The end of the Gospel of Matthew is an amazing drama…
Jesus is desperately trying to reach out to the religious leaders
of his time.
He knows what is in store for the Jerusalem that he loves.
He tries everything to get them to recognize him as the Messiah.
He tries everything he can to get them to
let go of their power,
to let go of their riches,
to let go of their pride, their arrogance.
Because he loves them
He longs for the day that they repent.
The last three weeks Jesus reached out to them over and over again.
This week the religious leaders counter attack if you will.
They considered Jesus to be such a threat to their world
that they had to be careful
The people believed in him so
they begin by even flattering him.
Then bitter enemies joined forces.
Pharisees were very anti Roman
If he said pay the tax directly
they would be able to rally the people against Him.
They did not want to recognized any Roman Authority.
The Herodians were accommodators or collaborators…
they cooperated with the Romans for their own personal enrichment
and at the expense of their people
If he said don’t pay the tax
then the Herodians would report him to Romans
because it would be another feather in their cap.
It is a very difficult spot for Jesus to be in
It was definitely a no win situation…
His answer is famous and transcends time
After looking at the coin he says.
Give to Caeser what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God's.
And it Begs the question…
What is Caesar’s
What is God’s
From that simple phrase all of us have to garner
our place in this world and our place in this culture.
What is our role in civil society?
What do we owe our country?
What do we owe God?
Everything we have comes from God.
In God alone will our souls be at rest.
In God we find our origin,
our reason to live,
and our final goal or destiny
In everything we do we should try to live our lives
as God would have us do
God comes first obviously…
And God’s will comes first.
But the parable clearly teaches that
we also owe something to Caesar
we also owe something to our culture our country.
Because we benefit from many things in our country
we are obligated to contribute to the common God.
We share the benefit of the roads and the infrastructure
And we are obligated to share in their expense.
Giving to Caesar means being willing to pay our fair share of taxes.
But being a responsible Catholic citizen
Because the Gospel teaches us that we are all
Brothers and sisters.
We should also live lives of service.
We should be involved in our communities
We should go beyond the minimum in helping those in need
We should coach little league teams
And camp with cub scouts
We should wash cars for the next band trip
And donate food to the food bank
We should care about our brothers and sisters all over the world
and not live lavish lifestyles at their expense
We must share from our abundance.
And we should teach our children
from a very very early age to do the same.
For followers of Christ
lives of service
are not a pious extra.
They are not the icing on the cake.
They are part of the Gospel's call to love one another
as God has loved us.
Very Sadly we all fall short on this.
In the early church people were able to point out
Christians by the way they cared for others
“See how they love one another”
I’m not sure if that is still the case for us
If it was
what a different world it would be.
Finally Caesar (our country and our culture)
Needs our participation
We do this in several ways.
The first is obviously by voting
When we go to vote it is our right and our duty
to take with us all of our values and ideas with us.
We have a right and an obligation to vote according to our conscience
weighing carefully what every candidate clearly stands for.
But our call to participate goes beyond simply voting in elections.
All of us are also called to participate in our culture
by helping to form it
We are called to participate in the public arena
We are called to contribute to the discussion
which shapes our world and its values
Our culture needs us
Our culture needs our values
Needs our ideas
our hopes and our dreams
Our culture needs our witness
Our culture needs to share our conviction that every human being
From the womb to the tomb is special with inalienable rights and responsibilities
Our culture needs to know that we are not alone
and we are cared for and loved by God.
How do we give to Caesar what is Caesar's?
How should we participate in the formation of our culture.
I guess the question could be rephrased to...
How do you change a human heart,
How do you change a human culture
You don’t yell at it
You don’t ridicule it
You don’t proclaim all its faults
Or distain it
You don’t think you are better than it…
You change a human heart and a culture of Human hearts by
By Challenging it lovingly
You change a human heart and a culture of human hearts
by sacrificing for it
You change a human heart and culture of human hearts by dying for it.
That's what Jesus did.
You change a culture like you change a person.
This is what giving to Caesar what is Caesar's is all about
Sisters and brothers
Election day is fast approaching
but our involvement in our city and country and world
has to be so much more.
There is so much need
There is so much to do.
That’s what we owe to God
And That’s what we owe to each other