Dear Parishioners,

May I be the first to wish you a HAPPY NEW YEAR! Yes, today, the First Sunday of Advent is “New Year’s Day” for the Church. Today’s readings question us has there ever been a time when someone has not yearned for God — or anyone — to bring about justice? The signs of the times still clearly reflect the pain of those who suffer. This season calls us to the same awareness as those who walked before us. We demonstrate Christ’s presence by courageously advocating for justice, security and peace for all people.

This coming Saturday is a Holyday of Obligation, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the Patroness of our Country. The Masses will be at 5:30 P.M. Friday, 8:00 A.M. and 10:00 A.M. Saturday. The 5:00 P.M. Mass on Saturday is NEXT SUNDAY’S MASS … “it doesn’t ‘count’ for the Immaculate Conception. On the Immaculate Conception we think about these words: Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word. She’s young, she’s not married, and now this angel shows up and tells her she will bear a son. And not just any son, mind you, but God’s Son. Even though Mary questions how this is possible, she accepts Gabriel’s explanation. For courage, wisdom and a willingness to say yes, we pray. (The event of her conception in the womb of Saint Anne isn’t covered in Sacred Scripture, but we know it happened! This Gospel, of the Annunciation, is the next best thing to explain how blessed Mary truly is!)

Next Sunday will be the Second Sunday of Advent. God’s word is a message of hope, and it has long been proclaimed in difficult times of exile, imprisonment and political turmoil. For those of us weary of dark news, the message may be a momentary relief on this Sunday. But do we believe it? What will it take for this word to settle deep in our hearts and even motivate us to take hopeful action on behalf of those for whom hope is meaningless? If not us, then who?

Seminary Collection: Each Christmas there is a collection for the Archdiocesan Seminary, Kenrick-Glennon Seminary. Even though they receive money from the Annual Catholic Appeal and have income from the trust fund set up by the Capital Campaign we had during Cardinal Burke’s tenure as Archbishop as well as tuition from seminarians from other dioceses, the seminary still relies on the Christmas Collection for continuing expenses. We have two of our parishioners who are on the staff at the seminary, so in a sense, we are helping them, too. This weekend we will have a seminarian, James Halpin, who is in First Theology, studying under the auspices of the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas, for a very young religious order, the Apostles of the Interior Life, speak at all of our Masses. Of course even though the collection isn’t until Christmas, there are many parishes and few seminarians, so Mr. Halpin will be with us here this weekend. Please be attentive to his message and please be generous to the Seminary Collection on Christmas. Thank you!

Special Collection for the victims of the fires in California. During Thanksgiving week we received a letter from the Archbishop asking for a special collection to be taken up either Thanksgiving weekend or this weekend. Well, there wasn’t time to get word out to you about this collection. The letter is elsewhere in the bulletin. I real- ize that we have had many collections about many special needs, but if you wish to make a donation to help relieve the people of Northern California to rebuild their lives, please make a donation next weekend. Please make the check out to Saint Monica Parish, put in the MEMO LINE, “CALIFORNIA FIRES.” Thank you (again!) for your generosity for all those in need.

ADVENT PENANCE SERVICE for the Parish will be on Monday, December 10, beginning at 7:00 P.M. There will be extra priests here that evening so that, following a brief service, you will have the opportunity to go to one of those priests. Mark it down!

SAINT LUKE’S GOSPEL: Last week I gave the highlights of Saint Luke’s Life, as far as we can figure it out. Today I’m going to spend a little time on the “themes” of that Gospel, which we will hear at our Sunday Masses for most of the Sundays of this new Liturgical Year.

Msgr. James McNamara wrote the following article for the Diocesan Paper of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York, three years ago, when we were entering “Year C” of the Lectionary. I hope this helps in understand- ing this great Gospel.

First, it is the Gospel of Great Pardons and this is unique to Luke. This is evident in the story of the sinful woman who anoints the feet of Jesus in 7: 36 – 50. It is also evident in the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son in chapter 15 as well as the story of Zacchaeus in Chapter 19.

Second, Luke’s Gospel is the Gospel of Universal Salvation fulfilling the vision of Isaiah: “Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low… (Isaiah 40: 4 – 5). The genealogy of Jesus in Luke is not back to David (as in Matthew) but back to Adam: “And all flesh will see the salvation of God” (3: 6). Not everyone heeds the message: “Jesus has come to call sinners, not the righteous” (5: 32). Furthermore, “there is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine sinners who have no need of repentance” (15: 7). And Jesus breaks the stereotype of outcasts: it is the Samaritan who cares for the wounded man on the side of the road (10: 33) and it is the Samaritan leper who returns to give thanks to God (17: 11).

Third, Luke’s Gospel is the Gospel of the Poor. We see this in the simple circumstances of the birth of Jesus in Luke’s infancy narrative. While Matthew speaks about the poor in spirit in his list of beatitudes (5: 3), Luke speaks about the poor (6: 20). He warns about the danger of riches (6: 24). He tells the story of the rich man and Lazarus and their reversed fortunes in the bosom of Abraham (16: 19 – 31). Luke refers to the poor and the rich more than any other Gospel: “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of Heaven” (18: 22). It is in Luke’s Gospel that we find Jesus commend the poor widow who puts her last coins in the treasury (21: 1 – 4). Finally, Jesus has come to bring good news to the poor (4: 18).

Fourth, Luke’s Gospel is the Gospel of Absolute Renunciation. The disciples must leave all things: “When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed Him” (5: 11). Jesus asked of them total dedication: “If any one comes to me without hating his father and mother… and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple” (14: 25 – 27). Where Matthew says simply to “store up your treasure in heaven” (6: 20), Luke says: “Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven…” (12: 33). Jesus is an example of absolute renunciation through His suffering “But He must first suffer greatly and be rejected by this generation” (17: 25).

Fifth, Luke’s Gospel is the Gospel of Prayer and the Holy Spirit.  There are many examples of this. Luke portrays Jesus at prayer before every important event: at His Baptism (3: 21), in choosing the 12 apostles (6: 12), at Peter’s profession of faith (9: 18), at the Transfiguration (9: 28), in teaching the Our Father (11: 1), and, most poignantly, in the Garden of Gethsemane (22: 41). Luke constantly refers to the Holy Spirit: (1: 15, 35, 41, 67; 2: 25-27; 3: 16, 22; 4: 1, 14, 18; 10: 21; 11: 13; 12: 10,12). It is not a bad idea to look these passages up and use them for prayer.

Sixth, the Gospel of Luke is the Gospel of Messianic Joy. The Spirit, possessed by Jesus, spreads joy and peace among those who listen to Him. While Matthew’s Gospel has a serious, almost majestic, setting and Mark has the more relaxed candor of a diary, Luke rebounds with joy after one has had the time to ponder the wonder of what has taken place. Luke tells of the admiration of the crowds for Jesus (5: 26) and that Jesus’ followers will be happy and fortunate (6:20-22; 7:23; 10:23; 11:2f; 14:14f; 23:29).’

Please have a BLESSED ADVENT season! Come, Lord Jesus.

Fr. Joe Weber