God’s love


Grace: God’s Free Gift


4th Sunday of Lent

Fr. Mark Gatto

Preached: March 10, 2024

Sometimes I feel like an atheist.  When I see or hear the way some Christians speak of God, I think to myself, I do not believe in such a god.  If you were speaking to someone about God and could use only one word, what would you choose?

No word really captures the mystery that is God.  Human language always falls short.  But, we need words to point us to that mystery, to keep us awake to the mystery of God.

One word found in the readings today is the word, Grace.  St. Paul says that “it is by grace that you have been saved.”  Paul speaks of the “immeasurable riches of his grace.”  Grace is free gift.  It is unearned.  Paul says that we are saved through faith and this grace is “the gift of God.”  We do not earn or deserve this grace of God.

Yet, at times we act as though we can earn or deserve grace.  Someone will say, I go to Mass every Sunday, I have not committed any serious sin, I pray regularly, therefore God should reward me, things should go well in my life.  But, love is grace, it is free gift, or it is not love at all.  Love is only true if it is freely offered and freely received.

We cannot bribe God.  God does not demand a bribe from us.  We are loved in grace that is free gift.  We heard that famous passage from John’s Gospel, chapter 3.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”  It goes on to say, “God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”  Why are we so fearful at times expecting that we will be condemned.  God’s will is our salvation.

Where do we find grace?  God is not something in the universe, not one being among things in the universe.  God is the grounding of all in the universe.  God is holding all that exists in this universe.  There is no place where we can go where we are unable to experience the grace of God.  Sometimes people think, I am too great a sinner, I am not praying enough, I have too serious a failing in my past.

There is no environment, no place in which the grace of God is not present.  We just need to open our eyes.  But, as Jesus says, sometimes people love the darkness rather than the light.  Have you ever encountered a family member or friend who has taken a dark turn in life.  Someone married who has become involved in an adulterous relationship, someone who is being greedy and fighting over a will, or someone who has gone down a harmful path with alcohol or drugs.  You might try to speak to that person and shed light on the wrong path they are on.  But, often they prefer to remain in the dark and so avoid the light.

Each of us need self awareness, to be utterly honest with ourselves in letting light to face any darkness in our lives.  Honesty with myself is crucial, to live in light not darkness.

Grace is all around you.  It is free gift being offered by God.  God desires your salvation.  Each day give thanks that you are loved.  Honestly face any ways that are keeping you in darkness, unable to see the immeasurable riches of the grace of God.

When we are speaking of God or sharing our faith with others, hopefully others will experience grace, the utterly free gift of God’s love.

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Do You Reflect The Good News?


First Sunday Of Lent

Fr. Mark Gatto

Preached: February 18, 2024

When people experience your Catholic faith, in your words, in your actions, in your life, do they experience it as good news?  When people experience our Catholic Church, including our local parish, do they experience good news?  In the Gospel of Mark, it says that Jesus came proclaiming the good news of God.

What was this good news?  In Jesus, God was speaking a word of love to humanity.  God was saying, I love you, I forgive you.  God was saying that the will of God is for our salvation, not our condemnation.  In Jesus, many people for the first time were able to believe that they could be accepted by God, embraced by God.

Especially the poor, the tax collectors, women, the lepers, and so many others who had been convinced that they were not worthy, that they were not welcome with God.  Now, in Jesus they were hearing the incredible good news that, yes, God did want to receive them and they too could be welcomed in the Kingdom of God.

Imagine always being told that you were impure, not worthy, not loved by God.  Then you discover for the first time that it is possible for you to be received and embraced and loved by God.

One key word to understand the good news is the word Covenant.  In our first reading today, from the Book of Genesis, we see the Covenant established after the Great Flood between God and Noah and all living creatures.  Marked by the sign of a rainbow in the sky.  Later on we will see other Covenants formed by God with Abraham and with Moses on Mount Sinai.  Finally, in Jesus, God comes to reveal the eternal Covenant binding God to us for eternity in unconditional love and mercy.

