Dear brothers and sisters,
If you missed last Sunday’s message as we kick off the Advent Season, we are dedicating an entire series on the virtue of hope. Let me bring you up to speed: so often if we are honest, we as adults have a “get over it” mentality when it comes to the Christmas season; we’ve lost the “hope” that we had as children of a joyful anticipation of this holy season. Christianity is a religion of hope, and if we have hope, we acknowledge that we’re not at the end of the journey; we are not yet “there;” but we indeed have a goal, a purpose, a meaning for our lives. Last week we spoke of hope as requiring certainty in our thinking, desire in our hearts, and specific action in the way we live. We talked about fighting for hope, because either despair or presumption will hurt our confidence, dampen our desires, and bind us into inaction. I invited people to pray about your deepest desires a few minutes each day this Advent, and take whatever specific action that you can do to build and cultivate hope.
St. Paul says to the Romans, May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the holy Spirit (Romans 15:13). Paul is encouraging the Romans to “abound in hope” by accepting the Holy Spirit in faith. Today, at all Masses Bishop Bambera is sharing his vision for our local church, the Diocese of Scranton, while at the same time acknowledging the challenges that are coming our way (also please see the flier insert in the bulletin this week): for example, in the next 10 years, the number of active diocesan priests is projected to be reduced from 100 to 43. Since the day I was ordained a priest in 2008, I knew that this was coming, and at St. John’s Church, the changes we started to make over 1 year ago were aimed toward this future. The Bishop speaks about producing “good fruit,” and I am extremely hopeful that our efforts will continue to do so, even as we face many obstacles and have a long way to go. I strongly encourage all parishioners of St. John’s to cultivate hope for our future by wholeheartedly embracing our church’s mission: to Love God, Love People, and Make Disciples.