18 October 2020
“Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar
and to God what belongs to God.”
Brothers and Sisters,
Greetings! Whether in history, civics, or government classes, students preparing for debates should pay close attention to Jesus. Thrust into an impossible situation, the Pharisees and Herodians cannot shake Jesus’s wisdom. At this time in history, collaborating Pharisees and the Herodians would have been unlikely allies, similar to modern-day Democrats and the Republicans entering into an open and transparent partnership. The Pharisees, with their influence rooted in the knowledge of the Law and Prophets, represented a religious establishment of the day that opposed the Roman rule. Still, in prudence, they rarely confronted the ruling political power. On the other hand, by appeasing the Romans, the Herodians had seized a bit of power and influence, but this powerplay bound them to cooperate with the Romans.
As unlikely sympathizers, the Pharisees and Herodians share a frustration with Jesus’ disregard for the status quo and his willingness to upset their delicate power balance. Conspiring together, they devise a ruse by posing a seemingly logical question: “Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?” Recently, if you have listened to political debates or the Senate confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, adversarial questions are often posed to elicit “yes” or “no” answers with neither response being a favorable — a trap.
Why are these contemporary religious leaders scheming against Jesus? Jesus upsets the comfortable order to their society when he acknowledges the humble prayer of the disgraceful tax collector over the ostensibly righteous, or the generosity of the widow’s tiny offering over the abundance of the rich. He is challenging them to think BEYOND their established belief system where they have reigned supreme. Religious leaders, including myself, can get comfortable. Like many, we favor our rhythms and routines. We prefer a neat and easy understanding of what’s right and wrong. When systemic injustice challenges our preconceived knowledge, we become uncomfortable and often struggle to find an “easy fix” to such complex problems. Take heart! When our institutions, ourselves, and even our Church remain humble, God’s wisdom and not human judgment will strengthen our resolve and guide our path to holiness and justice.
While Jesus dispelled the notion of establishing political dynasties, it is false to claim Jesus avoided the political. The struggle to gain and maintain religious freedom runs deep in the history of our Country and State. After all, Maryland’s first settlers were Catholics escaping religious persecution from political party rule. Let’s depend on Scripture and the Church’s clear teaching to chart our course; our faith should impact all aspects of our lives, even our politics. Though it can be uncomfortable, as faithful citizens, while considering the Church’s moral teachings, we cannot keep our faith private. It is not to say we shouldn’t strive for civil and respectful public discourse, but let us not cower from our beliefs. I encourage all parishioners to exercise their rights as citizens, discerning their votes through prayer and study. Our nation has been strengthened by religious men and women who have respectfully shared and been informed by their faith, encouraging our entire Country to remain “under God.” May we recognize our identity as children created in God’s image and likeness and offer the Lord alone our complete trust and abundant praise.
This weekend’s second reading also sheds some vital guidance as we pray for all current elected officials, those seeking election, and those elected to political office in the weeks ahead. When striving to live out the Gospel, we ought to remember the importance of “endurance,” or more specifically, as St. Paul’s greeting to the Thessalonians share, the “endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ.” No one politician is THE answer. With hope, remember Jesus is the ONLY LEADER who will satisfy our every longing. The building up of God’s kingdom in the world is much more like a marathon than a sprint.
- “Sign up” for Mass for October 24 and 25; register here.
- We are grateful for the hundreds of responses we received to our most recent Late Fall/Winter Mass survey and your shared comments. It is with this feedback and your assistance that we hope to expand our liturgical schedule beginning the weekend of Nov 7-8. In addition to Mass schedule changes, we will expand Eucharistic Adoration hours, time for personal prayer in the Church, offer Reconciliation inside the Church. We will also explore ways to safely increase the number of attendees for Indoor Mass and evaluate creative solutions for outdoor Mass as the weather gets colder. We hope to have a finalized schedule to share with you by next weekend. What is holding us up? We need help. We need additional Mass Ministers and Adorers. If you are able to serve at this time and what to know how, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Acknowledging World Food Day 2020 on this past Friday, Pope Francis spoke about the tragedy of hunger. His reflections noted the disproportional impact of the pandemic on regions of the world with fewer resources. The scarcity of food has caused many deaths. I am grateful that so many of our parishioners and neighbors continue to respond generously to our most needy. Our SALT ministry has had to pivot a few times, and each time the Lord has provided generous hearts who creatively and safely answer the call to feed the hungry. Many school families have united efforts with the broader parish and have moved the “assembly” of lunches from the campus to homes. This partnership has invited many children and youth into this blessed gift to the Lord as we feed Baltimore’s people. One meal is worth the effort if someone who would have gone hungry can fill themselves with good nutritious food! The numbers are not critical – though I note that the ministry will reach 90,000 meals served during the pandemic, with the likelihood of reaching 100,000 by Thanksgiving. Let us keep in prayer those donating food. May God bless their generosity. For those assembling and delivering these simple yet healthy meals, may God may nurture them. And for the recipients of meals, may they be filled spiritually and feel God’s presence through their community’s compassion.
- The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops encourages us to join in prayer for our nation, participating in the 2020 Election Novena. Each day from Monday, October 26, to Tuesday, November 3, please pray one Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be for the day’s intention. The list of daily intentions is posted on our website.
▫ Day One (Monday, Oct 26): As we prepare for the national & local elections, in the midst of a global pandemic, may our political engagement be guided by our Catholic Faith.
▫ Day Two: In this month of the Holy Rosary, may Our Blessed Mother guide us in confronting racial inequalities and restoring peace in our communities.
▫ Day Three: May all Americans recall the necessity of dialogue, civility, and humility in this election season.
▫ Day Four: May all people understand the moral and ethical dimensions of political decisions and decide accordingly.
▫ Day Five: May voters & elected leaders uphold the dignity of every human life in their political engagement.
▫ Day Six: May Catholics recall all aspects of Catholic Social Teaching as they consider their votes.
▫ Day Seven: May there be a transformation of politics to focus on the dignity of the human person and the common good.
▫ Day Eight: May we keep in mind the gift of religious freedom and our duty to defend and exercise it as faithful citizens.
▫ Day Nine (Tuesday, Nov 3): Today, as we approach the polls, may we understand & embrace the principles of our Faith that should guide our political engagement.
▫ Closing (Wednesday, Nov 4): May the leaders elected this week be guided by the Holy Spirit as they fulfill their positions.
- The Maryland Catholic Conference will sponsor a virtual town hall on police reform with Archbishop Lori, Baltimore City Police Commissioner Michael Harrison, Delegate Sandy Rosenberg, and Senator Jill Carter, on Monday, October 26, at 7:30 pm. Connect on Facebook.com/MDCatholic. Submit questions in advance through communications@MDCcatholic.org.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help, pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts, forever.
In the Lord,
Rev. Michael S. Triplett