News and Schedules - From the Pastor

Do you like to pay taxes?

A well-known businessman, on his deathbed, sent for his best friend. “Bill”, he said, I want you to promise to have my remains cremated.” Bill, with sadness in his voice, replied, “What do you want me to do with your ashes?” The dying man directed: “Put them in an envelope and send them to the Internal Revenue Service. Write on the envelope: ‘Now you have everything.’”

The saying is: “There is nothing certain except death and taxes.” And it was so even for Jesus! Although, as He told Peter in the Gospel passage, He was not required to pay the Temple tax because of Who He was, Jesus performed a minor miracle of having Peter catch a fish, open it up, and take a coin to pay the tax both for Himself and Peter. While there is always a debate about the fairness of taxes, there is no debate that every person is obligated to take care of the world. This is clearly indicated in the Book of Genesis where God tells Adam and Eve to govern and take care of the world.

Jesus, in the Gospel passage, makes His classic statement of taking care of our obligations to both God and country: “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God.” So it is that each one of us has a duty and an obligation to God and to the society in which we live. We are not to believe that God and the world owes us but that we are beholden both to God and to society for the gifts that have been given us.

As Catholics, we are to respond to God’s gift of the Church by taking care of it. To be good stewards of this precious gift means taking care of our Church by giving of our time, talent, and treasure to promote the work of the Gospel. It is up to us to carry on the work of God’s Kingdom on earth. If Jesus established His Church at the cost of His own life, then we, as His followers, are obligated to “bear our part of the hardship for the Gospel.” That is the cost of discipleship.

On this Sunday, the Lord expects us to ask ourselves these three questions.

  • Am I contributing to the work of the Church by giving of my time to serve St. Mary Magdalen Parish as a volunteer in any of its ministries and projects?
  • Am I using a talent that God has given me to teach our children, minister to the poor, take part in our Masses as a Reader, Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, a choir member, altar server, or usher?
  • Am I sharing my financial blessings with our church to support its mission and work?

To say ‘yes’ to these questions is to show the Lord that we accept our responsibility to care for Christ’s Body, the Church. To say ‘no’ is to avoid our obligations to God and fellow Catholics.

Similarly, “paying just taxes” and taking care of the world around is a moral and spiritual obligation. Too often people “demand their rights” but fail to remember that rights carry with them obligations as members of the human community. To avoid obligations is to want a ‘free ride’ and expect someone else to pay our way in the world. We are made not only to know and love God but also to serve Him and others in this world. As the former Congress woman Shirley Chisholm once said, “Service is the rent you pay for room on this earth.

If, as St. Paul says in the 2nd Reading, others are grateful for “your work of faith and your labor of love and endurance of hope of our Lord Jesus Christ,” you will find no taxes in heaven but only the eternal reward bestowed on you for a life lived for God and others.

Father Kirlin