Children Of The Resurrection


32nd Sunday In Ordinary Time – Year C

Fr. Mark Gatto

Preached: November 10, 2019

Once upon a time there was an old woman who died and was taken to the Judgment Seat by the angels.  While examining her records, however, they could not find a single act of charity performed by her except for a carrot she had once given to a starving beggar.

Such, however, is the power of a single deed of love that it was decreed that she be taken up to heaven on the strength of that carrot.  The carrot was brought and given her.  The moment she caught hold of it, it began to rise as if pulled by some invisible string, lifting her up toward the sky.

A beggar appeared.  He clutched the hem of her garment and was lifted along with her;  a third person caught hold of the beggar’s foot and was lifted too.  Soon there was a long line of persons being lifted up to heaven by that carrot.  And strange as it may seem, the woman did not feel the weight of all those people who held onto her;  in fact, since she was looking heavenward, she did not see them.

Higher and higher they rose until they were almost near the heavenly gates.  That is when the woman looked back to catch a glimpse of the earth and saw this whole train of people behind her. She was angry!  She gave an imperious wave of her hand and shouted, “Off!  Off, all of you! This carrot is mine!”  In making her big gesture, she let go of the carrot for a moment –  and down she fell with the whole group.

Jesus is faced with certain Scribes who said there is no resurrection.  But, Jesus is very clear that there is a resurrection, that in death we are sons and daughters of God and children of the resurrection.  For God is the God of the living not the dead.

As Catholics we express the core of our beliefs each Sunday when we profess together the Creed.  Usually we use the ancient Apostle’s Creed, whose final line says we believe in “the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.”

We do believe in a life after death and when we proclaim our belief in the resurrection of the body, we are saying that we remain who we are.  We will know each other in this new life.  You will know your loved ones and be with them again.  We do not become something or someone else or just become part of some mass group.  In the resurrection we maintain our identity.

Think of a baby in its mother’s womb and then think of that baby when they are 80 years old.  They look very different, have a very different life, but he or she remains the same person.  So, in the resurrection we will have a very different life, but we will remain who we are.

As Catholics we have a saying, Lex Orandi Lex Credendi, that the way we pray is the way we believe.  What we believe about the resurrection and life after death is celebrated in our Catholic Funeral Rites.

The Catholic Funeral Liturgy uses symbols connected to Baptism and to Easter, since in Baptism we were first united to Jesus and his death and resurrection.  We focus on Easter to highlight our belief in the resurrection.  The priest wears white garments as at Baptism and Easter.  The Easter Candle is lit near the casket or ashes, a white pall is placed on the casket as symbol of the white baptismal garment.  Water is sprinkled as a reminder of the water of baptism.

Eulogies are not normally central in the funeral liturgy because we are not just remembering a past life that is now finished.  We are looking forward to the resurrection and the hope that we will be together again.  In our grieving we are also people of hope.

We are people who believe in the resurrection and life everlasting.  This belief we profess each Sunday in the Creed, and we celebrate in the Catholic Funeral Rites.  We are also to live what we believe.  That means we are to live now ready to enter the life of the resurrection.

We do that by living as children of God right now, by learning not to cling to things in this life, money, possessions, anything that interferes with the way of God, of truth, of justice, of love.

That woman was being carried up to heaven by one small carrot given as an act of love.  What are the acts of love carrying us?  In the end, it did not bring her all the way, because she was even clinging to this small carrot, “it is mine.”  We all need to become free, no longer clinging, this is mine, that is mine.  Then we will be sons and daughters of God, children of the resurrection, light enough to be carried into life everlasting.

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Love All That Exist

Love All That Exists

Love All That Exist

31st Sunday In Ordinary Time – Year C

Fr. Mark Gatto

Preached: November 3, 2019

 “Lord, you love all things that exist.”

 Our first reading from the Book of Wisdom, reflects the tender, patient, merciful love of God for all that exists.  Nothing in this universe exists if not willed by God.  Everything in creation is loved by God, the Lord looks upon all with joy.

