Father's Corner

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Fathers and Mothers of Faith

12-29-2013Father's CornerFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family. In today's Gospel (Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23), we hear of St. Joseph's incredible commitment to Jesus and Mary. Notice in the Gospel how St. Joseph always puts the child Jesus first. Nothing is said in the Gospel of how St. Joseph reestablishes himself in Egypt to provide for his family. Nothing is said of the heavy burden St. Joseph bore to escort his family to safety to Egypt. All that is mentioned is the obedience of St. Joseph in executing God's plan for Jesus. Whenever the child was in need, St. Joseph responded. St. Joseph didn't need to receive any glory or honor. Selflessly serving his adopted son and ensuring his safety was enough for him.

In today's society, children are often considered an afterthought. So many other things are placed before them: jobs, financial security, hobbies, vacation, etc... It is truly unfortunate how we see parents putting other things before their children! St. Joseph is a reminder that children must always come first. Children are the fruit and joy of the family and should always be cherished as such.

Today's Gospel also reminds us of the importance of God in the life of parents. St. Joseph's cooperation with God and his plan is a necessary component of Jesus' wellbeing. St. Joseph's cooperation with God's plan is what ensures the safety of Jesus. Parents often struggle to protect the spiritual wellbeing of their children because they forget to cooperate with God's grace. If we want our children to live a Catholic life and have their spiritual needs provided for, parents must first seek to give them a living example. St. Joseph listens to the instructions of the angel and provides a living example of what it means to be a man of faith. Fathers must be men of faith and mothers must be women of faith if they want their children to be sons and daughters of faith. As we celebrate the Holy Family today, let us pray for all Christian families. Let us pray especially that children might be placed first and that fathers and mothers might be stronger examples of faith for their children.

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will

Faith in a Crisis

12-22-2013Father's CornerFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

A friend of mine once wrote to me in a letter, "A man's true character is measured in a crisis."

In today's readings we see two men facing different crises. One man chooses to trust in the power of men, the other chooses to trust in the power of God. In today's first reading (Isaiah 7:10-14), we are drawn into the story of King Ahaz and the crisis of the kings of Damascus and Israel plotting to unseat him and replace him with a new king. Panic-stricken in the face of this crisis, Ahaz decides to trust in the king of Assyria rather than in the Lord. Instead of asking for a sign from God and using this crisis as an opportunity to strengthen his relationship with the Lord, Ahaz puts his trust in worldly power.

In today's Gospel (Matthew 1:18-24), we are drawn into St. Matthew's account of the birth of Christ. In this account, we see St. Joseph in a crisis. He is faced with the knowledge that his bride-to -be is pregnant. Since he has not had relations with Mary, he knows that this child is not his own. Unlike Ahaz, who chose to trust in the power of men, St. Joseph chooses to trust in the power of God. He listens to the message of the angel and responds with an act of great faith. Even though he knows he is not the biological father of Jesus, he accepts Jesus as his son and Mary as his bride.

As we meditate on the characters of Ahaz and St. Joseph during these days leading up to the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, let us ask ourselves if we are men and women of good character in the face of a crisis. Let us pray that when things get difficult, we might be like St. Joseph and trust in the power of God, rather than the power of men. May God increase our faith as we celebrate this Christmas.

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will

Anticipatory Signs

12-15-2013Father's CornerFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today's first reading (Isaiah 35:1-6, 10) is a reflection from the prophet Isaiah on what it will be like when the Jews are allowed to return from the Babylonian Exile. In this beautiful reflection, Isaiah reminds God's people that although the return to their homeland will be through the harsh desert, it will also be a time of spring and joy. The blooms of the various flowers in the desert and the joyful songs that will be on the lips of the exiles as they return to Jerusalem will give them strength as they make the harsh journey home.

