BRIDGEPORT—Christians cannot run away from the world; rather they should engage it and seek to transform it, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano said during the online Mass from the Catholic Center chapel for the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time.
“We as believers do not run away from the kingdom of Caesar but enter into the public square and the larger culture recognizing its faults and bringing to it a message of hope and transformation.”
Bishop Caggiano said we effect change by bearing personal witness to the “integrity of Christian life” and by becoming a “Holy Reproach” to the larger society that often fails to live up to Gospel values.
Reflecting on the Gospel of Matthew (22: 15-21) when the Pharisees try to trap Jesus into a statement that will lead to his death, the bishop said that the Roman tax on the Jewish people was oppressive and held them in bondage.
If Jesus answered, No, to their question, he would be speaking against his own people. If he opposed the tax, he would be charged with insurrection, the bishop said.
However Jesus turns the tables on the Pharisees when he responds, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”
Translating that statement into our own lives is the challenge that we face today as we seek to bring the message of the Gospel to the public square, the bishop said.
The bishop said that no one likes paying taxes, that there are “many Caesars” in the world today and that all systems of rule “are troubled and broken and do not follow example of the Kingdom Christ has come to inaugurate.”
He said that Christians at some cost to themselves must become “a holy reproach to systems that create no place for God, and for his mercy and for the dignity of human life.”
At the same time, many social structures do not allow “all of God’s children to live in peace and prosperity.”
The bishop said we are all members of God’s kingdom by virtue of our baptism and that we are challenged to become “the eyes and ears, hands and feet and heart of Jesus” as we call the world to conversion and change.
“In the end, there will be only one King– the King to whom we owe everything– and that is Christ. We his subjects must allow his presence to rule our lives. We must give to God what is God’s. Without God, we have nothing. In the end, there will be no Caesar,” the bishop said.
The bishop said that St. Thomas More set the example for all Christians by “dying as the King’s good servant, but God’s first.” When in conflict with Henry VIII he sought to continue to serve the King, but realized he owed God “a pure conscience and fidelity to the truth. My friends, can you and I say the same?”
In remarks before final blessing, the bishop noted that as pandemic endures there are reports of resurgence of the virus as well as signs of hope. He urged all the pray for the end of the crisis and join in the weekly Family Rosary, every Sunday at 7:30 in the evening.
For more information on the Sunday Family Rosary, visit: https://formationreimagined.org/sundayfamilyrosary/
Bishop’s Online Mass: The Bishop’s Sunday Mass is released online every Sunday morning at 8 a.m. and available for replay throughout the day. To view the Bishop’s Sunday Mass, recorded and published weekly, click this link or visit the YouTube Mass Playlist.