My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

Bishop John Noonan

Grace and Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. We ended our liturgical year with praise and thanksgiving for our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. We know that Jesus’ Kingdom is a spiritual one which exists in each one of us who seeks to know God. We are bound to each other, through, with and in Christ, and as a community of faith, our primary mission is to bear witness to the Truth for which Jesus died; that God loves all people and desires to live with us forever.  

It seems fitting then to begin our new liturgical year, during the holy season of Advent, with a focus on the Holy Father’s call for us to be a people of synodality. A people of synodality is on a journey and I hearken to the beautiful story of Emmaus where Jesus walks alongside two disciples who have just witnessed His death and have heard stories about His Resurrection. Yet, they did not recognize Him until He spoke with them (shared the Word of God) and broke bread with them (offering them the gift of Himself through the Eucharist). It was only then that they knew He was Jesus. In our journey, we are called to be Jesus to others and to recognize Jesus in others. This journey is one of prayer and sharing and listening so that we grow in our love of God and love of one another as God loves us.

As we begin the season of Advent, it is appropriate for us to ponder how we individually and as a community seek God and journey with God through each other. It is a time to reflect upon our participation (or lack of) in  Mass. The nourishment of the Eucharist will sustain each one of us. St. Paul blesses us with his words; that we increase and abound in love for each other and for all. Advent calls us to anticipate the coming of the Babe, the Savior of the world. We desire to be ready for His coming. So, we prepare as best we are able, to be ready to receive Him and share His goodness throughout the earth. Our Blessed Mother’s fiat is a wondrous example of how we are to live faithfully as she proclaimed joyfully, “Yes,” to offer herself as the Mother of God for the sake of our salvation.

As Jesus asks of us, let our hearts not get drowsy this Advent season; rather, let us be vigilant at all times for God. Let our hearts focus on His love and allow Him to stretch open our hearts, attending to each other by listening closely to His Word that we might teach each other God’s way, not our own. Let us listen to those who are not in our immediate circle and extend God’s generosity to them, especially those whose daily living is not secure. Let us conduct ourselves to please God and to allow God to strengthen our heart gathered as one that we may join the choir of angels to sing His praise.  

I pray with you that our journeying together will open our heart to God that we may increase and abound in love for one another and for all. 

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