Sermon Notes – October 22, 2023 – “The Man Who Has the Gold Makes the Rules”

“The Man Who Has the Gold Makes the Rules”

Father Peter Fitzgibbons

October 21 – 22, 2023

Gospel: Matthew 22:15-21

15 Then the Pharisees went away to work out between them how to trap Him in what He said. 16 And they sent their disciples to Him, together with some Herodians, to say, ‘Master, we know that You are an honest man and teach the way of God in all honesty, and that You are not afraid of anyone, because human rank means nothing to You. 17 Give us Your opinion, then. Is it permissible to pay taxes to Caesar or not?’ 18 But Jesus was aware of their malice and replied, ‘You hypocrites! Why are you putting Me to the test? 19 Show Me the money you pay the tax with.’ They handed Him a denarius, 20 and He said, ‘Whose portrait is this? Whose title?’ 21 They replied, ‘Caesar’s.’ Then He said to them, ‘Very well, pay Caesar what belongs to Caesar — and God what belongs to God.’

You all know the Golden Rule. So, what is it? The man who has the gold makes the rules. Many years ago, I entered Providence College in the fall of 1971. We had a brand-new library on campus. The trouble with that brand-new library, located on a Catholic campus and run by the Dominican Fathers, was that you could not teach a religion class there. Sounds kind of – what’s the word I’m looking for – stupid. Why were religion classes not allowed to be taught there? Because the college took government money to build the library.

So, when you take someone’s money, they get to call the shots. This is the problem with Catholic healthcare today. You have to help pay for Medicaid and all these government social welfare programs. Therefore, you have to do immoral things because you have received government money. The Church has gotten into bed with all that. They like someone else’s money. Some priests say, “You have to be nice to people. You can’t really tell them that abortion, divorce, and homosexual acts are wrong. You can’t tell people that because it will upset them, and your collection will go down.” Really? I’m not worried about the collection. I am more worried about the final exam before my Savior, especially at my age. I’m cramming for it now.

We have to be careful. Money is like a drug – it’s like crack. Is it a weakness? No. But we can’t live without it, and we want more and more of it. So, we compromise the Gospel and tap dance around other things. “Well, we aren’t really funding that. We are really doing this.” No. Now you are playing word games.

The Church hasn’t learned its lesson. Parishes haven’t learned it either. When you take someone’s money and you rely on them, they get to call the shots. So, who should be calling the shots in the Church instead?

Father’s Afterthoughts:
Because you are going to hear a lot about the horrifying things that are happening in Gaza, I want to give you a lesson on the Law of War. If terrorists hide rockets and other weapons of war in hospitals, schools, or private homes, they have made those places legitimate targets, and bombing them is not a war crime. The terrorists made them legitimate targets which is a violation of the Law of War. Some people are upset about the atrocities happening in Gaza. The terrorists are responsible for putting the bombs in schools and hospitals resulting in the loss of their neutrality and making them legitimate targets. Hamas is famous for doing that.

How will you apply this message to your life? _________________________________________

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10 Ways to Love
1. Give without expecting in return (Proverbs 21:26)
2. Trust without wavering (1 Corinthians 13:7)
3. Forgive without punishing (Colossians 3:13-14)
4. Listen without interrupting (Proverbs 18)
5. Enjoy without complaining (Philippians 2:14)
6. Answer without arguing (Proverbs 17:1)
7. Speak without accusing (James 1:19)
8. Keep your promises (Matthew 5:37)
9. Be patient in all things (1 Corinthians 13:4)
10. Learn to let it go (Ephesians 4:31-32)

Saint of the Day – October 23 – Saint John of Capistrano

Saint John of Capistrano’s Story (June 24, 1386 – October 23, 1456)

It has been said the Christian saints are the world’s greatest optimists. Not blind to the existence and consequences of evil, they base their confidence on the power of Christ’s redemption. The power of conversion through Christ extends not only to sinful people but also to calamitous events.

Imagine being born in the 14th century. One-third of the population and nearly 40 percent of the clergy were wiped out by the bubonic plague. The Western Schism split the Church with two or three claimants to the Holy See at one time. England and France were at war. The city-states of Italy were constantly in conflict. No wonder that gloom dominated the spirit of the culture and the times.

John Capistrano was born in 1386. His education was thorough. His talents and success were great. When he was 26 he was made governor of Perugia. Imprisoned after a battle against the Malatestas, he resolved to change his way of life completely. At the age of 30 he entered the Franciscan novitiate and was ordained a priest four years later.

John’s preaching attracted great throngs at a time of religious apathy and confusion. He and 12 Franciscan brethren were received in the countries of central Europe as angels of God. They were instrumental in reviving a dying faith and devotion.