From time to time, this world can be harsh. Many of us have encountered various struggles this past year. Some of us have lost loved ones. Some of us have lost jobs. Some of us have gone through serious trials that have caused our faith to waiver. For those of us who have experienced difficulties this past year, this first reading should be a great sign of hope and peace for us. All of us are pilgrims on a journey to our heavenly homeland in God's eternal kingdom. Although our journey often takes us through difficult deserts, God wants us to know that his kingdom is worth the journey. We should hold on to and value the little signs that the Lord gives us along the way that are meant to remind us of the glory that is to come. Just as Isaiah promises the blooming flowers and the joyful songs as anticipatory signs of what will be brought to fulfillment in the final return to Jerusalem, so too does God give us various anticipatory signs communicating to us the fulfillment of our desires that will happen when we reach our heavenly destination. One of these beautiful signs is the rose colored vestment that the priest wears at Mass, which reminds us of the glory that will come. It is a reminder of spring and the new life that comes from it. For those who have prepared, Christ's return will be a glorious moment of "everlasting joy" where "sorrow and mourning will flee."

As we transition into the second half of this Advent, may our hearts be filled with a greater sense of peace and strength, that we might fix our gaze on what is to come, and to sing joyfully in anticipation of it.

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will

Cultural Catholicism

12-08-2013Father's CornerFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In today's Gospel (Matthew 3:1-12), John the Baptist prepares the way for Jesus by reminding the Jewish people of the importance of conversion. For many, John's message is challenging. Not everyone is excited about conversion. There were many people who thought that conversion was unnecessary. They thought that since they were of Jewish ethnic descent that the message of repentance was not for them. John warns the Pharisees and Sadducees of this mistake: "Do not presume to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I tell you, God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones." John's message to the Jewish people is that their physical descent from Abraham is not what will save them. Rather, the conversion of their lives will be the act that brings them to salvation. The true sons and daughters of Abraham are those who hear the word of God and respond to it with conversion of mind and heart.

In today's world, we see a similar version of the problem that John the Baptist encountered in the Gospel. There is a kind of "cultural Catholicism" that exists in the world today that feels very similar to the Pharisees and Sadducees. There are many Catholics in the world today who want to be known and identified as Catholics, but who do not seek conversion or repentance of their sins. They are culturally Catholic, but not spiritually Catholic. They have received their Sacraments and some form of Catholic upbringing, but have not allowed the Gospel of Jesus Christ to sink into their hearts and transform their lives. They are content with their sins, even though they know that both Jesus Christ and His Church are constantly inviting them to change their ways. They live life on their own terms rather than on God's terms.

The message of John the Baptist is a powerful one. It is one that should cause all of us to ponder some serious questions. Have I allowed the Gospel of Jesus Christ to change my life? Do I put my relationship with God above other things? Am I sorry for my sins and want to change my sinful behaviors? Do I trust God's plan more than my own? In pondering these questions, all of us should begin to see the need for repentance in our lives. In a way, all of us are guilty of being cultural Catholics and are in need conversion. May the grace of Jesus Christ destroy the false security of our cultural Catholicism and help us to be true descendants of Abraham and authentic disciples of Christ. May Christ continue to draw us into deeper conversion and give us repentant hearts.

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will

Preparing for Jesus

12-01-2013Father's CornerFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Advent is a season of preparation. We are called to begin each liturgical year making room in our lives to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ. One of the hardest lessons to learn is that our faith is no different than any other activity. If we want to be good at it, we have to work hard. Many people think that if we just accept Jesus in our minds and hearts that He is going to do all the work. In this way, faith is treated like a magic trick. This is a false message. God doesn’t want us to be mere puppets. He wants us to freely love Him back with our lives. He never forces us to love Him. We must choose to love Him. Advent is a reminder that we need to choose Christ. Jesus is the only choice that matters. Yet, choosing to follow Jesus Christ is never easy. It takes hard work and dedication. If we want to have a great relationship with Jesus, we have to give him our time and energy.

A few years ago I read an article about a famous basketball player that spends eight hours a day in the off-season working on his basketball skills. This young man is a very talented basketball player. Yet, he recognizes that in order to remain the best he must work hard all year long, not just during the regular season. Our faith is no different. If we want to be good disciples, we must set aside the time in our lives for Jesus Christ. We must go to Mass every Sunday. We must go to confession on a regular basis. We must spend time in prayer every day. We must avoid things that will lead us into sin. If we don’t do these things, we will never truly grow in our faith. Advent is a reminder of this reality. Advent tells us that Jesus is coming and that we must prepare ourselves to receive him.

May God inspire each of us during this Advent season to prepare room in our hearts and lives for His presence. May the grace of Jesus Christ give us the courage and dedication to live our faith more fully.

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will