29th SUNDAY A
Give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar – and to God what belongs to God.” We will hear these words often in the coming year when Ireland might have a general election, and a presidential election is due in the United States. Many years ago I heard about someone who said he was a member of a political party first, then a Catholic after that. And I thought, ‘Tell that to St. Peter at the pearly gates!” In the popular mind Church and State are two separate entities. The European Union turns a blind eye and a deaf ear to religion. For all intents and purposes religion is seen as a private hobby with no constitutional ramifications in the public domain. Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to blank what is blank.
There once was a man who had nothing, and God gave him ten apples. He was given three for food, three for clothing and three for shelter. He was given the tenth apple so he would have something to give back to God in gratitude for the other nine. The man held up the tenth apple to examine it in admiration. It seemed larger and juicier than all the others. He knew in his heart that this was the apple that God expected him to use as a gift of gratitude for the other nine. But the tenth apple did seem better than the others, and he reasoned that God had all the other apples in the world, so the man ate the tenth apple and gave the core back to God.
The man who was given the apples failed to see that giving back is a natural and basic responsibility of faith. His faith was stuck in an unconverted condition. His faith never entailed a complete rethinking of his world view. Faith is a different way of knowing and leads to a way of life that’s not easy. Faith brings the living person of Jesus Christ into one’s life and launches one on a lifelong personal response to his famous question to Simon Peter: Who do you say I am? The response entails an inner change that satisfies a void in the heart, and the subsequent re-working of oneself into the pattern of Christ involves much ‘giving to God what belongs to God’. In fact, one will see that ‘giving to Caesar’ is really giving back to God that which in the first place always belonged to the Creator.
‘People of real faith are open to new ideas and fresh thoughts that challenge old visions, old understandings and old beliefs. Being open-minded and critical promotes personal change, growth and transformation, makes us see our limitations, opens us to accept criticism and to possibilities we may not have considered. Being open-minded helps us see our shortcomings, see things from another’s perspective, recognise our mistakes, have the humility to get up and continue the journey. Open-mindedness makes us strong and stable and offers a platform on which to build. People with confidence are open-minded people who are willing to dialogue respectfully with those who differ. Finally, being open makes us honest with ourselves, and aware that we haven’t the whole truth.’ (Paraphrased from Prof .John Alonzo Dick, Another Voice, Leuven University)
Fr. QQ – 10/18/2023