Using Our Voice to Prepare the Way
Our Scriptures for this weekend are all about speaking, about being a voice. They are called exhortatory texts. In other words, they make an urgent appeal to listeners. They encourage, warn, or challenge and often include a call to action.
When a voice cries out, what does it sound like? When we cry out at the top of our voice, what does that sound like? And what do we use our voices to cry out about?
I can think of many things. When I think of what our voices can do, I know that they can hurt and I know that they can heal. I know the words of comfort that I witness at funerals. I also know the urgent voices of people marching in solidarity with those who are suffering discrimination or injustice. I witness the pleading voices of those suffering from raging fires in California, of those wanting to protect our earth, of the “Me too” victims of sexual harassment and assault, of those trying to escape domestic violence, of the Rohingya people experiencing persecution in Myanmar.
How do I use my voice and become one who, like the prophets, cries out in what seems to be a wilderness? I can challenge those in power, I can stop keeping secrets, and I can speak out for someone. I can listen to the voices, and I can act on what I know.
Ours is the task of being messengers of peace. We are also advocates, like the prophets Isaiah and John the Baptist. We too participate in “preparing the way of the Lord and making straight his paths.”
Our Advent journey of Living in Watchfulness and Waiting in Wonder continues. Jesus is coming. Freedom is coming. The desire to experience Advent hope and Advent peace challenge us to use our voices.
We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to the members of St. Francis of Assisi for the unselfish contributions of time, talent, and treasure which allowed our ministry to provide a hot Thanksgiving meal on Thanksgiving Day to the hungry. In case you haven’t heard, we had over 190 volunteers over two days who assisted in distributing approximately 850 meals at two different locations, Our Lady of Angels Church and St. Ann’s Church! This couldn’t possibly have happened without your generous and selfless support.
To learn more about Pilgrim’s Pantry, please visit www.pilgrimspantry.org.
The Board of Directors of Pilgrim’s Pantry
Attention all St. Francis of Assisi ACTS alumni, please take a moment to go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DZ5YL65 and fill out your information. This will help us update our ACTS records and identify people who would like to serve on team. Thank you!
There is still time to purchase Christmas poinsettias. These poinsettias will be used to decorate the sanctuary during the Christmas season. Each poinsettia is $10. The Christmas Flower Offering envelope that was mailed with the December offertory envelopes serves as an order form. Please include the name of the loved one on the envelope and enclose $10 for each poinsettia. You can also purchase a poinsettia by visiting the parish office during the week.
Lydia V. Contreras was called home to be with our Lord and Savior on Wednesday, November 15, 2017 at the age of 90. She is reunited in Heaven with her loving husband Joe A. Contreras, Sr. Lydia is loved and will be greatly missed by her children: Daughters, Yolanda Nierman and husband Dennis and Cerise Perez and husband Ruben; Sons, Joe A. Contreras Jr. and wife Cecelia, and Hector Contreras and wife Pamela. She is also survived by 4 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren as well as 2 sisters and 1 brother.
She is always in our hearts.
A Service of Remembrance will be held on Monday, November 27, 2017 at St Francis of Assisi Catholic Church at 6:30 pm followed by a Mass of Resurrection at 7:00 pm. On Tuesday, November 28, 2017 family and friends will gather at Castillo Mission Funeral Home at 7:00 am. A funeral procession will depart the funeral home at 8:00 am for a 9:00 am graveside service at Ft. Sam Houston National Cemetery.
Living in Watchfulness!
Our parish’s theme for Advent is Living in Watchfulness; Waiting in Wonder. Watching is different than waiting. Waiting is rather passive; watching implies activity and engagement. When we watch we pay keen and sharp attention. We are alert with all of our senses and ready for Jesus to come into our lives and into our world. We don’t just wait for life to happen, we are helping with the building of the Reign of God on earth.
Watching and being ready for Jesus to come into our lives means that we are spending some extra time in silence and in prayer. We pray that we become more and more aware of what is being born in our personal lives, in our family lives, in our community, and in our parish. How is Jesus coming to life in me? How am I awakening a knowledge of Jesus in my children and in my marriage or my vocation? What light is the coming of Jesus shedding on the events in our world today? Are we passively waiting for it all to get better or are we working to be beacons of compassion and voices of justice?
Jesus tells his disciples and us to not be found sleeping! Living in watchfulness means being a light in the darkness, creating paths to peace, promoting reconciliation and generating new hope for all. One way to do that is to participate in our Taizé prayer experience this evening, Dec. 1 at 7 pm in the church. It’s an excellent opportunity to practice living in watchfulness.
Our annual concert of Advent and Christmas music will be on Friday, December 15 at 7 pm in the church. Join us and listen to our outstanding choirs and our talented instrumentalists as we celebrate the holiday season.
To See as Jesus Sees
Who are “the least”? And who is “called to serve”? These are the questions to be answered as we reflect on the Scriptures for this Sunday. Jesus is King of the Universe, but Jesus’ royalty turns everything upside down. We are invited TO SEE royalty in the least and the lowly. And we are invited to pay honor by giving aid to them.
Jesus is very clear in his directive—“Whatever you did for one of the least…of mine, you did for me.” Jesus defines the least as those who are hungry, thirsty, naked, ill, imprisoned, and strangers in need of welcome. Many of us recognize our response to these needs as doing the corporal works of mercy. Jesus says that if we don’t care for these who are least, we do not care for him! That’s the criteria for judgment at the end of our earthly lives—actions of mercy on behalf of “the least.”
The call to be shepherd and to care for the flock is both personal and communal. As we observe our Thanksgiving weekend and prepare for the beginning of Advent, we will doubtless see with our own eyes and hear with our own ears the many opportunities to see the face of Jesus in our brothers and sisters in need.
Jesus, help us to see as you see. Help us to act personally and communally in response to the needs of all—friends and strangers alike.
Giving and Receiving
Our generous God blesses us in so many ways in our St. Francis of Assisi community. Among the blessings are the gifts and talents that each of us has been given. This week we reflect on how we can multiply those gifts in service as a sign of gratitude. We also have the opportunity to reflect on what holds us back or makes us afraid to use those talents, to offer them in service to the larger community.
We have all received mercy, kindness, and unconditional love from God. Do we give that same gift to others? We have many physical, emotional, mental and spiritual abilities that can be used to better the lives of others. We have opportunities for spiritual renewal, growth, and maturity in our relationship with God, and continual access to continuing education in our faith. Are we generous in inviting others to experience the fruits of our giftedness, of our talents?
And so we pray: Gracious God, you lavish our lives with goodness and love. Create in our hearts great gratitude for the gifts and talents given to us. May we share freely and may our sharing become our pattern of existence as we continue to learn to be disciples of Jesus and to build the kingdom of God here on our precious Earth. May the gifts we have received become the gifts that we give!
The Posadas (Spanish for inn, lodging, or shelter) are an Advent candlelight procession and celebration. In Mexico and some parts of Central America, Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador, it is traditional to hold Posadas during the nine days before Christmas, beginning December 16 and ending December 24. The Posadas are a reenactment of Mary and Joseph’s long, frustrating search for a place where Jesus could be born. The tradition reenacts the story told in Luke 2: 1-7, but with a twist: a happy ending with the “innkeeper” welcoming Mary and Joseph into the home. We learn from the Posadas that by welcoming the poor and the needy, we are welcoming Jesus into our midst. (See Matthew 25:40.)
We will celebrate La Gran Posada at St. Francis on Sunday, December 17 at 6:30 pm. We will meet under the bell tower of the church and then begin our journey around our campus. We will end with a celebration with delicious foods like tamales and fun games for the kids like piñatas. Please join us!