Therefore, we too are called to love all that exists in this universe.  Love all creation.  Look upon all with a sense of wonder and joy.  This is why as Catholics, science should be seen as a natural connection to our faith.  For in science we use our intellects and reason to explore the universe, to understand more deeply the workings of creation.  Science in its best is rooted in this love of all things that exist.

“Lord, you love all things that exist.”

That means God loves you.  God looks upon you with a sense of wonder and joy.  You are willed by God, the Creator.  Does not depend on what anyone else thinks.

 Zacchaeus, the rich tax collector in today’s Gospel, might have found it difficult to believe that he could be loved by God.  As a tax collector, many in Jericho would have greatly disliked him.  Tax collectors were reviled by the Jews of Jesus’ day because of their perceived greed and collaboration with the Roman occupiers.  Most would not want to socialize with him at all.

But, Zacchaeus makes a great effort just to see this Jesus.  Did something inside of him convince him that maybe this Jesus would see something else in him?  Jesus looks at him and calls him down and invites himself to eat at his home.  Zacchaeus is so happy.  Probably no one else in that town would go to visit him in his home.  In fact, we hear that all who saw it began to grumble that Jesus had gone to eat at the house of a sinner.

Jesus reveals the way that God looks upon us.  With eyes of mercy, with eyes that see deeper, beyond our weaknesses, beyond our shortcomings.  God loves us with a mercy beyond what we can imagine.  God is willing to be with us.  Jesus invites himself into our homes, into our lives.

“Lord, you love all things that exist.”

This means two things for us.

First, that we are to love all things that exist as God does.  We are to love the entire universe, to love all creation, to love all of our fellow human beings.  To love them with the mercy of God, to see them with the eyes of God.

Second, we need to trust that this God loves us, that Jesus invites himself to be in our homes and in our lives.  Let Jesus in, do not feel you are not worthy, do not be afraid to be close to the Lord.

“Lord, you love all things that exist.”

Meditate on these words throughout this week.  Then look upon everything and everyone with the eyes of God.  Turn to Jesus and let him be with you, close to you.  Do not feel you are not worthy.  Like Zacchaeus, do not worry about what others say, be happy that the Lord wants to be with you.

“Lord, you love all things that exist.”

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Bother God!


29th Sunday In Ordinary Time – Year C

Fr. Mark Gatto

Preached: October 20, 2019

Do you bother God?  Well, you should bother God.  Go ahead and bother God.  Jesus himself is encouraging us to bother God.  Pray with perseverance.  Keep going back to God in prayer.  It is faith to keep praying even when it seems we are getting no answer, when God seems silent.

We see an example of persevering prayer in our first reading.  In this story of the people of Israel in a great battle, we see Moses at the top of the hill with the staff of God.  As long as he is holding it up, they were winning.  But, when his arms got tired and he lowered the staff, then they were being defeated.  So, to keep his arms lifted with the staff they sat Moses on a stone and two others held up his arms.

His raised arms were a symbol of prayer, of trusting in God.  This is why the Church matters, we also need others to assist us, to hold up our arms when we are tired, losing faith.

What do you think is the number one request I receive as a priest?  The number one thing that people ask me, is to pray for them or to pray for a loved one.  As a Pastor, everyday I pray for people of our parish.  Some who have asked me, others who come to mind to me because I know they have some special need at this time.

I also know that one of the great strengths for me, is that there are many parishioners, many people who pray for me each day.  The prayer of others for me is like Moses having the two others hold up his arms.  There is a grace and strength that comes through the prayer of others for us.

This is called the Prayer of Intercession.  To pray for someone else, to intercede for them.  This prayer of intercession is so powerful and so helpful.  It is a reminder that we are not alone in this life, that we are united in this journey, walking together in faith.  Pray for others, become intercessors.  Some people create an actual list, with a list of people they plan to pray for each day.

As I said, as a Pastor, one of the duties I have in my vocation is to pray for the people of my parish.  For those who are parents, one of the duties of your vocation is to pray for your children.  Never underestimate the power of a parent’s prayer, even when you seem to have no answer.

