Homily Helps: Life, Common Good, Charity, Solidarity

These Homily Aids are produced designed to assist homilists in drawing out notable themes of Catholic Social Teaching, civic engagement, the relationship between faith and politics, as well as the personal dimension of faith inherent in the lectionary readings.

Homily Aides for the Following Sundays in 2020 – Sunday Cycle, Year A:

  • September 6, 2020 – Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
  • October 18, 2020 – Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
  • October 25, 2020 – Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Each aid includes:

  1. List of readings with relevant highlighted verses,
  2. Bulleted Homily Talking Points, and
  3. Relevant quotes from ecclesial documents

Appendix: Pew Research Center Statistics with Links

September 6, 2020 – Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Lectionary Readings & Verse Highlights:

First Reading: Ezekiel 33:7-9

“…You, son of man, I have appointed watchman for the house of Israel;

when you hear me say anything, you shall warn them for me…”

Responsorial Psalm: 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9

“…If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts…”

Second Reading: Romans 13:8-10

“… the one who loves another has fulfilled the law…”

Gospel: Matthew 18:15-20

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault…”


Homily Talking Points:

Themes: The need for charity, the natural law, and fraternal correction as a duty of justice toward God and neighbor and a spiritual work of mercy. In our democracy, we bear an institutionalized duty to offer a charitable and correcting voice in society. As Christians, we must do this in a way echoing God’s law. If we fail to do so we bear part of the blame for a society that abandons justice.

  • Ezekiel reveals the role of a prophet as a sentinel for the people of God, who sees the impending chastisement of God due to the wickedness of the people, and bears the responsibility of warning the people of the consequences of their ways (see Ez. 33:1-7) with a goal of the reform of the wicket and the reception of mercy rather than chastisement.
  • As baptized and confirmed into Christ’s mission of priest, prophet and king, we see the responsibility we bear like Ezekiel to offer fraternal correction. And the inverse, if we withhold the truth from those who are in error and sin we have failed in charity and fidelity to God, and bear in part the guild of sin.
  • The Gospel speaks of the process in the church of correcting those in sin, also reflecting the principle of subsidiarity, starting with a conversation between the individuals, then one or two brothers, and finally ending with the ecclesial authorities when needed.
  • It is a humble act to reflect on our lives and see where God has brought good to us through the correcting voice or example of those around us. While it may be hard to take correction, we can all think of such examples, and be grateful for the good this mercy brought to us. This realization will help us accept our responsibility to offer charitable correction when we are called upon by God to do so.
  • In our democratic society, we have an institutionalized responsibility for civic engagement. In baptism, we are “appointed” as sentinels or watchmen in the church and society and are given the charge to correct the errors which remain.
  • If we fail to offer a charitable and clear voice for the dignity of the human person, the right to life, the rights of those who are most vulnerable and neglected, and to live out the natural law as known in the commandments, we bear responsibility for the sins and errors around us.
    • The goal of God’s message in Ezekiel is the repentance of the wicked. It is not the intention here only to ‘notify’ as it were, of the impending doom. The goal is that through repentance they may put themselves right with God and therefore to cancel out their sentence. But what if the Sentinel, for fear, fails to deliver the message? The sentence will befall the sentinel as well, who failed his mission.
    • Are we to act as Jonah, refusing to bring the message of repentance to those in need of correction? Do we lack faith that God’s message will have no effect? Do we hold both God’s message and those it is directed for in contempt?
    • Who then is to blame when our society falls from the natural law, from justice, for the defense of the defenseless, or the view that human life is dispensable? We are to blame if we know the message but fail to deliver it. God has appointed us sentinels, and this is no sentimentality, this is our duty, for which we will be answerable to the just judgement of God.
  • We must examine ourselves, correct the errors we see in ourselves, seek a deeper understanding of the principles of our faith expounded in the Church’s moral and social doctrine, and then offer our voice in justice and charity for the good of others and society (see also Matt 7:3-5).
  • To gain a deeper understanding of the Church’s social doctrine read the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship. Also, visit the website of the California Catholic Conference (cacatholic.org) for additional information and materials, and join the Catholic Legislative Network for online insights and action items, and to be a sentinel for justice in society.
    • Note: the California Catholic Conference offers bulletin announcements which can be a great addition or follow up to this homily and connect parishioners to more resources for growth.


Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, no. 52:

God, in Christ, redeems not only the individual person but also the social relations existing between men… In this perspective, Church communities, brought together by the message of Jesus Christ and gathered in the Holy Spirit round the Risen Lord (cf. Mt 18:20, 28:19-20; Lk 24:46-49), offer themselves as places of communion, witness and mission, and as catalysts for the redemption and transformation of social relationships.”

