Father Conley Bertrand, the founder of the Come Lord Jesus! program, is pictured here as he celebrates the anniversary mass at the Our Lady Queen of All Saints Family Life Center in Ville Platte. (Gazette photo by Tony Marks)
Come Lord Jesus! groups hold anniversary mass
Catholic lay people from across Ville Platte and Pine Prairie gathered Wednesday evening at the Our Lady Queen of All Saints Family Life Center for an anniversary mass of the Come Lord Jesus! groups.
Celebrating the mass was Father Conley Bertrand, a parish priest from the Diocese of Lafayette, who started the program in 1969. To date, the program has spread to across the United States and into Mexico. The program is based on Acts 2:42 which states, “They devoted themselves to the teaching of the Apostles, and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers.”
During his homily, Father Bertrand led a meditation on the readings from the upcoming Sunday, which is The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. Such meditations on the upcoming Sunday’s Gospel is common practice in Come Lord Jesus! groups.
Fr. Bertrand used the scriptures to paint a picture of the Holy Trinity and began with Chapter 1 of the Book of Genesis. “(God) says, ‘let us make man in our image and likeness,’” he said. “Don’t you think He’s giving us a hint of what’s to come? ‘Let us’ means the Trinity.”
“God had wanted to be in the Garden of Eden and to have a personal relationship with humankind, but (Adam and Eve) disobeyed Him in a serious way and broke the relationship,” continued Fr. Bertrand. “So, God, who wanted this badly, appeared to a man named Abram, whose name became Abraham, and He began to relay to him in a personal revelation. Then, when Abraham was replaced by his son Isaac, He continued this relationship with Jacob, one of Isaac’s sons, and then eventually through the tribe of Judah, one of Jacob’s sons, and eventually to David.”
According to Fr. Bertrand, through this Davidic line came a new creation with a new Eve and a new Adam. This new Adam is the second person of the Trinity. “God started off (this new creation) with a new woman who was conceived without original sin and totally filled with grace,” said Fr. Bertrand. “We have this wonderful new beginning with a new Eve, and she conceived, by the power of the Holy Spirit, a new Adam.”
“Jesus is the one who comes from the bosom of the Father,” he added. “He’s the eternal generated Son to explain to us the love that God has for us. He goes through the suffering and death and resurrection. He suffered tremendously for us. He laid His life down to show how much He loves us and also to show how evil sin is. He wants to raise us up on a new level of the children of God.”
Fr. Bertrand went on to explain that the Holy Spirit comes from the Father and the Son. “For all eternity, the Son proceeds from the Father,” he said. “He is the eternal Word and knowledge of the Father, and their love for one another produces the Holy Spirit.”
He continued, “In the Old Testament, (God) revealed Himself as the one God to Moses, but, in the New Testament, He revealed to us that He would send us the Holy Spirit, the third person of the The Blessed Trinity, in order to finish His revelation to explain everything to us and to develop what Jesus said.”
As he concluded his homily, Fr. Bertrand reflected on how Come Lord Jesus! fulfills Jesus’ commission at the end of Sunday’s Gospel from the end of Matthew’s Gospel, which is, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
“You can’t keep that joy, love, and peace that you experience in Come Lord Jesus! through the word and getting to know Jesus better to yourself,” said Fr. Bertrand. “You got to reach all of these people who are leaving the church and who are not practicing their faith. You have a commission to go therefore and make disciples.”