Persevere in that prayer, bother God.  For those of you who are grandparents, your prayer for your grandchildren is so important, it might the only connection they have to the Lord.

You who are teachers, as a Catholic, teaching is a vocation and part of that should be the prayer of intercession for your students.  For those of you who are business leaders, employers, you too should pray for your employees.  All of us should pray regularly for our parish.

The prayer of intercession is very powerful, it is a sign of faith in God and a sign of our unity to others.  When we pray for someone else, it changes us, it changes how we see them.

Intercede for others, like Moses holding up the staff of God to assist the people of Israel. Be intercessors, make the prayer of intercession part of your life.  Yes, bother God, bother God with your prayers.

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Live In Gratitude


28th Sunday In Ordinary Time – Year C

Fr. Mark Gatto

Preached: Ocober 13, 2019

Why do you come to Mass on Sunday?  Probably different reasons for many of you.  Some perhaps find comfort, others find a challenge, others want to focus on the Word of God, others want the presence of Jesus in Holy Communion, perhaps some come because it is an obligation, others come because they are pushed to come by someone, some feel guilty if they do not come.

Lots of different reasons that might motivate us to come.  But, the fundamental reason that should motivate all of us along with any of these other reasons is found in the very name of what we are doing.  We call this the Eucharist.  Eucharist comes from the Greek word which means, Thanksgiving.

We come here to God the Father, with Jesus, united in the Holy Spirit, in the body of Christ, the Church, to give thanks.  Like that one Leper out of the ten who were healed in today’s Gospel, who returned to give thanks to Jesus, we come here to the feet of Jesus and give thanks.  It is that basic and that essential.

Thanksgiving, Gratitude, is the foundation of any healthy Christian spirituality.

It is not possible to be wise unless deep in your heart is gratitude.

The path to holiness is only possible if the key word in your soul is thank you.

We will prepare for our own death in peace if the one prayer that springs from our heart is thank you. When we come face to face with the Living God, we may have many questions, things we wonder about.  But, we are ready for that encounter when the first words that pour forth in the presence of the living God is simply, thank you.

When we look over our life, with its failures, sins, disappointments, plans never achieved, are we still able to respond from the heart, a calm thank you?

It is easy to look at the problems of our world and our own life, to find things to complain about, to see what is wrong with the world, with others, with myself.  But, are we able to see the goodness, able to see with gratitude?

To be truly grateful, to live in gratitude, to see with eyes of gratitude, is a sign of holiness, a sign of wisdom.

Interesting that the two people in our readings today that returned to give thanks and were considered saved by God, were so-called foreigners, those seen as outside the grace of God.

In the first reading it was Naaman the Syrian, in the Gospel it was the Samaritan.  They were not of the right religion, they would have been seen as outside of God’s covenant at that time.  What did each have that saved them?  They saw with eyes of gratitude and they returned to give thanks.  You could say that gratitude was their path to God.

Take a moment of silence:  Close your eyes, think of one thing you are thankful at this moment in your life.  Now in your imagination come to the feet of Jesus and express your gratitude.  Give thanks.

Go out from here, live in gratitude, see with a grateful heart.  Come to the feet of Jesus often in your heart to give thanks.


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What Faith Is And How To Grow In It


27th Sunday In Ordinary Time – Year C

Fr. Mark Gatto

Preached: October 6, 2019

Do you have faith?  At least do you think you have enough faith?  So many people today struggle with faith.  Many feel that they do not have faith or that they have lost their faith or that they are losing their faith.  Many speak to me and they are worried and feel guilty because they have doubts.

Well, the Apostles in today’s Gospel ask Jesus, “Increase our faith.”  It seems that the Apostles also struggled with faith, felt that they did not have enough faith.  Jesus responds that they would only need the faith of a mustard seed.  A tiny seed.

But, it is important that we have a proper catholic understanding of what is meant by faith .