DOCTRINAL NOTE on some questions regarding The Participation of Catholics in Political Life, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, no. 3:

“…If Christians must ‘recognize the legitimacy of differing points of view about the organization of worldly affairs’, they are also called to reject, as injurious to democratic life, a conception of pluralism that reflects moral relativism. Democracy must be based on the true and solid foundation of non-negotiable ethical principles, which are the underpinning of life in society.”


October 18, 2020 – Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Lectionary Readings & Verse Highlights:

First Reading: Isaiah 45:1, 4-6

Thus says the LORD to his anointed, Cyrus, whose right hand I grasp… For the sake of Jacob, my servant, of Israel, my chosen one, I have called you by your name, giving you a title, though you knew me not. I am the LORD and there is no other, there is no God besides me.

Responsorial Psalm: 96:1, 3, 4-5, 7-8, 9-10

“…say among the nations: The LORD is king, he governs the peoples with equity.”

Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5B

“…For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction.”

Gospel: Matthew 22:15-21

“…Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”

Homily Talking Points:

Themes: God governs and works for the good of his people through Divine Providence, and this ordinarily also includes through the social order, as when God delivers the Jews from the Babylonian Exile through the conqueror Cyrus. Jesus shows us that we have a duty to the civil government, but our deepest duty is to God, and these ought not to be at odds. 

  • God can and does make use of every intermediary power in creation for the good of those who love him. What we can learn from this is manifold:
    • God has placed us in this time in history, and nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:39). With or without good fortune, in good times and bad, God is working in all things for the good of those who love Him (Rom. 8:28).
  • The Jewish people called the Persian conqueror Cyrus the anointed (Messiah or Christ), even though he was not a member of the chosen people, let alone a member of the Davidic line. This is because God, unbeknownst to Cyrus, had chosen him to be the deliverer of His people, to free them from the domination they endured in the Babylonian exile.
  • After conquering Babylon Cyrus gave them the free option to return to Judah, not under compulsion, but according to their free choice.
  • Finally, he funded the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem, all of this while not himself being a Jew.
  • We can see this in our own lives. Sometimes God sends people into our lives which bring good to us, even when they themselves may not be aware of how God intends to use them for our good. For these times we can be thankful.
  • God can bring good from your good and bad choices, but when you act in virtue and justice you willingly participate in God’s loving plan to bring blessing to His people, you are a willing minister of divine providence and even a herald of the Gospel.
    • God prefers to and brings more good from willing participants than from unwilling instruments.
    • Willing participants in God’s plan are given a share in the merits of Christ.
  • In the Gospel the Pharisees are trying to trap Jesus, setting him up either against God’s people or against the civil authorities.
  • Jesus, knowing their malice, answers their question with a question, “Who’s inscription is this?” turning the table on them. He follows their answer with a clear statement revealing truths at the heart of what it means to be human and “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”
  • This can be read in many ways.
    • A simple truth is that, yes, it is right and just to pay taxes to legitimate civil authorities. The coin can also represent the responsibilities due to civil authorities beyond taxes for the sake of the common good, including obedience to just laws and civic engagement.
    • Second, and most importantly we must ask, what are the things that belong to God in Jesus’ teaching? The coin bears the image or likeness of its owner. But what does God own which bears His image and likeness? The human person. You and me. We are stamped with something much more glorious than an earthly king’s profile. We are stamped with the divine image.
    • We are created spiritual souls, intellectual substances. We can think, know, choose, and love. In our spirits we bear God’s image, and this is the tribute that we must render to God. The just repayment due to God is our whole person in all our thoughts and actions.
  • So how does politics come into play here? The most important message and thrust of Jesus’ message in this Gospel is not political, while it does reveal some essential truths about our relationship to civil authorities in God’s plan of creation.
    • We must keep the view of divine providence in mind as we see the struggles around us. Do we feel in exile? Let us remember the Jews. Do we feel we are being delivered? Remember how God delivered the Jews through the unsuspecting Cyrus.
    • What of our plight as citizens of a democratic society. Do we believe that democracy is invincible? Civilizations have come and gone, nations have risen and fallen, but the story of God’s salvation and God’s people continues.
    • We must cherish our democratic society, and we must remember that, if we do not take our part responsibly then achieving the common good will be hindered, and even fail.
    • The very mechanism of democracy calls on our participation, our thoughtful and virtuous participation, in order for it to achieve justice. Therefore, we must bring our faith with us as we engage in society, as we vote, as we evaluate our democratic choices.
    • In our civic engagement, we must be ready to remain first faithful to God and His law, and in doing so we will simultaneously “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”
    • For a law or political action to be just it must start with this basic and fundamental fact: every human being is irreplaceable as made in God’s image and likeness, and is made first of all to return just worship to God. Human dignity, human life and religious freedom are all rights revealed in Jesus’ short statement.
  • To gain a deeper understanding of the Church’s social doctrine read the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship. Also, visit the website of the California Catholic Conference (cacatholic.org) for additional information and materials, and join the Catholic Legislative Network for online insights and action items, and to be a minister of divine providence for the cause of justice in society.
    • Note: the California Catholic Conference offers bulletin announcements which can be a great addition or follow up to this homily and connect parishioners to more resources for growth.

