mercy

birth-of-jesus

The Mystery And Gift Of Christmas

birth-of-jesus

Christmas 2019

Fr. Mark Gatto

Preached: December 25, 2019

What is God doing?  What is God trying to say to us?

We speak of Jesus as the Word of God.  In Jesus, God wants to speak to humanity.  God wanted to reveal something to us.

What do you think God wanted to say to us in Jesus?  What do you think God was trying to say to us?

This is an incredible mystery and gift.  That the Creator of the Universe, the infinite Spirit, who is God, wants to speak to us human beings.  Jesus is God’s Word spoken to us.

Some things we know about that Word.  First, it was Good News.  In this time of bad news and fake news, what a gift to have God speak to us Good News.  God spoke this word not in a display of overwhelming power, but in weakness, poverty, simplicity.  A helpless baby.

God was revealing the dignity of each human being.  Including the poor, the weak, the outsiders, the sinners, those rejected by so-called good society.

Secondly, this Word is a Word of Mercy.  God did not come to condemn us but to save us and set us free.  So many of us struggle with guilt.  We feel we are not worthy for God.  But, in Jesus, God says something so different.

Recently I had someone come to speak to me in the church.  He had been away from church for a while and felt that he had not lived a good religious life.  He said to me that he was worried about coming to the church because lightning might strike him.

But, the mystery of Christmas is God coming among us, to the outsiders, the so called sinners.  In fact, the powerful, the Pharisees, the Priests, the so called religious elites of the time did not recognize or embrace this Jesus.  It was the poor and the ignored Shepherds who received this Word.

If you consider yourself to be an outsider, not normal, different, a sinner, then that is good, for God in Jesus is speaking directly to you.  My hope at this birth of Jesus is not based on my being a priest, rather it is based precisely on my being a sinner, a human being who struggles.  For the Word of God, the Word spoken to us in Jesus is precisely for us who are sinners, the outsiders.

In Jesus, our God was building a bridge to come over to visit us and speak to us.  In Jesus, our God speaks a word to our hearts.

This Word of God is Good News.  It is a Word of mercy.  In the coming of Jesus, God builds a bridge to reach all of us.  Including those considered outsiders, unimportant, different.  This Word is spoken to each one of you.

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prodigal-son

A Church Of Unconditional Love, A Parish Of Mercy

prodigal-son

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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