From Pastor’s desk on 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, year A
On the 29th Sunday we hear the gospel passage, in which our Blessed Lord resolves a dilemma whether to pay taxes or not. Even if it is your occupant, like the Romans to the ancient Jews, you still need to pay your dues. Christ’s response has become a well-known phrase to the entire world, even to non-Christians. Jesus said: “Repay to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” Our Lord provides a simple answer to apparently complicated question. By doing it He has pointed out that both orders must by followed, the earthly and the heavenly. Or rather, it should be reversed; first, we need to follow the heavenly order while rendering things to God, and then to follow a good order in society while respecting earthly authorities.
We must remember that in this short Gospel scene, Jesus does not explain what to do when the taxes are too high; that is another question. He does not provide any answer to what to do in those particular cases. Rather, our Lord Jesus directs the thoughts of His interlocutors to the realm of God. Thus, the focus of this Sunday’s gospel is not Caesar but God. Jesus tells that we must render to God what belongs to God the way we do it with the earthly governing figures.
At this moment we should ask the question: What does belong to God? To find the answer we must use the scripture text that gives us a hint. Jesus said, “Show me the coin that pays the census tax”. “Then they handed him the Roman coin. He said to them, <<Whose image is this and whose inscription?>> They replied, <<Caesar's>>. At that he said to them, <<Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God>>” (Matthew 22:19-21) The Roman coins always contained an image of the governing figure, usually the emperors. Jesus uses the Roman coin in order to show that each human being also bears an image of the King in his or her soul. It is the image of God himself, for we are created “in the image and likeness” of God (Genesis 1:26-27). Hence, we need to give to God our very being. That is the meaning of the greatest commandment (the theme of next Sunday’s gospel reading): “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).
Let us pray to the Holy Spirit that that we may always recognize the dignity of the Children of God, especially when we have to face the trials of life or fall into all kinds of temptations. Having the awareness to whom we belong and whom we should honor first, will help us to stay on the right course on the path of salvation and may enhance our judgment to make right life decisions.
Finally, we look into the Blessed Mother, who is the pinnacle of perfection and sanctity. In Her the image and likeness is the clearest as Her praises are sung by ancient hymns: “Like the morning star in the midst of the cloud and as the moon at its full she shines” (Eccl. 50,6). May the Blessed Virgin Mary’s example and intercession instill in us the true love for God and our neighbor, for that is the ultimate tribute that God wants from us.
Have a blessed week. God love you! Fr. Janusz Mocarski, pastor