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, no. 383:

The Church proclaims that Christ, the conqueror of death, reigns over the universe that he himself has redeemed. His kingdom includes even the present times and will end only when everything is handed over to the Father and human history is brought to completion in the final judgment (cf. 1 Cor 15:20-28). Christ reveals to human authority, always tempted by the desire to dominate, its authentic and complete meaning as service. God is the one Father, and Christ the one Teacher, of all mankind, and all people are brothers and sisters. Sovereignty belongs to God. The Lord, however, ‘has not willed to reserve to himself all exercise of power. He entrusts to every creature the functions it is capable of performing, according to the capacities of its own nature. This mode of governance ought to be followed in social life. The way God acts in governing the world, which bears witness to such great regard for human freedom, should inspire the wisdom of those who govern human communities. They should behave as ministers of divine providence.’”

Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 2242 (also Gaudium et Spes here quoted):

“The citizen is obliged in conscience not to follow the directives of civil authorities when they are contrary to the demands of the moral order, to the fundamental rights of persons or the teachings of the Gospel. Refusing obedience to civil authorities, when their demands are contrary to those of an upright conscience, finds its justification in the distinction between serving God and serving the political community. ‘Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ (Mt. 22:21) ‘We must obey God rather than men’ (Acts 5:29):

‘When citizens are under the oppression of a public authority which oversteps its competence, they should still not refuse to give or to do what is objectively demanded of them by the common good; but it is legitimate for them to defend their own rights and those of their fellow citizens against the abuse of this authority within the limits of the natural law and the Law of the Gospel’ (GS 74 § 5).”

Deus Caritas Est, no. 28:

“…Fundamental to Christianity is the distinction between what belongs to Caesar and what belongs to God (cf. Mt 22:21), in other words, the distinction between Church and State, or, as the Second Vatican Council puts it, the autonomy of the temporal sphere (GS, 36). The State may not impose religion, yet it must guarantee religious freedom and harmony between the followers of different religions. For her part, the Church, as the social expression of Christian faith, has a proper independence and is structured based on her faith as a community which the State must recognize. The two spheres are distinct, yet always interrelated.

“The Church cannot and must not take upon herself the political battle to bring about the most just society possible. She cannot and must not replace the State. Yet at the same time, she cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice. She has to play her part through rational argument and she has to reawaken the spiritual energy without which justice, which always demands sacrifice, cannot prevail and prosper. A just society must be the achievement of politics, not of the Church. Yet the promotion of justice through efforts to bring about openness of mind and will to the demands of the common good is something which concerns the Church deeply.”


October 25, 2020 – Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time


Lectionary Readings & Verse Highlights:

First Reading: Exodus 22:20-26

You shall not molest or oppress an alien, for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt. You shall not wrong any widow or orphan. If ever you wrong them and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry…for I am compassionate.”

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 18:2-3, 3-4, 47, 51

“I love you, Lord, my strength.”

Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 1:5C-10

“…in every place your faith in God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything…”

Gospel: Matthew 22:34-40

“… ‘You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.’”


Homily Talking Points:

Themes: The command to love our neighbor is most clearly shown in our care for those most vulnerable. We are challenged to remember that we have been delivered through God’s compassion, and to extend this to reflect the compassion of God.