Faith is about a trust, loyalty, holding on when it seems that you are receiving nothing in return.  Any good long term relationship, such as marriage, requires a type of faith, a trust in the other that allows us to stay, to remain, even when things are difficult.

When we are not feeling anything, we stay rooted in this faith.  It is the same with God, with the Lord Jesus.  Our faith is a deep trust in the goodness of God, in the ultimate way of Jesus that leads to fullness of life and the Resurrection.

Sometimes our faith is not about trust, but a sense of entitlement.  That if I go to Mass, if I follow Jesus, if I follow the commandments, then I should get a reward, should receive some benefits.  Nothing wrong should happen in my life.  I should be rewarded with prosperity in this life.

Jesus never promised us any rewards or recognition in this life.  In fact, he tells the Apostles, that when they have done all that they were ordered to do, say “we are worthless slaves;  we have done only what we ought to have done.”

We do not do what is right, what is true, what is good, we do not follow the way of Jesus with the expectation that then we will be rewarded, we will be prosperous, everything will work out exactly as I want in this life.

When we belong to a household, we do not expect to be paid for helping out around the house.  I clean the house, do the dusting, help with the laundry, assist with cooking, but because we are part of a household, we do not expect to be paid like an employee.

So, it is with Jesus, when we unite to Jesus as a disciple, we become part of the household of God.  There is no payment for doing what is expected of a member of the family in this household of God.

As Catholics, our vision of faith embraces faith and reason.  We do not have a blind irrational faith.  St. Augustine speaks about Faith seeking Understanding.  Though faith requires a trust, we do not see the end, it does not mean that we do not strive for a rational faith.  Therefore, faith and doubts also go together.

You do not need to panic or feel you are losing your faith because you have doubts.  We are speaking of a trusting relationship with the mystery of God.  Doubts are normal.  In fact, doubts are an opportunity to go deeper in our faith, to strive to bring our understanding to a fuller level.  Imagine if you still had the same faith as you did when you were 8 years old.

How do we grow in faith?  Three important things we need to grow in faith. – study, prayer,  and concrete acts of love.

We need to study, find good reading, good resources on the internet, to deepen our understanding of our faith, the reasons for our faith.

We need to pray.  Keep praying even when we feel nothing, when it seems empty.  St. Teresa of Avila speaks of going through a long period of dryness in her prayer when she felt nothing.  The key is to remain in prayer even when it seems empty.  For faith is not a feeling.  Just as love is not a feeling.  Faith is a choice, just as a true love is not a feeling but a choice.  Saying yes even when we do not feel anything.

The key to marriage and to priesthood is to continue saying yes even when we go through periods where we feel nothing.  Martin Luther King once described faith this way.  “Faith is taking the first step even when you do not see the whole staircase.”

The third and most useful step to growth in faith is simply to go and love someone in a concrete way.  Simply go and visit someone who is alone, who is sick, who is struggling, and in a very concrete way care for them in love.

So, if you are struggling with faith, if you have doubts, just relax.  Do not panic.  Faith and doubts go together.  Faith, like love, is not about a feeling, it is a choice to remain loyal, to remain even when it seems dark, even when we do not see any immediate rewards.

Faith of a mustard seed is all we need.  But, let that faith grow through study, persevering in prayer and going out to carry out simple acts of love in a very concrete way.

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Are You Uncomfortable? Who Are You Ignoring?


26th Sunday In Ordinary Time – Year C

Fr, Mark Gatto

Preached: September 29, 2019

Are you feeling comfortable right now?  Well, I am not feeling very comfortable.  It seems to me that if we have really listened to these Scripture readings, that they should cause us to be uncomfortable.  There is a saying, I believe it was originally used about journalism, but sometimes I have heard it used with the Bible.  “It is meant to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.”

Well, when it comes to the Bible, we often look for it to bring us comfort.  We just pass by or ignore it when it makes us uncomfortable.  This parable of Jesus in Luke’s Gospel about the rich man and the poor man Lazarus at his gate, is perhaps the most challenging passage in the Bible for me.

