This is a combined bulletin for the Fourth Sunday of Advent and the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas).
- At the 11:00 AM Mass on Sunday, the members of R.C.I.A. (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adult) who are ready to take the next step will be introduce to our parish community through the Rite of Welcome with their sponsors. Through this ritual, they will be the official candidates for the Initiation Sacraments when they are completed this process. Please pray for them as they are now journeying with us in worship and continue learning of their faith.
- The Advent Season is coming to a final preparation in this coming short week with the fourth candle is lid on the Advent Wreath. Along with, the celebration of Simbang Gabi (a Filipino’s tradition) and the Las Posadas (a Hispanic’s tradition), are signs indicating that the preparation time is almost over, so that, the fruit of this Advent Season can be visibly seen, individually in the life of each Christian and collectively in the community.
- On this Fourth Sunday of Advent, we listen attentively to the words of the prophet Isaiah, to the dream of Joseph, and the promise of the eternal God who takes flesh in the womb of the Virgin. The birth of Jesus into human history was the true fulfilment of the hopes and longings, dreams and desires of the people of ancient Israel.
In Matthew 1:23 we have the evocative word “Emmanuel” – “God is with us.” God’s promise of deliverance to Judah in Isaiah’s time is seen by Matthew as fulfilled in the birth of Jesus, in whom God is with his people.
In the name “Emmanuel,” we find the answer to humanity’s deepest longings for God throughout the ages. Emmanuel is both a prayer and plea (on our behalf) and a promise and declaration on God’s part. When we pronounce the word, we are really praying and pleading: “God, be with us!” And when God speaks it, our Creator of the world is telling us: “I am with you” in this Child. The little Lord Jesus asleep in the manger of Bethlehem is “God with us” because he is God.
… … MERRY CHRISTMAS … …
“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth, Peace to people of good will”
The message of Christmas takes our breath away every year and continues to stagger the imagination: The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the only begotten Son of the Father, the eternal Word, our Creator wills to clothe himself in our nature, and to become man, our brother, one of us! God Himself lies in the manger, completely human, completely divine. It is an awesome reality!
The Word did not become an email, an SMS or text message, or some kind of divine oracle uttered from some distant heaven long ago. Through Mary, the Word became flesh and pitched his tent among us. The Word became close to real people in real time. Through the wonder and mystery of the Incarnation, the Word did not become a philosophy, a theory, or a concept to be discussed, debated, exegeted, or pondered. But the Word became a person to be followed, enjoyed, and loved! Our redemption is found in the Child of Bethlehem (Jesus Christ).
- On this joyous occasion, I’d to thank: Deacon John Ricciardi; Ronald Belilse; Fr. Gigi Bernas (Chaplain from Bangor – Hispanic Ministry); Deacon Bill Batstone (Hispanic Ministry) and Deacon Romeo (Hispanic Ministry) for their generosity of time, dedication and continuing ministry with our two parishes through this past year. May Christ Jesus gifts of Joy and Peace will be yours continuing throughout this Holy Season and every day of your life.
- Finally, I’d like also to say a word of “Thank” to our parish Staff, members of the Councils, Commissions, Committees, Groups, all the Volunteers and all parishioners who have offered their Time, Talents and Treasures to help build up St. Gabriel Parish Community as a visible sign of God’s presence and actions in our world today. “Emmanuel – God is with us” – is indeed here with us; may we fully recognize and receive Him into our lives.
Fr. Phuong Hoang