love

Adoration_of_the_sheperds_-_Matthias_Stomer

God Has Spoken

Adoration_of_the_sheperds_-_Matthias_Stomer

Christmas 2020

Fr. Mark Gatto

Posted: December 25, 2020

Luke describes a vision of shepherds going in haste to see something special.  A multitude of Angels were praising God singing, “Glory to God in the highest heaven,…”  It all seems like such a wonderful, magical moment.  But, what we see is such a simple, ordinary and very human scene.  A mother, a father and a weak new born baby.

The Word became flesh.  A child was born among us wrapped in swaddling clothes.  In this little baby, the God of the universe, the God who is beyond all and embraces all, wanted to speak to humanity.  God entered our history and time, became one of us, to speak a word to us.

So, we speak of Jesus as the Word of God and sometimes speak of Jesus as the face of God.

The invisible God was made visible in our midst.

In Jesus, the Word made flesh, what has God spoken to humanity?  Here are a few words that capture some of the ultimate Word that God spoke to us in the coming of Jesus:

Love.  That God is love and that we are loved by this God and that we are all called to live a life of love.  We are all connected in a love beyond anything we can imagine.  Wherever there is true love in this life, we are connected to God.  It is love that keeps us connected to those who have died and gone before us.  Love and connection is the foundation and basis of our universe.  God’s Word is a word of love.

Human dignity.  St. John Paul II once described Christianity as “an attitude of amazement at the dignity of the human being.”  We need to recognize our own dignity, each one of us has a dignity rooted in God.  Therefore, we need to treat each person in this life with a sense of their dignity.  The homeless, the poor, those of other religions or no religion, each member of our family, each friend and each stranger.  The dignity of each human being should be the guide to every decision we make politically, economically, personally.  How we respond to refugees, to people of other nations and to each neighbour.  God’s Word reveals our human dignity.

Forgiveness.  So much guilt can afflict us, but God has spoken a word of forgiveness.  God is so generous in offering forgiveness.  God is extreme, even seeming foolish in offering forgiveness.  God wants to overcome evil, not by force or violence, but by wiping it out through forgiveness.

This should lead us to make forgiveness the heart of our way of life, our spirituality.  In fact, we recognize that call to forgiveness, in order to be like God, each time we pray the Lord’s Prayer.  God’s Word says to us, “I forgive you.”

Poor.  The rich and the powerful and the famous are not worth more than the poor, the weak, the unknown.  God sees beyond all of our world’s ways of judging.  God did not come as a powerful force to dominate and control the world.  God came as a poor little baby with no power at all.  For the God of the universe does not desire to control us but to set us free.  God’s Word is a word to the poor, including the poverty in each one of us.

The final word that I will use today that captures something of that Word of God spoken in Jesus, is the word, Kind.  This is a God who is everlasting kindness.  When we are kind, we are being like God.  When I decided to become a priest, my father only had one piece of advice, “be kind to the people.”  It seemed so simplistic.  Yet, the choice to be kind makes a big difference in our world.

Think about your own experience.  During your day, when one person shows you kindness how does that make you feel?  But, if one person shows you unkindness during the day, how does that make you feel?  A kind word or a kind act can make such a difference.

God’s Word is a word that says, Be Kind.

In Jesus, the Word of God, our God has spoken to humanity.  The words I shared here capture some of what God wanted to say to us.  Take some time to think about what other words you would include in this story.  Someone once asked, “what is the most valuable prayer of Christmas?”  His answer was, that the most valuable prayer of Christmas is Silence.

This Christmas, take a moment of silence, listen in your heart to the word God has spoken in Jesus and listen within for the word spoken to you.

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fraternal-correction

Fraternal Correction

fraternal-correction

23rd Sunday In Ordinary Time

Deacon Robin Mendonca

Preached: September 6, 2020

Introduction

So my friend, John, was telling me a story about a trip he had taken from London to Niagara Falls. This was shortly after he had received his driver’s license and so there were 6 of the them that decided to go to Niagara Falls to spend the day. So in one car we had John, the new driver and Daniel, who had been driving for a few years was following him.

John recalls that while he was driving down the 401, Daniel suddenly changed his lane, and sped up so as to pass John. Now John thought, as young guys usually do, that Daniel wanted to race him so he also sped up and he wouldn’t let Daniel overtake him and get in front of him. Finally, Daniel managed to get in front of John and slow him down and exit into an On Route rest stops. Daniel got out of his car and went up to John and just said,  “Hey John, can’t you see that there is a problem with your car? It seems like your car is off balance. And they quickly discovered that one of the front tires was losing air and was almost deflated. So together they both changed the tire and went on their way safely.

But it’s it ironic how when Daniel was trying to help John, to stop him from getting into an accident, John thought that he was trying to compete against him. John couldn’t see the problem but Daniel could and was trying to help prevent a big accident

Charity requires fraternal correction

I bring this up because our gospel today is all about building the Church which is intended to be a community of charity. And an important part of charity is fraternal correction, correcting our brothers and sisters when they seem to be losing their way. Because at the time Matthew wrote the gospel, the church was on its own, no longer a part of the Jewish community and so this NEW community needed guidelines for its life together and in this particular gospel of Matthew, we have an important guideline emphasized.

You see, faith in Jesus and his teachings are the basis for this new community and so believers will have to live in a way that reflects their founder and since Jesus revealed a forgiving and compassionate God, the life of the community must do the same. And when someone is wandering down a path of destruction, or a path that takes them away from being like their founder, there comes a point where some type of a conversation might be necessary so they don’t end up in an accident kind of like Daniel and John.

But I must say that when it comes to correction, there are two extremes that exist in our society and it’s a bit of a paradox because on one hand, is this societal attitude of non-judgmentalism. For example, one might say: “I have my own way and my philosophy, so who are you to tell me what to do; no one can judge me.”  At the same time, another attitude that is also prevalent is hyper-criticalism. Society can be so critical of anything and everything. There are all kinds of criticisms that end up destroying others’ reputation with bitterness, anger and condemnation. This is extremely prevalent in social media and politics.

Jesus shows us a different way

But Jesus shows us a different attitude. And that’s the attitude of taking responsibility for each other. Jesus invites us to share our responsibility for one another and that correcting our brothers and sisters is something that must be done out of charity and love. Because to love is to desire the good of the other. Love doesn’t mean that we always approve of everything that other people are doing. In fact, in our First Reading the Lord reminds Ezekiel, and us, that it is our moral responsibility to warn a brother or sister if they are doing something evil.

But the attitude we have when we do this must be one of charity, not of superiority.   Some people correct others because they are busy bodies. Others, like the self-righteous Pharisees, engage in correction in order to exalt themselves by putting others down. However, we are called as Christians to intervene out of love. Love for God and for each other.

Correction from a practical standpoint

Therefore, we need to pray for each other first and from there the Lord invites us to enter into a dialogue. Today’s society tends to try and resolve disputes through rules and regulations, lawyers and courts, fines and penalties. BUT Fraternal correction requires us to first enter a respectful and sincere dialogue with each other in which we truly listen to the other person.

And lastly, we need to be aware that the good of one member is also the responsibility of the whole community. The good of a parishioner is also the responsibilities of the whole parish. If we arrive at an impasse, then the Lord invites us to be patient and to pursue their good by bringing others to help us with that.

Conclusion

All of this requires wisdom and prayerful discernment and a willingness to cooperate with each other, kind of like Daniel and John. Daniel not only pointed out that there was a problem, but he stuck around to help John through the problem. Let us ask today for this type of wisdom and grace from the Lord. To love as He loves.

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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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