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From the Tee Box

A Blog by Father Trey Nelson


Friday of the First Week of Advent: Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

In all of my years here at Saint Jude, I’ve never looked out through the windows of church to see snow falling while celebrating Mass. As I prayed the words today, I found myself at the same time continuing to look through the massive windows of our narthex. I thought that the snow had stopped, but it started falling again, more so than before. Although we are in the season of Advent and today is the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, I recalled the words of Isaiah 1:18, “…come now, let us set things right, says the Lord: though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they may become white as wool.”

For other parts of the country, what we saw when we woke up this morning wouldn’t really amount to much, when it comes to snow. For us, however, it was beautiful. Our property here is completely covered with a blanket of white. “Enjoy the moment, rest in the moment,” I hear God telling me. I am thinking too, however, about what things will look like when it all melts away. My guess is, it will be pretty messy and probably even sloppy in some places. What a reminder of our relationship with God.

Whenever we celebrate a feast in honor of Mary, we always come back to the virtue of trust, and her ability to constantly throughout her entire life trust in God’s will and care. Our invitation today, perhaps, is to trust that, while we are obviously not always free from sin, God will indeed wipe us clean, again and again. Truly, there will be moments when spiritually we feel like we do when we look out at the snow this morning, and there will be moments when we find ourselves standing in the messiness of our sin. When that happens, all that is asked of us is a sincere heart. We know that God “…will set things right again…”

FOR REFLECTION: Can I trust that God will completely wipe away the wrongs that I have done?

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(Of the 2,403 Americans who died in the attack on Pearl Harbor 75 years ago, 45 of them were from Louisiana. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.)

(Thursday of the First Week of Advent)

Consider for a moment the people in your personal life who laid the foundation on which you live today. Faith. The ability to know right from wrong. The example of a good work ethic, and so on. Recall too those who laid the foundation for our county, our community, our church.

I am particularly grateful for my parents and all that they did for me, for us, in laying this foundation. At the same time, I am also mindful of the reality, that, we do not always stand on that solid ground. Sometimes, at least for a moment, we step off of this foundation, we leave the path, if you will, and spend some time living on shaky ground. These are the moments when we act and live, not like the wise man in today’s Gospel, but the fool. We often do this by choice. We give into human imperfection, temptation, and sin. Maybe not in such a way as to cause severe damage. But to one degree or another, there are those little moments when we look back and say, “wow, I can’t believe I did that.” We step off of the foundation that is Jesus Christ.

Advent can be a time during which we can look down at the ground and ask ourselves a very simple, basic question: where am I standing?

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"Feasting with Generosity"

(Wednesday of the First Week of Advent)

Our first reading today from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah is often proclaimed during the funeral liturgy. It is meant to serve as a foreshadowing of the eternal life that is promised to all believers. It is, simply put, an image of heaven. The first 2 verses are particularly moving for me: “on this mountain the Lord of hosts will provide for all peoples…a feast of rich food and choice wines…” We are promised that one day we will feast at the eternal banquet. How are we “feasting” now though?

One of the realities of life in the 21st century is that we can pretty much attain, define, or find the answer to pretty much anything we want in literally the blink of an eye or the click of a mouse. Place an order. Have it delivered. Shop online. Make reservations. You name it. It is very easy to get away from an Advent type of waiting. An Advent, biblical type of waiting is not the same as waiting in line, waiting on some news from someone about something, and it’s certainly not the same as waiting for a package to be delivered. We can track our packages. Advent invites us to track our lives and the spirit in which we are living. What is our posture, if you will, before God, in response to everything with which we’ve been blessed, and, most importantly, toward those who are needy? Our approach to the table of plenty in this life is meant to be one that welcomes others to that table.

FOR REFLECTION: Does the generosity bestowed upon me feed the needs of others?

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