God and Caesar
‘Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God.’ Are there two realms, God’s and Caesar’s? Can God and Caesar co-exist? Are these words of Jesus about keeping religion and everything else separate, about keeping religious matters out of politics, the workplace, and vice versa? Which world do we live in, the world of the ‘Sunday Catholic’ who gives an hour to God on Sunday and the remainder of the week to making money, raising a family, entertainment and sport when God is never thought of at all? Have we delegated religious people to pray and attend to God on our behalf while we get along with the business of life?
We pray in Psalm 24 that ‘The Lord’s is the earth and its fullness, the world and all its peoples.’ The world and its emperors belong to God. Could it be that we ourselves are some of those things that belong to God. ‘Belong,’ not in a possessive way, but in the way felt by people who love and are loved. We ‘belong.’ If this is so, why wouldn’t we want to become more aware of who we are, and then bring our God-possessed selves to Caesar’s palace, and maybe show those begging outside who they really are. Many people think religion is about saying prayers and accepting certain beliefs. The word itself is made up of two Latin words – re-ligare – which means to reconnect with who we are, where we’ve come from and where we are going. Religion is an inner journey.
Jesus’ question about whose image the coin bears contains an allusion we can easily miss. If an image on something indicates authority and ownership, what is it that bears God’s image? Anyone, especially a Jew listening to Jesus on that occasion, would have known that human beings are created in the image of God.
‘God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them’ – Genesis 1, 27. That we carry the image of God around with us is central to who we are. In this as in other matters we tend to ignore it, and Antoine de St Exupery reminds us that ‘What is essential is invisible to the eye.’ ‘There lives the dearest freshness deep down things…’ to borrow the ever fresh and deep down words of Gerard Manley Hopkins.
May you be content in knowing you are a child of God. Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us –—-( This quote is often attributed to Teresa of Avila.)
Fr. QQ – 10/15/2020