God just spoke to us, right to us, in the readings.
What did we hear?
“Jerusalem, take off your robe of mourning and misery;
put on the splendor of glory from God forever”!
“The glory of the Lord”—what does that mean?
Above all, it means the Holy Spirit.
St. Paul spoke to us from the second reading,
encouraging us to persevere;
St. John the Baptist spoke to us, from the Gospel,
Challenging us to repent and be ready for the Lord.
It is the Holy Spirit who does this:
It is the Spirit who, like John the Baptist,
challenges and corrects us if we get off-track.
Even now, St. Paul and St. John the Baptist
are cheering us on, to keep running the race.
They want us to have a truly splendid Christmas!
That means not only ordinary, material splendor,
But far more important, spiritual splendor.
Let me offer two, practical ways to do that.
First: make a good confession.
There’s no good reason not to receive
this sacrament frequently.
Some say, “my sins are that bad.”
When I was a boy, that was the argument I’d use
for why I didn’t really “need” a bath:
I’d say, “I’m not that dirty, dad!”
Dad was never impressed!
If something feels awkward or embarrassing,
that’s even more reason to come:
get it behind you—forever!
The bulletin lists times for confessions;
also, we have a Penance Service this Thursday, 7pm,
at St. Boniface. You come, and bring someone along!
Here’s a second, practical suggestion: do a good turn.
This weekend we take up our annual collection
for the retirement fund
for our religious sisters, brothers and priests.
This isn’t for me, or the parish.
Rather, it’s for those faithful nuns and brothers
who have served the Church so generously,
and now need us to serve them, in their retirement.
You’ve been very generous
in the past—and I know why: Gratitude.
You know how generously the Sisters of Charity
have served our two parishes—and still do.
We need only think of Sister Joan Clare,
Sister Mary Alice, and Sister Ginny.
Sister Joan is my strong, right arm
in our two parishes;
Sister Mary Alice is such a loving, generous presence
in Piqua Catholic School—
If you need a reason to choose Catholic education
for your children, there it is;
same for Sister Ginny, at Lehman.
Today’s special collection will help close the gap
between the needs our retired religious face,
and the resources they have, which aren’t enough.
Bottom line: our dear sisters cared for us;
God asks us, now, to provide for them.
If you throw something in to help them,
you’ll feel a little more “splendid”
as you prepare for Christmas—
that’s a splendor that will last!
All the tinsel and decorations and lights are fun—
but they can’t hold a candle to the splendor
God offers us—namely, the life of the Holy Spirit.
That’s the splendor that Christ
pours down onto you,
when you receive absolution
in confession—it’s wonderful!
That’s the splendor he wants to clothe us with
every day, as we begin and end our days walking with him.
That’s the splendor we share with others,
Whether we share our faith,
or we share the burdens others carry—
such as today’s special collection.
Let’s make this season truly splendid,
with the splendor of the Holy Spirit!