1987 Oct 18 – 29th Sun Ord Time (Bulletin Letters)
Mt 22, 15 – 21
“RENDER TO CAESAR WHAT IS CAESAR’S AND TO GOD WHAT IS GOD’S” MATTHEW 22/21:
It’s been said that Jesus established the principle of the separation of Church and State with these words from today’s Gospel. Extended to the arena of religion and politics as is often done, we have the unbiblical theory of privatized religion.
That Jesus is not speaking of a separation of religion and politics is best seen by putting Jesus’ encounter with the Pharisees in its proper context. The Pharisees are out to trap Jesus. They want him killed. They send their disciples along with some Herodians; Jews who are friends of the Romans, to Jesus to trick him into making a statement that would bring the Roman authorities down on him or make him lose face with the people. Everyone hated the Roman occupation and the dreaded tax. To ask Jesus if it were lawful to pay the Roman tax put Jesus in a no-win situation. To say “no” would bring the Roman authorities down on him; to say “yes” would turn the people against him.
Jesus turned the table on his questioners. He asked them to show him a coin used for the tax. As soon as they showed him a coin the people saw through the trap. The disciples of the Pharisees were not sincere in their questioning. By having a Roman coin with the image of Caesar they had already made their choice between God and Rome. Jesus’ statement, “render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” was simply exposing their duplicity. My favorite saying that goes with this Gospel story is Dorothy Day’ s statement that, “once you give to God what is God’ s there is little left for Caesar.”
WORLD MISSION SUNDAY: When we Christians accepted the responsibility of being Jesus’ witnesses, we accepted that responsibility “even to the ends of the earth.” This Sunday is World Mission Sunday; we have a special opportunity to reach across the world with our support of Jesus’ mission to all people. The collection through the Propagation of the Faith is essential to the life and work of Priests, Sisters, Brothers and lay catechists in the poorest areas of the world and in our own country. There is an envelope attached to this week’s bulletin for this important effort. Please, for them and their people, be as generous as you possibly can.