Our Mission Statement at Most Holy Redeemer
Most Holy Redeemer Parish is a Christian Community in the Roman Catholic tradition. The parish draws people from isolation to community, from searching to awakening, from indifference to concern, from selfishness to meaningful service, from fear in the midst of adversity to faith and hope in God.
The community of Most Holy Redeemer shares God’s compassionate love with all people. The parish offers a spiritual home to all: senior citizens and youth; single people and families; those who are straight, gay, lesbian, and transgendered; the healthy and the sick, particularly persons with HIV disease.
As a parish community, we celebrate God’s loving presence in our lives. In worship and sacrament, especially the Eucharist, we are nurtured and challenged to extend God’s kingdom of justice, truth, love and peace by growing in the spirit of Jesus, the Most Holy Redeemer.
Fr. Matt’s Message
A couple of years ago my brother, Mike, his wife Mary, and their three sons, Jack, Max, and Nate traveled from Minnesota for a week-long vacation in California. Eight year old Nate was certain he would be rubbing elbows with all sorts of famous people and celebrities. Jack and Max were a little more realistic, and were prepared for the week-long tour of national parks, educational activities, and just one more hike in Yosemite, “Come on guys, just a little farther. You are going to love this view!”
Being with my nephews brought back memories of my own childhood. The kid-like hopes, dreams, and disappointments that are part and parcel of all of our lives. My brother and I shared a few memories that no one else knows or even remembers. We laughed and just reflected on what was really good, and on some of which was pretty challenging.
St. Paul tells of how he was granted amazing visions from God which made him feel blessed, special, almost as if he had one foot in heaven already. But he also tells that he was given a “thorn in the flesh” to remind him of his human weakness and to keep him humble.
As a kid I had a lot of bumps and bruises, breaks and stitches. I also had what seemed like a large share of splinters and thorns in my hands and fingers. A thorn can be very small, but it can be painful and impossible to ignore. Tiny though it may be, it can be a constant nagging aching kind of a thing.
The thorn can be an image of a problem or challenge in life, or of a sinful habit or pattern that is hard to shake. It can take many forms. Paul doesn’t tell us what his thorn consisted of. He does tell us that he wanted more than anything to be rid of it. Many times he begged God to remove this thorn. God did not do so.
Eventually Paul had to accept the fact that the thorn was there to stay. But God assured him that he would give him strength to cope with it: “My grace is enough for you.” At some point in life, we too may have to accept that our thorn is there to stay. God’s words, “My grace is enough for you” are spoken to us too and should bring us great consolation. Our God works in spite of human weakness. More often than not, our God works most powerfully through human weakness.
Paul eventually came to value and even boast of his thorn. It kept him humble. It helped him be more compassionate to others who were struggling or suffering. Paul, through the experience of human weakness and powerlessness, was more able to experience the strength and power of God’s grace.
So it can be with us if we allow it. In our own weakness, we experience the strength and power of God. In our darkness, we experience God’s light. In our sins, we experience God’s mercy. If the thorn makes us rely more on the power of God, and more quickly and readily makes us go to him, then our illness, our struggles, even our sins can become a source of growth and strength. The thorns in our own sides can make us more aware of the struggles and burdens we all carry. The thorns in life call us to respond to others with the same compassion and mercy God has shown us.
In spite of the complete lack of celebrity-sightings and the many very long walks and hikes, my family had a great California vacation. I had a great time too. I always enjoy when family and friends come for a visit. I enjoy being in the moment with them. I also enjoy reminiscing about times past. It can be good to look back and remember how some of the stuff of life that was a source of grief or irritation or pain, became a means for God to show his strength, giving us an opportunity to grow in trusting relationship with God and with each other.
It is an honor and a blessing to minister and serve with you at MHR. I am grateful to Archbishop Cordileone and to my religious congregation, the Missionaries of the Precious Blood for seeing fit to accept Fr. Jack’s and my request to pastor here. Each day I am humbled by your goodness, your generosity and by the depth of your faith. You make me want to be a better person and a better priest. You truly help me to maintain an attitude of gratitude. Thank you for finding a place for me in your hearts and in your home. May God continue to bless us all.
With love and prayers,