Tuesday of the 29th Week in Ordinary Time (Lk. 12:35-38)

Jesus tells his disciples to gird their loins, that is, he is directing them to a mission they need to accomplish. They ought to be prepared and focused at all times. Jesus also tells them to keep their lamps burning. The lamps are meant to brighten the path of their Master upon his return home from the marriage feast. In a civilization without light bulbs and electricity the lighted lamps are crucial so the Master could find his way back home. To keep our lamps burning entails leading people towards the right path lest they encounter danger or lose their way. To keep our lamps burning is to give a credible witness to our faith. The Gospel gives us a surprising twist because it is the master who serves the servants at table, having found them trustworthy and faithful, instead of the expected scene of the servants serving their newly-returned master. Jesus shows us how it will be in the end-times: God will reward the faithful and vigilant servants. God will make them sit at the divine banquet, serving them himself. It will be an experience worth looking forward to. Every day the Master comes at any minute. Do we remain focused on him? Are we always ready at his coming?

Monday of the 29th Week in Ordinary Time (Lk. 12:13-21)

Jesus told the parable of the foolish rich man as a response to a Jew who had asked Jesus’ help in solving his dispute with his brother concerning their paternal inheritance. By relating this parable, Jesus warns us against all types of greed, because greed takes our life’s focus away from God and away from serving and loving other people. Instead, greed directs all our energy and attention to fulfilling the self, making our wealth the basis of our security. Jesus also warns us against the temptation to place our dependence upon material things because “one’s life does not consist of possessions.” Through this parable Jesus teaches the audience the folly of greed and selfishness. He declares that the criterion for Heavenly bliss is not earthly wealth but how we share what we have with others. In the parable, God calls the rich man “fool” because 1) he has evicted God from his heart, enthroned money instead, and worshipped his wealth; 2) he has also evicted his brothers and sisters in need from his heart because there is place in it only for his wealth; 3) he has filled his heart with himself and has become greedy; 4) he has forgotten that he will die one day and lose all his possessions. We need to share our blessings with others because all these things have been loaned to us by God, and so we are accountable for their use. We must be generous in sharing our time, our treasure, and our talents, the three elements of Christian stewardship. We need to control our greed because it diverts our life and energies from loving God and from serving and loving Him in other people to loving ourselves alone. Our greed takes different shapes and forms. For some it may be the desire for the approval and praise of others. For others it is the uncontrolled desire for power, control or fame. For a few others it takes the form of desire for excessive and sinful indulgence in eating, drinking, gambling, drugs or sexual activities. Hence, let us rely on the strength of God to free us from all forms of greed. (Fr. Tony)

