This Week’s Message
What Belongs to God
By Cliff Garvey
King Herod is a prolific builder, brutal dictator, and master-manipulator whose concern for the Jewish people is rooted in egomania, greed, and lust for power. The Herodians are members of his political party. They serve their own interests by serving the aims and ambitions of their king. Like the Pharisees, the Herodians despise Jesus because he preaches and gives witness to a message of love, peace, and unity. Therefore, as we read in this weekend’s gospel (Matthew 22:15-21), the Herodians seek to trick Jesus into incriminating himself with some sign of criminal disrespect toward the government. They ask him: “Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?” If Jesus says “no”, then he could be accused of sedition or even treason. If Jesus says “yes”, then he could be accused of being merely an agent of the king and his supporters.
In response, Jesus explains that the coins used to pay the tax are issued by the government and are engraved with the image of Caesar, who is both Herod’s superior and ruler of the known world. Jesus then says: “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” Since the coins belong to the government, Jesus reasons that the coins should be given back to the government. In this way, Jesus shows that paying taxes may represent an important civic virtue and respect for the law, but it does not necessarily represent an endorsement of any political leader or party. Jesus teaches us that good citizenship does not depend on our support for particular politicians or their policies.
Jesus also urges us to repay to God what belongs to God. This is the hard part because we belong completely to God. Unlike the coin which is simply stamped with the emperor’s profile, we are created in the image and likeness of God himself. By this standard, what we owe to our country and its government may be respect, compliance with laws, and payment of taxes. But what we owe to God is something much more than a few coins or a measure of income. What we owe to God is something much more than patriotic anthems or salutes. What we owe to God is our whole life and how we live it.
Thirteen years ago, I began teaching at a secular business university where the curriculum emphasizes competition, enterprise, money-making, and success. At the time, I struggled with how to reconcile teaching there and at the same time coordinating adult and youth faith formation programs at a nearby parish. I shared this struggle with my longtime friend, Linda, who specializes in blunt and honest advice. Linda’s response was simple and straightforward. She said: “Teach your students well and treat them well. Be a good teacher and be a good Christian. Be kind. Be compassionate. Be understanding.” Over the years, I have been blessed to receive good advice from family, friends, and colleagues. But Linda’s advice was the best and most practical advice ever given to me.
Needless to say, the gospel is easy to preach, but difficult to live. We face choices, consequences, traps and temptations that make it seemingly impossible to repay what we owe: love for God and love for neighbor. I struggle to cope with my debt to God. I struggle to believe, pray, love God, and love those whom God has given me to cherish, respect, and serve. And it’s not just about my own faults and failings; or the faults and failings of others. After all, we are all broken and we are all sinners. It’s about a moment in history when our culture seems dominated by anger & division; a moment in history when our leaders earn attention not by how they serve the greatest good, but by how they attack their opponents; a moment in history when we feel forced to choose between the disastrous & the unpalatable.
In this environment, how do we respect Caesar? How do we love God? And how do we love others? First, we should listen to Jesus, who teaches us that the politics of the day pales in comparison with the promise of eternal life. We should listen to Jesus who calls us to love God with all our heart and all our strength, and to love others as we love ourselves. We should also listen to my friend, Linda, who reminds us that whether we are educators or accountants or fishermen or homemakers, we are called to compassion, kindness, and understanding. Whoever we are and wherever we are, we are called to repay what we owe by simply being good Christians: today, tomorrow, and always. Amen!
Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport
CCGR Weekly Newsletter (10-22-17)
Bringing Home the Word (10-22-17)
Respect Life Month
Be Not Afraid: A Vigil for Life
Friday, October 27th
The Roman Catholic Church professes what is called a “consistent ethic of life” because we believe that every human being is created in the image and likeness of God; and that Jesus Christ suffered, died, and is risen for all of us. In this way, every person, without exception, is sacred and loved unconditionally by our God who is Master of the Universe and Creator of Heaven and Earth. In 1971, Eileen Eagan (1912-2000), founder of the organization that would become known as Pax Christi USA, first likened this consistent ethic of life to the “seamless garment” that Jesus wore but was not torn by his executioners (John 19:23). And in 1984, Cardinal Joseph Bernadin (1928-1996), Archbishop of Chicago, delivered a series of compelling lectures that gave full voice to the Church’s belief in the sanctity of every human life from the moment of conception until natural death.
Cardinal Bernadin, a soft-spoken and deeply prayerful priest, spoke initially against the legalization of abortion and the proliferation of nuclear weapons. But he soon expanded the scope of the “seamless garment of life” to include assisted suicide, capital punishment, education, euthanasia, health care, poverty, gun violence, and unjust war. Cardinal Bernadin argued that although each of these issues is complex and different, they are also linked because the intrinsic value of human life is at the center of each one. He said: “When human life is considered cheap or easily expendable in one area, eventually nothing is held as sacred and all lives are in jeopardy.” In light of this week’s horrific tragedy in Las Vegas, these words are especially true.
