Fourth Sunday in Advent — Year B
Vigil Mass — Saturday, 20 December 2014
First Reading: 2 Sam 7:1-5, 8-12,14,16 Second Reading: Rom 16:25-27 Gospel: Luke 1-26-38
May God Bless each and every one of you.
God Just Makes No Sense
Many young people thought they were crazy. Eight high school seniors decided to help start a retreat program at their school. And they heard it all: "Who would want to do that?" "Are you a Jesus freak now?" "What a waste of time." It made no sense - unless you know God.
Go back two thousand years. A teen girl hears God's call. She lives in a culture where young women are viewed as men's property. She lives in a region, Galilee, looked down on by the rest of Israel. Yet God chose her to change the world by bearing Jesus.
It made no sense - unless you know God.
Mary must have known her Jewish scripture. She must have grown up learning that she could trust God's love, trust it enough to risk her life by agreeing to bear Jesus as an unwed mother. You can trust this God as well. You might think you can't make a difference.
Trust God and risk a try. You might feel unlovable at times. Trust God and reach out for the friends God will put in your life. You might think you can't take tough stands for what's right.
Trust God and feel holy strength fill you.
Oh, and what about those crazy high school seniors? They started their retreat program. It ran for nine years and helped more than five hundred young people, changing some of their lives dramatically.
It made no sense to many - unless they knew God.
This week: how can I take a risk for God that makes sense only to those who know God?
Kind regards and God bless
Fr Richard Laurenson
For priestly vocations go to: thepriesthood.org.nz
St Peter Chanel Prayer
Heavenly Father, from the First Companions of the Society of Mary, you sent St Peter Chanel to bring the light of faith to the people of our islands.
In hardship and afflictions he gave understanding testimony to Christ by his words, his life and the shedding of his blood.
May our celebration of Christ’s death and resurrection make us also faithful witnesses to the new life he offers us.
Honoured in New Zealand
In New Zealand there are six parishes, four primary schools, one college, a National Shrine and a Diocesan centre dedicated in honour of St Peter Chanel, the Bi-Centenary of whose birth was on 12th July 2003. How is it that a saint of French origin is so honoured in this land?
Father Peter Chanel was one of the early group of Catholic missionaries to the South West Pacific which set out from France in December 1836. The group was destined to found the Catholic Church in Western Oceania and New Zealand. Father Chanel and a Marist catechist Brother Marie-Nizier were placed on the island of Futuna, north of the Fijian Islands, in November 1837 and laboured there for three and a bit years. It was a difficult mission: learning the language, coping with isolation, different foods and customs, eventually beginning to bear some fruit.
On 28th April 1841 Peter Chanel was killed by a group of warriors incited by the leading chief of Futuna, in hatred of the Faith which threatened his control over the people.
Eventually the earthly remains of Peter Chanel were brought to New Zealand and remained at Russell for eight years before being sent to France. Peter Chanel was acknowledged as a martyr and declared Blessed in 1889.
He was canonized in the Marian Year 1954 by Pope Pius XII. St Peter Chanel is recognized as the first martyr of Oceania and the Patron Saint of this region. As a foundation member of the Society of Mary he is acknowledged by the wider Marist family - Marist Brothers of the Schools, Marist Sisters (Peter Chanel had a sister in this congregation), Marist Missionary sisters - all of these religious groups contributing to the development of the Catholic Church in New Zealand.
As a Marist, a missionary, a martyr and a Saint, Peter Chanel is of significance to New Zealand. We celebrate the anniversary of his death as a Church Feast day and the Bi-Centenary of his birth will give further opportunity for Russell, Manukau, Te Rapa, Whakatane, Hamilton Diocese, Hastings, Masterton, Otaki, Motueka, and Green Island (and indeed - all parishes and schools) to celebrate, remember and gain strength by Peter Chanel's intercession as the lives of Peter's spiritual descendants continue.