By Father Jim
This Sunday, the Catholic Church commemorates the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. The readings for this final weekend in ordinary time are a study in contrast. They reveal that two seemingly different things can be true at the same time. In this case, Jesus is the gentle pastor; the good shepherd who offers care and comfort to his flock (Psalm 23). In the first reading, this same shepherd promises to love his sheep, heal them, and look for the lost ones. In that same reading, Jesus also pledges to judge them; distinguish between the deserving and undeserving; and ultimately destroy the ones who are proud and prosperous, sleek and strong (Ezekiel 34:16).
This promise of judgment is repeated in the second reading (1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28). Saint Paul writes here to the fledgling Christian community of south-central Greece. He identifies Jesus as the ‘firstfruits’ which is a euphemism for first-born son and heir. In this sense, Jesus is the Son of God, the scion of heaven and earth. Christ is the King of the Universe! Saint Paul professes that Christ’s sovereignty is absolute and universal. His reign is all-powerful, all-inclusive, and everlasting. No one, not even the world’s richest and most influential people are spared his justice. Everyone and everything are servants and subjects of Christ the King.
The Gospel of Matthew (25:31-46) tells of the coming reign of this king of glory. On the last day, Christ will call the nations of the world to account for their actions. Did we welcome the stranger? Feed the hungry? Care for the sick? Show mercy to the prisoner? Give drink to those who thirst? Matthew assures us that the Lord’s justice will be fair and swift and eternal. But is this all? Will we be held accountable based only on how we treat the poor and the sick? What about the other aspects of our lives? Who will be judged? All nations? All people everywhere? Or just Christian believers like us?
Scripture scholars have long-debated these questions. Is Christ’s judgement universal? Should the assembly of ‘all the nations’ be taken literally to mean every person in every country in every corner of the world? Some scholars say yes. Others offer a more nuanced interpretation. They make the case that Christians will be judged by their faith, good works, and fidelity to the Lord’s teaching from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). But they say that the account of the final judgement that we read this weekend applies to non-believers and non-Christians. They will not be held accountable for lacking a faith in the God they do not know. This offers real hope for those among us who may do good, but have not fully embrace the gift of faith. In pre-Christian and early Christian history, such non-believers are called the ‘righteous ones.’
However we might understand Matthew’s Gospel, its gives voice to some truly cosmic and timeless questions. Do we love God? Do we love our neighbor as we love ourselves? Do we care for our common home? Do we serve self-interest of the common good? Do we make peace or cause division? Do we build up or tear down? Do we encourage trust, compromise, and mutual respect? Or do we promote suspicion, false choices, and conspiracy theories? Until the last day, we will know for sure what will happen when we approach the ‘glorious throne’ of Christ the King. But we can pray for the strength to do good, be righteous, and take better care of each other and our suffering world.
Reverend James M. Achadinha, Pastor
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
Call to Prayer
Solemnity of Christ the King
Praises of the Most High
By Saint Francis of Assisi
You are the Holy Lord,
the only God who works wonders.
You are strong. You are great.
You are the most high.
You are the Almighty King,
Holy Father, King of Heaven and Earth.
You are three and one,
Lord God of gods.
You are good, all good, the highest good.
Lord God, living and true.
You are love. You are charity.
You are wisdom. You are humility.
You are patience. You are beauty.
You are meekness. You are security.
You are gratitude. You are joy.
You are our hope and gladness.
You are justice. You are temperance.
You are all that we need.
You are our protector.
You are our guardian and defender.
You are strength. You are refreshment.
You are our hope. You are our faith.
You are all our happiness.
You are our eternal life.
Great and wondrous Lord!
God Almighty! Merciful Savior!
Glory to the Father,
to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen.
Online Advent Retreat
The Franciscan Spirit for Advent & Christmas
Begins Sunday, November 29th
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport’s twin goals have been to do whatever we can to protect the health and safety of our parishioners and provide high quality spiritual nourishment online. We are grateful for your kind words of support and encouragement for our efforts so far! Over the years, our Annual Advent Retreat has been among our most popular adult faith formation programs. Unfortunately, because of necessary restrictions on large gatherings, all of our in-person programs and ministries remain suspended. In our disappointment, we turned to Saint Francis for Assisi for advice and consolation:
when the times were growing cold,
God sent you into the world
as a witness of his burning love
for all people and all creation.
Pray for us now,
so that we may become
instruments of peace and healing
in our sick and suffering world.
We make this prayer
through the Holy Name of Christ Jesus,
the Prince of Peace,
our Merciful Savior. Amen.
This prayer inspires us to announce our first-ever Online Advent Retreat: The Franciscan Spirit for Advent & Christmas. For five consecutive weekends, from November 29th through December 27th, we will gather in a virtual but powerful spiritual communion by reflecting on the miracle of the Incarnation of the Christ Child at Christmas through some of the timeless voices of Franciscan Spirituality: Saint Francis, Saint Clare, Saint Charles Borromeo, Jacopone of Todi, and Thomas of Celano. Every Saturday, Cliff Garvey will post a new podcast (ten minute audio recording) with a prayer for the coming week.
