We are quickly making our way through the Season of Ordinary Time this year and are already observing the 29th Sunday of the season this weekend. Our Gospel reading from St. Matthew follows immediately upon last Sunday’s Gospel. Today’s account is the first of four controversies in which Jesus’ adversaries question him about topics of Law, belief and behavior. After Jesus finishes his teaching in parables to some of his harshest opponents, the Pharisees initiate their plotting against him. Their plan is to entrap him. They cleverly decide to bring in the Herodians, those who supported the Roman occupation and system of taxation, which the Pharisees themselves disputed. Jesus would be sure to offend one side or the other when the question of paying taxes to Caesar was at issue. Better yet, he could be seen in opposition to Rome, getting himself in trouble as a rebel.
Their plan is to disarm Jesus with flattery so that he must either answer their question or appear untruthful and acting contrary to his own teaching. Jesus’ immediate response turns the tables. He knows their malice, which motivates them to put on a show. Jesus calls them “hypocrites,” since they are playing a part in the drama they set up, pretending to ask a genuine question. When Jesus asks them to show him the coin, he forces them to acknowledge that the coin has the inscription of Caesar on it. Caesar’s name on the coin means that the coin must belong to Caesar. Paying the tax simply means giving back to him what already belongs to him. Although Jesus doesn’t ask them, “Which things belong to God?” we can almost hear it as an unspoken question. How would we answer that most fundamental question – “Which things belong to God?”
We continue our observance of Respect Life Month during this month of October. Several years ago our bishops designated October as Respect Life Month. Throughout this month, we are called in a special way to reflect on the gift of human life, the threats against it and how we can protect all persons from conception through natural death. We have several opportunities in our parish to put our Respect Life values into practice. The Knights of Columbus are currently wrapping up their “Baby Bottles for Life” project. If you still have a baby bottle, please bring it back next weekend. We continue to pray for our expecting couples on our “Expecting Couple’s Prayer List.” We have several ministries that promote our Catholic Respect Life values. Because we are a people who respect Life, we offer a Mass every Tuesday at either Lexington or West Suburban Nursing homes. Because we are a people who respect Life, we send our Eucharistic Ministers to the nursing homes after 8:30am Mass on Sundays. Because we are a people who respect Life, we close the Ministry Center to parish meetings and events every Monday and offer the local homeless three meals and a place to sleep through PADS. Because we are a people who respect Life, we support our local food pantries through Neighborhood Food Pantries. We respect human life from conception through natural death through our prayers and in our actions.
Thank you to all who participated in our Second Annual Chips and Chili night last Saturday. The chili samples were awesome as were the cupcakes and additional food options. The Cubs NLCS game in Los Angeles was projected on a big screen and a “W” would have made the night even better. The different Raffle Packages were great. I couldn’t’ help but notice the broad range of parishioners who were there. It was truly a cross-cut of our parish. So often when we hear that something is sponsored by our Grade School, we think it is only for Grade School parents. Not so the case with this event. If you weren’t there, you missed a wonderful evening. Thank you, again, to all who worked so hard to sponsor this event.
Congratulations to parishioners Dan Defino and Terry Neary, and their Permanent Diaconate Program classmates, who received the Ministry of Acolyte at a Mass celebrated here by Bishop Joseph Siegel this past Friday evening. This is one of the final steps they take in preparation for their ordination as deacons. We promise them the support of our prayers as they continue their formation.
I recently mentioned here that we are beginning the practice of celebrating a special Mass of the Anointing of the Sick twice a year – once in the autumn and again during Lent. On Saturday, November 11th, we will celebrate a special Mass at 11:00am in the main church during which the Sacrament of the Sick will be offered to those who desire to receive it. Anyone who is struggling with a physical, mental or spiritual illness may request to be anointed. All three priests will be present to celebrate the Sacrament of the Sick following the homily.
In preparation for the Feast of All Souls on November 2nd, our parish Book of the Dead is now in the Narthex of the Church. You are welcome to add the names of your personal beloved dead. They will be remembered on All Soul’s Day, at our Parish Memorial Mass on Thursday, November 2nd and throughout the month of November.
This weekend we have the opportunity to participate in the annual World Mission Sunday appeal. This is one of eleven special appeals in our Diocese over the course of the year. Funds collected through this appeal support the work of missioners throughout the world. 5% of our Offertory collection will be sent to this annual campaign. If you would like to make an additional contribution to this cause, please use the envelopes have been included in the packet mailed to each home or the white envelopes in the pew racks. As always, thank you for your generous support.
As autumn continues, God’s hand is apparent all around us. Let us take time to notice the beauty. May God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy