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St. James Catholic Community: Fr. Jack Sweeley, D.D., Pastor


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This Week's Mass

Please click here for our audio Mass with music and graphics.

The Second Sunday in Advent
December 8, 2002



I'm Fr. Jack Sweeley.  Welcome to St. James Catholic Community's celebration of the Holy Eucharist.  It is our hope that sharing this celebration with us will bring you peace and refreshment of mind, body, and spirit. 
I am sad to announce the death of Philip Berrigan.  Although some did not agree with his tactics there is no doubt that he was anointed by God for his ministry of peace.  Please pray for the repose of his soul and take a few minutes to read the page I added in his honor.
In the name of the Father,
and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  

The Blessing with Holy Water
God our Father, your gift of water brings life and freshness to the earth; it washes away our sins and brings us eternal life. 

We ask you now to bless this water, and to give us your protection on this day which you have made your own. Renew the living spring of your life within us and protect us in spirit and body, that we may be free from sin and come into your presence to receive your gift of salvation. 

We ask this through Christ our Lord.



Coming together as God's family, with confidence let us ask the Father's forgiveness, for he is full of gentleness and compassion.
Lord we have sinned against you:
Lord have mercy.
Lord Have mercy.
Lord show us your mercy and love.
And grant us your salvation.
May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins and bring us to everlasting life.
Let us pray:
O God, rejoicing, we remember the promise of your Son.
may the blessings of Christ come upon us,brightening our way and guiding us by his truth. May Christ our Savior bring life into the darkness of our world,
and to us, as we wait for his coming. We ask this through Christ our Lord.
First Reading
A reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 40:1- 11)
1 Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.
2 Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem; and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she hath received of Jehovah's hand double for all her sins.
3 The voice of one that crieth, Prepare ye in the wilderness the way of Jehovah; make level in the desert a highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the uneven shall be made level, and the rough places a plain:
5 and the glory of Jehovah shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of Jehovah hath spoken it.
6 The voice of one saying, Cry. And one said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field.
7 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth, because the breath of Jehovah bloweth upon it; surely the people is grass.
8 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth; but the word of our God shall stand forever.
9 O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion, get thee up on a high mountain; O thou that tellest good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold, your God!
10 Behold, the Lord Jehovah will come as a mighty one, and his arm will rule for him: Behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.
11 He will feed his flock like a shepherd, he will gather the lambs in his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and will gently lead those that have their young.


Thanks be to God.
Gospel Reading
A reading from the holy gospel according to Mark (Mark 1: 1-8)
Glory to you, Lord.
1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
2 Even as it is written in Isaiah the prophet, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, Who shall prepare thy way.
3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make ye ready the way of the Lord, Make his paths straight;
4 John came, who baptized in the wilderness and preached the baptism of repentance unto remission of sins.
5 And there went out unto him all the country of Judaea, and all they of Jerusalem; And they were baptized of him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
6 And John was clothed with camel's hair, and had a leathern girdle about his loins, and did eat locusts and wild honey.
7 And he preached, saying, There cometh after me he that is mightier than I, the latches of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.
8 I baptized you in water; But he shall baptize you in the Holy Spirit.

This is the gospel of the Lord.


Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

Comfort ye, comfort ye my people. This phrase from Isaiah begins one of the most inspiring and best-loved Advent scriptures.  George Frederich Handel further immortalized it in the Messiah.  These words are the prologue that begins the Book of Consolation written by the psalmist duetero-Isaiah.  Jerusalem is in shambles and its people conquered and desolate.  But in this scripture God is not just speaking to a geographically located group of people in captivity but to a different kind of Jerusalem.  It is the Jerusalem of an ideal kingdom of people personally bound to him. 


2002 Christians in America are also that desolate kingdom in captivity.  Our borders have been violated, our major cities attacked, there is poverty and crime in our streets, daily news broadcasts speak of an impending war - a potentially cataclysmic war involving disease and pestilence. But as 2002 Christians we are at the same time also that New Jerusalem.  As Christians we are personally bound to God.  He is speaking these words of comfort and hope as much to us today as to the captive people of ancient Israel. 


We need to listen.  We need to remember that unlike Isaiah we have proof that God heard Isaiah's cry.  Our proof is that we are moving toward the celebration of the birth of Jesus when we will behold our God made flesh among us. 


In today's gospel we read the beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Son of God according Mark.  Mark is the only one of the evangelists to entitle his gospel the euaggulion or good news which is a proclamation of salvation in Christ.  Mark's gospel begins not with the story of Jesus but with the story of John the Baptist at the Jordan River.  John is a prophet drawn from Old Testament Judaism steeped in the knowledge of the Old Testament who calls the crowds to repentance. Most importantly he proclaims the coming of a deliverer who will baptize not with water but the Holy Spirit.  John's ministry is to proclaim not only the birth of Jesus but also the advent of the deliverer the Risen Christ.


As 2002 Christians this Advent is a strange time for many of us.  We are preparing for Christmas but there are clouds of fear and depression hanging over us.  Our country has been forever changed since 9-11.  I believe that as a consequence of 9-11 many people are experiencing a despair not felt during the Great Depression or wars of the 20th century


During the Great Depression there was a belief that President Roosevelt would find a way to return our country to prosperity.  During World War I there was a "can do" attitude embodied in George M. Cohan's Over There when we sang, "The Yanks are coming, the Yanks are coming."  There was also no doubt as to who would in World War II as we hit the beaches and rode the waves with our bigger than life Everyman superhero John Wayne.  The Korean War, which in fact was a United Nations Police Action and never a declared war of the United States, had more of an effect on us as we watched the antics of Hawkeye and Hot Lips on M.A.S.H than it ever did in the mid-1950s.  And as horrible as the casualties we saw on the nightly television news during the Viet Nam War they were dwarfed by the simultaneously broadcast anti-war demonstrations and the Haight-Ashbury flower children's version of peace and free love. 


What is the difference between then and now?  The difference is twofold: these wars did not touch American soil and they were fought according the accepted rules of warfare.  The difference is that the attacks of 9-11 violated both our homeland and the precepts of "civilized" warfare.  The intent to use innocent civilians as both weapon and victim on 9-11 brought to the fore a new kind of war.  It is a war not designed to acquire land or subjugate a sovereign government but a war to strike terror into the hearts, minds and will of a nation and its people.  It is a war to achieve a purpose predicated on a convoluted and false interpretation of Islam and Middle East politics. 


As 2002 Christians how do we fight this war of terror designed to quash our sense of freedom and security and replace it with fear and depression.  We fight it by knowing that as 2002 Christians we have not only heard the promise of God that he will not forsake his people but have also seen it fulfilled on Easter.  We fight it by knowing that from the ashes of despair rises the Phoenix of redemption and salvation.  We fight it by knowing that the promise has been fulfilled and that Jesus has prepared a place for us with him and the Father.


As 2002 Christians we should not look upon the events of the past year as a reason for fear and despair.  We  can choose to be life-affirming people who know that this world can change and we must be a part of that change. 


But what should that change entail?  As 2002 Christians we know that we must repent of our personal sins of separation and anger toward our family and friends. We must reach out to the poor, the sick, the prisoner and the disenfranchised.


But how do we change our world?  How far can we go to root out terrorists and prevent sovereign nations from acquiring weapons of mass destruction?  I believe that war is always a moral evil but in my heart I know if my country called me to fight I would. 


Some of my friends and family disagree.  They believe in total non-violence.  They keep reminding me that Mahatma Gandhi freed a nation and Martin Luther King freed a people through non-violence.  They also tell me that if we are to die we should die on the right side - the side of peace and not war.  But when one's country and way of life is threatened is non-violence always the right side?