In my life, who is the Lazarus at my gate that I ignore, that I do not notice in my life?  What huge chasm exists between myself and the poor within our world?  When separations are created in this life do they continue into the next?

Our world has an economic and political structure that results in many human beings being forgotten, ignored, sitting outside the gates of wealthy society.

Who is the poor Lazarus within our world today?  So much of the third world sitting at the gates of our rich world.

Within our own community, there are various groups of people that are passed by, including children in poverty, autistic, with special needs.  We could say that the environment itself is like the poor Lazarus at the gate of the rich.  We do not even notice it being destroyed, do not care as long as I am comfortable.

We have a world with extreme rich and extreme poor, with powerful and powerless.

The rich man in the parable did not deliberately try to hurt the poor man Lazarus.  He simply did not even notice him, had no idea he was there.  He was apathetic, without concern for him while he had a nice comfortable life.  He did not hear his suffering.

Question for each of us.  Who do I not notice, who do I not listen to, whose quiet suffering do I not hear?

Right in my own family, your children, your spouse, your parents, do we walk by them each day and not even notice their needs, their hurts, sometimes their quiet anguish.  Within our own community, who do I walk by without paying any attention, without any concern?  How many seniors who are lonely and need some care.

I have been interested watching Greta Thunberg, this 16 year old girl, speaking out with very challenging words for our world about our need to care for our earth, as Pope Francis says, our common home.  She is making some of us very uncomfortable, so she is getting attacked by people who prefer to attack her rather than listen to her message.  She is making many uncomfortable.  Just like the Old Testament Prophets, like Amos in our First Reading.  Like Jesus whose story today would have made his listeners very uncomfortable.

Well, we sometimes do the same thing to the Word of God.  It is fine when it is nice and comforting, but when it confronts us, makes us uncomfortable, then we prefer just to ignore it.  Sometimes we need to allow the Word of God to afflict us.  To take us out of our comfortable apathy and indifference.  The parable of the rich man and poor Lazarus should shake us up.

Who in my life, who in this world, are we ignoring, walking past, not hearing their need?

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God or Wealth

Do You Serve God Or Wealth?

God or Wealth

25th Sunday In Ordinary Time – Year C

Fr. Mark Gatto

Preached: September 22, 2019

Who do you serve?  God or wealth?  We have to honestly answer that question to examine our life in the presence of Jesus.  What are you clinging to in your life?  What do you fear to let go of, fear to lose

Hundreds of times I have been with people on their deathbed.  I do not remember once where someone at that time said they wished they had more money.  Not once did someone at that moment say they were concerned with how much money they had left.

At the time of death, what really matters becomes very clear.  At that moment, some people want Confession, they feel the need to be forgiven, to be reconciled with God.  Some feel the need to ask forgiveness of a family member or friend.  They desire for reconciliation with someone when they have had a broken relationship.

Some want to receive communion, to be anointed, to hear the Word of God speaking of the love of God.  Some want to tell their loved ones that they love them, to thank them.  But, money is way down on the list of what matters at the moment of death.  Unfortunately during our life we sometimes put it top on the list, we serve wealth, not God.

If I have money by cheating, by lying, by stealing, if I have money by exploiting employees, who am I serving?

Am I willing to cheat, to lie, for the sake of wealth?  Am I willing to lose relationships with family, friends, fighting over wealth?

How do you use your money?  Do you use your money to bring good to others? Can I buy my way into Heaven?  If I have more money will that bring me eternal life? Does God care about how much money I have?

Serving wealth rather than God leads to great damage in our world.  The great damage being done to the environment, the harm of climate change, this requires us to change our view of wealth.  We need to have concern to care for our common home, this planet we live on.  It will require us serving God rather than wealth.  Are we willing to destroy our environment for the sake of greater wealth?

Serving wealth rather than God leads to great damage to the human family.  The great damage caused by enormous inequality among people.  Leaving so many in less than human conditions.  Homelessness, unemployment, poverty.  Are we willing to leave so many in terrible conditions for the sake of greater wealth?

