Homilies

Homilies

comforting-mother

Images Of God

14th Sunday In Ordinary Time

Fr. Mark Gatto

Preached: July 7, 2019

What is your image of God?  When you think of God, what image comes to mind?  Whether we realize it or not, we are influenced by various images of God.  These images are found in our language, in our prayers, in our ways of praying.  A healthy spirituality requires that we reflect on the images that we hold on to for God.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church is clear that any image or concept of God that we have is always far more different from the reality of God than it is similar to the reality of God.  Our human words always fall short of the mystery of God.  God is mystery, beyond anything that we see and know in created reality.

But we do need images to lead us toward that mystery of God.  In Jesus, we have the presence of God in human form.  So, we can refer to Jesus as the face of God.  As we come to know Jesus we are coming to know God.

In our Trinitarian Christian vision of God, we turn to God as Father.  When we use this image of Father for God, we are not saying that God is male, for God is neither male nor female.  God is beyond this human construct.   God as Father is focused on the relationship in that inner life of God.

Today, in our First Reading from the Prophet Isaiah, we were given another image of God.  God as a mother comforting her child.  Isaiah has God speaking to us, “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you.”  When we turn to God we are able to imagine God as a loving mother comforting us in a difficult time.

It is no wonder that Isaiah that finishes by calling the People of God to “Rejoice and be glad.”  With such a God we should rejoice and be glad.

This image of God as a mother comforting her child is helpful as we celebrate the Sacraments.  In the Sacraments such as this Eucharist, we are being held by God as a loving mother. In our prayer, when we sit quietly and alone with God, we can imagine ourselves being held in the arms of a loving mother.

In Luke’s Gospel we see Jesus sending his disciples out on a mission.  We too are sent out on a mission to proclaim the Good News, to help all people to know Jesus, to come to know the God that Jesus reveals.  We are sent out to joyfully proclaim the God revealed in Jesus.  It is important for us to reflect on the images of God that we have, since we will be sharing that image of God with others.

Today, through the Prophet Isaiah we are offered the image of God as a loving mother comforting her child.  Hear this God speaking to your heart as you go out from here today.

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Two Temptations Christians Face - Homily by Fr. Mark

Two Temptations Christians Face

13th Sunday In Ordinary Time – Year C

Fr. Mark Gatto

Preached: June 30, 2019

What are temptations that are especially dangerous for religious people, in particular for Christians?

In today’s Gospel, we see two temptations that we need to avoid, two temptations that religious people can fall into.  The first temptation is that of making excuses.  We who are Christians, followers of Jesus, easily make excuses to justify our compromises.  We make excuses for not following the way of the Gospel faithfully, for accepting what seems to be an easier way.

As they are on the way to Jerusalem, several persons are called to follow Jesus or ask to follow Jesus.  They each respond with, “Yes, but….”  Jesus does not accept their excuses, does not accept mediocrity or compromises from those he calls to follow him.  He says, “No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

I think of people who will make excuses for not coming to Mass, “I don’t have time, or I am too busy, or I have important things to take care of.”  I can imagine the response of Jesus to such excuses.

But, more important are the excuses we make when our faith calls us to act to oppose injustice, to fight against some evil.  Or when following the Gospel faithfully, doing what is right and true, will cost us in some way.  Then we are often ready to make excuses, to justify our compromises.

Jesus is clear that there are no good excuses for accepting compromise with the truth, with justice, with goodness.

The second temptation for religious people we see in today’s Gospel, is the temptation to a religion that is harsh, condemning, excluding.  As Jesus is going toward Jerusalem with his disciples, the Samaritans refused to receive Jesus.

The response of his disciples James and John was to condemn and exclude them, they ask Jesus, “… do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?”  We see one of the worst temptations of religious people, one of the worst temptations of Christians to condemn, reject, exclude.  But, Jesus rebukes them, this is not the way of Jesus.

A true Christian way that reflects the way of Jesus is about inclusion not exclusion, about embracing not rejecting, about bringing into the Kingdom of God and not keeping out.

