29th Sunday A:  Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s

Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s

In the first reading for this Sunday, the Prophet Isaiah makes a startling statement.  He refers to King Cyrus of Persia, a pagan, as someone who has been anointed by God.   Cyrus was the king of Persia who conquered Babylon, where many Jews were living in bondage.  One of Cyrus’ first acts in Babylon was to restore the captive peoples to their homelands.  The Jews returned to Judea.  God used a pagan king to fulfill his promise and to complete a particular mission.

In today’s Gospel the Pharisees and Herodians plotted together to frame a gotcha question to Jesus.  First of all, the Pharisees and the Herodians had little in common.  However, they had one thing in common: they both wanted to discredit Jesus before the large crowds that followed him.  So they asked their gotcha question: “Is it lawful to pay tax to Caesar or not?”  If Jesus said, “No” the Herodians would certainly report him to the Romans as seditious. If He said, “Yes,” the Pharisees would tell the people that this proves that Jesus was not a real Jew but a collaborator with the pagan Romans.  Jesus turned the tables by saying, “Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” He was telling them to recognize their responsibilities to society and the government, and more than this, to recognize their responsibilities to God.

Every one of us is called to make the presence of God real in the world.  Since we are each unique, the presence that we each bring to the world is a reflection of God the world never saw before and will never see again.  He calls each one of us to build up His kingdom in today’s world. 

Those who are married, single, young, old, healthy and sick are all called to play a part in God’s unfolding Divine Plan.  Carlo Acutis, who died of leukemia in 2006 at the age of 15, was just beatified this past week on October 10th.  He was known for his computer-programming skills, assisting the poor and homeless and for his love of the Eucharist and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Well, each one of us has a part to play in the work of the Kingdom of God. That part might be large or small.  Our part made be well known by many or only noticed by a small number of persons.  What matters is that our effort spreads the Kingdom of God.

We have to stay attuned to the Presence of God in our lives, so that we can come to a deeper understanding of what it is that God wants from each of us, His call is discovered within our hearts.  However, if our hearts are closed to God, if our hearts are muddied with the immorality of the world, then we will not be able to discern the path God is calling us to fulfill his plan for us. 

But, if we do our best to be good Catholics, living our faith, then we will come to an understanding of the directions the Lord wants us to take so that we might do our part in His plan for mankind.

God used the pagan King Cyrus of Persia and the pagan Romans as instruments in the fulfilling of His plan.  How much more will He use us, the people He has chosen to share in His life?  No one is insignificant in the Kingdom of God.  We are all part of His Plan.  May we have the courage to do our part.

Fr. Tom