In addition, as the days grow short and nights grow long, all are invited to join us online in praying the Assisi Project’s Franciscan Night Prayer for the intention of God’s mercy, healing, and protection from the coronavirus. All of these free podcasts will be posted at assisproject.com. Finally, on Sunday, December 27th, Father Jim will renew the Solemn Consecration of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, this placing again both Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish under the Blessed Mother’s powerful protection for the coming new year. Please join us! Let’s pray together!
Holy Family Parish
Holy Family Parish depends solely on the donations of friends and fellow parishioners to pay its bills, make ends meet, and maintain its financial stability. Due to the coronavirus pandemic and necessary safety protocols that protect our parishioners, attendance at Mass is limited and all ministries have been suspended or modified. Among these programs is the Annual Christmas Fair, which cannot be held this year but is usually our single largest fundraising event. Instead, the Holy Family Women’s Guild is sponsoring a Christmas Raffle! Chances for each raffle are $2 per ticket or six for $10! Prizes include:
- One cash prize of $500
- Four cash prizes of $100
- iPad Basket
- Handmade Afghan
- Handmade Quilt
Special thanks to Greely Funeral Home, Campbell Funeral Home, Agnes Burnham, and an anonymous benefactor for making possible these great prizes! Raffle tickets have been mailed to every registered parish family. Please complete your tickets and return them to Father Jim or the parish office by Friday, December 4th. Winners will be drawn on Saturday, December 5th! If everyone participates in the Christmas Raffle, we will raise $23,000! Every penny goes directly to Holy Family Parish! If you have not received tickets or would like to purchase additional tickets, please contact Father Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your generous support!
Saint Vincent de Paul Society
Virtual Christmas Giving Trees
Help Us Share the Gift of Christmas!
The Saint Vincent de Paul Society is an international organization that is dedicated to responding to any request from any person or family need. Here on Cape Ann, we work through Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish to serve the poor, the needy, and the newly unemployed. Even in the midst of the pandemic, our work continues! This year, the Saint Vincent de Paul Society will sponsor the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport’s Virtual Christmas Giving Trees! Help us share the gift of Christmas with local families in need! Between now and December 8th, all are encouraged to buy a gift card, bring it to Mass, deliver it to our parish office, or mail it to:
Saint Vincent de Paul Society
74 Pleasant Street
Gloucester, Massachusetts 01930
These gift cards will be given to families who need our help in making this Christmas a better one for their children and grandchildren. For more information about the Saint Vincent de Paul Society and its good work in our parish communities, please contact Harry Miller at 978-281-8672 or Barbara Frontiero at email@example.com. If you or your family needs our assistance, please contact us at 978-281-8672. Thank you for your generous support! May God bless you!
The Assisi Project
Free Podcast Series
Founded by Father Jim and Cliff, the Assisi Project is a Fellowship of Franciscans in Spirit that is dedicated to helping believers of all ages to more faithfully live the Gospel of Christ in the spirit of Saints Francis and Clare. In response to the pandemic, Father Jim asked Cliff to look back on nearly two decades of ministry as a catechist, spiritual director, and leader of retreats and pilgrimages; and to create a regular series of podcasts (audio recordings) as a way of continuing his adult faith formation ministry. As of this weekend, Cliff has already created twenty podcasts and with more on the way! These podcasts are free and always available! Just click on the links below:
- Saint John XXIII: A Farmer’s Son
- Saint John XXIII: Good Pope John
- Love Is The First Fact
- Making the Ground Green: A Good Man’s Gospel
- Servants & Subjects
- If God Can Work Through Me…
- The Buoy in the Road
- Choose Love
- Mad As Hell?
- Mary, Mother of All Peoples (Parts 1 & 2)
- Saint Damien of Molokai: Martyr for Charity
- The School of Mary: Praying with Our Lady of Lourdes
- Our Daily Prayers
- Our Mission: Becoming Franciscans in Spirit
- The Living Rosary – Day 1: A Journey Begins
- The Living Rosary – Day 2: A Journey Continues
- The Living Rosary – Day 3: A Prayer for Hope
- The Living Rosary – Day 4: A Prayer for Tomorrow
- The Living Rosary – Day 5: A Prayer for Joy
Members of the Assisi Project range in age from 12 to 95 and live in Holy Family Parish, Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish, throughout the Archdiocese of Boston, all across the United States, Canada, Brazil, Italy, Spain, and Angola. Part of our work together is our prayer together. So we pray each day for all who ask for our prayers all around the world. If you would like the Assisi Project to pray for you, your family, your special intention, or the soul of a deceased friend or loved one, please contact Cliff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
During this time of pandemic, when we are encouraged to remain at home, all are invited to pray and reflect on the Gospel Life by making use of the many resources on our website (click link below). These resources include our Daily Prayers, Franciscan Rosary, Way of the Cross, our new podcasts, and more than fifty reflections and stories about Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi. Come and pray with us online! May the Lord give you peace — now and always!
Safe & Easy Electronic Giving
Electronic giving is available at both Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. It is safe and simple to make online donations to your home parish using a credit cared or debit card. Donations can be made on an ongoing or one-time-only basis. And it takes just a few minutes to set up a secure personal account. For assistance or more information about this important fundraising resource for the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport, please contact Father Jim at email@example.com. Thank you for your generous support for our parishes during these difficult times! Peace, blessings, and many thanks to all!
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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In Memory of Paulo Napoli