So, we who are striving to follow Jesus today, those of us called to be Christians today, we need to examine ourselves for two temptations.  First, the temptation to make excuses, to compromise, to accept mediocrity in living our Faith.  Second, the temptation to a religion that condemns, rejects, excludes.

We are to embrace a Faith that is uncompromising in following the truth, goodness, the way of the Gospel and a Faith that is about inclusion, embracing, opening doors to the Kingdom of God.

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Holy_Trinity

The Holy Trinity: A Vision Of How Humanity Should Be

Holy_Trinity

Feast Of The Holy Trinity

Fr. Mark Gatto

Preached: June 16, 2019

Do you believe in God?  A More valuable question is, who is the God that you believe in?

When we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Trinity, there is a vision of God that is seen. This vision tells us something about God, but also tells us something very important about ourselves.  For we were created in the image and likeness of God.  So, our vision of God is also a vision for how we are to live as human beings.

God is a Trinity.  God is one, yet a communion of persons, unity in diversity.  We human beings are also very diverse.  Different races, different cultures, different ages, different languages, different in many many ways.  Yet, to be like God we are called to live in unity with our fellow human beings, to see ourselves as one human family.

This says something about our politics, about how we see refugees, how we see people of other countries, people who are different from us.  Despite our differences, there is something deeper that unites us.

God is a Trinity.  God is not another being but embraces all.  God is not a distant separate being, God is near to us, among us, embraces everything.  You cannot be away from God.  You might feel far from God, but that does not change that you could not even breath for a moment without the presence of God.

This is the God who came among us in Jesus, suffered, loved, cried, and died.  This is a God who understands intimately the suffering, the struggles, the hungers we human beings have.  This is why you can always turn to God with complete honesty, cry with God, be angry with God, laugh with God.

God is a Trinity.  God is a communion of persons, exists in relationship.  Relationship, connection is the very reality of our universe.  We as human beings are to see ourselves in relationship to everyone and everything.

It is for this reason that we necessarily must care about creation.  All of creation is connected to us, from the smallest life form to the largest life form.  From the smallest plant to the life in the deepest ocean.  We are all connected to nature so must also care for it.

God is a Trinity.  Lives as a community.  So, we human beings are being most like God when we live in community, when we form family.  The family is an image of God the Trinity.  The Church is also called to be an image of God the Trinity.

This offers a big challenge to each of us to try to live in peace and harmony within our families, offers a big challenge to each of us to try to live within the church in peace and harmony like a family.  We are to support one another.

So, who is the God you believe in?  Each time we make that sign of the cross, we are expressing our vision of God.  The God who is a communion of persons, unity in diversity.  The God who is a communion of love.  The God who exists in relationship.  The God who lives in community.

This calls us human beings to be like this God.  Live in unity within one human family including with those who are different from us.  Live in faith, turning to this God trusting that this God is so close to you including in your suffering or struggles or joys.  Live in connection and relationship with all creation, caring for our environment.  Live with others in your family, in the church, always striving to be in peace and harmony.

In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  This simple prayer, expresses so much about God and calls so much from us.

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How To Listen To God's Voice - Homily by Fr. Mark

How To Listen To God’s Voice

listening

4th Sunday of Easter – Year C

Fr. Mark Gatto

Preached: May 12, 2019

Are you a good listener?  I should probably ask your spouse, or your friends, or your children that question.  Listening well is difficult, it is a skill that needs to be developed.  It is not just about hearing the words, it is about hearing deeply into the heart, into the meaning.

Good listening is a key to marriage, a key to any community, and it is a key to a good spiritual life.  In John’s Gospel, Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice.”  Being a good Catholic requires being a good listener.  Are you listening to the voice of the shepherd, are you listening to the voice of Jesus?

Years ago when I was Vocation Director in the Diocese, I had to assist people discerning a possible vocation to the priesthood or religious life.  They struggled to know if this was really a call from the Lord.  But, the difficulty is that this call usually does not come in some dramatic fashion or in a loud voice.  Sometimes people are looking for some sign.  But, the voice of the Lord comes in a much more subtle way, often only recognized in complete silence.