Twenty Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the Gospel, Jesus escapes from the trap in the question, “Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?” by stating, “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” With this answer, Jesus reminds his questioners that, if they are so concerned and careful about paying taxes to the state, they should be much more concerned and careful about their service to God and their obligations to Him as their Creator and Lord. We fulfill our duties to our country by loyally obeying the just laws of the State and working for the welfare of all citizens. We become good Heavenly citizens by obeying God’s laws. Let us remember, we have dual citizenship: a citizen of our country and a citizen of God’s Kingdom. This doctrine is sometimes called the “doctrine of the two powers,” or the “two realms,” meaning that the life of a Christian involves a twofold allegiance: to the ruling government in civil and secular issues, and to God and the Church as regards spiritual and religious issues. By birth, we become the citizens of the country of our birth, and by Baptism we become the citizens of Heaven. In every age, Christians are faced with balancing the demands of Caesar with the commands of God. Jesus’ answer forms the guiding principle in solving the problems that arise from our dual citizenship, belonging to God and to our. country. As Christians, we are to obey the government, even when it is pagan and non-Christian. A loyal Christian is always a loyal citizen. Failure in good citizenship is also failure in Christian duty. We fulfill our duties to our country by loyally obeying the just laws of the State, by paying all lawful taxes, and by contributing our share, whenever called on, toward the common good. Both St. Peter (1 Pt 2:13-14), and St. Paul (Rom 13:1-7), stressed the obligation of the early Christians to be an example to all in their loyalty as citizens of the state. Similarly, we fulfill our duties to God by being faithful, loyal, active members of the spiritual Kingdom of God, the Church, which Christ established on earth. Thus, a real Christian is, at one and the same time, a good citizen of his country and a good citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven, but his priority is his allegiance to God. As the famous martyr St. Thomas More said of himself: “I die the King’s good servant, but God’s first.” Cooperation with secular authority may not interfere with our primary duty of “giving back to God” our whole selves, in whose image – like the stamp on the coin – we are made. Consequently, we give taxes to the government, but we give ourselves to God. We need to “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s”: How? Like it or not, it’s a reality that our ancestors created the kind of government that relies on a portion of its citizens’ income to function. Hence, it is the duty of Christians to pay for the services and the privileges that government provides –- like paved roads, police and fire departments, banks, schools and other necessities. If we refuse to pay taxes, how will these needs be fulfilled? Another way of “giving to Caesar what is Caesar’s” is to participate actively in the running of the government, electing the most suitable candidate, and influencing them through frequent contacts. Third, we must submit to the civil authorities and respect the laws of our country in order to live in peace. As loyal citizens, we must also see to it that our elected representatives are faithful in maintaining law and order in the country and in promoting the welfare of its citizens. When the state oversteps the mark and puts itself in the place of God, Christians are, as a last resort, absolved from obedience. We must give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and not the things that are God’s. We must “obey God rather than human beings.” We need to “give to God what is God’s”: How? Since everything is God’s, we must give ourselves to Him 100%, not just 10% on Sundays. We should be generous in fulfilling our Sunday obligations, and we should find time every day for prayer and worship in the family, for the reading of the Bible, and for the proper training of our children in Faith and morals. St. Augustine teaches that when we truly succeed in “giving to God what is God’s,” we are “doing justice to God.” This requires that we return to God, with dividends, that which God has entrusted to us, remembering that we are mere managers or stewards of God’s gifts. Every year, we are invited to make the stewardship pledge of our financial offering to the local Church for the coming year. Our contribution to the parish Church should be an expression of our gratitude to God, giving back to God all that he has given us. This will help us to combat the powerful influence of materialism in our lives and enable the Church to do God’s work. Our cash offerings signify our commitment to the ministries of the Gospel, which are the activities of the Risen Lord! Every pledge enables and empowers ministry. Every pledge, every dollar, touches a human life and brings it closer to God. Every pledge, every dollar given, is transformed into love for someone else and for ourselves. Active participation in the various ministries of the parish is the offering to God of our time and talents, yet another way of giving to God his due, our whole self. (Fr. Tony)

Dear Friends,

We wish to thank all of you who have been mailing in and dropping off your donations to St. Paschal. You have made it possible for us to continue to pay our bills as usual in March so that we can keep our parish open. We ask that you will continue your donations so that we can continue to keep our parish operating in the coming months. We pray that this crisis will be over soon so that we can all gather together again in the House of Our Lord. We are here in the office for anything that you may need so please do not hesitate to call. Please call Donna at St. Catherine's at 434-374-8408 if you cannot reach anyone at St. Paschal's. We are praying for all of you and your families to be safe from this virus. May the Good Lord keep us all in His Tender Loving Care! God Bless You Always, Fr. Ongen and Fr. Richard

Oratio Imperata/Prayer

God our Father,

we come to You in need to ask for Your protection against the 2019 N-Corona Virus,

that has claimed lives and has affected many.

We pray for Your grace for the people tasked with studying the nature and cause

of this virus and its disease and of stemming the tide of its transmission.

Guide the hands and minds of medical experts that they may minister to the sick

with competence and compassion, and of those government and private agencies

that must find cure and solution to this epidemic.

We pray for those afflicted may they be restored to health soon.

Grant us the grace to work for the good of all and to help those in need.

Grant this through our Lord, Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever. Amen

Mary help of all Christians, pray for us

St. Raphael the Archangel, pray for us

St. Roch, pray for us

St. Peter the Apostle, pray for us