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Matthew 25

We have completed our walk with Jesus through Ordinary time with the evangelist Matthew as our guide.

As you may have heard the last three weeks of Year A in the 3 year liturgical cycle  are particularly significant for those of us at St. Patrick’s. The Parish “Vision Statement” which is a prominent feature in the Large Hall was developed many years ago using the three parable’s from Matthew’s Chapter 25 as its foundation.

The story of the 10 Bridesmaids taught us that we have TO BE prepared for the coming of the bridegroom- Jesus – could be at any time.

The Parable of the servant who took what he had been given by his master and put it to good use is where the words Faithful Servants come from in the motto.

Last week, on Christ the King Sunday, the final Sunday of the church year, we hear what many consider to be the most powerful of the parables in the gospels.  Jesus tells us how on the day of the final judgement we will be separated into two groups. One on his right and one on his left. It turns out that our focus on the traditional sins, while important, may not be what we are primarily judged upon when Christ returns again.

In this parable the disciples ask Jesus to explain when did they see him poor and in need, sick or in prison or a stranger. Jesus tells them, he tells us, that “whatever you do for the least of the brothers and sisters you also do for me.” In other words Jesus on that final day will be most interested in how we walked the talk.

The St. Patrick’s vision, therefore, is a simple call; “To be faithful servants walking God’s talk.”

This message is carried forward today in our Gospel reading from Mark.  Jesus tells us to “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.”

Advent is this period before Christmas, it is our time of preparation. Advent is also a call to be alert to what is about to happen on Christmas Day and to be aware of what is happening around us.

In a few short weeks we will celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus. We will experience that our God so loved the world that he sent his son to not only be with us but also, to be one of us.

During mass we are reminded of this gift, although it is a silent prayer, when the priest or deacon mixes the water with the wine as the cup is being prepared for consecration he says this silent prayer:

 “By the mixing of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity.”

Advent is this special time where we prepare ourselves for the coming of the Lord. On Christmas Day we remember that Jesus humbled himself to share in our humanity and that he constantly invites us to fully share in his divinity.

One way we do that here at St. Patrick’s is that we are alert to the needs of the least of our Brothers and Sisters.  There are a number of worthy causes at this time of year. The St. Pat’s Knights of Columbus are in the foyer today asking for your support of their many good works. The CWL recently asked you to help women in shelters get a new start.

Perhaps our biggest requests of you each year is the Christmas Card Collection program run by the Society of St. Vincent De Paul who help those in need and the Friends of Dismas ministry to people touched by crime.

Last week many of you who participated returned the cards and a good number of you dropped by to pick up envelopes to help.

I wanted to share a letter I received from a man who was help by you this past year. I have known Edward off and on for almost 15 years through my work as part of the Friends of Dismas. He is a proud man who after years of living on his own found himself on very hard times for a number of circumstances beyond his control.

Here is what he wrote:

Dear Deacon Walsh, St. Patrick’s Parish Markham,

Last year I returned to the Toronto area, it was below zero and I was robbed at a shelter, I was broke and miserable.

I received three gift cards for Walmart and Loblaws. This was my first ray of hope. It wasn’t just that I needed things like T-shirts, socks, allergy medication, I certainly did need them, but far more important, I had to lay aside my bitterness and take the first steps to face reality.

Your parishioners gave me hope that life could be better, with these cards. When I was offered another one I was proud to say “no thank you, I’m okay now.”

God bless you and the people of St. Patrick’s for their kindness to strangers they will probably never know. This is truly Christian.    Edward

Father Greg Boyle in his book Tattoos on the Heart, offers this advice to us:

To be in the world who God is. Here is what we seek: a compassion that can stand in awe at what the poor have to carry rather than stand in judgment at how they carry it.

I would like to take a moment on this First Sunday of Advent to thank all of you here at St. Patrick’s for your awe inspiring compassion for the least of the brothers and sisters.

You are faithful servants walking God’s talk during Advent and all year long. You truly know what the words at the end of Mass mean when you are invited to go in peace, glorifying the Lord by the way you are choosing to live your life.

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