Church of the

7580 Clinton Street
Elma, New York 14059


October 22, 2017

29th Sunday Ordinary

I have a twenty pound note (British Sterling) from my last trip to London. Queen Elizabeth, her portrait, is imprinted on one side. She is the reigning monarch. It is a custom here, in our country, to have currency engraved with the figure of a notable man or in the case of a “silver” dollar -- Susan B. Anthony. For most Americans and the English this custom is not offensive but having a coin or denarius in your purse at the time of Jesus could signal that you are sympathetic or collaborating with the Roman occupational army! The image of the Emperor, Tiberius Caesar, son of the divine priest Augustus, was imprinted on the tribute coin used for the census tax. For a faithful Jew it was graven image, an idol.  

Pharisees and Herodians, in league together, try to trap Jesus by asking: “Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?” If Jesus says: “yes” he will be painted as a collaborator; if he says: “no” he will be seen as a rebel or zealot. Either way Jesus loses. But Jesus asks for the coin that pays the tax. Unwittingly, they hand Jesus the coin in question thus compromising their own sincerity. Jesus asks: “Whose image is this and whose inscription?” They reply: “Caesar’s.” Avoiding entrapment, Jesus tells them: “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”

We are dual citizens – in the country we live and in the Kingdom to come. Catholic Catechism states: Submission to authority and co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to pay taxes, to exercise the right to vote, and to defend one’s country. But Catholics must follow God first, “refusing obedience to civil authorities when their demands are contrary to those of an upright conscience.” St. Peter in his letter in the New Testament puts it succinctly: “Give honor to all, love the community, fear God, honor the king.” (1Peter 2:17) St. Thomas More, before his execution, affirms: “I die the King’s good servant, but God’s first.”     

More Homilies

October 15, 2017

28th Sunday Ordinary

I am not a “birdwatcher” but I do slow down at times to observe and listen to the birds. I have noticed a gathering of sparrows in the maple tree, evergreens and bushes next to Langley Hall. It is a bird sanctuary. The birds stop chirping when I quietly walk by as if I am stalking them. Birdwatchers note a scout sparrow arrives first, then more sparrows, finches and do...


October 08, 2017

27th Sunday Ordinary

Our first reading is from the prophet Isaiah. It is ballad or song. Listening to the original Hebrew lyrics we can detect the rhyme and word association. It moves from joy to sadness like a Country Western song. The harvest is near with joyful anticipation of plentiful grapes for wine. Isaiah sings of the owner of the vineyard as his friend who has cleared the fertile hill...


October 01, 2017

26th Sunday Ordinary

This past week we heard a scientific word: “optics” (the study of light and vision) used in a political context. President Trump said he didn’t like the “optics” of cabinet members using costly charter jets to travel. Again, an administration official calls the federal response to the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico a “good news story” when we are seeing a...


September 17, 2017

24th Sunday Ordinary

Recently, a parishioner sent me a number of Family Circus comics on prayer, going to church, trying to baptize the cat, etc. One cartoon had Billy (or Jeffy) praying: “Our Father who art in heaven how did you know my name?” Billy messes up the opening of the Our Father but in so doing expresses a core belief: God knows us, cares for us and call us by name. We are calle... READ MORE

September 10, 2017

23rd Sunday Ordinary

Florida Governor Rick Scott has been a watchman or sentinel. He has been urging Floridians to prepare for Hurricane Irma and, for those near the storm surge, to evacuate. Like Ezekiel, the prophet exiled with the Jewish community in Babylon, he warns his contemporaries of their peril. Not everyone listens and turns from harm. Ezekiel is not worried about the threat of a hu... READ MORE

September 03, 2017

22nd Sunday Ordinary

Mary sings in her Magnificat: “My Spirit rejoices in God my savior” but her response to the Angel Gabriel: “let it be according to your word” will eventually lead her to the cross and sadness. It is the path of discipleship. (Friday September 15 is the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows.)   Peter objects to the path Jesus foresees as his destiny in fidelity to... READ MORE

August 27, 2017

21 Sunday Ordinary

Two times this week I found myself driving behind Metro Buses to see the ad: “Who is Kevin?” with a log on below: “” I was intrigued and curious. In our first reading from the Prophet Isaiah we hear the name: “Eliakim.” You want to know this guy. He is the new Master of the Palace. He has the robe and sash of authority; he has the keys to the palac... READ MORE

August 20, 2017

20th Sunday Ordinary

After the death of Moses, Joshua leads the Israelite people across the Jordan River to Jericho. Here the aspiring Hebrew Nation engages the local Canaanites for possession of the land. Animosity between Canaanites and Jews goes back a millennium. It is surprising that Jesus withdraws to the region of Tyre and Sidon -- a Canaanite district. A Canaanite woman dares to approa... READ MORE

Displaying Homilies -3 - 1 of 353


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