November 21, 2021

The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

Jackie Shirley
Steward for Faith Formation

Pastor’s Notebook

Blessings to you my brothers and sisters on this the Solemnity of Christ the King.

We are reminded this Sunday that Christ is Lord of all. He is Lord in the good times and the bad—and we are called as his disciples to be joyful stewards, both when it is easy and when it is difficult. I know this is not always easy. I think many of you would join me in saying the last two years have been incredibly hard for many of us. 

I’ve always felt it easier to be grateful, to feel blessed and to be a good steward when things are going well. When things get tough, everything seems harder for me. During difficult times we are called to faithful discipleship, we are called to cling to our Lord and to trust him. We are called to pray harder, to bring all our hurt, confusion, and frustration to him. Jesus wants us to share our hearts with him. We are called to focus on our blessings, to see how fortunate we are in a world where Christians in some places are persecuted for going to Mass and receiving the Eucharist. We are called to be better stewards, to give more time to the church, to help others with our talents and to share our treasures. I’m the first to say this is difficult. When I’m struggling do I reach out to the Lord first? Do I continue to volunteer? Do I share what the Lord has given me? Often in the past, the answer has been no. I think it’s part of being human to want to isolate, to despair, and to be selfish when things are rough. But Christ was never like that. He never told us to run from others or to hide what we have. At the Last Supper He gave us a new commandment, to love one another as He has loved us. And we do that by being good stewards of what He gave us.

Over the last year I’ve seen in myself and in others more anxiety, isolation, and depression. People are fearful of the future, of the constant barrage of bad news, of losing loved ones and so much more. Focusing on the things that we fear paralyzes us—it stops us from living out our discipleship with joy as we have been called. We know that fear doesn’t come from the Lord, for everything that comes from Him is true and good and beautiful. As Catholics we are called to live without fear. Deuteronomy 31:8 says, “It is the LORD who goes before you; He will be with you and will never fail you or forsake you. So do not fear or be dismayed.” So how does the Lord want us to live? With joy. 

Joy isn’t based on circumstances and it doesn’t mean you will constantly be happy, for happiness is just an emotion while joy is a state of being. Joy is a gift of the Holy Spirit and it is the disposition toward contentment and peace, no matter what external circumstances we may face. Joy can help us in the darkest times, even amid suffering and death. In March 2020, just as the pandemic was beginning, my Papa unexpectedly passed away. It was incredibly difficult for my family and me, but I was filled with joy. I was happy because I knew he loved the Lord and had returned to the Church. I had hope that he was with Jesus, and I was at peace because he was no longer in pain. The Lord used his death to put questions on my mother’s and brother’s hearts. My mother, who left the Church when I was a baby, started asking questions about going to confession and my brother started asking about baptism. How could I not be filled with joy? The Lord took something so painful and turned it into something so beautiful. 

So, this Advent I have a challenge for you. Do not be afraid, live with true joy. Don’t be afraid of volunteering for a ministry you think you may not be good at. Spend time with the Lord and ask Him for the grace to be generous with all you have. Give of yourself even when it is hard or inconvenient or uncomfortable. Because I promise you with all of my heart that it is when we step out of our comfort zones that we grow in holiness. This Advent, let us be intentional about focusing on our blessings while sharing the joy of Christ in a world that is so hungry for His light. 

I am praying for you now and always,

Jackie Shirley
Steward for Faith Formation

Pastor’s Notebook

Blessings to you my brothers and sisters on this the Solemnity of Christ the King.

We are reminded this Sunday that Christ is Lord of all. He is Lord in the good times and the bad—and we are called as his disciples to be joyful stewards, both when it is easy and when it is difficult. I know this is not always easy. I think many of you would join me in saying the last two years have been incredibly hard for many of us. 

I’ve always felt it easier to be grateful, to feel blessed and to be a good steward when things are going well. When things get tough, everything seems harder for me. During difficult times we are called to faithful discipleship, we are called to cling to our Lord and to trust him. We are called to pray harder, to bring all our hurt, confusion, and frustration to him. Jesus wants us to share our hearts with him. We are called to focus on our blessings, to see how fortunate we are in a world where Christians in some places are persecuted for going to Mass and receiving the Eucharist. We are called to be better stewards, to give more time to the church, to help others with our talents and to share our treasures. I’m the first to say this is difficult. When I’m struggling do I reach out to the Lord first? Do I continue to volunteer? Do I share what the Lord has given me? Often in the past, the answer has been no. I think it’s part of being human to want to isolate, to despair, and to be selfish when things are rough. But Christ was never like that. He never told us to run from others or to hide what we have. At the Last Supper He gave us a new commandment, to love one another as He has loved us. And we do that by being good stewards of what He gave us.

Over the last year I’ve seen in myself and in others more anxiety, isolation, and depression. People are fearful of the future, of the constant barrage of bad news, of losing loved ones and so much more. Focusing on the things that we fear paralyzes us—it stops us from living out our discipleship with joy as we have been called. We know that fear doesn’t come from the Lord, for everything that comes from Him is true and good and beautiful. As Catholics we are called to live without fear. Deuteronomy 31:8 says, “It is the LORD who goes before you; He will be with you and will never fail you or forsake you. So do not fear or be dismayed.” So how does the Lord want us to live? With joy. 

Joy isn’t based on circumstances and it doesn’t mean you will constantly be happy, for happiness is just an emotion while joy is a state of being. Joy is a gift of the Holy Spirit and it is the disposition toward contentment and peace, no matter what external circumstances we may face. Joy can help us in the darkest times, even amid suffering and death. In March 2020, just as the pandemic was beginning, my Papa unexpectedly passed away. It was incredibly difficult for my family and me, but I was filled with joy. I was happy because I knew he loved the Lord and had returned to the Church. I had hope that he was with Jesus, and I was at peace because he was no longer in pain. The Lord used his death to put questions on my mother’s and brother’s hearts. My mother, who left the Church when I was a baby, started asking questions about going to confession and my brother started asking about baptism. How could I not be filled with joy? The Lord took something so painful and turned it into something so beautiful. 

So, this Advent I have a challenge for you. Do not be afraid, live with true joy. Don’t be afraid of volunteering for a ministry you think you may not be good at. Spend time with the Lord and ask Him for the grace to be generous with all you have. Give of yourself even when it is hard or inconvenient or uncomfortable. Because I promise you with all of my heart that it is when we step out of our comfort zones that we grow in holiness. This Advent, let us be intentional about focusing on our blessings while sharing the joy of Christ in a world that is so hungry for His light. 

I am praying for you now and always,

Jackie Shirley
Steward for Faith Formation