Fr. Stan’s Article

Scouting was one of my boyhood passions. I loved everything about it and especially looked forward to summer camps. A lot of time in scouting was spent learning how to use a compass and read a map so that you wouldn’t get lost going from place to place. While there may have been many ways to get to a destination, there were certainly many more ways to go in the wrong direction. Today our Garmins, smart phones, and in-car navigation systems remind us of our wrong turns when we hear “recalculating, recalculating!”

In today’s Gospel reading we meet Jesus’ cousin (relative) John the Baptist whose mission was to herald the long-awaited messiah. John’s message sounds like the voice of our GPS: “Repent (turn around!), the kingdom of God is at hand!” John the Baptist called for a change of heart (direction) in order to recognize God’s Spirit working in our midst; in order to see Jesus as the one who comes to turn this world around. The kingdom that Jesus initiates, however, is unlike the kingdoms of the world that rely on military might, conquest, and oppression to rule. The kingdom of God is a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace. It fulfills the vision of the prophet Isaiah and the apostle Paul where all nations will come together to worship and glorify the one God.

We who hear the good news of the Gospel (repent – turn around!)  are today’s heralds of God’s kingdom. While the season of Advent is a season of anticipation and hope, it is also a time to check our bearings and decide in which direction we need to go in order to encounter Jesus and the kingdom He proclaims. For example, in order to be the peacemakers Jesus blesses, we have to be reconciled with ourselves. What grudge do I need to put aside this week to rejoice in the freedom Jesus brings? What disagreement with a friend or family member do I need to patch up in order to live in harmony with those closest to me? What work of justice do I need to engage in to make my neighborhood, city or nation a better place for all of God’s children? Celebrating Jesus’ birth is also a challenge to live in a kingdom of mercy and compassion.

Thank you to all who participated in our annual Giving Tree. The organizations that benefit from your kindness will brighten this Christmas season for so many who live in poverty or circumstances that darken the world around them. God will bless your kindness and generosity many times over.

Our roofers finally got a break in the weather and were able to complete the roofing over the gym, kitchen and classrooms. We’re sorry for any inconvenience the delay may have caused. The cost of this major project was covered by the funds we set aside each month ($8,500) for future capital expenses. We still have to decide whether our skylights need replacing at this time (estimated cost $100,000) and how we should proceed with this coming summer’s parking lot repairs. I’m grateful to the members of the Finance Council and the Building Committee for their advice and oversight in these projects. I’m grateful to all of you for your financial support of St. Mary’s.

Our 2019-2020 Parish Directory has been mailed to all of our registered members and contains helpful contact information. There’s also the annual State of the Parish letter from me about our last fiscal year. Feel free to ask about any of the things contained in the report. We want to be as transparent as possible about our stewardship and ministry.

Our celebration of the Immaculate Conception of Mary is moved to Monday, December 9th at 7:00 PM. Please join us for Mass as we honor Mary for her “yes” to be part of God’s plan for our salvation in Jesus.

Advent peace and joy,

Fr. Stan Ulman