Dear Family of Our Lady of Peace,
As we continue "preparing" for Christ's coming this Advent season, we conclude the 1st week's virtue of "hope" and approach the second Advent virtue--"love". However, all of these virtues begin with the foundation of "humility." This is why, as I shared in last week's homily, I desire for us to live these virtues with sincere humility. In other words, we approach all these virtues with a docile heart to what God offers and chooses to refrain from offering.
How does this look in our daily activities? We identify how God is calling us to deeper conversion by trying to live out this virtue with greater purpose. I was focusing on "hope" this week with expectation knowing that God would present moments to me in which those who struggle with sorrow will need a cheerful reminder of God's loving presence and desire for "our surrender"--the exercise of humility.
First, with hope comes perseverance. God has humbled me with patience, but now with the help of our contractor Mr. Tuan Joseph Nguyen, we were able to break ground and prepare for paver installation. I hope we will be able to complete the courtyard project in time for Christmas! This is a real time of hope for our community because we will be able to center the Tabernacle, offer space for ministries, and have a gathering space for more community events!
However, not all hope has been presented this week with such joy and cheer. This Thursday was pretty heavy.
Aside from my usual responsibilities here at church, God presented two surprises. First, a couple that I married last year just had their first baby. However, she died as soon as she was born due to breathing complications. They called and asked me to celebrate her funeral, so I did. I preached about this couple once before during weekday Mass because I was so impressed by their faith and piety. This couple reminds me of Job in the Old Testament--they always try to live completely faithful to God's commands. It broke my heart to hear how their daughter passed, but it brought me joy to hear how the husband baptized her as soon as she was born. He knew his purpose as a father is to make her a saint--and that's exactly what he did. But, even further, the husband taught us in his eulogy why there is reason to hope. He said, "God wants our daughter Grace for Himself, so He called her home right away." While her death is difficult to understand, we have great hope knowing that her death was not meaningless.
Later in the day, God presented the second surprise. I received a call from a sheriff explaining that his uncle was on the verge of dying at the UCI Medical Center. So after I finished teaching RCIA, I drove over to the hospital to visit him. This poor man had cancer in his throat and had to surgically remove his tongue. He was told he would have two or three days to live, but when I met him he was completely present to me and the family. He had to write on a little white-board to communicate with the nurse and ourselves. His daughter and son were there at his bedside with his wife across them, and they shared about their plans to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary at Catalina Island. However, as soon as they arrived at the Long Beach Harbor, they had to rush over to the hospital because the man collapsed. Upon giving this man the Sacraments, I let him hold onto the crucifix, but he then held my hand and expressed his gratitude through his eyes. I reminded him that our Lord is with the whole family and has not abandoned them, and with the Sacraments our Lord will take good care of him and his family as he leaves them behind. But again, this man is such a good man. Why would God permit such a difficult journey for his family? While I struggle to wrestle with the economy of the Cross, I am humbled by the examples of the people whom God places in my life.
There is no telling when our Lord will call us to Him, so we must always be "ready" like our Blessed Mother. Lord, I am your poor and humble servant. May it be done unto me, according to thy Will. Holy Mary, Mother of Hope, pray for us.
Fr. Daniel Seo