It is questions like this that divide and weaken us as the Body of Christ.  On the one hand we must always hold true to our faith and our convictions, but on the other we must permit others to hold to theirs.  If the world is to change into the vision promised in Isaiah the human hearts of the world must be ready to accept that vision and not just the hearts of Christians.  Our brothers and sisters from all religious traditions as well as those with no religious beliefs must also find it in their hearts to accept others as they are.  None of us in the human family can condemn others because they do not believe as we believe.  Regardless of our personal belief we must repent the sin of judging the beliefs of others in the certainty that we have a God given mandate to impose our beliefs on them as that is the providence of God. 


How do we actualize these words?  Why is it so difficult to do?  As I thought about how to answer these questions I reflected on my 12-year-old son's birthday party.  He invited three boys who in my opinion were immature, rude and constantly complained telling him, "I dont like this kind of pizza" and asking, "Why did you have to choose such a dumb video?"   I couldn't see why he had invited those boys who shared none of his interests. I am sorry to say I was glad to see them go home when the party was over. 


After they left I asked my son what he liked about them as they were so different from him.  He said simply, "I've known them for three years in school and camp" and went off to play.  Upon reflection I knew I had made a superficial judgment of three children excited at a party whom my son had known and played with for three years.  I realized that my son had an insight and knowledge based on personal interaction and experience that transcended their behavior at a birthday party.


I have reached the conclusion that the answer to the questions is that we must start by knowing those who are different from us.  The answer is that we must accept that we make judgments based on physical appearance, religious affiliation and country of origin that are superficial at best.  We need to accept that some people are not always likeable.  They do not share our beliefs or values.  But when we are able to really listen to them, to open our hearts and minds to ideas that are different from our own, we may well recognize that we have more commonality of thought than we imagined.


This is not an easy task but it is the beginning of creating the kingdom of God on earth.  It is the beginning of moving from despair to hope and from hope to action.  It is the beginning of being the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.


The Apostles Creed

And now we proudly proclaim:
I believe in God the Father Almighty, 
maker of heaven and earth:
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord:
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried.
He descended into Hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven
and sits on the right hand of God
the Father Almighty.
He shall come to judge both the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy Catholic Church,
the Communion of Saints,
the forgiveness of sins, 
the Resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting.  Amen.
This is our faith; this is our belief.
Prayers of the People
Let us pray.

In the Spirit of Jesus Christ who told us to ask and we would receive we bring our prayers and petitions to you heavenly Father.  We know all things are possible through you and pray that you will answer each in the manner that is best for us. 
In peace we pray to you, Lord God.
For this community, the nation, and the world;
For all who work for justice, freedom, and peace.
In peace we pray to you, Lord God.
For all people in their daily life and work;
For our families, friends, neighbors, and for those who are alone.
In peace we pray to you, Lord God.
For all who are in danger, sorrow, or any kind of trouble;
For those who minister to the sick, the friendless, and the needy.
In peace we pray to you, Lord God.
For the peace and unity of the Church of God;
For all who proclaim the Gospel, and all who seek the truth.
In Peace we pray to you, Lord God.
Please add your prayers and petitions.
In peace we pray to you, Lord God.
Almighty God, we ask you to grant us wisdom to be your your people of faith in the world today.  Help us to trust your plan of love and salvation which you have created for us.  We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen 
Liturgy of the Eucharist
Preparation of the Gifts
Blessed are you Lord our God.  Through your goodness we offer these gifts of bread and wine which earth has given and human hands have made.  May these become our spiritual food and drink. 
Heavenly Father we mix water and wine as symbols of the human and divine nature of your Son in the belief that as we partake of this Eucharist he is in us and we are in him. 
May the Lord accept our sacrifice
for the praise and glory of his name,
for our good, and the good of all his church.

Eucharistic Acclamations
The Lord is with you.
And also with you.

Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give him thanks and praise.
Eucharistic Prayer
Father, it is our duty and our salvation
always and everywhere
to give you thanks
through your beloved Son, Jesus Christ.
He is the Word
through whom you made
the universe,
the Savior you sent to redeem us.
By the power of the Holy Spirit
he took flesh and was born
of the Virgin Mary.                    
For our sake he opened his arms on the cross;
he put an end to death
and revealed the resurrection.
In this he fulfilled your will
and won for you a holy people.
And so we join the angels and the saints
in proclaiming your glory as we say:
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.
Lord, you are holy indeed,
the fountain of all holiness.
Let your Spirit come upon these gifts
to make them holy,
so that they may become for us
the Body + and + Blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Before he was give up to death,
a death he freely accepted,
he took bread and gave you thanks.
He broke the bread,
gave it to his disciples, and said:
Take this, all of you, and eat it:
this is my body which will be given up for you
When supper was ended, he took the cup.
Again he gave you thanks and praise,
gave the cup to his disciples, and said:

Take this, all of you, and drink from it:
this is the cup of my blood,
the blood of the new and everlasting covenant.
It will be shed for you and for all,
so that the sins may be forgiven.
Do this in memory of me
Memorial Acclamation
Let us proclaim the mystery of faith.
When we eat this bread and drink this cup we proclain your death, Lord Jesus, until you come in glory.
In memory of his death
and resurrection,
we offer you, Father,
this life-giving bread,
his saving cup.
We thank you for counting us worthy
to stand in your presence and serve you.
May all of us who share in the Body and Blood of Christ
be brought together in unity by the Holy Spirit.
Lord, remember your Church throughout the world;
make us grow in love,
together with John Paul our Pope,
Patriarch Bartholomew, the Ecumenical Patriarch, Matriarch Meri, Archbishop Gundrey, all  bishops, priests, deacons,
and all who do your will.
Remember our brothers and sisters who are suffering sickness or any other adversity especially Jerry.
We pray that you bring them healing.
We pray for all who have gone to their eternal rest
in the hope of rising again especial Philip.
Bring them into the light of your presence.
Have mercy on us all;
make us worthy to share eternal life
with Mary, the virgin Mother of God,
with the apostles, and with all the saints
who have done your will throughout the ages.
May we praise you in union with them,
and give you glory
through your Son, Jesus Christ.
Through him, with him, in him,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
all glory and honor is yours, almighty Father,
for ever and ever.   Amen.
The Lords Prayer
We now pray in the manner taught by our Lord Jesus.
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed by thy Name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespas against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, 
the power, and the glory,
now and for ever.  Amen.
The sign of Peace
The Peace of the Lord be with us all.
And also with you.
Let us offer a sign of peace to our brothers and sisters.
The Breaking of the Bread
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood will live in me and I in him, says the Lord.
The Gifts of God for the People of God. Take them in remembrance that Christ died for you, and feed on him in your hearts by faith, with thanksgiving.
Communion of The Faithful
The Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given for us, preserve our body and soul unto everlasting life.
The Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was shed for us, preserve our body and soul unto everlasting life.
Thanksgiving Prayer
Almight and everliving God,
we thank you for feeding us with the spiritial food of the most precious Body and Blood
of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ;
and for assuring us in these holy mysteries
that we are living members of the Body of your Son,
and heirs of your eternal kingdom.
And now, Father, send us out
to do the work you have given us to do,
to love and serve you
as faithful witnesses of Christ our Lord.
To him, to you, and to the Holy Spirit,
be honor and glory, now and for ever.
Closing Prayer
Father, in the wilderness of the Jordan you sent a messenger to prepare people's hearts for the coming of your Son. Help us to hear his words and strenghened by this celebration clearly see the way to walk, the truth to speak, and the life to live for Him, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Blessing  and  Dismissal
The blessing of God Almighty:  the Father,  the Son, and  the Holy Spirit be with you and remain with you now and forever.
This celebration has ended. Go forth to love and serve God and your neighbor.


Tom Conry
We are called - We are Chosen
We are Christ for one another
We are promise for tomorrow
As we are for him today
We are sign - We are symbol
We are sower - We are seed
We are harvest - We are hungry
We are question - We are creed.