This Week’s Message
The Uncomfortable Gospel?
By Kathy Coffey
It may be a shift to read the Gospels and feel discomfort. While the words and actions of Jesus enlighten, they are no escape hatch. Conflict, tension, and frustration still plague believers. But we read the Gospels for one purpose: to know Jesus better — not for warm fuzzies, easy answers, or reinforcement of prejudices. Nor will we always encounter “Jesus, meek and mild.” He who threatened cozy assumptions of his contemporaries may have the same effect on us. If we rely on the wrong supports, like wealth, prestige, or religious rituals, he will challenge us, too. Jesus questioned many of the customs of his time, such as the subservient role of women and the authority of the Pharisees. In “Real Presence: The Work of Eucharist”, Nathan Mitchell writes: “It is hard to believe that Jesus was simply an early flower child who traipsed through the sunlit fields talking about lilies and love! Who would seek to arrest such a sap?”
We may be uncomfortable with the Gospel’s storytelling if we want just the facts. We might prefer a precise blueprint or spreadsheet to rambling, inconsistent stories. But if we compare the Bible to our own complex, difficult life stories, then we grow more comfortable with its mixed genres. We find links where the larger story of God intersects with our personal lives. So we reflect not only on Jesus’ and the Hebrews’ experience in the desert, but also on our own desert times. Wandering in the wilderness brings valuable insights that we do not learn in secure kitchens. As much as we enjoy the intriguing connections, storytelling has its shortcomings. It is unscientific, subject to interpretation, and sometimes wildly inaccurate. Two people who attended the same party might tell radically different accounts.
So, too, each Gospel writer has a different emphasis. Even within the Gospel of John, there are inconsistencies: “Jesus was deeply troubled (John 13:21)”, but in the next chapter, Jesus says: “Do not let your hearts be troubled (John 14:1).” Those who enjoy stories listen beneath the words. Their primary interest is the meaning stories give our experiences. We do not read the Gospels primarily for scientific accuracy or historical fact, but to follow Jesus better. We read through the lens of a human author who will sometimes shade, condense, or exaggerate. Sometimes we may also need to read biblical interpretation, but most important is our response. There’s an old saying: The Gospel gives the chapter headings, but we write the texts in our lives.
The Gospels have been misused to incite guilt. Some people may need that stern correction to luxuriating while others starve. But many hard-working people are simply trying to survive, raise families, and do their jobs while being as generous as possible with their time and treasure. They certainly do not need another guilt trip! What we may find harder than guilt is the Gospel’s insistence on how splendid we are. Jesus walked among the diseased, smelly, and sweaty, assured them that even in poverty, mourning, or persecution, they were blessed. Mired in our own problems, do we struggle with good news? Admittedly, the central message is hard to absorb. We, limited and flawed, are made in his divine image. Throughout the Gospels, the message recurs: you are not a slave. You are a friend and adopted child with an eternal inheritance — not condemned to futility or the finality of death. The implications could be uncomfortable. God chose us for a unique pur- pose and equips us to get it done. So, no whining or stalling! Get on with it!
About the Author: Kathy Coffey is the author of thirteen books and countless articles in publica- tions like National Catholic Reporter, Saint Anthony Messenger, and America Magazine. In addi- tion to being an award-winning writer, poet, and retreat director, she teaches at the University of Colorado and Regis Jesuit University. She is the mother of four children and a grandmother of four. If you enjoyed this week’s message, check out Bringing Home the Word! A new edition is posted here every week!
Welcome Father Peter Marselek
Missionary Visit This Weekend!
This weekend, Saturday, November 4th and Sunday, November 5th, the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport is blessed to welcome Father Peter Marselek of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT), who will celebrate all weekend Masses and preach about the good work of his missionary order. Serving in thirteen countries including the United States, SOLT Missionaries bring the hope and love of Jesus and Mary to people living in poverty. They serve the elderly, migrant workers, orphans, refugees, and people undergoing alcohol and drug rehabilitation.