We express this Covenant every time we celebrate the Eucharist.  We hear the words of Jesus at the Last Supper, “this is the chalice of my blood, the blood of the new and eternal covenant.”  We use this word Covenant to describe what Christian Marriage is meant to be.  The best definition of Covenant I have heard is simple, “Covenant is the promise to remain.”  This is the good news, God’s promise to remain with us in life and in death with an unconditional love for eternity.

First preaching of Jesus is “repent and believe in the good news.”  People struggle to believe in the good news of the eternal love of God.  Struggle to believe in the covenant of God promising to remain and who desires our salvation and not condemnation.  Many of us find it difficult to believe this good news.  We feel we are not worthy, that we not good enough.  But, Jesus proclaimed good news, revealed the great covenant, the promise to remain by a God who longs for us and loves us.

Our challenge as Catholics, as disciples of Jesus, is to live and speak and be with others in a way that will help them to believe in the good news of God’s Covenant in Jesus.  That God embraces them.  Do people experience this good news in their encounter with the Church, in their encounter with you?

I saw this quote by a minister recently. He said, “Our Christianity should sound like this: ‘the world is full of neighbours to be understood and loved,’ not ‘the world is full of enemies to be feared and conquered.’”  How we live our faith, the way we speak about our faith, the way we treat others, does it reflect  good news?

Reflect good news in your Catholic faith.  Speak to people, speak about people, be with people, in  a way that reflects this undying love of God who promises to remain with us.

Believe the good news brought by Jesus, that God is in love with you.  Then help others to believe that God is in love with them.


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Jesus with Apostles

The Love Of God

Jesus with Apostles

6th Sunday of Easter

Deacon Robin Mendonca

Posted: May 8, 2021

What strikes me about this gospel is the context. That Jesus called his disciples his friends even though this gospel takes place only a few hours before all the disciples either deserted or betrayed Jesus before his crucifixion. And Jesus would’ve known this as well but he chooses to look beyond the betrayal of the apostles and offer them love. And not just any kind of love but the kind of love that he shares with his Father—one that is beyond any human comparison or understanding.

This bond of love between Jesus and the Father IS the Holy Spirit and this love is so intimate and boundless and it knows no limits and its this love that Jesus offers to us. We know that Jesus loves us, however, it’s another thing to experience the abiding love that Jesus has for us. And Jesus gives us the key about how to experience that, it’s by keeping his commandments.

And this is important because knowing the love of God is something that can be lost because we have the freedom to respond to Jesus or not. It doesn’t mean that God stops loving us but that we stop receiving and recognizing that love of God in our lives. It means that we stop abiding in that love.

Jesus uses himself as the example of this. That He too is free to respond or not to the Father’s love but he chooses to offer himself in obedience to His Father.

And then Jesus speaks of “joy” Jesus goes on to speak of the joy that he knows as a result of his absolute obedience to the Father, and the perfect unity they share. Thus, Jesus urges his disciples to choose obedience and to experience his abiding love so that they may also experience this kind of total joy.

Now it doesn’t mean that this joy comes without any type of hardship. Following Jesus is demanding, because we’re not called to simply be spectators, but we’re called to accompany Jesus and pay attention to how he abides in us. And from there, we in turn show others that they are loved by God because we know that love for ourselves. We see Peter do this in our first reading:

Here Peter baptizes Cornelius who is the first non-Jew to become a Christian. Peter knew the love of God for him and he experienced the mercy Jesus had on him despite his betrayal of Jesus. But because Peter abided in Jesus he was able to spread that love. Let us ask God for that grace today: to understand what is preventing us from receiving that abiding love of God.

On another note, today is special day for us to thank our mothers for all their acts of love toward us, big and small. On this day, we have the opportunity to honor our mothers, thank them, and thank God for them.

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Let Us Replicate God’s Love Faster Than Any Virus!


4th Sunday of Lent

Deacon Tom Vert

Preached: March 22, 2020

 “Let us replicate God’s Love faster than any virus!”

Right now, we are all in unknown territory…the coronavirus has been spreading for the past few months causing hundreds of thousands of sicknesses and over 8,000 deaths already with no known anti-viral.

