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Fr. John's Column - December 10, 2017

As I write the article for this week’s bulletin, I find myself in northern Minnesota at Wolf Ridge. Wolf Ridge is an environmental learning center where we take the 7th and 8th graders from our school each December. The kids take classes on mammals of the north woods, tree identification, winter survival, energy usage, and birds of northern Minnesota. They also have the opportunity to make their way through a high ropes course that ends with an exciting ride down a zip line, and rock climb on an indoor rock wall. Finally the kids have time to simply be with their friends and classmates for three days.

The weather can be radically different from year to year. In less than 24 hours we have had fog, high winds, 41 degree temperatures, rain, snow, sun (well it tried to come out a little), 15 degree temperatures, and a wind chill of zero. It is sort of like our first reading for this second Sunday in Advent. We hear about going to a desert, traversing a high mountain, climbing down into a broad valley, walking the plains, and entering the city. Quite the disparities! But we also hear of other extremes: a tender voice, comfort, a loud cry, sins, the glory of the Lord, the voice of the Lord, God with great power, and a shepherd carrying the young lambs with care.

Hearing about all these extremes prepares us for the Gospel reading in which we learn of John the Baptist. John was a man of tremendous extremes: moving out into the desert to live, eating locusts and wild honey, and wearing a camel hair cloak held in place by a leather belt. John would cry out a message of forgiveness for sins, the coming of a messiah, and baptism with water and the Holy Spirit.

Reflecting on extremes takes me back to last Sunday’s homily. I spoke about a sense of entitlement and how it is the opposite of Saint Paul’s notion of “charisma” – a word which means “gift” – but a special gift that is given and never earned or merited, and has as its purpose to be shared with the greatest community possible. Entitlement can be the enemy of hospitality, and may cause our relationship with God to be based on God’s performance or fulfillment of our expectations for Him. These stipulations upset the quality of the relationship.

Experiencing significant extremes allows us to appreciate how little control we actually have in life, especially regarding the people with whom we will come in contract. Last Sunday we reflected on the need to be alert and ready this Advent for the coming of the Lord. His arrival will be greeted by thousands at our church. “Will he find us awake or asleep to their presence?” Our attitude to those who visit us at Christmas so often is: “Where are they the rest of the year?” We even have names for those who only attend at Christmas and Easter: “Chreasters”, “CEO’s”, and “lukewarm Christians”.  But they also have a name for us: “hypocrites”, for these occasional attendees may see in us an attitude of arrogance – or worse – disdain to their presence. As long we struggle to welcome our neighbors, fellow parishioners, guests, or strangers, we will struggle to be awake to the coming of our Lord.

Being awake to people means being present to the moment amid the extremes life presents. We must not dwell on the past; rather let us dream of a better future for ourselves and others. May we recognize that what people bring to our encounter is a blessing from God. Where they come from, where we meet, and with whom we are present are all God’s gifts to us. How we join together brings us closer to God.

We continue to pray this Advent in particular that through the intercession of Blessed Father Solanus Casey we may seek to imitate his sense of welcome, at this his church where he was first welcomed to the altar of the Eucharist. I pray that by following his example we may welcome one another, no matter the extremes represented – the familiarity or not, the appearance of piety or not, nor the appropriateness of any other outward sign – and simply place ourselves in the present with one another as we all share our desire to worship our God and His Son during this Christmas season.



Fr. John Gerritts



FridayDecember 8
6:15 AM That Man is You
10:00 AM  Immaculate Conception Mass
5:30 PM Piano Studio Recital

~ SaturdayDecember 9
8:00 AM Dustbusters
10:00 AM Confessions
5:00 PM Mass
6:00 PM Baptism

~ Sunday, December 10
8:30 AM Mass
10:30 AM Mass

5:00 PM Hudson High School Holiday Concert
7:00 PM Oasis
7:30 PM Hudson High School Holiday Concert

~ Monday, December 11
8:00 AM Mass
9:00 AM Bakery and Produce Giveaway
5:00 PM Holiday Concert
6:00 PM Boy Scouts
7:30 PM Holiday Concert

~Tuesday, December 12
8:00 AM Mass
8:15 AM Leave for Sharing and Caring Hands
4:00 PM Extended Food Shelf Hours
6:00 PM Family Rosary
6:30 PM Baptism Class
6:30 PM PreSchool - 4th Grade Christmas Program - School Gym

~ Wednesday, December 13
8:00 AM Mass
10:00 AM Mass at CCH
6:00 PM Faith Formation

~Thursday, December 14
6:45 AM Toastmasters
8:00 AM Mass
9:30 AM Small Group Faith Sharing
10:30 AM Mass at Red Cedar Canyon
1:00 PM Quilters
6:30 PM 5th and 6th Grade Christmas Program
7:00 PM Praise Company Rehearsal

~ Friday, December 15
6:15 AM That Man is You
9:00 AM  Mass at the School

~ Saturday, December 16
8:00 AM Dustbusters
9:00 AM Women of Grace
10:00 AM Confessions
5:00 PM Mass

~ Sunday, December 17
8:30 AM Mass
10:30 AM Mass

7:00 PM Oasis

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