This Week’s Message
Because God Loves Us
By Father Richard Rohr, OFM
God does not love us because we deserve it but because we need it. Does that sound startling? It shouldn’t. If there is one prime idea in the Bible, it is God’s undeserved love for what he has created. There is no accounting for God’s love. It is not earned. There is nothing we can do to attain it or lose it. All we can do is surrender to it, trust it, and let it flow through us. The significant differ- ence in this world is not between those who are worthy of God’s love and those who are not. In truth, we are all unworthy to various degrees. The significant difference is between those who know and enjoy God’s love and those who do not. God does not love us because we are good. We are good because God loves us. That is a major transformation of consciousness! It moves us from life as an obstacle course to life as a banquet to be eaten and shared.
We may be uncomfortable with this truth, especially if we think in terms of a merit system where we can change God’s feelings about us by doing good or evil. We cannot absorb this good news through conventional thinking, but rather the gospel must eliminate our attitudes of merit, reward, and punishment. Before conversion, we often view God as a parent who controls, punishes, and rewards according to legitimate criteria. But God’s love doesn’t work that way. We can never keep our side of the bargain, measure up, or be good enough. But that does not keep God from loving us. This is what makes the Bible extraordinary and different from other literature. It con- veys the great and central theme of grace: God’s unearned favor is his steadfast, unilateral cove- nant of love. The merit system has been destroyed once and for all!
Human love depends upon the merits of something or someone: Is a person worthy of my love? Is he or she attractive? It’s because we find something good and beautiful that we are attracted to it. That’s the only way we know how to love. God’s love, however, is different because the object does not determine it. It is determined by the subject, God’s self. By loving us, God is being true to God’s self — not working out some arithmetic about our degree of worthiness. Perhaps nowhere in the Bible do we see God’s covenant love manifested more than in the recurring theme of the free but resented banquet. For example, in today’s Gospel (Matthew 22:1-14), the king sends his servants to call everyone to a wedding feast. Note the symbolism of loving union. But one by one, the invited guests make excuses. They are not interested. The master becomes furious and sends out his servants again, this time into the main roads to invite ‘whomever you find’, bad and good alike. The banquet hall is finally filled, not with the ‘worthy’ but with the willing.
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus invokes banquet symbolism on many occasions. Along with the little child, it seems to be his primary metaphor. He eats with sinners, invites outcasts to share a meal, does not wash his hands or the food, and allows a woman to dine at a symposium for men. He always expands the meaning of the table, even breaking social conventions to communicate the hospitality and inclusivity of God. If we are grateful and confident in God’s grace, we will spend our lives trying to give back to others what has been given so graciously to us and invite all of God’s children to God’s table.
Note: Father Richard Rohr, OFM is a Franciscan friar and Roman Catholic priest who was ordained in 1970. In addition to being a best-selling author, Father Rohr is an internationally known retreat director, spiritual director, and social activist. He is also the founding director of the Living School for Action & Contemplation. His books include: “Breathing Under Water: Spirituali- ty and the Twelve Steps”, “Fall Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life”, and “Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Saint Francis of Assisi.” If you enjoyed this week’s message, check out Bringing Home the Word! A new edition is posted here every week!
Respect Life Month
Be Not Afraid: A Vigil for Life
Friday, October 27th
The Roman Catholic Church professes what is called a “consistent ethic of life” because we believe that every human being is created in the image and likeness of God; and that Jesus Christ suffered, died, and is risen for all of us. In this way, every person, without exception, is sacred and loved unconditionally by our God who is Master of the Universe and Creator of Heaven and Earth. In 1971, Eileen Eagan (1912-2000), founder of the organization that would become known as Pax Christi USA, first likened this consistent ethic of life to the “seamless garment” that Jesus wore but was not torn by his executioners (John 19:23). And in 1984, Cardinal Joseph Bernadin (1928-1996), Archbishop of Chicago, delivered a series of compelling lectures that gave full voice to the Church’s belief in the sanctity of every human life from the moment of conception until natural death.
