An Advent Message to our Parish Community

Awaiting the Lord to come by praying!

Last Sunday, as a Church and as a Parish Community, we began a new Liturgical Year, and we all know that the Liturgical Year begins with the Season of Advent which we define as the waiting time for the coming of Christ, a time of preparation for that coming.

From the first reading last Sunday, we heard those words of the Prophet Isaiah that were a plea full of urgency with which he would preamble the Savior’s coming. That yearning, that cry of the prophets of the Old Testament, was already fulfilled because of the first coming of the Son of God – his historical coming – that already took place more than two thousand years ago. Jesus was born, lived, suffered, died, and was risen on earth, in our history. And so, He has saved – He has rescued – the humanity that was lost by sin. The Salvation humanity expected was already realized by Christ. Now, it is our chance to take advantage of that Salvation already accomplished by Christ.

When we pray on a regular basis, we become more and more attentive to the day-by-day coming of God. Our waiting for God in prayer reminds us that we ourselves, including all that we strive to achieve, are not the center of the universe. The effects of the pandemic that we are living through dramatically remind us we have been standing on ground that can wash away beneath our feet.

For many of us, this year has been a type of wilderness experience, especially during the lockdowns. But being in this uncertainty is also a chance to find ourselves in a place where we must discover what is essential, where the irrelevant is stripped away and the vital becomes apparent, where the truth in our hearts is revealed. We have the chance of choosing what is really important, what makes a difference to us and to others.

In Advent, we await the birth of our Savior who was born at Bethlehem, but who never leaves us. In the Resurrection, Christ is always with us (see Matt 1:23). The risen Christ is the Christ of Bethlehem today! So, the Feast of Christmas, that we are preparing to celebrate, calls us to become more aware of His presence. Christ is present to us not only in the Word and Sacraments but also in the people who surround us. He comes to us in those who are afraid, in those who are isolated and lonely. It was Christ himself who said to us: “I was hungry and you gave me food…” (Matt 25:35-40). The Christ-child lying in a manger is but the beginning of the story.

In the face of all the anguish of the last nine months, we see heroism and patience and understanding; we see honesty and the unselfish service of others; we see genuine holiness and fidelity. There are people in the world, in the Church, in our parish community, in our families who are committed to the care of the sick and elderly, to the care of a countless number of brothers and sisters in need. Such lives, marked by a striving to minister to the sick and the dying and to the little ones, testify that Christ and His Kingdom are close to us and that the Lord has not abandoned His people even in the midst of this pandemic full of sadness, suffering, and loss.

In these days of Advent may we never cease to pray that the Lord’s Kingdom may come and that God’s justice and mercy may be done. Come, Lord Jesus! Please, do not delay!

God, bless you!

Fr. Michael Giannitelli
Fr. Juan Angel Aguirre
Parochial Vicar