Each day we watch the news, we listen to the radio to see what is happening now both around the world, in our country, in our province and city.   Things change daily with cancellations of events, shutdowns of stores, restaurants, and now church services.  We can’t visit people in nursing homes or hospitals.

We worry as we try to see how this will affect us, our families, friends, and the elderly.  Will it be as bad as China, or Italy where we see so much devastation?

This virus seems to show no end as it spreads through quick replication and stays on surfaces and seems to outwit our scientists, doctors and government leaders.

We know that contact between us is the way it spreads and so now we “hunker down”, self isolate, and quarantine, hoping to slow it down and “flatten the curve” as we wait for the anti-infection scientists to develop a solution to protect us all.

It can be a frightful time, as we realize we have little control over the situation and have no idea when it may end.  How will it affect our health? How will it affect our jobs and our finances?  Can we do anything to gain this control back?  And where is God in all this?  Did He cause this? Why does he allow this to happen?

The readings this weekend can help us with these questions as these questions have been asked for thousands of years as plagues, and diseases and wars have come upon generation after generation of people.

In the gospel we hear a similar question from Jesus’ disciples when they ask: “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

The disciples have this ancient image that God is waiting to punish us somehow when we sin.  He uses blindness or leprosy or other diseases to “make us learn a lesson” so to speak.

But Christ corrects their viewpoint by teaching them: “neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.  We have to do the works of the one who sent me…”

In other words, God is not the God who is sitting waiting to punish us, but instead, he tells us that bad things have always happened over the millennia, but each time they do, God shows a way to shine through the life of his followers.

We are told by St. Paul in the 2nd reading from Ephesians to “live as children of the light, for light produces every goodness…”

In the psalm today, the most famous of all psalms, psalm 23, we have the comfort of God “even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side, with your rod and your staff that give me courage”.

These words tell us that we are not alone at this time of uncertainty, that He walks with us side by side each day.

So how are we to respond and act in these times as “children of the light” and ones called “to do the works of the one who sent me…”

It may seem strange, but we can look at how the virus is transmitted, and it can tell us how to overcome it!

The virus transmits when people cough or sneeze as they spray droplets 3-6 feet away onto people or surfaces.  The droplets survive for 24-48 hours and if touched and then we touch our face or any open spot, it moves quickly into our body and then starts the process of replicating and we show symptoms 5-7 days later.

If a person who is sick (even before they know they are), is in the community, that they can spread it on average to 3 to 4 other people.

So, with no cure right now, the only way to slow down this spread is to ensure that people do not interact with anyone else.  This is so powerful, since it is exponential in growth rate, that even if a person only gives it to 1 or 2 peoples instead of 3 to 4, the overall infection rate will drop by 90%!!!

Well how do we use this information as Christians to help the situation and do the works of God who walks with us?

If the virus slows down by stopping replication, how do we speed up God’s love by increasing the fruits of the Holy Spirit so that its impact may be lowered?

Here are ten ways that we can all help that are practical and spiritual:

  1. We care for “our neighbour” by following the guidelines of the experts for social distancing of more than 6 feet, to work from home and self-isolate as much as possible in order to “flatten the curve”, and to preserve our precious medical resources
  2. We wash our hands as often as possible with soap and water! This was an ancient Jewish law of purification that we can now enhance and use as a way to ensure that we are blocking transmission and again loving others as God loves us.
  3. We buy what we need for our families, and no more! God’s resources of food, soap, sanitizer (and even yes toilet paper) are there for all of us and we are blessed in Canada to have so much!  So, let us ensure every citizen has the same access by calming any tendency to hoard for ourselves.
  4. Let us be people of patience, spending the time at home to enjoy the little things in life, including a shared meal or a time to chat, laugh or play a game together.
  5. Let us build bridges of love by forgiving past transgressions and focusing on strengthening relationships with a phone call, an email, or a social media post.
  6. If we are able, and following all the rules above, can we help a person who cannot get out by buying groceries for them and dropping them off, especially helping the elderly?
  7. Can we spend some time getting closer to God through a daily prayer, or reading or time of meditation, and asking Him to show us, with our gifts, what we may do?
  8. Can we reach out with daily phone calls of encouragement, of positive thoughts and focus on the little pleasures in life to offset the fear and anxiety of the news of the day?
  9. If we are able, can we be people of generosity helping people who may have been laid off or are self-isolating who are having a tough time paying bills and making ends meet to share what we can to “bridge the gap” until times improve?
  10. Can we support the people on the “front lines” with our prayers; whether they are medical staff, or those who still provide us groceries, the pharmacists and the first responders who have to deal with people who are more scared and anxious than ever.