Cardinal Bernadin, a soft-spoken and deeply prayerful priest, spoke initially against the legalization of abortion and the proliferation of nuclear weapons. But he soon expanded the scope of the “seamless garment of life” to include assisted suicide, capital punishment, education, euthanasia, health care, poverty, gun violence, and unjust war. Cardinal Bernadin argued that although each of these issues is complex and different, they are also linked because the intrinsic value of human life is at the center of each one. He said: “When human life is considered cheap or easily expendable in one area, eventually nothing is held as sacred and all lives are in jeopardy.” In light of this week’s horrific tragedy in Las Vegas, these words are especially true.
Each October, the Roman Catholic Church prays in a special way for the respect of all human life. This year, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has chosen “Be Not Afraid!” as the theme of a month of prayer for all human life. Through this program, Church seeks to remind parishioners, political leaders, and policymakers about our obligation to respect every human life. Throughout October, all are encouraged to join in prayer for the protection of all human life:
Father and Maker of All,
you adorn all creation
with splendor and beauty,
and you fashion human lives
in your image and likeness.
Awaken in every heart a reverence
for the work of your hands,
and renew in your people a readiness
to nurture and sustain your precious gift of life.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ,
your Son, who lives and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
In solidarity with Pope Francis, Cardinal Sean, and the Roman Catholic Church throughout the world, all are invited to join us for “Be Not Afraid: A Vigil for Life” on Friday, October 27th in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. We will begin at 12:00pm with Daytime Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. Throughout the afternoon, all are welcome to join us in silent prayer and adoration of the Real Presence of Christ Jesus. At 3:00pm, we will pray a Rosary for Life in answer to the Holy Father’s call to reach out and respect our most vulnerable brothers and sisters. Our Vigil for Life will conclude at 5:00pm with Evening Prayer and Benedic- tion of the Blessed Sacrament. For more information about the Vigil for Life, please contact Father Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us for all or part of this special afternoon of prayer. All are invited! All are welcome!
Holy Family Women’s Guild
Salty Frank’s Fundraiser
Thursday, October 19th
On Thursday, October 19th and Friday, October 20th, all parishioners, friends, and guests of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport are invited to join the Holy Family Women’s Guild at Salty Frank’s (which is located at 6 Rogers Street in Gloucester). From 2:00pm until 8:00pm, our good friends at Salty Frank’s will donate 10% of all proceeds to Holy Family Parish! So, please invite your family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers for a delicious hot dog, lobster roll, ice cream dessert, or other take-out menu items! All are invited! All are welcome!
Holy Family Women’s Guild
Christmas Fair Basket Wheel
Now Accepting Donations!
The Basket Wheel is the biggest “money maker” at our Christmas Fair, which is scheduled for Saturday, November 18th and is the biggest fundraiser of the year at Holy Family Parish! The great success of the Basket Wheel depends on donations from our parishioners and friends! So, all are encouraged to create and donate a $25 theme bas- ket for crafts, kids, family nights, movie nights, snow days, holiday gift wrapping, or summer barbecues! Creating a basket can be both fun and inexpensive when families, friends, and neighbors work together in support of our parish! Last year, more than 120 baskets were donated and won at the Basket Wheel! Donations are now being accepted! Please help us keep the Basket Wheel spinning and make this year’s Christmas Fair a record-breaking success! For more information about the Holy Family Women’s Guild and its good work in our parish, please contact Lydia Bertolino at email@example.com. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
Heartsavers CPR Course
Saturday, October 21st
Irene Kerr, a certified CPR instructor, longtime friend of our pastor, and member of the Assisi Project, has generously offered to teach the American Heart Association’s Heartsavers CPR Course to parishioners and friends of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport. Upon completion of this three hour course, participants will receive a certification from the American Heart Associa- tion in CPR and other lifesaving techniques. The course will be offered on Saturday, October 21st from 9:00am until 12:00pm in the parish center (located at 74 Pleasant Street in Gloucester). The Heartsavers CPR Course is free but limited to just six participants. Please note that you must register in advance. Please also be advised that the course is fast-paced and involves some strenuous physical activity. If you would like to enroll in this special course, please contact Cliff Garvey at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us!
Established in 2014, the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport is a collaborative of two historic parishes: Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. Working together as a Roman Catholic community united in prayer, fellowship, and service, we are committed to living the Gospel of Christ, sharing God’s love and mercy with all people, and rebuilding the Church in Gloucester & Rockport. All are invited! All are welcome! Always!
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