This weekend we “open wide the doors” to Father Bob Meissner and welcome him as he celebrates Eucharist in Father Jim’s absence. Father Bob is one of our senior priests who retired a little over a year ago. His last assignment was as pastor of Saint Vincent DePaul Parish in Bay City which is now part of a merger with Saint Maria Goretti Parish. [The new parish name is Saint Catherine of Sienna]. This is Father Bob’s first time celebrating liturgy at Saint John Paul II Parish and I am sure you will give him a warm welcome. Father Bob is a great homilist and liturgist so I am trusting that you will find this weekend’s liturgies to be spiritually enriching experiences.
I would like to highlight some upcoming activities.
- This Wednesday, there is a gathering for all Ministers of Hospitality. The meeting will take place in Church at 6:30 PM and is for anyone who has served as an usher or greeter in the past and who would like to continue in the Ministry of Hospitality. It is also for anyone who is interested in learning more about this ministry or anyone who would like to begin serving in this ministry.
- This Saturday is our Fall Craft Show and Bazaar. It will take place in the Ed Center between 9:00 AM and 3:00 PM The last I heard, we have 50 vendors who will be in the gym. There is also a Mexican Luncheon and Bake Sale which will take place in the Meeting Room (Harrison Road Entrance). Raffle tickets (with cash prizes) are available in advance after Mass, from various parishioners or at the parish office. They can also be purchased on site Saturday. As much as I would like to be present for the Bazaar, I am unable to attend because I have a CSJ Community Meeting at Nazareth Friday and Saturday. I told the planning committee from the beginning that the date was not good for me, but they thought it was the best date for everyone else involved (including the community that would attend the event). So, I will be with you in spirit, and pray that all goes well. And I will see you in Church next Sunday.
- Please note that you may bring food to Church on any Sunday for the food pantry, but particularly the first Sunday of the month. If you wish to make a monetary donation, please place it in the collection in an envelope especially marked “food pantry.”
As I mentioned last week, today is World Mission Sunday. This year’s theme is “I will build my Church” (Matthew 16:18). “Every year the needs of the Catholic Church in the Missions grow - as new dioceses are formed, as new seminaries are opened because of the growing number of young men hearing Christ's call to follow Him as priests, as areas devastated by war or natural disaster are rebuilt, and as other areas, long suppressed, are opening up to hear the message of Christ and His Church. That is why the involvement and commitment of Catholics from around the world is so urgently needed. Offerings from Catholics in the United States, on World Mission Sunday and throughout the year, are combined with offerings to the Propagation of the Faith worldwide.” (from The Pontifical Mission Societies of the United States and the Propagation of the Faith). Hopefully, you remembered to bring your donation to Church today. If not, you may still place it in next week’s collection, place it in the mail, or drop it off at the parish office.
In this Sunday’s Gospel passage, the Pharisees are testing Jesus. They begin by giving him a backhanded compliment with a little sarcasm in it. They ask: “Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?” Try as they might, they are unable to trap Jesus. Knowing their malice and their intention to discredit him, he calls them hypocrites and asks for a coin. Then he questions the Pharisees, inquiring whose image and whose inscription is on the coin. Once they answer “Caesar’s,” he simply responds: “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” Unlike our coins which bear the image of statesmen along with the proclamation “In God we trust,” Roman coins only bore the image and inscription of the Emperor. In trying to trap Jesus, the Pharisees betrayed themselves by producing the coin which paid homage to Caesar. In this cultural setting, there is a conflict between different Jewish parties concerning how to serve God under Roman occupation. Should they pay the tax or resist paying the tax to preserve their identity as God’s Chosen People? As Jesus throws back the decision upon the individual, he also manages to demonstrate that returning the token manufactured by the Roman Empire did not necessarily mean one was paying allegiance to the Emperor instead of God. As we reflect upon the Gospel this week, let us focus upon the ways in which we repay to God what belongs to God. How do we show our true allegiance to God? Does someone or something else take precedence at times?
Blessings on your week!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