May 9, 2021 - Sixth Sunday of Easter
Greetings my good friends,
In the Acts of the Apostles, our first scripture reading today, read what it says about our God: “God shows no partiality, rather in every nation, whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.” This statement was a confirmation that God doesn’t choose one over the other like we often do, as we judge others and reject them. The early circumcised believers of the Risen Lord were shocked that the same Holy Spirit was being poured down upon the Gentiles in their presence. Know that at the time of Jesus, Gentiles were not Jews, nor were they circumcised and so seen as unclean. But here we have Gentile believers of the Risen Lord in the midst of Jewish believers of the Risen Lord, and both experience the same gift of the Holy Spirit. So, God has no favorites! God welcomes all. So, if God is willing to welcome all through the power of the Holy Spirit, why do we create barriers, obstacles, judgments, and rejections of our brothers and sisters? Why not put our total trust in God Who knows more than our own hearts and minds?
In the second reading, St. John shows us how: “ Let us love one another because Love is of God.” Love is the key. How do we love like God? To love is to take risks, to love beyond the borders, the walls, the faith traditions. To love is to do kind acts without conditions, not expecting a return, to love from the heart. To love is to have the courage to speak the truth and not to be afraid.
Today’s Gospel is the one that I chose for my first Mass as a newly ordained priest. Love is the basis of my ministry as a priest. I try and love to the best of my ability. Of course, sometimes I fail, we all do from time to time, but having the courage to get up again and do what is pleasing to God is my goal in life.
Why is it so difficult to love like GOD? It sounds easy when we read it in the scriptures. Actually, it brings this good feeling within us, LOVING LIKE GOD LOVES US, but to practice it on a daily basis is very difficult. How often do we have great intentions and then fail in a moment, and return to our old ways of not loving, not caring, and not uplifting, but rather judging, condemning, and rejecting? Still, we justify these actions and think we are following the Way of the Lord -- what a contradiction!!!
The great command of Jesus is to ''LOVE ONE ANOTHER.'' (John 15:12) It is as simple as that! Why does it cause so much frustration and so much discussion? “Love one another.” Why not try?
LOVE ONE ANOTHER TODAY, TOMORROW, AND EVERY DAY. AMEN.
Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers of our parish community. God bless you for all of your faith and the love you share with us all. We love 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