  • We can see that God does not take lightly sins against the vulnerable, they cry out to Him for justice, and he will answer them. God heard the cry of the Hebrews in Egypt under Pharaoh’s oppression, and sent them a deliverer, and exacted punishment of Pharaoh.
  • We must remember that in Christ we are all delivered by the Lord who is compassionate. We are people that do not owe anything to ourselves. Do we have achievements, they are first to be attributed to God, for without him we would have nothing and he has ‘accomplished everything that we have done’ (Isaiah 26:12).
  • With this perspective that we are all delivered people, delivered from sin and any number of other misfortunes, we must remember that there are many who are in great need and it is our responsibility first to honor and cherish them, and secondly to reach out and serve them. These we can never cease doing, “you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt.”
  • Many do not have the voice they need in society. Today there are many vulnerable people who do not even have a voice because they are not given the chance to develop one – the unborn, the widows, the orphans, the alien or foreigners. They are considered by many to be disposable people. We must be their voice. As the Israelites were once oppressed foreigners and delivered into freedom, so we were once unborn children and preserved from death. Our dignity is no greater or less than any unborn child or the widow or the alien. We who are no longer defenseless are obligated to defend the rights and dignity of those who are so vulnerable.
  • Just as Jesus has done for us, in a way we could not do for ourselves by standing in the breach between our sins and eternal punishment, we are called to love our neighbor as ourselves, and in doing so to stand in the breach like Christ.
  • As elections come up in this nation we must remember two things:
    • First, voting is not the only, or even most important, way in which we strive to achieve the common good of society. How we live our lives in virtue and in caring for the vulnerable is an entirely indispensable and irreplaceable part of the achievement of the common good. Laws and government officials cannot accomplish this for us.
    • The second thing that we must remember is that, while voting is not the only way we achieve the common good, it is an essential way that we are responsible to achieve this in our democratic society.
      • Therefore, we must inform ourselves about the principles of Catholic social teaching, and discern our voting decisions based on a faith-filled and reasoned view of the world, human dignity and society.
      • Additionally, we must inform ourselves of our choices, and remain faithful to God and his law in our voting, without this no peace and no justice can be truly established, and no progress is true.
  • In this way, we can participate in God’s loving plan to bring justice and security to the most vulnerable in society, and build a civilization based on truth, the natural law, and the fact that every individual human being is created in God’s image and is therefore indispensable and irreplaceable.
  • We who have these rights bear also the responsibility to speak for the most vulnerable.
  • To gain a deeper understanding of the Church’s social doctrine read the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship. Also, visit the website of the California Catholic Conference (cacatholic.org) for additional information and materials, and join the Catholic Legislative Network for online insights and action items, and to help defend the rights of the most vulnerable in our society.
    • Note: the California Catholic Conference offers bulletin announcements which can be a great addition or follow up to this homily and connect parishioners to more resources for growth.


Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, no. 182:

“The principle of the universal destination of goods requires that the poor, the marginalized and in all cases those whose living conditions interfere with their proper growth should be the focus of particular concern. To this end, the preferential option for the poor should be reaffirmed in all its force[384]. “This is an option, or a special form of primacy in the exercise of Christian charity, to which the whole tradition of the Church bears witness. It affects the life of each Christian inasmuch as he or she seeks to imitate the life of Christ, but it applies equally to our social responsibilities and hence to our manner of living, and to the logical decisions to be made concerning the ownership and use of goods. Today, furthermore, given the worldwide dimension which the social question has assumed, this love of preference for the poor, and the decisions which it inspires in us, cannot but embrace the immense multitudes of the hungry, the needy, the homeless, those without health care and, above all, those without hope of a better future. [385].”

Pew Research Center Statistics


  • US National Election Voting & Religious Practice (Jan. 31, 2019):
    • 69% of actively religious adults say they always vote in national elections
    • 59% of inactive religious adults say they always vote in national elections
    • 48% of religiously unaffiliated adults say they always vote in national elections.
  • COVID-19 & Elections (April 28, 2020):
    • Two-Thirds of Americans Expect Presidential Election Will Be Disrupted by COVID-19
      • 67% of Americans “say it is very or somewhat likely that the coronavirus outbreak will significantly disrupt people’s ability to vote in the presidential election.”
    • A sizable majority (70%) favor the option of voting by mail.
  • Abortion:
    •  (2019) Public Opinion on Abortion
      • Only 42% of Catholics state that they believe abortion should be illegal in all or most cases.
      • While 56% of Catholics state that they believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases.
    • (2019) U.S. Public Continues to Favor Legal Abortion, Oppose Overturning Roe v. Wade
      • “…a majority of Americans (61%) continue to say that abortion should be legal in all (27%) or most (34%) cases. A smaller share of the public (38%) says abortion should be illegal in all (12%) or most cases (26%).”
      • This shows a decrease in support for Roe V. Wade from a similar survey in 2016 (published 2017), which stated that “69% of Americans say the historic ruling…should not be completely overturned. Nearly three-in-ten (28%), by contrast, would like to see it overturned.”
  • Death Penalty:
    • (2018): Public support for the death penalty ticks up
      • “Public support for the death penalty, which reached a four-decade low in 2016, has increased somewhat since then. Today, 54% of Americans favor the death penalty for people convicted of murder, while 39% are opposed, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in April and May.”
  • In a Politically Polarized Era, Sharp Divides in Both Partisan Coalitions (2019): This December 2019 study analysis divisions between parties as well as within parties on a wide range of issues, from race, immigration, marriage and family, economics, the problems facing our nation, and much more.

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