July 25, 2021 - 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Greetings my good friends,
I have wonderful memories of my childhood growing up in a happy home. As many of you know, my father died when I was 3 years old and my Mother and Auntie cared for me in those early years. My mother and her sister married two brothers, and we all lived next door to one another. It was one big family, with no dividing wall in the garden; we played together, we went to the beach together, and we ate together. After my father passed, my mother worked in the family business. Since I was very little, my Auntie Eily took care of me during the daytime, and at night I stayed with my mother. My Aunty had six children and my mother had four, and often all the meals were at my Auntie’s home.
I often wondered how did my Auntie produce such beautiful meals for so many hungry kids. It amazes me, to this day, that every time we sat down for a meal, there was always plenty of food to eat and some leftovers for another meal! I think mothers have special gifts of producing food, even when there are little supplies. We were always happy during and after the meals.
Today’s first reading and the Gospel speak about two miracles of feeding people with little supplies. In both cases, the people were fed and food was leftover. In Elisha's case, ''twenty barley loaves made from the first-fruits, and fresh grain in the ear'' (2 Kings 4:42) were set before the people to eat. They ate and had plenty and food was leftover. In the Gospel, a large crowd followed Jesus, our Good Shepherd, and He asked them all to sit down on the grass meadow. To the amazement of His disciples, the little boy’s offering of ''five barley loaves and two fish'' (John 6:9) fed the multitudes gathered on that day and ''twelve wicker baskets with fragments'' (John 6:13) were gathered at the end of the meal.
Of course, we know that our Good Lord was involved in these two powerful miracles of feeding people who were hungry, who were like sheep without a shepherd. But we also know that Jesus is our Good Shepherd, Who will not abandon us or leave us to go away hungry. He will feed us with the Bread of Life, strengthen us for the journey ahead, and lead us to good pastures. Notice that Jesus blessed the food in thanksgiving to our God in heaven and then distributed it to the people. This act links us to the Eucharist we celebrate at every Mass. The bread and wine are blessed, we give thanks to God for this offering, and we distribute it as the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. All are welcome to receive this awesome presence of the Holy One of God. All are nourished and strengthened every time we receive the Holy Eucharist. All are lifted up and renewed by the healing touch of Jesus in His Bread of Life.
Jesus wants us all to have plenty. He wants us to realize that He is with us always through the Holy Eucharist, the Bread of Life. He wants us to walk in His ways, to proclaim His message of love and forgiveness for all. He wants us to be generous with our gifts and share from our heart. In the second reading today, Paul shows us how to be Christ-like in our behavior and in our relationships with one another.
We are all called to live lives with ''humility and gentleness''
''bearing with one another through love''
''striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace"
''one body and one Spirit''
''one God and Father of us all'' (Ephesians 4:2-6)
All we have to do is accept this and live it in our lives, every day of our lives. The Good Lord will provide for us, in the good days and the not-so good days. The Lord is always by our side, loving us and caring for us always.
Come to Mass, receive the Holy Eucharist, realize how beautiful this Sacrament is, reverence it, and be it to one another. AMEN!
I am enjoying my vacation. I hope all of you are doing well. Thinking of you and praying for you.
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.
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