Dear Friends, as we continue in the Easter Season, not surprisingly, the continual theme is, “love” –that which is given, first by God, and then, with the expectation that we would love in return. We do that best by loving those all around us, when it is easy and when it is not so easy. We probably are able to love in these ways best, if we keep our eyes on our brother, Jesus, who truly has shown us the way. This week we remember the gift of our parish and that against many odds, we were called into existence nearly 13 years ago–a gift truly to be grateful for! I know that I am grateful for all of you. So, today, let us pray that our good God would continue to bless us and show us how to love well in our world. And lastly, let us remember all the women who have loved us, “mothered” us during our lives!
Please don’t hesitate to be in touch if I can help you in any way–to listen, to chat, whatever the need might be . 507-429-3616. or email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Peace and love, Pastor Kathy
Speak out with a voice of joy; let it be heard to the ends of the earth: Our loving God has set us free, Alleluia!
Let Us Pray
Ever living and loving God, help us to celebrate our joy in the resurrection of Jesus, the Christ and to express in our lives the love we celebrate. We ask this in Jesus’ wonderful name, who now lives and loves us in a new way with the Creator and the Spirit—all God—living and loving us forever and ever—Amen.
- Acts 10: 25-26, 34-35, 44-48
- 1 John 4: 7-10
- John 15: 9-17
As we age my friends, the thought comes to many of us, that we don’t want to be, “just spinning our wheels,” doing those things that don’t matter as much—and the fact is that for many of us, we endeavor, to become, “the change” we want to see!
It would seem, according to Peter, in the 1st reading from Acts that the only thing that can stop us, who have received the Spirit, is our “unwillingness to love,” and in every situation, to do the most loving thing.
Think for a moment how it would be in our world if we tackled some of the most serious problems from a standpoint of love—first.
- Think of issues around “policing” in our country. If part of the training of police officers was to be cognizant first and foremost that their role in society is to be about service, not power-over or control. Too many law officers come charging into a scene, guns out and loaded—ready to fire, voices raised—often shouting, escalating rather than de-escalating whatever is happening, and most unfortunately, as is evidenced by too many recent killings at the hands of police officers, targeted at our Black brothers and sisters.
- Think of the disparity between the rich and the poor in this country as far as the basics of daily living go—when some people need to work three jobs to keep food on the table as compared to the 1% in this country along with the wealthiest companies, who made huge profits during this past year of the pandemic. Love applied? I think not!
- Think too of those in our Congress who continually fight to protect the wealthiest in this country from paying their fair share of taxes, often allowing them to pay none at all. Public servants should be about service, not greed, not power, not control, if and when, love is applied.
- Think of those in Congress, given the privilege of that office by the voters, who continually do nothing for the betterment of the people they represent—who are only, ultimately, interested in being re-elected. It is this most, unloving attitude and concern that is behind the present push to unseat Liz Cheney, Republican, in the U.S. House from her leadership role. She will not lie and is willing to lose her power in order to do the right thing!
- Think of our Catholic church leaders, bishops, priests—ordained to serve, the People of God, voiceless, many of them, in the face of Black/White disparity, in wages, in positions of power, that we know as racism, voiceless to speak for justice where women are concerned in calls to priesthood, and to leadership, because their power, and control of their system is paramount. What, indeed, would our beloved Church look like if “love” were the guiding principle? Someone once said, “It would be like discovering “fire” for the second time!”
My friends, I don’t know about you, but I personally so long to hear within our Church leadership, that the reason for any particular action is based on the memory of Jesus of Nazareth! We do follow him, correct?!
Our good Pope Francis is the most consistent one in leadership to speak from the memory of Jesus of Nazareth, but even he falls short where women and our LGBTQ community is concerned. We should pray earnestly for him who has spoken most beautifully in Fratelli Tutti about protecting all of God’s created life, and even in, Laudato Si, where a, “change of heart” is called for as one of the key points and that he soon can walk back his inability to truly love and care for the two groups named above.
Our God’s love is intended for all, not just for us and our family—even the first apostles struggled with this idea of whether Jesus’ love and message of right living was just for the Jews—or in fact, the Gentiles—everyone else too.
On Monday, our parish will celebrate 13 years of existence and we have been an experiment in Winona as to if a Vatican II parish is possible. I humbly believe that the experiment is working!
This ministry of 13 years, the 10th of May, has always been about what we do here together, as equals. This is reflected in the invitation that I repeat at the beginning of our Eucharistic Prayer when we have new people among us, reminding all present that by praying the beautiful words of consecration together, we do make Jesus present! We must remember that we are all celebrants here—I have the privilege of presiding, but it is together that we make Jesus present among us by our jointly prayed words.