How do we listen for the voice of Jesus in our lives?

Listen to the people in our life:  Your spouse, your children, your parents, your friends, the poor, refugees.  Are we listening to the cry of need in the people within our family?  Are we listening to the cry of need in people within our community?  Jesus speaks to us at times through the needs of others.  Often we who call ourselves Christians are not listening to the voice of Jesus when it is not convenient, when it comes through the disabled, the child with autism, refugees, or one person quietly in anguish within our own home.

Listen to creation:  Jesus is the face of God, the source of all creation.  Therefore, we also able to hear the voice of the Lord in creation.  Latest report indicates that up to 1 million plants and animals could go extinct in the near future.  We know the effects of climate change that we face.  Are we listening to the cry of our earth.  The voice of the Lord is heard in creation as well.

Listen to the Scriptures:  Each Sunday we listen to the Word of God proclaimed in the Scriptures.  Many also take time at home to read the Gospels.  When we are listening to the Scriptures we need to let Jesus speak to our heart.

In Silence:  To listen to someone, we need to stop talking for a moment.  We need to shut off distractions, including our phones.  Inner silence where we stop for a moment is the key to good listening.  Silence is necessary in our life to hear the voice of the shepherd.

Listening is an important skill, it is a great gift we can offer to another person, it is the key to community and family.  Good listening is also necessary to be a Christian.  As Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice.”

Are we listening to the voice of the shepherd speaking to us in the people in need within our life?  Are we listening to the voice of the shepherd speaking to us in the cry of creation?  Are we listening to the voice of the shepherd speaking to our hearts in the Scriptures?  Are we ever silent enough to hear the quiet voice of the shepherd calling within us?

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feeding-sheep

Do You Love Me?

Third Sunday of Easter – Year C

Fr. Mark Gatto

Preached: May 5, 2109

What is the key question for each Catholic to answer?   It is not “what do you know” nor is it memorizing the Catechism.  The key question for each one of us is, Do you love me?  Our Catholic Faith is rooted in a relationship with the living God.  Do you love Jesus?

So, how do we show love?  Not always by words, most importantly it is our actions that reveal love.  By caring for the one we love.  Think of a parent hugging a struggling child.  A grandparent watching for a grandchild.  A friend quietly sitting and listening to a friend without judging.  Much love is shown by actions, by caring for the one we love.

It is for this reason, that after Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me”, he follows that by the call to action, “Feed my sheep.”  This is how we show our love for Jesus.  Peter was asked, “Do you love me.”  Then he was told, “Feed my sheep.”

In the Church, the Bishop of Rome is the successor of Peter, so the Pope has this call to love Jesus and to feed his sheep by his pastoral care of the Church.  Bishops as successors of the Apostles are also called to love Jesus and feed his sheep by caring for the people in his Diocese.  Priests and Deacons are called to love Jesus and feed his sheep in the parish or community where they serve.

Every baptized Catholic, each one of you, is called to love Jesus and to show that love by feeding his sheep.  Some of you do it by caring for your children, or your grandchildren, or your students, or your friends, or the poor, those in need, lonely in our community.

The key question for each one of us as Catholics is “Do you love me?”  We are to come to know and love Jesus.  How do we come to know and love Jesus?  We need to spend time reading the Gospels.  When we are reading the Gospels, we are spending time with Jesus and coming to know him.

In the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist, we are spending time and being embraced by Jesus.   In order to love Jesus we need to come to know him and spend time with him.  Reading the Gospels and being with him in the Eucharist are ways for us to do this.

Then we need to show that love by caring for Jesus in the poor, the lonely, in our families, in our parish, in our community.  When we care for someone in need within our world, we are following the call of Jesus, “feed my sheep.”

So, the key question for each Catholic is, “Do you love me?”  In your heart, meet Jesus asking you that question directly to you, “Do you love me?”  Then we will also hear that call of Jesus, “Feed my sheep.”  For it is not words, but actions that reveal our answer to that question.  When we care for someone in need, then we are feeding his sheep.

