Haven’t been to Mass in a while? Have you been hurt by the church? You are not alone. As Gandhi once said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians.” I can’t tell you how often I have heard variations on this statement over my 30-year career working for the Church.

So, on behalf of our Catholic community, let me begin by saying if you have ever been made to feel “less than,” disrespected, or unwelcome, I want to apologize. We can be quite callous, unforgiving, and judgmental at times – and none of these things are of God. I am truly sorry if you have had to endure any measure of pain from our failure to share anything but God’s unfailing, boundless, love and acceptance.

Two thousand years ago we were commissioned by Jesus to continue His mission of tenderness and mercy and serve as good “brand ambassadors” for God but sadly our efforts have been tainted with scandal, smugness, and sexism from day one…and yet, here you are at Easter Sunday Mass, and for that we are sincerely grateful, even if it’s just because you made the loving choice to “do it for Mom.”

One of our great Christian mystics from the 13th century once said, “Any talk of God that does not bring you comfort is a lie.” Jesus was adamant in repeatedly reminding us that there is simply nothing (NOTHING!) that could ever make God stop loving us. Anyone who tells you differently is simply wrong. Period. I don’t care how far up the Catholic ladder they stand. I have it on good authority, namely Jesus himself (Luke 15:11-32), that God is much too busy loving you to have any time left for disappointment.

So often we have it backwards. Jesus didn’t come to change God’s mind about US, He came to change OUR minds about God. Jesus’ life was so colorful and tragic because we just couldn’t embrace the God He was pedaling. We still struggle to accept and effectively share what Jesus wants us to know and hear deep in our bones – the truth that no matter who you are, what you believe, what you have done, if you go to church or not, you ARE loved by God. There is NOTHING you can do about that. It is simply not in your power to change God’s love for you. It is impossible, like turning off the sun. God’s love and mercy fall on ALL of us freely like the rain falls on the earth. Soaking it in, letting it nourish us and raise new life within in us is precisely what we are to be about celebrating together this high feast of Easter.

We are one of the few institutions that has in its rule book not to judge, to be forgiving, to collaborate with humility, to love, listen, and to promote peaceful dialogue and compassionate action. Our mission is nothing short of transforming the world with the love of Christ AND Jesus prayed that we “may be one” in this work (John 17:21). Mother Teresa diagnosed the world’s ills in this way: “we’ve just forgotten that we belong to each other.” The kingdom that Jesus dreamed for us is what happens when we refuse to let that happen.

G.K. Chesterton once said “It’s not that the Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.” To that end, please know we here at Christ the Redeemer Church are trying. We are here for you; we wish you to feel that you belong and are valued; we wish to be of service. We are still colossally imperfect at times, but we hold hope that our meager efforts are “inching us closer to creating a community of kinship such that God might recognize it” (Fr. Greg Boyle). Wishing you and yours a very Happy Easter and every blessing in the year ahead.

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