Now that non-essential government jobs are once again secure, the pastor of Our Lady of Infinite Mercy Church fielded a call earlier this week from the IRS.
“Is this Msgr. Santoro?”
“Can you help us verify some financial information?”
“Do you have a parishioner named Matthew Conte?”
“Is it true he made a $10,000 contribution to your parish?”
As a civic virtue, fiscal honesty is as lauded as transgressions against it are despised, especially when done by someone else! At this time of year fudging a little on a tax return is a hard temptation to resist. Who would know, really? And if this becomes an annual gamble, the next question is: How long can I get away with it? I might justify it on any number of pretexts, but tax evasion is not something to wink at, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us in its section on economic activity and social justice.
This is what Paul referred to in his letters to the Romans and the Galatians. He would not deny the goodness of the Torah and its Mosaic law, much less of law in general, but saw it as an outgrowth of a life lived in the Spirit. This Spirit makes us “living Words” of God, through the power of Christ shining in our lives. This power is ours through Baptism, by which the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit come and make their home within us (cf. Jn. 14:23; Mt. 28:19). If the Trinity lives in us, God makes us transparent witnesses to the risen Christ, who is himself the radiant light of the Gospel.
The Church’s pastors, teachers, and administrators—clergy, religious, and lay—are called to this transparency, too! It’s not just something mandated for others. Otherwise, where would be the credibility? How then could the Church as a whole be a transparent witness to the risen Christ to a world that rightly expects it of her?
So, come June, when that tax refund is dropped into your bank account or mailbox, and the sun shines just a little brighter, may you accept it with a heart that’s more free, more at peace, and more ready, even practically speaking, to bless the One who lives there.