Who do you serve?  God or wealth?  The fact is that you own nothing?  The day we die we leave everything, none of it goes with us.  Only love remains with us into eternity, so only what we share will remain with us into eternity.

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A Church Of Unconditional Love, A Parish Of Mercy


24th Sunday In Ordinary Time  – Year C

Fr. Mark Gatto

Preached: September 15, 2019

What kind of church do you hope for?  What kind of parish would you want to belong to?  It would be an interesting exercise to let you all give your vision of the church and parish you would want to belong to.  The Catholic Church established 2000 years ago with Jesus, in his teaching and healing, in choosing disciples and apostles, in his death and resurrection, is called to be the Sacrament of Jesus.  It is to reflect to our world the vision of God revealed in Jesus through the Holy Spirit.

In chapter 15 of Luke’s Gospel that we just heard, we have a key vision that the church is challenged to reflect in the world.  The God of Mercy, the God of unconditional love.  The God who is like that father watching and waiting for his rebellious son to return, who received him back with a full embrace and calls all to celebrate.

I hope for a church that reflects this vision of God.  I hope for a parish here that is a place of mercy, of unconditional love.  A parish that reflects that father ready to receive his son back, never rejecting the one who returns.  A Church of Mercy, a Parish of Mercy.

Unfortunately sometimes in history, the church has reflected more the older son, who does not want to receive back the younger son, who is upset by the mercy of the father.  Who chooses not to recognize a brother in this son who has returned.

The vision of the church we hope for and the vision of the parish we hope for will only come about to the extent that I live that vision as a member of the church or the member of a parish.

For most of us here today, that parish is St. Catherine of Siena Parish, with two historic parishes of Corpus Christi and Our Lady of Lourdes.  Soon we hope to begin the construction of a new building to be the gathering place for this parish.

But, we are not just about putting up a church building.  We are to form that living body of Christ that reveals the face of God to our world.  Including that vision of mercy and unconditional love we saw in the parables of Luke 15.

Such a living community of faith requires all of us to work together, to serve together, to pray together.  It is expressed each weekend when we gather to celebrate the Eucharist.

At this time I want to encourage all of us to review how we serve and build up our parish.  One simple basic way that you build up this parish is by your presence to pray here at the Eucharist.  But, any community, like any family, requires people to serve in various ways.

Last weekend at Corpus Christi and this weekend at Our Lady of Lourdes we will be asking all parishioners to review how you are called to serve this parish.  There is a flyer in the bulletin and available at the entrances and it can be found on our web site.  I encourage each of you to review this flyer in a spirit of prayer during this coming week.  Then sign up to serve in some way if possible.

  Review the Stewarship flyer HERE

What kind of parish do you want to belong to?  Begin first of all with yourself.   I have to begin with myself.  How might you be called to serve in this parish?  But, even more fundamental, we must reflect on what type of church are we called to be.

The parables of Jesus in Luke 15 make it clear that the church must reflect the God of Mercy, the God of unconditional love.  We are to be a parish that reflects that father waiting and embracing the lost son when he returns.

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Be Part Of A Great Story


23rd Sunday In Ordinary Time

Fr. Mark Gatto

Preached: September 8, 2019

Do you hate your father and mother, your spouse and children, your brothers and sisters, your life itself?  Jesus speaking to potential disciples says, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate their father and mother, spouse and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and ever their life itself, cannot be my disciple.”

What is Jesus saying?  When we put Jesus first, put God first, then everyone else and everything else can be loved in a right way.  We do not own anything or anyone, not even our own life.  Everything and everyone in our life is gift, we do not possess them.  When we put God first then we can love everyone else in a way that is rooted in gratitude, in a healthy way.

We are all part of a great story.  As human beings we are part of the story of creation.  Beginning perhaps 14 billion years ago with what scientists speak of as the Big Bang.  The beginning of the universe that is continuing to expand in our own time.  About 4 billion years ago life began to form on this planet Earth gradually evolving till we human beings came to exist.