Go home this week and spend time reflecting on that question with Jesus, “Do you love me?”  By your life how are you answering that question?

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Guercino-Doubting_Thomas

Be An Instrument Of Mercy, Peace And Healing

Guercino-Doubting_Thomas

Second Sunday of Easter – Year C

Fr. Mark Gatto

Date Preached: April 28, 2019

Like Thomas, we come to Mass each week so that we can touch Jesus and believe.  The first appearance of the Risen Lord Jesus, Thomas is not there with the others and so misses Jesus and does not believe.  The following week, Thomas is there with the others and so he touches Jesus and he believes.  He makes that great profession of faith, “My Lord and my God.”

We come to Mass each week so that we can touch Jesus and believe.  But, our faith calls us to act.

When the Risen Lord Jesus appears to the Apostles, he says to them, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”  We come to Mass to touch Jesus and have faith.  But, then we are sent out by Jesus into the world.

What are we sent to do?

During Easter we listen to the Acts of the Apostles which tells of the experiences of the first believers after the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Today, we heard that people were laying the sick in the street hoping that Peter’s shadow might fall on them.  The Christian community, the early Church, was an instrument of healing.  It made the mercy and healing of Jesus visible and concrete.

Jesus sends us out to be instruments of healing, instruments of peace, to bring God’s mercy into our world.

This past Easter Sunday morning, we saw a terrible act of terrorism in Sri Lanka.  Several suicide bombings, some in Catholic Churches, killing hundreds and injuring more.  The images remind us of the division, the hatred, the brokenness within the world.

Even within our families we find divisions, jealousies, even hatred.  It is clear that our world, our communities, our families, are in need of healing, in need of peace, in need of mercy.

This Second Sunday of Easter is now known as Divine Mercy Sunday.  It is a reminder of the Mercy of God.  Reminder of our need for God’s mercy.  Reminder of the power of forgiveness.

Forgiveness is essential, it is the power of God, forgiveness is necessary for there to be peace in our world, between religions, in the church, within families, in our own hearts.

Like Thomas, we come to this Mass each week to touch the Risen Lord Jesus and have our faith affirmed.  Jesus then sends us out to be instruments of peace, instruments of healing, to bring God’s mercy into our world and into our families.  Our world, our families, each of us, need healing, peace, mercy.

Each of us is called to be an instrument of peace, an instrument of God’s mercy.  Even one act of forgiveness makes the world a better place.  Have the courage to reject hatred, violence, division when our world offers you that path.  Have the courage instead to embrace the mercy and forgiveness of God.  Have the courage to be people and instruments of peace.

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resurrection-of-jesus

Not By Force, Nor Violence, But By Love

resurrection-of-jesus

Easter 2019

Fr. Mark Gatto

Preached: April 21, 2019

Only love can bring true change for good.  In our world, in our church, in our families, in any person.  Only love can bring true change for good.

God did not use force, or violence, or power to bring about change.  In fact, in Jesus we see God letting go of all force, all power, dying on a cross in a way of non-violence.  In the

Resurrection we see the victory of love.  It is not seen in the news, not recognized by most people, yet in the Resurrection we see that love changes and transforms history and our future.

God does not change us or change the world by force or violence or power.  But, through love brings about the change that we celebrate at Easter as we celebrate the Resurrection.

Mary Magdalene is a key person and first to witness to the Resurrection.  As first to experience the Resurrection and to witness to it, she is often referred to as the Apostle to the Apostles.  Mary Magdalene loved Jesus.

So, at his death, she is grieving, sad, lost, she is seen weeping.  Yet, it was this love of Jesus that eventually allowed her to see beyond the suffering, beyond the loss, beyond the darkness.  She meets the Risen Lord Jesus and sees the work of God’s love in the midst of the great darkness of that moment.

You and I as disciples of Jesus are called to change ourselves, to change the world.  We are to challenge and upset the world.  But, not by force, not by violence, not by power.  We Christians must reject violence and force as a way to change others or to change the world.  Like our God, we must only strive to bring change in others or in the world by the way of love.