Each October, the Roman Catholic Church prays in a special way for the respect of all human life. This year, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has chosen “Be Not Afraid!” as the theme of a month of prayer for all human life. Through this program, Church seeks to remind parishioners, political leaders, and policymakers about our obligation to respect every human life. Throughout October, all are encouraged to join in prayer for the protection of all human life:
Father and Maker of All,
you adorn all creation
with splendor and beauty,
and you fashion human lives
in your image and likeness.
Awaken in every heart a reverence
for the work of your hands,
and renew in your people a readiness
to nurture and sustain your precious gift of life.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ,
your Son, who lives and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
In solidarity with Pope Francis, Cardinal Sean, and the Catholic Church throughout the world, all are invited to join us for “Be Not Afraid: A Vigil for Life” on Friday, October 27th in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church. We will begin at 12:00pm with Daytime Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. Throughout the afternoon, all are welcome to join us in silent prayer and adoration of the Real Presence of Christ Jesus. At 3:00pm, we will pray a Rosary for Life in answer to the Holy Father’s call to reach out and respect our most vulnerable brothers and sisters. Our Vigil for Life will conclude at 5:00pm with Evening Prayer and Benedic- tion of the Blessed Sacrament. For more information about the Vigil for Life, please contact Father Jim at email@example.com. Please join us for all or part of this special afternoon of prayer. All are invited! All are welcome!
Learn More: Respect Life Month
The Assisi Project
Tenth Anniversary Year (2007-2017)
Saturday, October 28th
Founded in 2007 by Father Jim and Cliff Garvey, the Assisi Project is an international fellowship of “Franciscans in Spirit” with friends and followers in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Africa. Our mission is to help adults of all ages more faithfully live the Gospel of Christ and grow closer to the Catholic Church through the intercession of Saints Francis of Assisi. The Assisi Project meets on the last Saturday of every month in Saint Ann Church for Mass, faith sharing, formation, and fellowship. Our next meeting is scheduled for Saturday, October 28th at 8:00am. Members of our fellowship, ranging in age from 15 to 92, from all around the world, also pray for those who ask for our prayers. If you would like more information about the Assisi Project or if you would like us to pray for your special intention, please contact Cliff Garvey at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us! All are welcome! May the Lord give you peace!
Learn More: The Assisi Project
Youth Faith Formation
Grade 2 Sacramental Preparation
Request for Prayers
The Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport now offers a creative and innovative way to prepare young children for the Sacraments of Penance & Reconciliation (Confession) and First Holy Communion. Our program prepares both children and their parents for these sacraments, encourages lifelong relationships with Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church, and helps families grow together in prayer, fellowship, and service.
Our program is simple and family-friendly! First, we place primary focus on inviting families to attend one of our seven weekend Masses. Second, all second grade children and their parents (or guardians) are asked to attend two 90 minute workshops during the fall season; and three 90 minute workshops during the winter-spring season. Each “Faith & Family Workshop” is offered at three different times, so each family can choose which option works best for them!
This year, sixty-two of our youngest fellow parishioners from both Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish are preparing for the Sacraments of Penance & Reconciliation and First Holy Communion. As prepara- tions for First Holy Communion continue, please pray for all of our students and their families, and for all of our catechists and volunteers! For more information, please contact Betsy Works at email@example.com. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
Holy Family Parish
Christmas Fair Basket Wheel
Now Accepting Donations!
The Basket Wheel is the biggest “money maker” at our Christmas Fair, which is scheduled for Saturday, Novem- ber 18th and is the biggest fundraiser of the year at Holy Family Parish! The great success of the Basket Wheel depends on donations from our parishioners and friends! So, all are encouraged to create and donate a $25 theme bas- ket for crafts, kids, family nights, movie nights, snow days, holiday gift wrapping, or summer barbecues! Creating a basket can be both fun and inexpensive when families, friends, and neighbors work together in support of our parish! Last year, more than 120 baskets were donated and won at the Basket Wheel! Donations are now being accepted! Please help us keep the Basket Wheel spinning and make this year’s Christmas Fair a record-breaking success! For more information, please contact Lydia Bertolino at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please join us! All are invited! All are welcome!
Established in 2014, the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport is a collaborative of two historic parishes: Holy Family Parish and Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish. Working together as a Roman Catholic community united in prayer, fellowship, and service, we are committed to living the Gospel of Christ, sharing God’s love and mercy with all people, and rebuilding the Church in Gloucester & Rockport. All are invited! All are welcome! Always!
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