In support of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, a second collection will be taken at all of our Masses this weekend of November 4th and November 5th at both Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. Your generous support will be sincerely ap- preciated by all who are served by Father Peter and his community. For more information about SOLT and its good work around the world, please visit their website: solt.net. Welcome, Father Peter! May God bless you and your ministry!
Our Lady of Good Voyage
Fried Dough Breakfast
Saturday, November 4th
All are invited to join Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish for its Annual Fried Dough Breakfast on Saturday, November 4th from 9:00am until 11:00am in Our Lady’s Hall. Coffee, tea, and our delicious fried dough and sweetbread will be served. In addition, freshly baked homemade sweetbread will be available for purchase. For more information, please contact Matt Parisi at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us for this special morning of fried dough and fellowship! All are invited! All are welcome!
Knights of Columbus
Red Cross Blood Drive
Friday, November 10th
On Friday, November 10th from 1:00pm until 6:00pm in Our Lady of Good Voyage Hall, the Knights of Columbus (Council 215) and the Red Cross will sponsor their annual blood drive. If you feel called to participate in this most worthy cause, please register online at redcross.org or by phone at 1-800-RED-CROSS. Thank you for your generous support!
The Knights of Columbus (Council 215) is a fraternal organization of Catholic men that serves the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport. If you have twenty-four hours to volunteer for charity this year, we can transform that commitment into meaningful results for our community. Our next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, November 14th at 7:00pm in the parish center. For more information, please contact Mark Natti at email@example.com. Please join us! New members are always welcome!
Month of All Souls
Masses of Remembrance
During this Month of All Souls, the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport will celebrate Masses of Remembrance for those whose funerals were celebrated in our churches and have thus journeyed home to the Lord during the past year. Our first Mass of Remembrance was celebrated on Saturday, October 27th. Additional Masses of Remembrance will be celebrated on Sunday, November 12th at 11:45am in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church; and on Sunday, November 19th at 10:00am in Saint Joachim Church.
At each Mass of Remembrance, the names of our dearly departed loved ones, friends, and fellow parishioners will be read aloud. During the Month of All Souls, let us unite our hearts and voices in prayer for those we have lost during the past year. For more information about the Month of All Souls, please see Father Jim before or after Mass or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
Holy Family Parish
Annual Christmas Fair
Saturday, November 18th
All are invited to join Holy Family Parish for our Annual Christmas Fair on Saturday, November 18th from 9:00am until 2:00pm in Saint Ann Church Hall. This year’s fair will feature various tables, including homemade baked goods and cookies, Christmas decorations, Santa’s Corner, Chinese Raffle, White Elephant Table, and our famous Basket Wheel! In addition, raffle tickets are now available for cash prizes, an Apple Watch, and a Red Sox Game Package.
We are very grateful for all donations to the Basket Wheel and to all of our other sale tables! We are especially grateful to Greely Funeral Home and Pike-Newhall Funeral Home for their donations of raffle prizes. The Christmas Fair Committee and the Holy Family Women’s Guild are working overtime to make this year’s fair another great success! For more information about volunteering at the Christmas Fair, please contact Lydia Bertolino at email@example.com. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
Pastor’s Advent Scripture Study
Begins Thursday, November 30th
During the Holy Season of Advent, all adult parishioners, friends, and guests of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport are invited to join Father Jim for a weekly lunchtime scripture study based on the scriptural libretto of George Frideric Handel’s “Messiah.” On four consecutive Thursdays from November 30th through December 21st at 12:00pm in Our Lady’s Hall, Father Jim will lead a one-hour discussion and reflection on the scripture passages used in Handel’s beautiful operatic treatment of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In preparation for each week’s session, participants will be asked to read from Douglas Connelly’s book, “The Messiah: The Texts Behind Handel’s Masterpiece.” All participants are welcome to bring their own lunch and join us for as many sessions as possible. A donation of $20.00 is requested from those who can afford it. Participants will be provided with a copy of the book, along with coffee, tea, or bottled water. If you would like to join us for this special scripture study series, please contact Father Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
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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