If the virus replicates at a rate of 3 or 4, can we replicate God’s love by a factor of 10 in order to swamp the world with love and joy, kindness and goodness, so that the world will know God still walks with us in this toughest of times, through His children here on earth.

Truly, let us all use our energy and “Let us replicate God’s Love faster than any virus!”


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The Good Shepherd…Absurd! – Fr. David


4th Sunday in Easter – Year B

Fr. David Reitzel

Preached: April 22, 2018

Sometimes I wonder if Jesus knew how absurd some of his parables sounded. Take for example the teaching he gave about not judging. He says, “Why do you point out the spec in your neighbor’s eye when you have a log in your own” (Matt 7:3). It’s ridiculous to imagine a person with a whole log in their eye.

Or what about the sower who went out to sow and threw seeds on rocks, on pathways, in thorn bushes, and some made it to the good soil. Anyone who owned a farm would have told Jesus that person would be fired instantly for being so careless with the seeds. And today we hear another parable that would have sounded absurd to his listeners, a shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep.

I heard of a priest once who was traveling through the holy land when he came upon a shepherd who was walking his sheep to a grazing area. This priest was a little excitable, and when he saw this he was overjoyed that he was actually witnessing a biblical scene.

So the priest went up to the shepherd full of expectation and asked him,

“You’re a shepherd right?”

“Yes,” the shepherd responded.

“Oh how beautiful,” the priest thought. “So that means that if you were to ever lose a sheep, you would go through the fields trying to find him, right?”

“What? No! We’d just count that as a write off. We lose sheep all the time. We budget that in,” the shepherd responded.

“Oh” the priest thought, a little deflated. The priest then tried again asking, “Well, what if a wolf came? Would you fight it trying to protect your flock from being devoured?”

“Do you think I’m crazy?” the shepherd said. “I’m not putting my life on the line. Beside the wolf is only going to take two maybe three of them. We can afford that.”

What the priest hoped would be an uplifting and edifying encounter with a shepherd in Israel turned out to be disappointment.

The shepherd that the priest met, if we want to be fair, was a reasonable man. I mean, if a sheep gets lost, a 1% loss isn’t really going to hurt the business. And if a wolf comes by, I’m sure the wife and children of that shepherd would be happy to hear that he didn’t endanger his life for the sake of some livestock.

This leads us to conclude that when Jesus said that he was the good shepherd – that he lays down his life for his sheep – he was making a statement that was absurd to those who heard him, and even to shepherds today.

But that’s the point. Jesus does not think in the same way as we do. God says, “my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways . . . as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Is 55:8)

Of course Jesus sounds absurd. He is thinking a lot higher than us. The fact the Jesus is willing to lay down his life for us, shows that he is madly in love with us. He doesn’t care what it costs him. He wants to show his love, and he wants to pay the price so that we can be with him in heaven.

No amount of cost benefit analyses or loss gain comparisons can make sense of what Jesus has done for us. That is because Jesus loves us not with the heart and mind of only a human which always considers such things, but with the heart and mind of a God which knows no limits.

For us this can mean many things, but I only want to focus on one. Next time you are thinking about the love of God, stop, and remind yourself that you will never, never comprehend the depth of God’s love for you. God made you, God gave you everything you have, and as if that wasn’t enough he died for you. To spend a lifetime contemplating the love of God would not be enough, that’s why he invites us to experience it for eternity.

Jesus is the good shepherd, and he lays down his life for his sheep. An absurd statement in the eyes of the world, but an act of unspeakable love in the eyes of those who love him back.


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