Free To Serve


1st Sunday Of Lent

Fr. Mark Gatto

Preached: February 26, 2023

Jesus was truly free. In overcoming the temptations in the desert, Jesus was remaining free. Jesus was not a slave to the need to have power over others, not a slave to the opinions of others, not a slave to wealth, money and possessions.

St. Catherine of Siena was also someone who was truly free. Her deep union with Jesus, her love for Jesus, led her to be courageous, to be utterly free. Jesus and St. Catherine were free in the true sense of being free. Not free to do what they wanted in a selfish way. They were free to love, free from being controlled by the opinions of others and free to give their life for the sake of others. They were free to serve.

Are you free to serve? As Catholics, we are called to live within community. We are not individualistic, not just doing my own thing with no consideration of the common good. We have the best chance of being faithful and free if we remain connected to a community. For most of us one Catholic community we belong to is our parish.

This weekend we are having a Stewardship focus to reflect on ways that we live and serve within our St. Catherine of Siena Parish. It is the union of two former parishes and some time this year we will be moving in to a new church. But, a parish is not a building. It is the local body of Christ, it is the gathering of the People of God.  A parish is as vibrant and alive as the members of that parish.

Today you received a Stewardship reflection sheet on the way into the church. The front has a saying called, “This is My Parish.” Let us say it together.  It highlights that each of us is called to look at how we serve in building up our parish.

\We are to reflect on how we contribute to our parish financially in our Sunday offering. Each of us should review what we contribute and see if I could offer even a bit more. But, today I am not focused on financial contributions. Rather, we are looking at our various ways of serving as a member of this parish.

This includes many of our seniors who are shut-ins and unable to come to the church. I know that many of them serve our parish by their prayers. Each of us should make an effort to pray for our parish. Those
shut-ins praying are a great foundation of our parish.

Young children are also a great gift to the parish. Though they may be too young to do anything in service, just by their presence among us on Sunday, they are a reminder of Jesus telling us that we need to be like children to enter the Kingdom of God.

I now encourage all of you to reflect on ways you want to serve in our parish, especially as we prepare to enter our new church building. Let us walk through this Stewardship Pamphlet together. ( Where are you called to serve?

My favourite quote from St. Catherine of Siena is the following: “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” St. Catherine is a great model for each of us. Follow God’s plan for you. If you do that you will make a real difference in the world.

You will become truly free as Jesus was free. Be free like Jesus, be free like St. Catherine of Siena. Be free to serve.

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