October 17, 2020
The written notes from Fr. Dennis’ Sunday homily. This homily is meant to be heard and not read.
What Belongs to God?
Tis the season! As I’m driving through my neighborhood last week, I notice yard after yard decorated with political signs, Trump 2020 or Biden 2020. Around one corner a sign reads, Jesus 2020. What do we believe in or value?
Today’s Gospel has nothing to do with taxes and money. God has entrusted to us something unbelievably valuable to us — our time, our talent, and our treasure, our life (as Isaiah reminds us in our first reading). God wants us to be honest with the Gifts he has entrusted to us. Religion and politics should not be about money or political parties – Who’s right or left, Who’s correct or wrong. Just vote your conscience on what is right and just and gives life.
In today’s Gospel Jesus reveals the hypocrisies that can be hidden within our life. No matter what our political beliefs we need to work for justice. We are called to stand up for justice, the dignity of all human life. What brings us life, or who brings us life? God is the source of all life. When we work for justice we work for life. Life is not just about one issue!
Two different religious groups of Jesus’ time are setting a trap to ensnare Jesus on the issue of paying the Roman tax. The Pharisees resented the tax and the Herodians supported the tax. The one thing they both had in common is their hatred for Jesus. So, the question to entrap Jesus was: “Jesus, is it lawful to pay the Roman tax to Caesar?”.
It would seem Jesus is caught between a rock and a hard place. If he says pay the tax, he is supporting the authority of Caesar and would be arrested for idolatry. If he says don’t pay it, he would be arrested as an insurrectionist. Beyond the wisdom of Salomon, Jesus traps them in their own hypocrisy. Jesus responds by asking a question of his own. Bring the coin here, whose image is on the coin? By their carrying this craven image of Caesar into the temple, they desecrate the holy one and the temple.
So, give to Caesar what is his, but give to God what belongs to him alone. Which means you were made in the image of God; so, love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. Let Caesar have his coin and give your life to God. (It is an accounting problem – All belongs to God!)
Do we have false gods before us? It is said, “whatever your ultimate concern is in life that is your God.” What have we made our God? In God We Trust? Do we put our faith, hope, and trust in God? Do we truly live our Catholic faith? We must be engaged in the political process but put our beliefs before any political party or person.
What better way is there to repay to God what is truly God’s. God has given us all that we have! How can we make a return to God for all the good he has done for us? When we work for justice, we work for life, eternal life!