The Franciscan Order itself was in turmoil over the interpretation and observance of the Rule of St. Francis. Through John’s tireless efforts and his expertise in law, the heretical Fraticelli were suppressed and the “Spirituals” were freed from interference in their stricter observance.

John of Capistrano helped bring about a brief reunion with the Greek and Armenian Churches.

When the Turks captured Constantinople in 1453, John was commissioned to preach a crusade for the defense of Europe. Gaining little response in Bavaria and Austria, he decided to concentrate his efforts in Hungary. He led the army to Belgrade. Under the great General John Hunyadi, they gained an overwhelming victory, and the siege of Belgrade was lifted. Worn out by his superhuman efforts, Capistrano was an easy prey to an infection after the battle. He died on October 23, 1456.


John Hofer, a biographer of John Capistrano, recalls a Brussels organization named after the saint. Seeking to solve life problems in a fully Christian spirit, its motto was: “Initiative, Organization, Activity.” These three words characterized John’s life. He was not one to sit around. His deep Christian optimism drove him to battle problems at all levels with the confidence engendered by a deep faith in Christ.

Saint John of Capistrano is Patron Saint of:


Saint of the Day – October 22 – Saint John Paul II

Saint John Paul II’s Story (May 18, 1920 – April 2, 2005)

“Open wide the doors to Christ,” urged John Paul II during the homily at the Mass where he was installed as pope in 1978.

Born in Wadowice, Poland, Karol Jozef Wojtyla had lost his mother, father, and older brother before his 21st birthday. Karol’s promising academic career at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University was cut short by the outbreak of World War II. While working in a quarry and a chemical factory, he enrolled in an “underground” seminary in Kraków. Ordained in 1946, he was immediately sent to Rome where he earned a doctorate in theology.

Back in Poland, a short assignment as assistant pastor in a rural parish preceded his very fruitful chaplaincy for university students. Soon Fr. Wojtyla earned a doctorate in philosophy and began teaching that subject at Poland’s University of Lublin.

Communist officials allowed Wojtyla to be appointed auxiliary bishop of Kraków in 1958, considering him a relatively harmless intellectual. They could not have been more wrong!

Bishop Wojtyla attended all four sessions of Vatican II and contributed especially to its Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World. Appointed as archbishop of Kraków in 1964, he was named a cardinal three years later.

Elected pope in October 1978, he took the name of his short-lived, immediate predecessor. Pope John Paul II was the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. In time, he made pastoral visits to 124 countries, including several with small Christian populations.

John Paul II promoted ecumenical and interfaith initiatives, especially the 1986 Day of Prayer for World Peace in Assisi. He visited Rome’s main synagogue and the Western Wall in Jerusalem; he also established diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Israel. He improved Catholic-Muslim relations, and in 2001 visited a mosque in Damascus, Syria.

The Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, a key event in John Paul’s ministry, was marked by special celebrations in Rome and elsewhere for Catholics and other Christians. Relations with the Orthodox Churches improved considerably during his papacy.

“Christ is the center of the universe and of human history” was the opening line of John Paul II’s 1979 encyclical, Redeemer of the Human Race. In 1995, he described himself to the United Nations General Assembly as “a witness to hope.”

His 1979 visit to Poland encouraged the growth of the Solidarity movement there and the collapse of communism in central and eastern Europe 10 years later. John Paul II began World Youth Day and traveled to several countries for those celebrations. He very much wanted to visit China and the Soviet Union, but the governments in those countries prevented that.

One of the most well-remembered photos of John Paul II’s pontificate was his one-on-one conversation in 1983, with Mehmet Ali Agca, who had attempted to assassinate him two years earlier.

In his 27 years of papal ministry, John Paul II wrote 14 encyclicals and five books, canonized 482 saints and beatified 1,338 people. In the last years of his life, he suffered from Parkinson’s disease and was forced to cut back on some of his activities.

Pope Benedict XVI beatified John Paul II in 2011, and Pope Francis canonized him in 2014.


Before John Paul II’s funeral Mass in St. Peter’s Square, hundreds of thousands of people had waited patiently for a brief moment to pray before his body, which lay in state inside St. Peter’s for several days. The media coverage of his funeral was unprecedented.

Presiding at the funeral Mass, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger—then dean of the College of Cardinals and later Pope Benedict XVI—concluded his homily by saying: “None of us can ever forget how, in that last Easter Sunday of his life, the Holy Father, marked by suffering, came once more to the window of the Apostolic Palace and one last time gave his blessing urbi et orbi (‘to the city and to the world’).

“We can be sure that our beloved pope is standing today at the window of the Father’s house, that sees us and blesses us. Yes, bless us, Holy Father. We entrust your dear soul to the Mother of God, your Mother, who guided you each day and who will guide you now to the glory of her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.”