From the Pastor's Desk

     Some Christians believe that it is forbidden to pray to the Saints in heaven. They confuse our prayers to them, asking for their intercession, as being divination of the saints, which is strictly forbidden by the Bible. What does the Bible say about the "dead"? Is being dead in the body equal to being dead in the spirit? Is it forbidden to talk to the dead? If Jesus talked to the dead while He was alive on earth, did He violate his own command to not divine them up?
     The dead in Christ are much more alive than they ever were here on earth, because they are not constrained by their bodies, they are one with Christ, and they share in his glory. And by asking for the prayers of the saints, they do not somehow stand "between" us and Jesus, but rather, alongside of us in our prayers. James 5:16 says that the prayers of a holy person are very powerful, and who is more holy than someone who is already in heaven sharing in Christ's glory? Paul says that intercessory prayer is a good thing, as stated in 1 Timothy 2:1. And since saints in heaven never sleep, they can pray for us around the clock, even while we are asleep, at work, or at play.

   Lord God, as the election approaches, we seek to better understand the issues and concerns that confront our city/state/country, and how the Gospel compels us to respond as faithful citizens in our community.             We ask for eyes that are free from blindness so that we might see each other as brothers and sisters, one and equal in dignity, especially those who are victims of abuse and violence, deceit and poverty.             We ask for ears that will hear the cries of children unborn and those abandoned, men and women oppressed because of race or creed, religion or gender. We ask for minds and hearts that are open to hearing the voice of leaders who will bring us closer to your Kingdom.             We pray for discernment so that we may choose leaders who hear your Word, live your love, and keep in the ways of your truth as they follow in the steps of Jesus and his Apostles and guide us to your Kingdom of justice and peace.             We ask this in the name of your Son Jesus Christ and through the power of the Holy Spirit.             Amen. ****            

     “I love You Lord, my strength!” As we praise God with the words of our Responsorial Psalm, the rest of the readings serve as reminders of what it means to have the Lord God be our strength.
     The reading from the Book of Exodus commands us boldly, “You shall not molest or oppress an alien, for you were once aliens.” When we are wounded by another’s insensitivity or unreasonable behavior, God is warning us to not pass it on to others. Instead, the person of faith, will learn from the pain they experienced and share only the things that are helpful to the progress of others.
     Also, present in the first reading, are words which demonstrate God’sfavored choice to be present to the poor and needy. These words we must take seriously because they reveal the mind of God to us. The poor and needy are our responsibility.

     In today’s first reading, Cyrus is called by God to be a liberator of His chosen people. The psalm passage reminds us of God’s goodness and how we are called to respond. Paul’s epistle gives encouragement to the Thessalonian community by showing them that the Gospel came to them with power, conviction and because of the action of the Holy Spirit. In the Gospel, Jesus avoids a snare that is set for Him by responding with a statement on what should be expected by the civil authorities and what should be expected by God.
     The Pharisees plot was well-crafted. They heaped flattery upon flattery. The point of their words was to corrupt Jesus’ vision of Himself. They told Him, how “they saw Him.” The point of the words was to change His vision of Himself. “You are a truthful man. You are not concerned with anyone’s position. You are not influenced by others and You teach the precepts of God boldly.” The Pharisees’ words were an attempt to inflate Jesus’ ego and thereby make him into their version of a hero. In this way, He could be controlled by them. The one who is responsible for shaping your vision of yourself, is the one who controls your behavior.

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