Pastor's Messages

January 29, 2023 - 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

Greetings my good friends in Christ,

 

What's so special about our scripture readings this week? The Prophet Zephaniah gives us the clue,

   

SEEK THE LORD...

SEEK JUSTICE...

SEEK HUMILITY,

 

and then,

 

“They shall do no wrong and speak no lies; nor shall there be found in their mouths a deceitful tongue.” (Zephaniah 3:13)

 

So easy...so the question is, do you seek justice? What is justice for you? I know all of you seek the Lord. Everyone who comes to church is seeking the Lord, but the challenge from the Prophet is not just to seek the Lord, but to seek justice and to seek humility in everything we do and say. Justice is for those we might wrong by word or action, maybe family members with whom we are not at peace, or a neighbor we do not like. It is a reality in our society that many who denounce illegal immigrants are the first to employ them as a cheap form of labor; is this just? How many justify this sort of behavior?

 

To be just is to always have the eye and ear of compassion for the other who is in need. It is about going that extra step to help another, to lift them up, to respect them with dignity and love. To be just is to be like Jesus Christ who showed us how to love one another unconditionally. How often we attach so many conditions to our loving; we expect something in return. My dogs love me unconditionally. They are always happy to see me, always full of joy, lifting me up when I arrive home, distracting me from my worries, and gifting me with peace.

 

Jesus has the power to transform us all into a new being if we only follow His way. Seeking the Lord, and seeking justice, will make us all the more humble in our approach to one another. Focusing on their need, their pain, their suffering, their dying, and their loss, will awaken us into a new understanding of what it truly means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. How often we shy away from the need! We often see these as obstacles to our relationship with the Lord, when in fact they are avenues to a deeper relationship with the Lord in our midst.

 

The beauty and blessing of seeking the Lord with justice and humility opens us all up to new possibilities. St. Paul confirms this in the second reading, by reminding us that we are just humans, we are not God. He challenges us to see that despite all we have achieved here in this world of ours, it’s nothing compared to the greatness of our God.

 

“Rather, God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, so that no human being might boast before God.” (1 Corinthians 1:27-29)

 

This is humility from God; the very ones we often cast off as nothing are the most precious in the eyes of God. All those babies who never get a chance for life in the womb are great in the eyes of God. Those who are poor, homeless, and dirty are beacons of hope in the plight of humanity. Those who are oppressed and rejected, for whatever reason, are often the ones closest to God and His forgiveness. We have a lot to learn from our God; just seeking the Lord is definitely not enough. Seeking and seeking and learning and learning and doing and doing, all for the Lord is what the Lord asks of us.

 

The Gospel passage is self-explanatory. If we do all those things mentioned there, if you go out of your way to help another who is in need, then the Lord will call us blessed, blessed in the name of the Lord. I know everyone wants to be blessed in the Lord, it’s easy; just do what the Lord asks of you:

 

SEEK THE LORD... SEEK JUSTICE... SEEK HUMILITY.

 

We begin Catholic Schools Week this Sunday. I invite all of you to visit and have a look at the school. Enjoy the experience; you will all receive a warm welcome! Our parish school is a great school. This is truly a blessing for us all as a parish community.

 

Welcome to all our visitors this weekend, for all those of other faith beliefs. God bless you. Blessings upon all the homebound and those living far away. We love you and pray for you.

 

Love,

Fr. Gerard

  

 

“Every time we use religion to draw a line to keep people out, Jesus is with the people on the other side of that line.”
- Hugh L. Hollowell
 
 
Faith Direct

Enrollment in Faith Direct has continued to grow at Our Lady of Refuge. There are now more families participating in electronic giving through Faith Direct’s convenient tool.  When combined with "bill pay" donations, total electronic giving at OLR represents about 27% of the offertory collections. 

 

Giving through Faith Direct lowers the costs associated with our weekly collections by eliminating envelope fees and by requiring less effort to count and deposit money. Electronic giving is a secure way to transmit money while being environmentally conscious. Our parish receives your contribution when you are traveling, sick, or in a rush. Your contribution amount is flexible; as you can give by the week or month and designate donations for specific purposes. It also improves our cash flow and the ability to project our income to match our expenses.

 

Faith Direct enables parishioners to make contributions through either direct debit from a checking/savings account or through a credit card. Now you can apply the convenience of direct debit to your parish offerings in much the same way as you may now use it to make your mortgage, car or tuition payments. This allows you to budget with a ‘set and forget' plan, as the donations recur on a defined schedule.

 

Electronic giving means you do not have to stop at the bank, carry cash or checks, or remember to write a check before coming to Mass. Faith Direct also offers you personalized offertory cards (if desired) to replace your envelopes for the collection basket. You can easily track your giving and know that your donations go directly to the bank. Any time during the year, you have access to records of your donations from both the bank and Faith Direct for tax reporting purposes.

 

For those of you who have yet to consider online giving, enrollment will be a continuing effort.  Please visit the OLR website at https://www.ourladyofrefuge.org/ or visit the Faith Direct website at https://membership.faithdirect.net/CA966. There is a short video and you can read more information about this great way to simplify your giving.

 

As your shepherd, I encourage you to consider Faith Direct. Please help us make our parish financially strong again. Thanks to all of you for your continued support of our parish.

 

 In peace, Fr. Gerard