Pastor's Page

Dear Parish Family,

Last week we wrapped up our five-week message series on Home Life. Beginning on November 1st, All Saints Day, we plan to spend a month with the Saints, learning from them some of the secrets of the Christian Life.

We are also already making plans for the Christmas Season. Last year, our Mass schedule was as follows: Christmas Eve: 4pm, 6pm, 8pm and Christmas Day: 10am and 12pm. At the 4pm Mass, 870 people worshipped. We need to prepare to accommodate more of our parish family in person. One possibility this year is 2pm Christmas Eve Mass, for which our Bishop has given special permission. We are also planning for overflow downstairs in Nolan Hall. We may even offer sign-ups for the most popular Masses. At this point these are all possibilities. Please stay-tuned for a survey via FlockNote to get your input! We want to hear from you. If you are not yet on FlockNote, text OLPHMS to 84576.

Today in the Gospel, the familiar phrase rings: “Render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” Jesus is queried about paying the census tax. His response shows acceptance of Roman authority, in what pertains to civil government, and surprises the Jewish leadership, who would prefer to be the sole authority.

Recall another passage. “[Jesus] made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables...” (Jn 2:15). One might ask: what are money-changers doing in the Temple? Many currencies existed at the time, one for every fiefdom and principality, and one even for the Jewish Temple. In order for people to purchase animals for sacrifice, they had to change their own money for temple currency. The method allowed the priestly class to skim but also created a business-like atmosphere for the sacred duty of making sacrifice. Hence, Jesus’ rebuke: “Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.” The Father’s house is for the sacred duty to worship.

So there were many different types of coins, and the coin with Caesar on it, deserved to be rendered unto him. We make more progress when we focus on the flip side of the coin: “Render unto God what belongs to God.” What belongs to God? The quick answer is… everything: our life, our breath, our health, our safety, our salvation, our deepest connections among family and friends. All of these and more are the gifts of God. So the much greater challenge is giving to God what belongs to Him.

Often this passage begins a conversation about how to bring to bear our Catholic faith on public life. For a great book on this topic, see Archbishop Chaput’s Render unto Caesar. I cannot suggest a better treatment. Never helpful or even genuine is the phrase that echoes hollowly: “Privately I hold this, but publicly I espouse this.” Or, “I would not want my private views to influence my decision-making.” If our Faith is the deepest core of our being, how can we set it aside? Or even, should we set it aside? Rather than public life devoid of faith, we ought to respectfully bring our faith to bear on public life. Anything less makes faith an ornament to our lives, or a garment we don on Sundays

but can remove when less than convenient. As we attend to these subtle realities in the days leading up to our elections, may Jesus be our guide, and may our faith be held securely at the very core of our existence.

Yours faithfully,
Fr. Wilson

 

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