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Be a Herald of Glad Tidings

“Prepare the way of the Lord!”

We hear this regularly in Advent, but what exactly does this look like? We have the familiar image of St. John the Baptist literally preparing the way of the Lord by announcing his coming. He is referenced in the Gospel today as the one prophesied by Isaiah: “Behold I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way.” John prepared the world for the coming of the Christ. How do we prepare the way of the Lord?

God offers us several ways that we can prepare the way of the Lord through Isaiah in today’s first reading (Is 40:1-5, 9-11):

  • Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!” Do we waste time on a regular basis? When we look at how we spend our time, do we see periods of wasteland? Advent gives us a good opportunity to do something productive during those times. Even if it’s just 10 or 15 minutes spent doing spiritual reading or praying the rosary, it is an experience of being productive (like building a road) rather than wasteful.
  • Every valley shall be filled in.” In December, our rectory receives calls from people who are in different financial valleys as they approach Christmas. Most of these folks are worried about getting presents for their kids because they didn’t sign up for the Outreach Center’s toy giveaway and have nowhere else to turn. Thankfully, donors have already offered to help families in these emergency situations and get their children personalized gifts. Be generous and thoughtful in your almsgiving this Advent!
  • Every mountain and hill shall be made low.” The woman who leads our new monthly Holy Spirit Rosary told me that someone she prayed with the last time she was here received a physical healing. Her hip pain had disappeared!

If I were to ask you what mountains or hills you have in your life now, many of you would say physical pain or ailments. Whether our mountains are physical, emotional, or personal, God can make them low (or even remove them altogether)! If we are alert and awake in our faith, then we are open to the graces –sometimes miraculous – that God wants to give.

  • “The rugged land shall be made a plain.” Is there a rough or rugged situation in your life right now? Is there someone from whom you need to ask forgiveness? Is there someone you need to forgive?
  • Go up onto a high mountain, Zion, herald of glad tidings; cry out at the top of your voice, Jerusalem, herald of good news! Fear not to cry out.” Last weekend, we had a spectacular wedding here involving a young couple. The bride and groom selected our church because they said it is “the most beautiful church we’ve ever seen.” Her family has visited here a few times, and has fallen in love with our congregation. We received rave reviews from the wedding crowd who had an incredibly positive experience of church here. We had evangelized them with our joy, warmth, hospitality, and faith. Yes, I went a little John the Baptist on them in the homily and preached the truth which they said was inspiring. But, that was after they heard the stories of your joyful and loving spirit, encountered your kindness in and around the church, and saw a bunch of my smiles (I’m a proud papa at weddings, baptisms, confirmations, and first Holy Communions). By the time I said a word about marriage or faith during the wedding, we had already evangelized them!

Evangelize your family this Advent and Christmas. I don’t mean to speak to them at the top of your voice. I mean to be a herald of glad tidings. Show them a joyful or forgiving spirit that is uniquely Christian. That could very well be the precursor for them asking about the good news of the Gospel. In this way, you will prepare the way of the Lord!

May you know the peace of Christ,

Fr Greg

Don’t be afraid to cry out

2nd Sunday of Advent
FPO’s + SJB

Fools for Christ

Hard core
People liked hearing SJB
Focused / mission
One thing – God

What is your focus?
ADVENT – helps us to re-focus

    Our one thing is Christ
What stands out about you (for Jesus)?

We all have had a SJB
Are you him to others?

     Evangelization
     Don’t be afraid to cry out!

Spiritual But Not Religious

Young man / baptism
Are you a prophet?
    Christ 1st
    Speak the truth of God
    To your family
Family evangelization
“I’m spiritual but not religious”
     Not Christian
     Not from Christ
     Can’t get the Eucharist

Don’t Be Scared Beyond Belief

Street evangelization

“Do not be afraid”
To say what you believe
HUGE FEAR in society
SCARED BEYOND BELIEF
Speak for Christ!

Do you fear others more than you fear God?
Spend more time worrying about what others think or what God thinks?

Eucharist
     Holy Communion
     Care more about what God thinks than what others think

Ahhh, Holy Spirit

6th Sunday of Easter

Ghana

Spirit as Consoler
Peace, joy
Within us

Spirit as Advocate
Speaks for us
Evangelization, prayer, praise of Father and Son
Down upon us

Baptism/ Confirmation
Loved
Spirit leads us to F and S / Eucharist

Have mercy on us and on the whole world

Divine Mercy Sunday

Street Evangelization
Sola Scriptura?

Priesthood
Jn 20/20
JC’s ministry to each generation
Those who have seen + unseen

Mercy in modern world
Chaplet of divine mercy

The Resurrection of the Lord

On behalf of our entire staff at Assumption, I wish you and your family a blessed Easter! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

Parish Launches Street Evangelization

Recently, we embarked on our maiden voyage into the waters of street evangelization. It was an exciting and fruitful two hours that we spent at Congress Heights metro station, talking with people about faith and distributing materials like rosaries and miraculous medals. We personally invited over fifty people to our church especially for Holy Week liturgies. It was all good!

Unbelievers

Well, maybe not all good. One man told me he was a Methodist, but didn’t celebrate Easter because he didn’t believe in the Resurrection. He stated that “thousands of people saw Jesus die but only three saw him rise. That should tell you something.” I tried to tell him that that number rose to 12 and then 500 as Scripture says. It has grown to millions and billions in the past two thousand years. He gave some other reasons why he doesn’t believe, but they were given in anger and profanity. It seemed that his problem was more personal than spiritual actually.