Many grandparents, parents, spouses come to me sad about a grandchild or child or spouse who is no longer practicing their faith.  They wish they could do something to change this person that they love.  But, I have to remind them that we cannot bring someone to faith by force, by criticism, by power.  I encourage them to pray for that person, pray for them with a heart full of love.  Then love that person with a great love.  For only love is able to bring change and lead people into the heart of God.

Mary Magdalene had such a great love for Jesus, you and I are called to the same deep love of Jesus.  Then like Mary we will be able to see everyone and see all with the eyes of God.  Then we will not become lost in evil, in darkness, in injustice, in suffering, in death.  Like Mary we will see beyond all of these to the love and goodness of God.

The key to living joyfully in this world, even when faced with darkness and difficulties, is to fall in love with Jesus, with your whole heart.  Then you will see in a new way.  The key to assisting others to find God in their life is to love them with all your heart.

The death and Resurrection of Jesus shows us the way of God, that force, violence, power cannot bring about change for good, only love can bring about true change for good.

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one-heart-one-soul-campaign

Let Us All Do A New Thing With One Heart And One Soul

one-heart-one-soul-campaign

Fifth Sunday Of Lent – Year C

Fr. Mark Gatto

Preached: April 7, 2019

“I am about to do a new thing.”  The Prophet Isaiah in our first reading says, “Do not remember the former things, the things of old.  I am about to do a new thing.  Do you not perceive it?”

This weekend is the Kick off for the Diocese of Hamilton One Heart, One Soul Campaign.  Our parish is one of the pilot parishes beginning the Campaign.  This is a great blessing for us since the Diocese is providing all of the resources and administration.  75% of all funds raised by our parish comes to us.  The other 25% will go to special ministry needs in the Diocese, such as university campus ministry, prison ministry, hospital ministry and so on.  For our parish, the funds will go directly towards our building project.

One Heart, One Soul refers to the vision of the early Church in the Acts of the Apostles, where all disciples worked together in unity, sharing all for the sake of the mission.

              “I am about to do a new thing.”

Today our parish is about to do a new thing.  We are part of an exciting mission, bringing together two communities and forming a new parish, St. Catherine of Siena.  We will have the mission of building a new church and facilities that will become a centre of the Catholic community embracing a large portion of south Hamilton mountain.  We will be planting the seeds that will produce much life years into the future.

But, this will require all of us to work together, to pray together, to serve together, and to share together.  The final designs and city approvals for our new church are happening right now.  We hope to begin the building in the next several months.

Therefore, this One Heart, One Soul Campaign of the Diocese of Hamilton comes at a perfect time for our parish.

“I am about to do a new thing.”

I came as Pastor to the newly formed St. Catherine of Siena Parish just over a year and a half ago.  It was challenging at first, but I have to say that I feel very blessed here.  You parishioners have impressed me with your faith, your spirit of prayer, your commitment to your parish.  Thank you for your support, your prayers, your encouragement during my time here.

The new parish we are to form requires all of us to work together as one.  A Catholic parish is called to be the Body of Christ.  To bring the healing, mercy, teaching and Good News of Jesus Christ to a particular area.  That is our mission.

In our Gospel today, the crowd drag a woman caught in adultery to Jesus.  They pointed out that the law allows for her to be stoned to death.  Imagine the fear, the humiliation of this woman.  Jesus calmly gives his famous response.  “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

In the end, Jesus sets her free, with a call to holiness.  Our Catholic parish should be a place not where people experience judgement, condemnation, humiliation, but rather, a place where we experience healing, being set free, and sent out with a new call to holiness.

“I am about to do a new thing.”

As the One Heart One Soul Campaign begins this weekend in our parish, we need to remember what type of parish we are called to become.  A new church and facilities will only be meaningful if we are a parish community that reflects Jesus.

Now, I want to give you some information about this Campaign.

