and it’s people were content with the world   And so, Ahaz is not asking for a gift, or a sign.  He is on a spiritual plateau, and is quite “happy” with it.  But God recognized that growth is necessary for all of us.  And so, he tried to wake Ahaz up because there is more to life than contentment in this world.  And so, God promises Ahaz the coming of the real Messiah.  Lesson 1 then is this:  If you are content with your life, what gift might God be trying to give you to shake you out of your contentment and motivate you to grow?   

In the second reading, we find that the long awaited coming of Jesus will occur at Bethlehem.  Bethlehem was a small, insignificant shepherd town at the time.  Certainly, Bethlehem was not the place that anyone expected the Messiah to come forward from at that time..  But God works in His own unique way.  Out of humble beginnings, the King of Heaven emerged.  So, lesson two might be this.  The most significant gift in our lives may come from the least expected source.  It is something that blossoms forth from the depths of our hearts under the inspiration of the Spirit.   

Then, Paul talks about the gift of faith, which leads us to apostleship.  Yes, our Faith is one of the most endearing gifts that we have.  Unlike many people born into this world, most of us didn’t have to struggle to find the Lord.  It was gifted to us by our parents when they brought us forward to be Baptized and promised to bring us up in the faith.  We were infused with the Holy Spirit and became members of the Church- the gift of Faith.   

Then came Mary, the mother of God, and the story of the Visitation.  Mary was gifted with a mission by God.  Mary takes the gift of her call and accepts it- accepting God’s will for her, sacrificing her own wants and desires to do God’s will for her.  This is another great lesson about God’s gift to us.  We are all called by God to do something;  it is written in our hearts and in our consciences.  And it calls out to us constantly like the voice of the angel to Mary.  The challenge is to accept that gift and do God’s will.   

The nativity story is next, along with the visit by the shepherds.  The long awaited promise of the coming of the Messiah is fulfilled.  It happens in the most humble of circumstances as predicted.  Most people of the time would have been horrified.  They would have thought- “This can’t be it, this can’t be the fulfillment of the covenant”.  But the shepherds show us another way.  They experience the glory of God and leave with a sense of joy.  The lesson in that for us is simple.  Were hear this story each year, and are called upon to be joyful people.  We are called upon to be joyful over God’s greatest gift, Jesus Christ, and what it all means for us who believe- everlasting life. 

But are we joyful?  Usually, life catches us up into the trap of worldly concerns.  And we don’t really appreciate the peace and joy that Christmas brings.  That’s because joy is a spiritual experience.  We need to take the time; make the time; this Advent and Christmas season to recognize God’s greatest gift and make it a priority to change our lives to capture the joy.   

The last reading is known as the Last Gospel.  It summarizes everything I’ve been talking about-  the story of God’s greatest gift to man.  And St. John summarizes the effect of that greatest gift this way.  That “Grace and Truth came through Jesus Christ”.  Grace and Truth.  These are the gifts, the lasting gifts that Jesus brought with him.  Grace is the presence of God within us that the Holy Spirit brings.  It is a gift; but Faith and acceptance of that Faith coupled with our resolve to do God’s will for us, these enable the graces that God offers us.   

Lastly, truth.  We all need the gift of Truth; the ability to discern what is true.  Jesus Christ brought the truth.  And this truth is different from the truth that the world proclaims.  The Church safeguards the truth through the Magisterium.  Truth is God’s revelation to us through Jesus Christ, the Bible; the saints; the popes, the doctors of the Church, and the great councils of the Church.  These have all helped to give us the fullness of truth.  Our Catechism is a testament to the truth that has been assembled from Jesus Christ.  Like the little boy in the story, the world cannot give us the Father.  Rather, we must seek the Father in our hearts. 

God gives us himself this Christmas.  He does that in his unique way.  He comes to us bringing us grace and truth to fill our hearts with joy- a joy that lasts forever. 

Waking Up Spiritually

Sunday, December 1st, 2013

First Sunday of Advent

Is 2:1-5; Col1:1-12; Rom 13:1-14; Mt 24: 37-44

Deacon Larry Brockman


Are you asleep?  Now you may be thinking to yourself that’s silly because you are all physically awake or you wouldn’t be here.  But what about spiritually?  Are you spiritually asleep?  St. Paul was talking about people who were spiritually asleep.  He tells them the time is right for them to awake from their sleep.  Paul is acting as a prophet- warning people to mend their lives because their day of salvation is near.  He advises the Romans to put aside the things of the world, and to “put on the armor of light” so they will be ready for that day of Salvation.   

Jesus is also talking about people who are spiritually asleep.  He uses the analogy of Noah and the flood to make that point.  Now this is interesting, because there wasn’t any prophet in Noah’s day like Paul in his day. .There was just Noah- Noah read the signs and prepared for the flood.  But he was all by himself.  Everyone else thought he was crazy.  They were eating and drinking and marrying.  In other words, they were just living life, enjoying the good life.   

So, the question for us is this:  Is that so wrong- just living our life and enjoying the good things of life?  Paul was talking about deeds of darkness, and he lists them- drunken parties, sensual pleasures, sexual immorality, quarreling, and jealousy.  But Jesus was just talking about eating and drinking and marrying.  These are things we all do, just like two men working in the field, or two women grinding some meal for a dinner.  These people were doing the ordinary things of life, not the dark things that Paul mentioned.  That’s why spiritually asleep seems to me to be such a good description for what Jesus is warning us about. 

Most of us don’t go through life spiritually dead- consciously doing evil and seeking pleasure; denying the existence of God and the coming of the kingdom of God. But we are often spiritually asleep- preoccupied with basic things of this world; unconcerned with the fact that some day we will die; unprepared for the fact that at any time we could be called by God.  Yes, we could be the person in the field or the woman grinding flour.  In today’s world, we could be the person in the path of a Tsunami or Hurricane or Tornedo; a bystander along the street of the Boston Marathon; the victim of a heart attack or stroke or tragic auto accident.  And life is suddenly over for us, and we are standing before Christ the King in Judgment.     

It’s not so much that there is anything wrong with living life, but rather, it is foolhardy to be spiritually asleep while we live our lives.  We need to be prepared and ready for the Coming of Christ at any time.     

That’s what Advent is all about, the four weeks before Christmas.  It is our time to wake up spiritually, and train ourselves to be constantly aware of our mortality, of our first priorities; and of our relationship with God so that we will be prepared at any time for the coming of Christ.   

The preparation is twofold.  While we live, we need to walk in the light of Christ, living our lives to the fullest, but in the pattern laid out for us by Jesus in the Gospels.  And secondly, we need to be constantly aware of our calling to a higher life, a life in the kingdom of God.  Isaiah describes this hope for us in very poetic terms, the heavenly Jerusalem on Mount Zion; the house of the Lord, where there is no more war or strife, only the peace of God.   

So, this morning, let us resolve to use this next four weeks of Advent to awaken spiritually to get ready for the coming of Christ.  We may be shopping and decorating and feasting and visiting and doing all the other rituals of the season at the same time.  But, let us be constantly aware and ready spiritually of the coming of Christ.