Peter, again from the 1st reading today, in response to those around him, wanting to show him, “honor,” says, “Get up!” [I am but a human like you and the Spirit works through all of us who want that gift of power and strength].
It would seem to me, that our Catholic leaders need to have the mind of Peter and realize their awesome calling to lead and to do that leading, not in a “power-over” fashion, but, “with” the People of God, all empowered by the Spirit.
As the weeks of Easter are winding down, it is good for us to remember that for the past six weeks, the “message of love” has been almost redundant in the Scriptures. The purpose, my friends, in my mind, is that in the busy-ness and distractions of our modern lives, we won’t allow ourselves to forget this one simple message of love. Our brother Jesus speaks this message in the Gospel today and it is echoed in the 2nd reading, also from John, that our God has first loved us, and our task is to, “love God back” through all of our daily encounters, day in and day out throughout all of the precious days of our lives.
Jesus’ words, “Love one another as I have loved you,” along with his desire that we would call each other, “friends,” remembering that, as he said, “no greater love can be found than that you would lay down your life for a friend. These ideas, it would seem, must always be present to us, on our hearts and minds so as to better live our lives—in his memory.
Today is also Mothers’ Day and ideally, most mothers would and do, give their best for their children. When this isn’t the case, many in this world have found “mothers” who have given them the emotional, and spiritual love needed to become whole people. For all these women, physical, emotional, and spiritual moms, we give our undying love and gratitude today for the places they have held in our lives.
In conclusion then, as we remember this week, our 13 years of being a parish, let us keep in mind the ways we have grown as a community of faith, one that has generously given of its surplus time and talent in countless ways to our city, country, and world. We have stood up for the right and privilege of women as well as men being able to answer their God-given calls to priesthood and for the right of all individuals, regardless of lifestyle choices to be welcome at our table.
Additionally, as a community of faith, we have, these 13 years, stood for inclusivity, for welcome and for the message of Jesus. We are grateful for the responsibility of being a true Vatican II parish in this our hometown of Winona, MN. May we, with God’s grace continue to be true to this call now, and into the future. Amen? Amen!
Prayers of the Faithful
Response: “Loving God, hear us.”
- Jesus, in your risen state, be our guide to live out your loving example toward all people, especially the least among us, we pray—Response: “Loving God, hear us.”
- Jesus, let peace reign in our hearts and give us the strength and grace to be people of peace, we pray—Response: “Loving God, hear us.”
- Jesus, you who said that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for a friend, give us hearts that strive to love unconditionally, we pray—Response: “Loving God, hear us.”
- Jesus, grant each of us a renewed faith during this Easter Season to remain true to you living our lives in truth and justice and love, we pray—Response: “Loving God, hear us.”
- Jesus, give hope to those who continue to suffer now due to the selfishness of others in our world economies, and be with those who can truly make a difference in producing more equity in our world, we pray—Response: “Loving God, hear us.”
- Jesus, you call us friends—help us to always remember that you desire a relationship with us that is close, we pray—Response: “Loving God, hear us.”
- Jesus, help us to see you every day in the faces of all we meet—help us to see your face in all the ordinary events of our lives, we pray—Response: “Loving God, hear us.”
- Jesus, you who never turned anyone away, be with our community, All Are One—soon to be 13 years old—continue to bless us and assist us to be open to all of your people and guide us to always make a place of welcome at our table, but more importantly, in our hearts, we pray— Response: “Loving God, hear us.”
- Jesus, send your Spirit into the lives of all your followers to enable them to do all within their power to renew your church so in need of that renewal, we pray—Response: “Loving God, hear us.”
- Loving Jesus, be with all families who have lost loved ones this week, from COVID and all other causes—give each one your peace and help them to find their way through their grief, we pray—Response: “Loving God, hear us.”
***Let us pray for the silent petitions on our hearts—pause, we pray, then response
Let Us Pray
Jesus, be the strength we need each day to be people of the resurrection—true to our calling to be people of peace and of love. Let us never falter in our commitment to you and your world. Let us look at your people, always with love, remembering that you have called us friends—that you have given all that we might have eternal life with you. Let us always remember your never-failing love for each person and that because you have loved us so fully, we too must love fully in return. Give us ever more open minds that we might see your face in each person we meet and therefore cease to judge others, but simply try and understand, to put ourselves in another’s shoes and then to simply look on them with love. We ask all of this of you, our loving Brother and with the Creator and your loving Spirit— all, one God, living and loving us forever and ever, Amen.
Let Us Pray—Again, we can’t be together physically, but always remember that Jesus is with us!
Prayer of Communion
Loving God, you restored us to life by raising Jesus from death. Strengthen us by the Easter knowledge: may we feel it in our daily lives—we ask this in Jesus’ wonderful name, Amen.