October 22, 2017 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
There’s a story that goes something like this.
- Once there was a woman whose husband had died and she missed his companionship so someone suggested that maybe she should get a parrot because they talk.
- Within a few days she went to pet shop and bought a parrot and took it home with her. The next day she brought it back and told the store manager, “he won’t talk.”
- He asked her,” does he have a mirror in his cage? Parrots love mirrors.”
- She said, “no” And bought a mirror. The next day she came back and said the bird is still not talking.”
- So the man sold her a ladder and told her that parrots love ladders and that when they’re happy, they will talk.
- Again she came back complaining that even with the mirror and the ladder the parrot was still not talking.
- So he told her, “I know exactly what you. You need to buy him a swing. He’ll be happy with a swing and then he’ll talk.” So she bought a swing for the parrot.
- Finally, she came back to the owner of that pet store and told him,” the parrot died.”
- He responded,” I’m sorry, however did he ever say anything before he died? “The woman replied, “yes, as a matter of fact in a weak voice he asked me, ‘don’t they sell any food at that pet store?’”
It’s all about priorities. First things first
In our gospel for today, Jesus reminded his disciples about priorities.
- Actually the disciples are gathered around and the Pharisees and a group call the Herodians approach him.
- St. Matthew tells us that their intention is to trap him.
- It becomes obvious in the way the conversation begins.
- They start out by flattering him telling him,” yes teacher you are an honest man you always tell the truth and you know the ways of God. We know that you have no respect for human opinions. However, we have a problem that we need to have you solve.”
- “so, here’s the problem. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
- Actually, in their heart of hearts they believe they have backed Jesus into a corner.
- If Jesus says it’s not lawful to pay tax, then obviously he has done something illegal.
- Advocating not paying taxes is sedition against the government.
- On the other hand, if Jesus says, pay the census tax, then it will appear that he is approving of the Roman occupation of Israel.
- Essentially, he is aligning himself with the Roman establishment.
- At this point, it looks like Jesus really has no way out.
- But remember, however, no one backs Jesus into a corner. So he asks them, “show me a coin that pays the tax.”
- So, they hand him a Roman coin called the Denarius Tiberius.
- It had an image of the emperor on it and reads, “Caesar Augustus, a divinity.”
- The other side of the coin reads “Pontifex Maximus “which indicated that the emperor was the high priest of the Roman religion in Rome.
- Obviously them caring a coin like this doesn’t seem right.
- The law of Moses forbids them to carry coins with human images or to gaze upon graven images or idols.
- Here you had the Jewish leaders critical of Jesus yet, at the same time carrying coins of the Roman Empire that proclaim the emperor divine.
At this point, Jesus ask them, “now, whose image is that on the coin.”
- They look at it and of course respond, “Caesars.”
- And then we have that famous saying from Jesus, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesars and to God the things that are God’s “In other words, Jesus says that you must keep your priorities straight.
- Don’t be giving to others what belongs to God, and God alone.
Church and state
Of course this passage has been quoted innumerable times in talking about the relationship of government and religion.
- It seems, there’s always a tension that exists between church and government.
- More often than not, governments want to regulate the activities of the church.
- Time and time again throughout history, governments have tried to strip the church of every resource and tried to discredit it in every way.
- However, no government will ever be able to take away the gospel and the joy that it brings.
Rather than talk about church and state, let’s look at our own lives and how what Jesus said to the religious leaders applies to each of us.
- In doing so, maybe we need to take a moment just to take an inventory of what’s happening in our life.
- Let’s look at our priorities.
We belong to God
As we do that, it’s important to remember something significant and that is this:
We belong to God.
- Yes, we are made in the image and the likeness of God.
- Through our baptism we belong to God.
- Remember, we don’t belong to Caesar or the world.
- We belong to God.
The question asked is this: WHAT ARE THE CAESARS IN YOUR LIFE?
- In other words: what are the rivals to God in your life?
Give yourself a few moments.
- This will only take about five or 10 minutes.
- Quiet yourself down and asked Jesus to be with you.
- Then, get a piece of paper and a pencil and write two words at the top of the page “Caesar” and “God”
- Under the word Caesar list three things that you give a lot of attention to.
- Maybe it is work.
- Maybe its watching football on TV.
- Maybe it’s recreation.
- Maybe it’s watching TV.
- Maybe it’s spending too much time on the computer or Internet.
- The so called Caesars can be many things.
Then look at the other column with God at the top of it.
- List the time you spend with God.
- Maybe it’s prayer
- Maybe it’s worship
- Maybe it’s scripture reading
Seriously ask yourself if you are giving too much to the Caesars of your life and not to God.
- Remember, what Jesus said. “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesars and to God the things that are God.”
Today Jesus reminds us in the Gospel that we need to keep our priorities straight.
- Giving to Caesar means that many of the Caesars of our lives are not all that important.
- It’s important to keep them in the proper perspective and not make them the most important things that direct and govern our lives.
- Those Caesars of our life should never overshadow Our relationship to God and our families.
- Don’t give to Caesar what rightfully belongs to God.
- Remember always keep God first and give God what belongs to God.