Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I imagine the Gospel writer Mark to be a rather energetic and driven individual. “Be watchful! Be alert!” he warns in the Gospel passage for the first Sunday of Advent. And perhaps, with our preparations for Christmas, we can relate to his anxiety!
Yet, the watching that the Church calls us to ought to be characterized by hope, not fear or worry. I remember Blessed Pope John Paul II’s initial words after being called to the Petrine office: “Be not afraid!” Good advice at any time, but especially now.
Be not afraid! In the midst of economic hard times, we are called to refuse to be paralyzed by fear and instead be of service to one another, always keeping the common good in front of us.
Be not afraid! In the midst of continuing conflicts around the world, we are reminded of our vocation to be peacemakers and reconcilers.
Be not afraid! For even if the sanctity of human life is being challenged on multiple fronts, we still cling to the Lord of Life.
Be not afraid! We are about to launch on one of the most far-reaching changes to our common liturgical life in the last 40-plus years: the introduction of the third edition of the Roman Missal. Last year, I wrote:
I know that some are anxious: What will this mean for our prayer life as a parish? And that some are angry: How dare they change the Mass I love? Yet, I am filled with hope. I hope that the advent of the new Missal a year from now will be a source of deeper unity for us as a diocese. I hope that the formation efforts that we will undertake will lead all of us to a more profound appreciation of the Church’s liturgy . . . and will help to further form us as a Eucharistic people.
That is still my hope and why I choose not to be afraid. Yes, we are to be watchful and alert. We do not know when we will meet Christ face-to-face. But, more importantly, do not be afraid. For we journey together “as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.”
Sincerely in Christ,
Most Rev. Martin Amos
Bishop of Davenport