First of all, I am pleased to announce that even before the Campaign has officially started, our parish has already had a great start.  As Pastor I was the first person to make a gift to the Campaign from our parish.  Because I feel that I could not ask anything from you if I first of all did not commit to this myself.  Also, because I have come to see what a wonderful mission we are involved with in the future plans of this parish.

Since that time though we have received one large donation that put us over $100,000.  Also, a number of the volunteers working on the Campaign for our parish have already made their pledges.  So, even before beginning, our parish is on its way to a very successful Campaign.

In the coming week, all registered families will receive a campaign packet in the mail.  In the packet you will receive the following:

Case Statement:  this explains the goals of the Campaign for our parish.

Request letter:  This letter will request a specific amount to pledge to the campaign.  The amount that is requested is simply a request.  Do not feel hurt if it seems too high or too low.  You are to reflect on this and pledge what you consider possible.  The request is an invitation, not an expectation.  Whatever gift you make will be received with gratitude.

A group of volunteers have been asked to reach out to some parish families to invite your participation in the Campaign.  They are your fellow parishioners, please receive their calls warmly.  It is not an easy thing to do to reach out for such a campaign.  The volunteers do not know what amount you have been asked to consider.  They will not know what you pledge, unless you tell them.

Unfortunately we do not have enough volunteers to reach out to every household, so most of you will receive a pledge card with a stamped, return envelope in your packet.  Please return these in the mail as soon as you are able.

If you do not receive an appeal packet in the mail, please let us know at the parish office so we can get one to you.  If you are not registered in the parish, now is a good time to be registered.

If you have any questions about pledging or the campaign, feel free to speak to me, Fr. Ross or the secretaries in our office.

I certainly encourage everyone to participate in this campaign, even if it is praying for the success of our effort.  Every day I pray for this parish and for you parishioners.  Hopefully each of you will also offer a prayer each day for the parish.

In the entrance of the church there is a banner with the logo for the One Heart, One Soul Campaign.  Once you have made your pledge, sign that banner to indicate your support.  There is no necessary amount to sign the banner.

I encourage you to go to the One Heart, One Soul Campaign web site.  You can find it by going to our parish web site.  In particular, I encourage you to watch the video that is very inspiring.

“I am about to do a new thing.”

Our support of this Campaign will be a sign of our desire to join in the new thing that God is doing right here in our community, in our parish.  We are to join in this new thing with one heart and one soul.

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Prodigal_son_by_Rembrandt_(drawing,_1642)

Do You Believe In God’s Merciful Love?

Prodigal_son_by_Rembrandt_(drawing,_1642)

Fourth Sunday Of Lent – Year C

Fr. Mark Gatto

Preached: March 31, 2019

”This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”  This is probably not a passage of scripture you have prayed with before.  But, I say it would be a good one for us to spend some time reflecting upon.

This was an accusation against Jesus, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”  When someone says they do not go to Mass because there are hypocrites there, or when someone says these people should not be at church because they are bad sinners, this line about Jesus stands out for me.  “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

What was Jesus like?  What image of God did he reveal?  What about us Catholics today, what about our parish?  It should be a compliment if someone accuses us of welcoming sinners and eating with them!  In fact, that is what we are doing right now.

During this time of Lent throughout the world and in our parish, there are many adults who are preparing to enter the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil.  Well, what should someone know to become Catholic?

Perhaps they should know certain common prayers, know about the sacraments, Catholic moral teachings, the bible, key doctrines such as the Trinity, Jesus and so on.

I would say that knowing all of these things are useless unless they know one key thing in their heart.  That they are loved by God, that they are a beloved child of God.  Have they embraced the vision of God that Jesus reveals in this parable of the Prodigal Son?  Jesus is saying that God is like the loving, merciful father in this parable who is always ready to receive us.

A person could study theology, know the Catechism of the Catholic Church by heart, memorize the Bible, but if they do not know in their heart this God of mercy then it falls short.

Do you know that you are the beloved child of God, are you able to accept all others as sons and daughters of God?  The failure of the older son in the parable is revealed in the end when he says to the Father, “when this son of yours returns… “  He no longer is accepting the son as his brother.

