The imagery of the Messiah as the ‘Good Shepherd’ and Israel as the sheep appears throughout Old Testament Scripture. God was intentional in sending the announcement of Jesus’ birth to those Israelites who by their occupation represented the role of His Son. As soon as the angels left, the shepherds hurried off to Bethlehem. After meeting Mary and Joseph and seeing Jesus, they had to share with all those they met what they had experienced. They had seen for themselves the fulfillment of God’s word and a promise of hope for the future.
Today we celebrate the Circumcision of Christ. Being circumcised, Jesus, God Incarnate, fulfills the Law and demonstrates His being both God’s Son and Son of Man. The blood of circumcision confirms His humanity. God truly became man. In celebration of this event, we commit ourselves to the circumcision of our hearts referred to by Saint Paul in today’s Second Reading. We commit to circumcising sin from our lives so that we may truly represent Christ to the world.
We begin the Shepherd's Mass celebration with a celebration of carols in Polish and English The Holy Mass celebrates light in the darkness. But not everyone can see it. John the Evangelist had to explain it, because the world did not recognize Jesus. God is indeed here among us, in human flesh. We are invited to see this amazing light and help others recognize it.
Doubt and confusion are not unique to us, even in matters essential to our faith. People have long asked for signs from God when they are in turmoil. Joseph’s deep question about Mary is the focus of today’s Gospel. His moving forward on the strength of answers given in a dream should be a source of deep encouragement for us. Serious questions are not inappropriate; in fact, they can lead to amazing answers and events.
We are still waiting for the world we long to see. Like our ancient ancestors, we yearn for peace and justice, healing and restoration. Today we are told that the signs of Jesus’ presence are all around us, if we know how to see them. We hear in the Gospel the signs we are to look for, especially when we are distracted or doubtful, confused or disappointed. The good news is that there is even more to come. We live in an impatient world, but today we are told: “Be patient!”
In a chaotic world filled with personal, political and often environmental turmoil, it is easy to long for someone coming from the outside to help us, to “fix” things. But today we are reminded that something is also required of us. Preparing for Christ was and is a serious task, involving our own need for hope and repentance. We can look to Jesus for solace and assistance, but we are called to “make straight His paths” and to “produce good fruit as evidence of (our) repentance.” His coming makes great demands on us.
Brothers and sisters, today as we begin the season of Advent and a new church year, we might be aware of time. How little time we have to prepare for Christmas. How fast time flies. How precious our time is here on this earth — a time that will come to an end someday for each of us. Perhaps we should keep this in mind as we hear the message of the Gospel: Be prepared!
The Greater Manchester (New Hampshire) Clergy Association gathers its congregations for the Annual Thanksgiving Interfaith Service. On Monday, November 21, 2022, the service was hosted by Holy Trinity Cathedral Parish of the Polish National Catholic Church. The cathedral's Frederick Chopin Choir, under the direction of Karen Sobiechowski, was joined by singers from other participating congregations. The clergy introduced themselves during the service. A special offering of six bags of food was taken up for the First Methodist Church of Manchester food pantry. A monetary offering of three hundred ($300.00) dollars was taken up for Ukranian relief. We hope you enjoy the service and are moved to that the Lord God.
Bread and wine were an ancient component of Israel’s ritual history. Jesus infused their sharing with new meaning that has sustained the Church to this day. When we regularly participate in the Eucharist, we can become immune to its unifying power for the whole world. This annual feast reminds us that Holy Mass is our central liturgical act as Christians. Unity is deeply needed more than ever, and the source of that unity is literally in ourselves when we receive the Body and the Blood of Christ
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