What would you say?

Nevertheless, if you were evangelizing (sharing the Good News) with someone on the street, how would you reply if they said they didn’t believe in the Resurrection? You can give the traditional points of evidence from Scripture – empty tomb, burial cloths and garments, belief and witness of the Apostles and disciples. I told the man that the witness of the Apostles is huge. All but one of the eleven gave their lives because they believed that Jesus rose from the dead, and died as martyrs for the faith.

Tell your story

But really, the best way to evangelize is through personal experience. If I had had more time with the man, I would have talked about knowing the risen Christ, and having a relationship with him today. If we speak again, I will tell him about all of the evidence at Assumption that Christ is risen.

First and foremost, it would be the joy of our parishioners. You all believe that Christ is risen, that life triumphs over death, that we all have the hope of eternal life, and you show it! Your joy would quickly melt away any sadness or anger of his or others.

It all starts at Mass

There are so many more ways that our parish shows its faith in the Resurrection. As with everything, this starts at Mass. We kneel before the risen Christ in the Eucharist and whisper the words of St Thomas, “my Lord and my God” (btw, Mass attendance is up). Think specifically about healing Masses, though. You come forward to receive blessings for healing with the faith that Christ will bring healing to your wounds, peace to your burdens, and joy to your sadness. It’s really the faith that Christ has power over all things; if he can overcome death, he can overcome anything in your life!

One visit to the Pope Francis Outreach Center reveals the faith in the risen Christ of this parish. You firmly believe that Christ lives in the poor (cf. Mt 25), and you feed him accordingly. This and so many other aspects of your witness to the Resurrection are greatly in sync with what Pope Francis has said:

“The message which Christians bring to the world is this: Jesus, Love incarnate, died on the cross for our sins, but God the Father raised him and made him the Lord of life and death. In Jesus, love has triumphed over hatred, mercy over sinfulness, goodness over evil, truth over falsehood, life over death.”

May we experience the triumphs of our risen Lord and be a witness of them to others, and

May you know the peace of the risen Christ,

Fr Greg

Easter Sunday Homily

Street evangelization
    Christian who doesn’t believe in Resurrection?
    Witnesses to Resurrection
    Joy, happiness
Appreciate Resurrection more after Cross
Best Catholic witness is in Eucharist

Go forth and be fishers of men

Will you heed the call?

Today we are asking you to sign up for prayer teams for our upcoming “street evangelization.” You’ve heard me mention this and even explain it in homilies in the past, but now it gets real. On two upcoming Saturdays (April 8 and 22), a couple of parishioners and I will set up a table with Catholic materials at Congress Heights metro station from 2-4 p.m. We will ask passersby if they’d like a miraculous medal or rosary as a way to start a conversation. The table will include these items as well as Catholic pamphlets. The goal is to engage people in a discussion about faith, spread the Good News mainly through personal witness, and invite them to visit Assumption. This is the basic premise of street evangelization.

Evangelization is necessary

As we have been saying here for over a year, evangelization is not just a good thing for our parish to do, it’s necessary. We all know that in order for our parish to survive and thrive in the future, we have to bring in more people now with the help of God. Hopefully, it will be young people and young families who will become the next generation of active, long-standing parishioners here. I drove through the neighborhood the other night and saw many young people and families on their porches and in their yards enjoying a warm, spring evening. They are around us!

Prayer teams are also critical

Other parishes in our area have had a similar approach when they have evangelized in the neighborhood. That is, they have teams of evangelizers as well as prayer teams. Those on the prayer teams want to be a part of the evangelization effort but don’t feel called to go out. It’s kind of like going into battle: you have those who fight on the front lines and those who are in the rear supporting them. Both are needed! In fact, in the Church, it is believed that the strongest element of the “Church militant” is the prayer contingent.

Ask God to open hearts and minds

So, if you sign up to be a prayer for street evangelization, please pray on that Saturday; if you signed up for the prayer teams, pray during the 2-3 p.m. or 3-4 p.m. hours. You are praying that God will bring people to our table with open hearts and minds. You are praying that we will be good, joyful, and inviting witnesses to the Catholic faith. And, you are praying that these conversations will be fruitful, and that the people will come to encounter the Lord here at Assumption. You have much to pray for! As the Lord says in the Gospel, “this can only come about through prayer“. In the future, we will hopefully have prayer teams come to the church for Adoration during the times of evangelization. Parishioners will literally bring their prayer requests for street evangelization (as stated above) to the Lord himself. For now, we ask you to do this in your home or preferred place of prayer. We have confidence that God will bless our team effort!

In the future, we will hopefully have prayer teams come to the church for Adoration during the times of evangelization. Parishioners will literally bring their prayer requests for street evangelization (as stated above) to the Lord himself. For now, we ask you to do this in your home or preferred place of prayer. We have confidence that God will bless our team effort!

All of us should be evangelizing regularly. All of us should be praying for more people to join our Assumption family. But, street evangelization is a particular and intentional way of going out. It has been fruitful in other places, and we trust that God has initiated this to do the same here.

May you know the peace of Christ,

Fr Greg

Encounter with Jesus Christ

3rd Sunday of Lent –
Ski retreat
Outreach – blessings
Woman at well

Encounter
Worship
Evangelization