Homily 1st Sunday of Advent Cycle B December 3, 2017

Rolex, Timex, Omega. Three brands of watches that would look good on anyone’s hand. Especially the Rolex. They tell time. They help us to be on time for appointments. They help us to give someone the time who asks, who doesn’t have a watch. And the battery hardly ever needs to be changed.
As nice as these watches happen to be, they’re not the type of watch that Jesus refers to when he says to the disciples, “Watch.” He could care less if we have a Rolex or Timex on our hands. He might care more if we don’t give someone the time who asks for it, ignoring them instead. But he cares that we fully understand his brand of watch.
As we begin a new Church Year and prepare for the events in Bethlehem a few short weeks away, Jesus’ brand of watch is concerned with our being ready. To be ready to welcome him one more time, at least, into the center of our daily living. And for those of us who are here next year at this time, we’ll be given another opportunity to be ready. Most likely, a few of us will not have the opportunity next year.
The First Sunday of Advent calls for a shift in our spiritual lives, a shift that desires a deeper and more loving relationship with the Lord. There may be a few of us who believe we’ve already reached the pinnacle in our love for Jesus, reminding me of the person who came into the Confessional some years ago and said, “Father, I really don’t have any sins to confess. I just came in to say hi.” I recommend against thinking such a thing. Such a person has ceased to watch. They’ve stopped watching. They’ve stopped telling time regarding their spiritual well-being.
One reason Jesus tells us to watch is to not allow ourselves to be sidetracked regarding the continuous growth of our faith in him. If we stop watching for him in our lives, we may as well open the door and invite in the one with the pitchfork that we absolutely do not want to invite anywhere near our hearts. The one who has no business influencing who we watch for.
During this Season of Advent, a second reason to purchase Jesus’ watch is the invitation to take advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. If there’s mud all over your Rolex or Omega, what’s the first action to take? The first instinct is to secure a paper towel and wipe it off so we can read it again. Keeping a Rolex or Timex dirty on the face relegates the watch to the realm of uselessness. A watch is useful only if it’s clean. And so it is with our souls.
The paper towel for our souls, for lack of a better image, is Confession. Confession is the number one paper towel produced in the history of man. It’s even better than Bounty. It cleans the human soul and heart so that we can read with accuracy the time of Jesus’ coming.
If our watch is all cluttered and muddy come December 24, then December 25 is going to mean much less to us than what it should. Advent is like a mini-Lent in that there is a penitential element to our preparation for the Lord’s coming. So when Jesus says “Watch,” one of his means of watching is watching for the confessional door to open up so that we can enter and clean up the watch of a messy soul. And what an incredibly beautiful gift it is to humbly allow the Master to freely give us a spiritual bath.
One last type of watching that connects us to Jesus’ use of the word “Watch” is that we don’t sleep on the job. I remember the one job I quit in my life that my father secured for me one summer was at the old Worcester County Hospital, now the Worcester County House of Correction. I’m glad I got out before it switched over. The job was working – and I use that word loosely – in the kitchen, bringing food to the patients for breakfast, coming back and sitting for three hours. Then bringing food to the patients for lunch, then coming back and sitting down for at least three hours. I lasted about 3 days, the same time it took for Jesus to be raised from the dead, which has some symbolism connected to that job.
My father asked me why I quit. I said, “Too much sleeping on the job.” The three days seemed like three weeks, which was probably the same feeling the Apostles had from the time Jesus was crucified until he walked out of the tomb. This is why I went to UPS, where I could stay busy all day long.
This “Watch” word of Jesus is a warning to not fall asleep on the job of discipleship. So many people have done so. There can be a short break here or there, but not 6 hours on an 8-hour shift. This watch of Jesus is a call to keep ourselves busy for his Name. Busy in quiet prayer. Busy at spiritual reading for this holy season. Busy at good works that profess love for neighbor, which we heard in last week’s Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 25. Hunger, thirst, clothing, welcoming, and visiting. Five words where Jesus says “Watch.” Watch and be ready for the opportunities sent our way. Christians don’t turn our backs and fall asleep when addressing the basic needs of others who are struggling. We face them and walk toward them.
So, please don’t let this Season of Advent pass by in such a way where we have done nothing different between December 3 and December 24. Allow this quick, holy season to form and shape us spiritually in ways where God’s entrance into our world will not be just another Manic Monday on December 25. He provides all the grace we need in order to be watchful on his behalf, rather than being a piece of machinery that simply tells time and looks good.