This story of creation is rooted in a passionate act of love, God creating in a mystery of love.  We are all created in this mystery and continue to be part of this great story of creation. As Christians and members of the Church, we are also part of the great story of this God coming among us in Jesus.

As Jesus selected disciples and apostles, as he taught and healed, as he came to his death on the Cross and revealed the Resurrection.  Two thousand years ago a Church came into existence.  It has continued to be the Body of Christ throughout the ages.

Through various empires, kingdoms, governments.  Facing persecution and scandal.  Bringing holiness through holy people, through Saints.  You and I are part of that story.  We continue that long and incredible story today.  Living as part of this Christian story does not happen in some abstract, private way.  It is lived out in the world in a communal way.

We all live it out within community.  For most of us it is within a community that we call a Parish.  For most of us here today, that parish is St. Catherine of Siena Parish, with two historic parishes of Corpus Christi and Our Lady of Lourdes.  Soon we hope to begin the construction of a new building to be the gathering place for this parish.

But, we are not just about putting up a church building.  We are to form a living church, a community of faith, the body of Christ in this area.  Such a living community of faith requires all of us to work together, to serve together, to pray together.  It is expressed each weekend when we gather to celebrate the Eucharist.

At this time I want to encourage all of us to review how we serve and build up our parish.  One simple basic way that you build up this parish is by your presence to pray here at the Eucharist.  But, any community, like any family, requires people to serve in various ways.

This weekend at Corpus Christi and next weekend at Our Lady of Lourdes we will be asking all parishioners to review how you are called to serve this parish.  There is a flyer in the bulletin and available at the entrances and it will be on our web site.  I encourage each of you to review this flyer in a spirit of prayer during this coming week.  Then sign up to serve in some way if possible.

Review the Stewardship Flyer HERE.


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Just Like Us



22nd Sunday In Ordinary Time

Fr. Mark Gatto

Preached: September 1, 2019

I heard the Story of a priest who was visiting a L’Arche community in Europe.  We will call him Fr. Frank.  (L’Arche are communities where people with and without intellectual disabilities live, work, learn, and grow together).  One of the founders was a Canadian, Jean Vanier. This priest who visited there was not a well man.  He was recovering from a nervous breakdown and, although feeling stronger, had not yet regained full health.

On this particular day, the priest who was scheduled to celebrate Mass with the community did not show up.  Fr. Frank offered to help.  The people gratefully accepted and together they began to pray the Mass.  But within a short time Fr. Frank became very nervous and lost all confidence.  He stumbled and mumbled his way to the end of the Mass, feeling devastated and humiliated.  How upset he was to have let the community down in this simple task!  He wanted to run away and hide from the people who saw him in his weakness and helplessness.

After Mass the people came forward and hugged him.  They were smiling and crying at the same time.  They were saying to him that this was one of the most beautiful Masses they had ever been to!  Fr. Frank could not understand their exuberant joy, as he was feeling the opposite.

Resisting their praise, he said, “How can you possibly describe this Mass as you have?”  They replied, “But, Father, you are just like us.  Thank you!”

These people, so often rejected by society, had recognized something of themselves in this priest as he celebrated the Eucharist.  He truly represented Christ among them.

Who feels welcome in our parish, our church?  The elderly, those coming on Darts and with walkers, children even when they are distracting, those struggling with mental illness, with depression, people finding life difficult now for various reasons?

Jesus tells the Pharisee that when he gives a banquet he should “invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.”  This is a symbol of the Kingdom of God, the God who receives all, who welcomes with special care those who seem unable to offer anything in return.

The humility that Jesus speaks about is not about putting myself down, but about raising up others.  To be secure enough in myself that I do not need to put others down.  Then I can be weak in front of others and others can be weak in front of me.  Then we recognize each person as welcomed into the Kingdom of God.  If God receives the other, how can we not receive them?

Our parish, our church, should be a community, a home where all feel welcomed, where all of us are able to be weak in front of each other.  Where all are then lifted up in the grace and mercy of God.

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