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“Comfort, give comfort to my people, says the Lord. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem.” That is what I hope to do to you today, is to speak to you tenderly and comforting.

At one time in my life, someone gave me this book. It was a book full of affirmations. It is one of the most beautiful books that I have ever read and just a great gift that this person gave to me. As I was going back over that it would be neat for me to write a little book for you in affirmations. So, that is what I am going to do.

The book begins with this, “At the heart of this book is a promise. It’s a promise from me to you, and it goes like this.  

At the heart of the homily is a promise, and it goes from me to you. It begins like this:

If you ever need someone to talk to, to listen to you, to really listen to you, I’m here for you.

I promise to cherish you, to lift you up, and, if I can help it, to never let you down. 

You are so loved by God the Father, and by me, who is called to be your Spiritual Father.

You matter to me, and you matter to this parish.

We have thousands of people in this parish, and there is no one else like you.

I want you to know that God has plans for you and has made you for a purpose.

I want you to know that at some point, I might just disappoint you, it is never my intent.

Remember, I am only one person, but I also trust that God can multiply the loaves.

I am just a sign of God’s love for you, but His love never fails. I’ll try to love you and trust that if we share in this love, it will not fail. I will also remind you that God is God, and I am not.  His love is perfect when mine is not.  

You can never disappoint me.  I mean it.  There is not anything that you can do that would ever disappoint me.  I accept you in all of your strengths and weaknesses. 

I will never intentionally hurt you, and if I do you, please talk to me because I want to make things right. At some point, I may disappoint you, but I promise if you never give up on me, I’ll never give up on you.  

I will try always to be patient and gentle. I will love you willingly, and if necessary, I may need to forgive you at times. I promise I will do it 70 times, 7 times, even if it is all one day.

I want this parish to be for you, a soft place to land; a place of refuge from the storms of life.

When you feel like you are a horrible person, I will remind you that you are good.

You are created in the image and likeness of God.

When you fear evil, I will exorcise that fear through Jesus.

When your heart is broken, let me be part of the healing. 

You can do all things through God, who strengthens you. 

When you are disappointed, I want to offer you hope.

When you need a miracle, I promise I will pray for that miracle.

When you are lost, I hope to find you.

I want to take you by the hand just as Jesus does as the Good Shepherd and lead you into everlasting life.

When you are weary, I want this parish to be your rest.

When you need to know that you are loved unconditionally, I promise that I will always be in the Confessional for you to be an unconditionally loving Father for you and when I’m at my best to maybe even help show you the Father’s love.

Even if you mess up in sin over and over again, I will never grow impatient; you can come always come back.

If you ever just need a hug, ask me, I will give you a hug. 

I want you to know that I really believe you are essential to this parish, and that you do have gifts and talents, some of which have yet to be discovered.

You are God’s beloved sons and daughters.

The greatest comfort I have ever experienced is in Eucharistic Adoration, and I want to give you that gift; I’ll even give you the secret code.

Every time I celebrate mass, I will do so with devotion, reverence, awe, and joy, and I pray for you all throughout the day – every time I pray the Divine Office. I ask that you always pray for me.

When your loved one dies, we will not only provide a beautiful funeral but will walk with you when the phone calls and cards come to an end.

When you bring your children and grandchildren to be baptized, we will do so in such a way that we will all realize that this child has become a new creation in Christ.

When you decide to get married, or your children or grandchildren do, I hope to walk with you in that wonderful time. 

I desire that you all become true Disciples of Jesus. 

I am ever grateful for being here. I am truly grateful for your generosity to me and to the parish, and you are the people God has called me to love and serve. 

I want to show you the Father’s love.

I want to be Jesus for you when I celebrate the Mass.

I want you to know that I find great delight in you and in this parish.

I promise to be with you in good times and bad, in sickness and health, not all the days of my life but all the days that God allows me to be here with you. 

In confirmation, I believe you have been given the fruits of the Holy Spirit, and I want to help you discover them: Charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity.”

I pray that you may continue to be given the Gifts of the Holy Spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. I want to help you grow in the Virtues as I do myself.

The Cardinal Virtues of Prudence, Justice, Temperance, and Fortitude, and the Theological Virtues of Faith, Hope, and Love.

I’ve come to the end of where we started, and I promise you this, I want you to know how much the Father loves you, how much I love you, and the Father wants to hold you in His embrace.

I want you to know that Jesus is your Good Shepherd walking with you all the way to eternal life, and that you have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit, who will be your guide.

I want to bless you and be a blessing to you. 

I want to be a Father to you, a brother to you, and hopefully a friend to you.

I am so happy being a priest, and I’m so happy being your priest so may these words bring you Comfort and bring you Joy as we enter more deeply into this Season of Advent.