Fr. Daniel Gifford
AS THE FATHER LOVES ME
Dear St. Louis Parishioners,
As we begin this sixth week of Easter, let us take a moment to internalize this truth: living the Resurrection means living in communion with the God who first loved us into existence, sustains us in that existence, and calls us forth into newness of life. There is a profound irony to the truth that the more the Father draws us home to Himself in Christ, the more He sends us out. Christ draws us into communion with Himself, such that we share and enter into the love He eternally receives from the Father. Taking time to rest in this love is essential in order to live out His commands in the gospel for today. First, He tell us “Remain in my love.” This first command is inseparably connected to the commands to follow, which teach us that we do so by keeping His commandments. The more that we remain in His love, the more that we are taken up into His love and life, thus the more that He carries out His mission in us. This means that the grace we need to follow His commandments, live out His teachings, and carry out His will is found only in Him. It is a gift we must receive from Him. We might ponder this when we enter through the entrance at the back of the Church, along the Western wall. The window in this back corner (front cover) shows Jesus seated and teaching a crowd, yet featured most prominently is a woman sitting at his feet. Who is she? We might be inclined to think of Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. This is possible. However, we might note that her famous “sitting at the Lord’s feet” took place in their home, in a more intimate setting than what is depicted here. Also, she also is sometimes identified, in light of John’s Gospel, with the woman who anointed his feet at Bethany (which is actually featured in the window right across from this one, on the Eastern wall). She could be a woman who came to him for healing (such as the woman with the hemorrhage in Mark 5 or the Syrophoenician woman in Mark 7 or the widow in Luke 7). She could be Mary Magdalene (who is also sometimes believed to be the same as Mary of Bethany) or one of the other women who had received healing and deliverance from Him, as mentioned in Luke 8. Finally, a likely suggestion might be that she is the famous woman caught in adultery in John 8, who receives the Lord’s Mercy. Deeply, she receives the Father’s love in Christ. Not only was she told that she was not condemned, she was also told “Go and sin no more.” These words echo today’s Gospel: “Remain in my love; if you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love.” All of these women teach us that receiving the Lord’s Mercy, Love and Truth heals us and draws us into His very life, to live a new life of discipleship. May it be so for each and every one of us.
NIGHT OF KNIGHTS DANCE: I want to add my own word of thanks for the great success of the Night of Knights Dance, a couple of weeks ago. The dance had not taken place yet by the time I wrote last week’s letter (before vacation) and even by the time the bulletin was sent, the final numbers were still not quite in. I am overwhelmed by the report that $5,000 was raised to support our youth ministry opportunities. This will certainly ensure that this one event alone will benefit more than just the fourteen teens attending the Steubenville Youth Conference, but will also help make possible many more opportunities to come. Thank you to everyone who participated or contributed in many ways. I especially want to thank the Knights of Columbus, for organizing the event, along with their collaborators, namely Jim Whitmore, Dave Boylan, Dave Roden, Bob Schabow, and Vince and Jeanie Gelsomino, not to mention the musical talent of Legenz! Thanks to all.
CONFIRMATION: Also taking place after I wrote my vacation-week letter was the confirmation of our sixteen young people. It has been such a joy to get to know these young Catholics throughout the past several months of their preparation, and I look forward to seeing what the Lord will do in their lives. At our last class before Confirmation, I shared with them a bit of my own testimony, including how, when I was teenager, the example of my peers living out their confirmation greatly influenced my return to the Church, finally being confirmed myself, and ultimately discerning a call to the priesthood. So, I ask you one more time to continue your prayers for our newly confirmed, that they may live and deepen the graces they have received. You never know. One day, there may be a baby baptized or confessions heard or Masses offered by a man who would not be a priest if not for the witness of these young people living as intentional disciples of Jesus Christ in the heart of the Church. Who knows. Maybe even one or more of them will be called to priesthood or religious life. Regardless, may all go on to be courageous and humble saints.
In Christ through Mary,
St. Louis, pray for us!
Blessed Mary, Queen Mother of the King of Kings, pray for us!