Isaiah 45:1, 4-6; 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5b; Matthew 22:15-21
What Belongs to God?
The answer given by Jesus to those who questioned him in an attempt to entrap him sounds like a clever way out of a no-win situation. If Jesus says that taxes should be paid, he is a friend of the Romans. If he says that taxes should not be paid, he is a trouble maker. The famous “repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God” then appears as a convenient dodging of the question.
On October 12th, at the hospitable Church of San Salvatore in Onda in Rome, a solemn Mass was held for the Father Jan Korycki SAC, who passed away to eternity on July 31st, 2020. The Eucharist gathered primarily Poles working on the general administrations of various congregations in Rome, united in a so-called Polish group, which is chaired by a council and elected for three years. In the current term of office the council consists of our two sisters: Sr. Izabela Świerad, Superior General and Sr. Anna Małdrzykowska, General Councilor. Fr. Jan Korycki SAC was from the very beginning of the group, and we can say that he was one of its initiators and animators. It is worth noting that the Polish representatives of the General Governments meet twice a year to address current issues of the world, the Church and consecrated life.
Jesus continues to prepare his disciples for trials to come in the future. He encourages them to be faithful to their Christian commitment and to their faith in Christ as Lord. When we publicly acknowledge Jesus as Christ and Lord, Jesus too will acknowledge us as his faithful disciple. Of course, it will be difficult during times of abuse and persecution but they must always be ready to acknowledge their allegiance to Jesus. To deny that allegiance may win them a reprieve in this life but not in the next. “He who saves his life will lose it,” as Jesus said on an earlier occasion. The word for ‘deny’ here is the same word used in Peter’s denial and disowning of his Master (Luke 22:34 and 61).
“… so many people were crowding together that they were trampling one another underfoot. Jesus began to speak, first to his disciples…”
People are being trampled underfoot and Jesus begins to speak to his disciples!? That seems a very odd response to an apparently extreme situation. Why isn’t Jesus jumping into the midst of this and setting things straight?
“…since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by his grace as a gift…”
How do we get-right-with-God? We look as squarely as we can at life’s circumstances and come in contact with our blessed weakness, our real inability to do anything to save ourselves from the incredible depths of fear that are part of seeing the vulnerability of life. Then we can begin to gain true self-knowledge. We begin to know ourselves as powerless and we begin to see our attitudes about that powerlessness.
Galatians 5:18-25; Psalm 1:1, 1-2, 3, 4+6; Luke 11:42-46
Today’s readings are easy to skim, but hard to read carefully. When we scan the first reading, we can see a list of things Paul tells the Galatians to avoid.
“Immorality, impurity, licentiousness.” We might be relieved to cross those off our mental list of sins.
“Idolatry and sorcery”: Nope.
“Drinking bouts, orgies.” We can start getting complacent, maybe even smug at this point because isn’t it obvious how good and noble we really are?
But, … what about those things on the list we skimmed over?
Today we hear very often about the need for frequent hand washing as a deterrent to the spread of swine flu. I could not help but think of this as I read the gospel message for today. The washing of hands provided the occasion for controversy between Jesus and the Pharisee.
Just as the washing of hands is today viewed as a way to cleanliness and as a deterrent swine flu, so in the days of Jesus the washing of hands was intended to promote cleanliness. The Jewish people knew that the washing of their hands was both important and necessary. Since many of the people spent most of the day outdoors they got their hands dirty. But for the Pharisees the washing of hands also signified ritual purity before God. And it is on the matter of ritual purity that Jesus confronts this Pharisee.
A member of the Millennial generation, fifteen-year-old Carlo Acutis, was beatified in Assisi on Saturday, October 10th. A brief biography recounts how his passion for the Eucharist and internet savvy have left us a tangible connection with him.
On October 8, in our Generalate house (Pallottine Missionary Sisters), the second meeting in this year of the General Councils of our Pallottine Congregations took place. The first meeting was in January 2020. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented many of the planned initiatives for the reunification journey.