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29th Sunday Ordinary Time

Oct 19, 2014

Give to God what belongs to God

For many weeks we have been hearing Jesus tell us parables about the Kingdom of God and how we begin to live in the Kingdom here on earth by following him as our King and allowing him to be the Lord of our Life. So it is a call to live not just for the passing kingdom of the world but for the everlasting Kingdom of God. But the world is still governed by men, kings, presidents, prime ministers, etcetera, who may or may not permit freedom of religion. In the time of Christ, Caesar governed the land. But Jesus uses Caesar to show us how we are to exist with the authorities of the world. The Pharisees asked Jesus if they should pay the civil tax in in effort to test his loyalty. If he said “yes” then he would be considered to be against the Jewish Nation. If he said “no” he could be arrested for being anti-Roman. But Jesus looks at a coin and sees the image of Caesar on it and says: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God.”

What does this mean? Does it mean that we live a divided life? Do we follow the laws of our government with part of our life and the laws of God with the other? No, not all! We cannot be a Christian by living our faith only part of the time. Jesus helps to see that we should live in harmony with governors and rulers and respect their legitimate authority because God allows them to rule. In the first reading the Prophet Isaiah mentions the pagan king Cyrus. Even though he is not a Jew, God anoints him and uses him for his purpose. So as Christians, we give the support to our government that is necessary and even pay our taxes!

But as citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven we give much more to God because he is our beginning and end. We give him our mind, body, and soul. We give him our complete trust. We love him with our whole heart. We worship him. We give the Lord glory and honor! We put our faith in God at all times. Now if the government starts to ask us to compromise our faith, then we have to oppose it on this matter, like with the current situation with the new health care law that forces Catholics to compromise their faith in order to support anti-life methods. Our bishops are strongly opposing this abuse of power because we can’t give to our government what belongs to God. We have to stay faithful to our King, the Lord Jesus. Thanks be to God that we can vote for candidates that support life, liberty, and the pursuit of true happiness. It is a big way that we publicly exercise our faith and not just reduce Christianity to private beliefs.

What Jesus teaches in today’s Gospel is that like the coin that had the image of Caesar on it, God’s image is imprinted on our very being. We are made in his image and likeness. And so we give to God what belongs to God. We give all our thoughts and prayers. We give him all our hopes and dreams. We give God our works and our relaxation. We give him our struggles and trials. In short, we give him our whole life. We shouldn’t hold back anything from God because he has given us the promise of the Kingdom of Heaven. This is the Good News! And this is what the world needs to hear. Jesus has shared it with us and now it is our mission to share it with others.   Today is World Mission Sunday and it is a time to remind ourselves of what we are all about as Catholics. We are a missionary Church. We are called to share the Gospel of Jesus with the whole world. The Church is always looking to spread the Gospel, just like Jesus did 2000 years ago. And like Jesus Catholics work in harmony with the laws of the governing powers to accomplish this mission.

Last Monday we celebrated Columbus Day. Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas in 1492 and brought with him missionaries from Spain who spread the Gospel in these lands. And so we are blessed to have the Good News of Jesus to guide and encourage us and strengthen us. But there are still some lands that have not heard it, peoples and countries that have no missionaries. Can you imagine? We take it for granted but what would our life be like without Jesus? Without knowing him as King and Lord? Without hearing his promise of the Kingdom of Heaven and receiving the power of his grace through the sacraments as medicine for our souls? So we have to continue to pray and work and support the missionary efforts of our Church.

This Sunday we’ll take up a special collection for the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, a charity that supports missions throughout the world. It was started by a lay woman in France who told people to pray and sacrifice one penny a week for missions. Now it is one of the largest missionary support efforts in the Church. It supports over 1100 mission dioceses in the world, focusing on those lands that are hearing the Gospel for the first time. The newest diocese that the Church has in Mongolia. In 1992 there were zero Catholics there. Now through the effort of a few Catholic Missionaries and God’s grace, there are nearly one thousand.

Certainly, there are plenty of needs in our own diocese and in our own parish. But we don’t become true Christians until we start supporting others in their need. Then we grow in charity which is the currency of God’s Kingdom. So today let us give to God what belongs to God and help spread the wealth of his Kingdom to all the people in the world. Amen.

St. Bernadette Roman Catholic Church
101 South College Street
Cedartown, GA 30125
(770) 748-1517
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