Pastor's Messages

September 20, 2020 -  25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

Greetings my brothers and sisters in Christ,

“For to me, life is Christ” - St. Paul to the Philippians

This Sunday’s scriptures challenge us to again affirm that God’s ways are often not our ways. When prayers are not answered or sicknesses are not healed or dreams not achieved, it is easy to blame God, doubt His presence, or abandon His ways. We need to alert ourselves to the fact that God is God, the number one priority in our lives, the way, the truth, and the life.

In the second reading, St. Paul states, “For to me life is Christ.” Is your life Christ? Is everything you say and do Christ-like? Is Christ your foundation, your anchor that holds you firm when you are faced with great struggles and temptations?

For me, as a priest, life is Christ. Every day when I awake from sleep, I give thanks to God for another day of blessing, another day when I will encounter Christ in one another. I feel my life is steeped in Christ, and I am in awe by His beautiful presence in all the different people I connect with, both in joy and sorrow. To acknowledge that Christ is our life, gives us strength and hope for the future. We know we are not alone; we know the Lord Jesus is by our side leading us all forward to the truth in love, the God of Jesus Christ.

On the other hand, if your faith in Jesus Christ is weak, maybe you are on a different path which seems to be going nowhere. Now might be the chance for you to change your ways, and in the first reading, the prophet Isaiah tells us how:

“...turn to the Lord for mercy…. who is generous in forgiving.”

Our Lord God is very generous, more generous than us humans. We constantly reject and abandon people who have sinned, we are very slow to forgive, and we hold grudges for years and years. Often, we want those who hurt us to suffer and sometimes to die for their wrongdoing. This is the society we live in. Many do not acknowledge God and prefer to be God themselves creating and supporting laws which hamper life and love. The God who created the universe, the world we live in, created us in His image and likeness, and we are precious in His eyes. Despite our failures, weaknesses, bad judgments, wayward ways, and sinfulness, if we are willing to turn back to God with open hearts, pleading for forgiveness, our God will forgive us. This is so contradictory to the way many of us live and relate to one another.

The “Christ Mystery” is much bigger than Christianity as an organized religion. If we don’t understand this, Christians will have little ability to make friends with, build bridges to, understand, or respect other religions or the planet. Jesus did not come to create a country club or a tribe of people who could say, “We’re in and you’re out. We’ve got the truth and you don’t.” Jesus came to reveal something that was true everywhere, for everyone, and all the time. --Father Richard Rohr

“God’s ways are not our ways.”

The parable in today’s Gospel of the laborer’s wages is self-explanatory. The landowner is free to do as he wishes with his own money. Despite all of our complaints, God is free to do whatever He wishes with His people. All we have to do is have the courage to trust Him, to not be afraid, and to turn to Him with all our heart, soul, and mind.

This weekend, we acknowledge and give thanks to God for all our catechists and teachers in our parish. Throughout the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the universal Church, we pray for all those willing to share their Catholic faith with our younger generation through religious education in our parish schools and Sunday programs. God bless you all! We also welcome to our Parish community all parish families and members recently registered in the parish. Make this community your Parish family by volunteering, participating and being a voice and presence of Jesus Christ.

Thanks to all who helped in any way with our wonderful celebration of First Communion this weekend. Let us continue to pray for all our children who received, May God bless them all.

In Christ’s Love,

Fr. Gerard

 
 
 
 
 
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