Religious Education

Dear Parents/Guardians:

We hope you are enjoying the beautiful summer weather. It’s time again to register your child or children in our
Religious Education Program for the 2017-2018 year. Please fill out the registration form and return it to the Rectory by August 12th. All children are welcome to attend Religious Education classes and will not be denied participation due to financial hardship.

Please note the following:
 Fees are listed on the Registration Form.
 First day of class for Grades K-6 will be Sunday, September 10th 8:45AM-9:45AM.
 There is a parent meeting on Sunday, September 10th at 8:45AM for parents of children in grades K-6.
 First day of class for Grades 7-10 will be Sunday, September 10th 7:00PM-8:15PM.
 There is a parent meeting on Sunday, September 10th at 7:00PM for parents of children in grades 7-10.
 First day of class for Confirmation Candidates (Grade 11) will be Sunday, September 17th 7:00PM-8:15PM.
 There is a Confirmation Candidate and parent meeting on Sunday, September 24th at 7:00PM.

We are blessed with many dedicated volunteers who work tirelessly in our various programs. More help is always needed to ensure a continuity of programs that emphasize solid Catholic teaching, spiritual enrichment, liturgy and service. Please consider sharing your time, talent and treasure in this important ministry.

We encourage parents to consider attending the 10:00 a.m. Mass on Sunday with your children during which time we will offer the Children’s Liturgy of the Word. We remind you that Sunday Mass attendance is where our Catholic faith begins and ends. Our faith is centered in the celebration of the Eucharist.

We look forward to teaching the Catholic faith to your child in a classroom setting, but remember that you as parents are the first teachers of the Catholic faith to your children at home. If you are not already doing so, one way to help develop their faith is through daily prayer with them. Prayer at meals and pointing to God’s creation are some wonderful ways of introducing God to your child.

If you have any questions or would like to help with our program please contact me at: 508-868-8119 or email: mks723@msn.com.

Sincerely,
Mary Sycks
Administrator of Religious Education

Parish Council Minutes from June 11, 2017

Attendees:
Fr. Riley
Deacon Kevin Deignan
Matthew Foster
Chris Klofft
Stephen Sycks
Ann-Marie Sheehan
Josephine Ferrie
Meeting, June 11, 2017, 8:30 am
Topics:
Opening Prayer: Fr. Riley

Mr. Sycks gave a finance overview. Discussed that the church is in a good standing with finances.

Fr. Riley discussed the success of the recalibrated sound system and the positive impact it has made. Spoke of a possible change to the position of the Ambo (pulpit) and the effect that it may bring. Some concern was raised with regard to better understanding the effect it would have visually, agreeing that as it proceeds there will be visual staging in the build out to preview what it would look like. Fr. Riley gave praise to the efforts and impact of the religious education staff at the parish for another very successful year. There was a lengthy discussion regarding the installation of an American Disabilities Act compliant chair lift to support allowing wheelchair-bound parishioners into the church basement for functions. We discussed the progress of Partners In Charity as well as the need for someone to possibly help Father Riley next year in support of the campaign’s presentation and outreach. We also discussed the Parish Activities Committee and their generous support for the Parish.

Mr. Foster discussed the success the scouting program had this year and a continued interest to look for opportunities to involve them more in Church needs.

Next meeting was set for some time in early September.
Closing Prayer: Deacon Kevin Deignan