Fr. Kevin’s Column 4/18/2021

Dear friends of God,

This past weekend I shared the following reflection at Mass. I have decided to share it in the bulletin as well for those who might not yet be headed back to Mass because of COVID- 19.

The other day I read something that really touched my soul: “The initial evidence of receiving the Spirit is not speaking in tongues; it’s embracing the gospel of forgiveness.”

Recently, I had a meeting with Bishop Gruss regarding complaints that he has received concerning me. Our meeting was quite one of care for me and our community. I have been praying for our community in a particular way for healing since meeting with the Bishop. I want to say that if I have offended or hurt you in any way, I am sorry. That is never my intention. I have felt a deep sense of love for our community since I was asked to come here two years ago.

I have realized that we are still getting to know each other and COVID has made that even more challenging. Something to realize about me is that I am outspoken. That is both a gift and a deficit in my personality. Whenever I preach, teach or speak, I always come from a place of love. The hard part is that I come from a place of truth in love. Truth as I have understood it in our faith tradition and flowing from my own prayer and relationship with God.

The analogy of family is helpful here. You may not always agree with me and I might not always agree with you, but that doesn’t mean that we stop being the people of faith and the community of love that God calls us to be here in Pinconning. We are a faith family. It is my hope that if you have concerns or issues come directly to me. Like any family we need to always talk it out.

I want to add one more word. Please remember that no one in the Church takes anonymous letters seriously. Anonymous letters are an obstacle to growing in relationship with one another. If it is important enough to share what we are feeling, it is important to claim ownership of those feelings. Easter is a good time for us to move forward. We might not always agree, but God has called each of us here to this family of faith.

This weekend from Acts we hear St. Peter say this at the end of our passage: “Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away” (Acts 3:19). For a moment it seems like we are back in Lent. All this talk of sin and repentance. Remember that repentance comes from the Greek word metanoia which means to change your mind. As someone suggested, it means “…to turn our minds toward God.” What the early church knew in their bones, but so often we have forgotten is that there is “…no turning toward God without turning towards one another.” St. Anthony of the Desert offered this saying: “Our life and death is with our neighbor. If we win our brother, we win God. If we cause our brother to stumble, we have sinned against Christ.” Our lives as Easter people builds on our call to conversion that we journeyed through during Lent. Love of God and love of neighbor are intertwined by their very nature. Easter is about seeing God’s love manifested in our lives and in our choosing to love in a world that so often rejects love. To see with “Easter eyes” inspires us to live as a community of love, that is a communion of one mind and one heart.

Our Gospel this weekend from Luke (24:35-48) reminds me that I have so much further to go in my own discipleship. Our Lord was betrayed by those closest to him, tortured and killed. He came not with retribution and fiery wrath but with compassion: “Peace be with you.” It is a reminder that Jesus was both human and divine. There is nothing violent in God. God is love and God’s very nature is non-violent. We are made in the image and likeness of God. We are to follow Jesus’ nonviolent path. If we went through what Jesus experienced, most of us would react with violence. We need to model our lives on Jesus and learn to respond the way that he responds to life. To be Easter people means that we are to be women and men of compassion in thought, word and deed.

Easter Peace!
Much love,
Fr, Kevin