Let’s face it.  No one likes to pay taxes. When April 15 (or this year, July 15) arrives, we reluctantly place our taxes in the mailbox. Then we are done for another year.  The Pharisees and Herodians in today’s Gospel were concerned about whether Jesus would pay taxes to the Romans, who were occupying their country. They were really testing him to see whether he would oppose the Romans about taxes.  Jesus threw them a curve, which they were not expecting.Sometimes we discover that there are things we would rather not do, but because of circumstances, we find that we have no choice. There always seems to be a better and different way for us to behave, and we usually take the better way. Our lives are about making decisions that benefit us and others. Our decisions should always be consistent with the values in which we believe and how we are called to live as God’s people. These values should be inherent in who we are and how we live in relationship to God and one another. Sometimes we may wonder what motivates other people to behave the way they do, which may be contrary to the way we behave. We have to be true to ourselves and to our God.As Isaiah reminds us in the first reading, God has called us by name and invited us to maintain a relationship with him. This relationship was expressed in Jesus, his Son.  This relationship means that we are given an insight into this intimate relationship that has formed us all. This formation has led to the invitation to follow Jesus and the example he has given us to care for one another and to help make the kingdom of God a reality for all we meet.In calling us, Jesus has also given us a challenge to help others experience his presence and love through our lives. We are the physical presence of Christ since he no longer lives physically but spiritually and sacramentally. This becomes even more important during these difficult times when we look for something positive in our world and our church. It is too easy to give in to the doom and gloom and the negativity that too many people have because of COVID-19. Even in the midst of this we are still called to be a people of faith and a people of hope. We have to stand as a reminder of all that is good in the world and all of us, or else everything we say and do is reduced to formalities and not opportunities to discover the wonder that Jesus is for us all.As the weather gets colder and more activities are brought inside, we have to be even more vigilant about following the protocols of mask wearing, hand washing and social distancing. If we all do what we are supposed to do, then we can protect ourselves and each other. This is especially true for our children, many of whom are already back to school. Another way to protect ourselves is to make sure we all get a flu shot. While the flu shot does not protect us from COVID-19, it can help keep us healthy this fall and winter. Be safe! HAPPY OCTOBER!! FR. JOE

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