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Friday, December 6, 2019
From the Desk of Fr. Ron…….
In the backyard of my family’s home grew four poplar trees. They grew very tall and would sway back and forth in the mighty wind. I can remember a family discussion about them; that if one were to fall toward our house, the house would be no more. A tree service was called and the mighty poplar trees came down, leaving four large stumps in their stead. Though, never spoken I sensed that for my parents the mission was accomplished. That is until new shoots began to spring from the decaying stumps.
On this second Sunday, within our Advent observance we hear again the ancient prophecy of Isaiah. “But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.” (Isaiah 11:1). The “stump of Jesse” was a symbol of what was left of the history and tradition of the monarchy of King David, generations after his rule when the chosen people were exiled in Babylon. What was a majestic kingdom filled with promise at the time of King David, now lies in ruins like a stump of an old majestic cedar or poplar tree. But, that defeat was not to be the end of the story. Isaiah is prophet of hope. The prophecy speaks of one who is to come from the same family as David and gifted with charisms from on high in order to bring peace and healing.
The figure of John and Baptizer figures prominently, during our study in Advent. The time of Jesus is a moment in history after the exile when the temple in Jerusalem is restored but now the people suffer from Roman occupation. Their political freedom is curtailed. There is established a delicate balance between the demands of the Roman Government and their religious and cultural freedom. The reality of this oppressive situation moves the hearts of the people to hope again for deliverance; a time for a Messiah, a liberator. John the Baptizer becomes the mouth piece of God proclaiming the coming of that Messiah. “At that time Jerusalem, all Judea, and the whole region around the Jordan were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins.” (Matthew 3:5-6). The prevailing thought was if they humbled themselves and acknowledged their sins, then the Messiah would come.
In our contemporary experience as Church in Western New York, we too are in a time of exile, of pain and a time of longing. As the people of old in exile, we live in a time of embarrassment as the sins of past leaders are brought to light. We question the decisions and actions of those who were entrusted with our leadership. Confidence and pride that reigned within our local church has been torn down. We want to hide our face as we again hear the call of the Baptist: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance.” (Matthew 3:7). We who remain faithful members of this body, are longing for a time of restoration, healing and peace. We long for a time of justice for those so hurt and destroyed by abuse. We long for a time to move forward. But, as uncomfortable as it is, this is a time of Advent; a time of longing for that healing and peace. As St. Paul teaches us: “For whatever was written previously was written for our instruction, that by endurance and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4).
During this Advent time, we too take stock of our lives. We too confess our sins and weaknesses. We need to give evidence of our repentance by lives lived in Justice. Advent is a season of longing of change; a season of Hope.
SPECIAL COMMUNICATION Fr. Daniel and I received the following communication: “After consultation with the Priests’ Personnel Board and other diocesan officials, it is my pleasure to appoint you (Fr. Daniel Ogbeifun) Pastor of All Saints Parish in Lockport. This appointment is effective December 17, 2019 for a term of six years or until you receive a subsequent appointment……Most Reverend Richard J. Malone, Bishop of Buffalo.”
Congratulations Fr. Daniel on your first appointment as a Pastor. May the Lord bless you and the people of All Saints Parish through your ministry.
Fr. Daniel’s last weekend with us here at Nativity will be the December 15th weekend: The Third Sunday of Advent.