A New Year of Grace

A New Year of Grace

One of the nice things about being Catholic is our new Liturgical Year begins on the First Sunday of Advent, about a month before the civil calendar year begins. If we have ever had a year to turn the page on early, it is 2020. It has been a very troubling year full of sickness, loss, and anxiety. This weekend begins a new year of grace, and we hope for a better 2021. Like no other animal, humans can look forward to a better tomorrow filled with hope and anticipation. We depend on God's grace to help bring it about.

One of the unique characteristics of being human is that we can think and plan for the future. Planning for a better future gives dignity and purpose to our lives. It gives us hope. Hope provides us with the possibility for greater security and an even better experience in the future just beyond the horizon.

As we read the Old Testament, we hear how the Jewish people hoped for a better tomorrow. They hoped for a desert transformed into fertile ground, the people scattered across the world to return united to Jerusalem. They hoped for God's grace to give sight to the physically and spiritually blind and the blessings of everlasting peace.

The coming of Christ partially fulfilled that hope. Jesus taught us to look for the fulfillment of our hopes in his life, death, and resurrection. Jesus revealed that God is active in our world. He isn't far off watching us struggle but is involved in the world. If we only follow God's law and plan for our world, God will fulfill our hopes and dreams for the coming of God's Kingdom.

As we begin this Advent, we celebrate our remembrance of the first coming of Christ and how Jesus initiated the reign of God here on earth. It is also a season of preparation and joyful expectation for his second coming when all our hopes and dreams for the fulness of life will be satisfied by God.

To help you prepare for a hope-filled new year, I encourage you to use this Advent well. Use these weeks of preparation for Christmas to set a good foundation for your faith to grow. The website Dynamic Catholic offers us their daily meditation series, "Best Advent Ever," again this year. Sign up for their offering on their website www.dynamiccatholic.com/advent/best-advent-ever.html. The parish also has copies of the Advent issue of “The Word Among Us”. They will be available at the back of the church. If you attend daily or weekend Masses, pick up a copy after Mass. We keep the church open daily from 7 AM to around 3 PM. Stop in and pick up a copy or two. Take one to share with a friend.

As we enter into the new Liturgical Year, you'll notice we are in Year B of our three-year cycle of scripture readings at Mass. That means we read mostly from the Gospel of Mark with some Sundays reading from the Gospel of John since Mark is such a short gospel. Mark was the first of the four gospels to be written, and it initiated a whole new writing genre. Bible Scholars often refer to Mark as a Passion Narrative, or story about Jesus' death, with a lengthy introduction to Jesus' life. For Mark, the most critical part of Jesus' life was his passion and death. The messianic secret is also a crucial element of Mark's gospel. The messianic secret is Jesus' consistent instruction to the apostles not to tell the world he is the Messiah until after his resurrection from the dead. Finally, Mark has a very abrupt ending. In its original form, there are no resurrection appearances. In his gospel, on Easter morning, the women find the empty tomb and an angel who tells them of Jesus' resurrection from the dead. The angel tells them they must share the news with the apostles. It seems as if the gospel's hearer must complete the gospel story by living out the resurrection in their lives. If we are to make 2021 a year of grace and hopes fulfilled, we must show the resurrected Christ present in our world by sharing his good news with our community too.