unconditional love


A Church Of Unconditional Love, A Parish Of Mercy


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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God-so-loved-the world

Grace – Fr. Mark

Fourth Sunday of Lent – Year B

Fr. Mark Gatto

Preached: Mar 11 2018

Someone speaking on parenting once said that there are 3 things a parents needs to teach their children. First, that life is hard. Second, that life is not fair. Third, that life is good.

That life is hard we all learn with time, sickness, suffering of various types, dark moments of life. That life is unfair we also learn with time, injustices, economic disparity, betrayals and so on. But, that life is good requires that we are able to see below the surface, beyond darkness, to see with eyes of faith.

Well known Gospel today, Jesus says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son.” God so loved the world. For we as Catholics, our basic Faith is in the goodness of creation, the goodness of life. Our basic Faith sees Love at the centre of the universe. The love of God which is Grace.

That Grace that St. Paul expresses in our Second reading today. “God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us” even when dead in our sins. Paul speaks of the grace by which we are saved, a free gift of God. The immeasurable riches of his grace in his kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

For us, the world is full of Grace. The free gift of God, which is unconditional Love.

When there is someone who has fallen in love, the whole world seems enchanted. When we truly receive the gift of grace in Christ Jesus, when we allow ourselves to fall in love with God. The world is a place full of Grace. We are able to see below the surface, beyond darkness, beyond suffering and death. We are able to see deeper to the love of God at the heart of all Creation.

So, the Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins can say, “The world is filled with the grandeur of God.”

Listened to a program on Boredom on the radio. Some researchers did study, putting people into a room all by themselves for 15 minutes. There was nothing in the room, no sound, nothing to do. They were asked to remain there in silence and still for 15 minutes. How difficult that was for most people. How long do you go in a day without checking your cell phone? We are so uncomfortable with silence and solitude. We need to find distractions.

But, when our eyes are open to the Grace of God, the whole world, all creation, each person becomes a path to God. Every ordinary thing and moment can become special. This is our Catholic sacramental vision. Everything is a path to Grace.

So, life is good. But, it requires us to see below the surface of things, to see beyond darkness. It requires some times of silence and solitude. It requires us to see all in the vision of that God who so loved the world. It requires us to be open to receive the Grace of God, the free gift of God which we do not earn, we do not deserve, but we simply receive joyfully.

Then we will not be bored, but the whole world and each person and each ordinary moment will be filled with the grandeur of God, full of grace.

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