A YEAR OF JOY: Marty's 44th Anniversary Remarks


Happy Anniversary Brothers and sisters,

Welcome to everyone joining us virtually.

I have a question for you to ponder. Why are you here tonight, either in person or virtually? Why are you here tonight? Your answers may be very different based on how long you been around the community. If, you have been a member of the community from the beginning, you may say, “I’m here to celebrate 44 years of God’s faithfulness to us and 44 years of covenant love to one another”. That would be a very appropriate answer. If you are a SPO missionary who has been here less than a year, you may say “they told me come and I would have a goodtime”. That also would be a very appropriate answer. Many of us fall somewhere between those two extremes. I would like to propose for your consideration that all us are here tonight because by his great love and mercy our Lord Jesus Christ has invited each of us into a personal relationship with himself and we have responded.


Typically, an anniversary is a time to reflect back upon the events of the past year. With 2020 in mind, I thought and prayed about what I would say tonight. The word “Joy” immediately came to mind. Since I don’t think most of us would associate the word “Joy” with 2020, I’m trusting that I was being prompted by the Holy Spirit.

Typically, an anniversary is a time to reflect back upon the events of the past year. With 2020 in mind, I thought and prayed about what I would say tonight. The word “Joy” immediately came to mind. Since I don’t think most of us would associate the word “Joy” with 2020, I’m trusting that I was being prompted by the Holy Spirit. Along with that word I thought about the scripture from Hebrews 12:2. It reads,


For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Think for a moment of the agony of the cross and the shame associated with it. Many of us have seen “The Passion of the Christ”. How horrific was the Lord’s execution? To endure what he did, the joy set before him must have been amazingly powerful and amazingly compelling. What was that joy? We get part of answer at the end of Hebrews 12:2 he sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Jesus was going home to the Father! After 33 years on the earth he was going home to the Father. What great joy must have filled his heart in knowing that?!

But Jesus’s joy was not simply limited to him returning to the Father. It was much more than that.

His joy was in doing his Father’s will, by reconciling everything on earth and in heaven as says in Colossians 1.

His joy was in the breaking of the chains of sin and robbing death of its power.

Jesus’s joy included us living in unity with the Father.


Jesus’s joy included us living in unity with the Father.

Jesus’s joy includes us someday going home to the Father.

Just yesterday we read the following words from the gospel of John at Mass, “In my Fathers’ house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and to take you to myself, so where I am you may also be.

Even now Jesus is preparing a place for us. St. Paul speaks about that place in

1 Corinthians 2:9

As it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him—

Think about the beauty we have seen in our lifetime, the face of a newborn, the grandeur of a mountain, the ceiling of the Sistine chapel, a breathtaking sunset, the helping hand of a total stranger and so much more. None of these begins to compare to what we will see in heaven.

Think about the what we have heard in our lifetime, the laughter of a child, the violin being played by a master, the Hallelujah Chorus being sung, the roar of the ocean, or a word of encouragement and so much more. None of these begins to compare with what we will hear in heaven.

Think about the brilliance of Thomas Aquinas or Catherine of Sienna, or the great minds of men and women who throughout the centuries have allowed us to travel great distances in hours, communicate around the world in seconds, put men on the moon, fly a helicopter on Mars from the earth, whose advances in medicine have cured diseases, enhanced the quality of our lives and have greatly increased our life expectancy. None of these even individuals with all their intelligence and all their imagination could begin to imagine the glory of heaven.

Brothers and sisters, we were made to sit in him heavenly places with him.

That is our destiny. Just thinking about that should fill our hearts with great joy.

But does it?


Brothers and sisters, we were made to sit in him heavenly places with him.
That is our destiny. Just thinking about that should fill our hearts with great joy.
But does it?

For some reason our human weakness and our sin tends to pull us back from that. We prefer what we know to what is unknown no matter how glorious that may be.

Lest we despair about this, here is good news. God knows our human condition and he created us to live in community with one another in order to help us overcome our human frailties and experience his joy while we are still on this side of the veil.

We read in John 15

9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

If we have spiritual eyes we can see those heavenly places are right here in the midst of this life we live together and in the joy to be found in the relationships we have shared with one another these past many years.


This past week, we as a community had the opportunity to experience the depth of our covenant love, as we stood by the side of our dear brother and sister Gary and Alicia Montemurno as they buried their son Christopher. There they stood at very intersection of our earthly and our heavenly homes. What a privilege to be there with them. Despite their deep sorrow, the joy of knowing that Christopher was now at rest lifted them up. We with them, standing on this side of veil, trusting that Christopher now sees what no eye has seen and hears what no ear has heard and now is experiencing the inconceivable joy of paradise.


Let us make the most of every moment. Let us recommit ourselves to the Lord and one another. And may the Lord Jesus grant us many more anniversaries to rejoice in his goodness until he completes our joy in our heavenly home.

Brothers and sisters, we were indeed made to sit in heavenly places with him and while we await our heavenly reward we have the great joy of sharing this wonderful life with one another. Let us make the most of every moment. Let us recommit ourselves to the Lord and one another. And may the Lord Jesus grant us many more anniversaries to rejoice in his goodness until he completes our joy in our heavenly home.



God bless you brothers and sisters. Happy Anniversary!