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A Roman Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati

Fr. Sunberg’s Homily from October 18, 2020

We hear in the opening lines of the Gospel that the Pharisees went off and plotted how they might entrap Jesus in His speech.  They present Jesus with a trick question; Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?  If he said “Yes” they could get Him on being disloyal to God, who is the true leader of Israel. If He said “No” they could get Him on being disloyal to the government. 

Jesus using the coin and the inscription and image shows that it belongs to Caesar, so give to him what is his due and give to God what is His due.  While we live in this world we live and participate within a greater society.  Probably in our pockets we have bills and coins with the images of Presidents and notable Americans.  But remember we bear the image of God Himself.  We are created in His image.   In our baptism we became His children and bear Christ within us.  As Catholics we bear witness to Christ by our lives, but in a unique way as citizens in society.  That should make a difference.

Many popes speaking on this topic call for Catholics to participate in society, especially when it comes time to vote and to bring Christ into the marketplace.  Pope Emeritus Benedict the 16th said that we are obliged to vote to protect life from conception to the natural end, for the dignity of marriage and the family and the protection of religious liberties.  Even for those who are not Catholic, the Church says a person has the right to worship as to their tradition without the government interfering. 

From the very earliest days of our republic, in our Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson saw that our liberties do not come from a government, but are rights given to the person by God Himself and these are first, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  In the Bill of Rights in our Constitution, the First Amendment is for the freedom of religion. 

We come to a critical juncture in our Nation in 17 days.  We have the right to vote and the Church would say it is our duty to vote for those who will govern us and who will protect what God has given to us for the good of our society.

I am a history buff.  My leisure reading is on battles and presidents.  My vacations revolve around historical sites.  I volunteer at President William Henry Harrison’s Tomb in North Bend and serve on their Board of Directors.  I love our Country.  Is it perfect?  No way.  Have all 45 men who occupied the White House been perfect men, far from it.  The evils we have done as a nation by enslaving the Africans and what was done to the Native American is horrendous.  The pains of this are still felt to this day.  But the destruction of human life through abortion since 1973 has killed over 45 million children.  That is more than those who died in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War 1, World War 2, the Korean and Vietnam War combined.  Yet this is something that is held up as good for women, proper health care.  I have spoken to women who had abortions, who years after the fact, who made a choice out of fear, pressure or ignorance, suffer greatly from this form of health care. 

A wife, a mother of 7, who adopted two children from Haiti, a working mother, a devout Catholic is questioned about her faith as Catholic and is worried about her views on abortion, might disqualify her from serving on the Supreme Court.  Yet they don’t seem to worry about a Catholic who is running for President or who is speaker of the House.  They might need to read the First Amendment of our Constitution, Article 6 which says no religion test shall be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

Yet our faith is often questioned with political offices.  One Senator questioned a potential judge since he belonged to the Knights of Columbus and wondered if he realized that all male organizations disapproved of abortion rights and gay marriages.  I’m a 4th degree member of the Knights of Columbus.  Fr. McGivney, our founder, will be beatified in a couple of weeks on his way to Sainthood. 

Our faith has made great contributions to our nation in the fields of education and medical care, in providing for the poor, the venerable, and the right to life. 

There are those who promote socialism and communism as a new way for our life.  These have been condemned by the Church since Blessed Pope Pius 9th in 1850 all the way to the present.  Our Lady of Fatima, in 1917, asked the children to pray the Rosary daily so that the eras of Russia would spread across the earth.  That year was the Communist Revolution in Russia.  Socialism and Communism never work.  They speak of bringing about equality for all, but it never does.  Ask the people who have lived or are living under that now in Russia, Poland, Yugoslavia, North Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, Cambodia, Venezuela, China, where there are concentration camps going on right now, Nicaragua to name a couple. 

Under communism, fascisms, Nazism, these ideologies always want to ease a nations past, so that everyone is on the same page.  They need to control the media to get the same message out and they always seem to want to control or oppress the Catholic Church, because we are the one voice who will speak out for those who are treated unfairly.  Her voice for social justice cries out for the unborn and the oppressed. 

In the past 8 months during the pandemic, we have had to close our businesses, close our churches, and in some places they are still restricted.  We lost our jobs, we are told not to socialize, and we cannot shake hands or visit the elderly. I never want to put anyone’s health in danger and put them in danger of death.  I had a former parishioner who died in the nursing home not able to see her children or grandchildren and not allowed to receive the sacraments for the six months before her death. 

Statues have been torn down, our police have faced assaults, our churches’ statues and bibles have been burned, torn down and desecrated.  Our cities are looted and burning.  Our fellow citizens have been killed, beaten and shamed if they don’t follow the mantra of the mob. To protest an injustice like what happened to George Floyd is necessary.  But this is no longer about that. 

I love our Country.  I have served as a chaplain in the Army.  We have our faults, for sure, but there are many things we have done for the good of our citizens and the citizens of the world and we need to continue to seek and do the good.

King Cyrus in our first reading was a pagan king of Persia, present day Iran.  He reigned from 539-530 B.C.  He freed the Israelites from captivity, so they could go back and become the nation again under God.  He even helped them rebuild their temple.  God used him to restore the nation of Israel so they could live with values and principals God gave to them and called them to witness. 

When we go to vote on November 3, we need to bring our faith into the voting booth.  There may be some who will say, you can’t vote for just one issue, say abortion.  If we found a candidate and he or she met with everything we thought was good and right, but they said, and when I am elected I will reinstitute black slavery, or I will no longer let women vote, would you still vote for them? 

We need to choose our candidates who will support life, family and religious freedoms or I fear, we could lose everything.  We could lose all that we were founded upon on July 4,1776.  We need God.  We need to look at who we are and who we want to be as Catholics who cherish life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  We need to do so for those who came before us, for us, and for generations still to come.

Whoever wins, I place my trust in the Lord.  If the country goes, I look to the Kingdom of God.  I will do my part to witness to Christ and our faith that I treasure and profess.  From our State’s motto which comes from the Gospel of St. Matthew, “With God all things are possible”, I will trust as I cast my vote.  God bless the United States.