Fr. Gerard’s Weekly Column: 5/5/24


Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.

Just how important is love? Saint John makes it absolutely clear, love is of utmost importance, for without it – we cannot know God. Such a statement is both encouraging and also somewhat troubling. If we have experienced true, unconditional, sacrificial love from our spouse, parents, children, or others, we have had authentic encounters with the divine. But what of those who don’t know love? What of those who have been abused, abandoned, tortured, and forgotten? If they have not had experiences of true, unconditional, sacrificial love have they been deprived of an authentic experience of the divine? If the answer is, “yes,”, do we not, as Christians, have the responsibility to correct this wrong?

In his teaching letter, God is Love, Pope Benedict XVI wrote,

Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.

We take on the identity of Christian because we believe we have encountered Jesus Christ, in word, sacrament and the lived community of faith. We are, therefore, obliged to live the commandment of Jesus Christ to “love one another as I have loved you.” The Lord gives us this command because he recognizes that there are many who have not known love and therefore do not know Him. In that same encyclical, Pope Benedict speaks of this commandment as a response to what we have been freely given.

“The ‘commandment’ of love is only possible because it is more than a requirement. Love can be ‘commanded’ because it has first been given.”

We may struggle when we are told that this commandment is to be applied to our enemies as well. But do we not want our enemies to know God and therefore come to conversion and reconciliation? More than ever our world needs to know love and to know God. We who have encountered God through the experience of love are called to fulfill our vocation to love as we have been loved, and so reconcile the world.

I recently heard a talk given by Bishop Robert Gruss of the Diocese of Saginaw Michigan. The talk was about forgiveness and in that context, he said, “People are not our enemies. I don’t care what you think about their behaviors. People are not enemies. Hatred itself is the enemy.” He broadened the context to include those beyond our own circle, because as he acknowledges, we are allowing our hatred for public figures to harbor bad, negative, resentful feelings towards them. Bishop Gruss rightly stated that these thoughts and emotions are going to come out in ways that affect us and others. Love and resentment cannot coexist. We are called to choose love.

The ASCENSION OF THE LORD — Each church year, forty days after Easter Sunday, we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord, a key component in the paschal mystery. The ascension and glorification of the risen Christ speaks to the final phase in Jesus “passing over” from earth to heaven. It is also in this moment that Jesus gives the commission to his disciples to preach, teach, evangelize, and baptize all nations. Celebrating this important feast day together helps us to understand our connection to the mission of Jesus Christ, to sanctify the world and go before us to the heavenly kingdom. The feast of the Lord’s Ascension is an essential component of the Easter mystery.  Ascension Thursday is a Holy Day of Obligation. Please see the schedule for the masses in today’s bulletin and plan to attend.

EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY – Our parish is blessed by the efforts of truly devoted employees. Sharon Dulko, who has operated our business office for several years, is one such example of someone who has served our parish well and assisted me greatly. Sadly, she has announced her retirement and we will truly miss her. We are therefore seeking a Business Manager for the parish and school to replace her. The job posting and the application process can be found at this link or by using this QR code.