A Catholic is not just someone who believes in God, but someone who believes in this God of boundless mercy.

What do you think is the hardest part about being a priest?  In my experience, the most difficult thing about being a priest is to help people to believe that they are loved by God, a son or daughter of God, that God is ready to receive them with open arms.  Like the lost son, many of us feel we are not worthy, surely God could not receive us back.

The second hardest thing about being a priest is to help people to believe that all others are loved by God!  Like the elder son many of us are not able to recognize a brother or sister in certain people.

How many in our world are starving, longing for true love, to be understood, so many are empty inside. Like the son who left who was in a foreign land, hungry, alone.  No one cared about him. We can always turn back, to be received by God, to our true home.

St. Paul says we are Ministers of Reconciliation.  We are to help others to know the God of Mercy. Which God do others see and experience in us?  God needs us to show the face of the loving father, the God of Mercy, help make the loving God of mercy known.

My father’s  only advice and last advice to me before his death about the priesthood.  “Be kind to the people.”  Why?  Probably he experienced a priest who was not kind to him.  How many are not Catholic, have left the church, because they experienced a priest or a Catholic who did not reveal the face of the loving God of mercy?

So, it is a good thing if people were to say about you as a Catholic or about our parish,   “They welcome sinners and eat with them.”

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burning-bush

Patience And Mercy – The Way Of Our God

burning-bush

Third Sunday Of Lent – Year C
Fr. Mark Gatto

March 24, 2019

In New Zealand,  a white supremacist terrorist attacked two mosques killing about 50 Muslims. Like most terrorists, he probably thought that he was doing a good thing. That this use of force and violence was justified in his mind.

The thinking that justified this extreme use of force and violence is unfortunately often embraced by leaders in our countries, often embraced by people within families. The idea that force and violence are justified in certain circumstances. But, we need to be clear that this can never be seen as the will of God. Force and violence are not the way of our God.

God is a gardener. Well, Jesus uses a parable in which God is like a gardener. There is a fig tree that has not been producing figs. So, the owner wants to cut it out and not waste the soil on it. But, the gardener says to give it one more year and he will dig around it, and put manure on it, and give it another chance. When Jesus says God is like a gardener, what is he saying about God?

God is patient. God is merciful. God’s gentle mercy and incredible patience. We human beings are not so patient with one another, we are very quick to judge, to condemn, to punish, to want to get rid of those who fail or oppose us. But, God is patient and full of mercy. God offers chance upon chance, offers mercy upon mercy.

We also heard in our First Reading today, the encounter of Moses with the Holy One in the burn-ing bush. Moses removes the sandals from his feet out of reverence for the Holy Ground he was on in the presence of the Holy One. After Jesus, we recognize each human being is Holy Ground. The Holy One, God the Creator, is present in each human being.

Therefore, we are to encounter each human being as though we were on Holy Ground, in the presence of the Holy One. As Moses encountered God in that burning bush, we are to encounter God in each person we meet.

As Catholics, when we enter a church, we look for the Tabernacle, and we genuflect as a sign of reverence. Before the Tabernacle we are on Holy Ground, in the presence of the Holy One in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

Imagine if we Catholics genuflected before each person we met. If like Moses we removed our shoes as a sign of being in the presence of the Holy One. It is not practical for us to genuflect before each person we meet as we do to the Tabernacle. But, imagine if in our heart we genuflected to reflect reverence in the presence of the Holy One. How would we treat one another?

God is like a gardener who gives us another chance, chance upon chance. Jesus reveals God as the God of mercy upon mercy. The use of force and violence does not reflect the way of God.

Like Moses removed his sandals on the Holy Ground in the presence of the Holy One in the bur-ing bush. Catholics genuflect on the Holy Ground in the real presence of the Blessed Sacrament in the Tabernacle.

Today, we need to genuflect in the presence of each person we meet, for each person is Holy Ground where we can encounter the Holy One. It is not force and violence that is needed, it is an attitude of mercy upon mercy.

 

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