29th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
There are people inside and outside the Church
who think that Christ did not give the Church a mandate to speak
about political matters. They regularly quote the Gospel we have
just heard to support their case. But if one knows and understands
the context and meaning within which this text was written it provides
no ammunition for those who want the Church to stay indoors, reflect
on things ‘spiritual’, preach the eternal verities,
and sing hymns more ancient than modern.
In Jesus’ day, we know that some people thought he was a Zealot.
Zealots were a well-organised group who agitated for the end of
the Roman occupation of Israel. One of the things Zealots did was
withhold paying the Roman taxes. We can see why some people thought
Jesus may have been a Zealot. He took the part of the poor, the
sick, women and those who lived on the fringes of society. He attacked
the religious authorities of his day and certainly stirred up trouble
in many places he went. On the other hand he rejected violence,
taught his followers to pray for their enemies and to return good
for evil. Jesus showed us that the justice and equality God longs
to see in the world comes from a community which is converted by
love, not by weapons, fear or revenge. Jesus was no Zealot.
Rather than undermine civil authority, however, Jesus, in this passage,
supports it. But he does more. ‘Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s’
is followed by ‘And give to God, what is God's’, which
encompasses all the Caesars of this world, all civil authorities
and states. The sense that we as the People of God can split off
our obligations to the Gospel from the State is as false as it’s
We only have to think of some of the darkest chapters last century
to see what happens when good, church-going people, like us, do
not put their Sunday devotion in touch with their Monday politics.
Evil can reign.
Christian leaders, who are charged to proclaim and defend the Gospel,
are obliged to use whatever forum necessary to declare that God’s
personal love encompasses everyone and everything under heaven.
As the prophet Isaiah reminds us today, God calls each one of us
At times we may not agree with our religious leaders; we may think
them ill informed; we may even think they have overstepped the mark.
If this is the case we should tell them, enable them to consider
other perspectives and to broaden the basis upon which they make
their judgments. But we should never be seduced by those who want
the Church sidelined from the mainstream of the debates that shape
the way we live, the values we share, the laws we draft and the
priorities we draw up for our human community.
If the Church shows disinterest in any of this, it is untrue to
the very things for which Jesus lived, died and was raised from
the dead. By all means we should give to Caesar all that Caesar
is justly entitled to have for the sake of the common good. A higher
allegiance, however, goes to God, who will call all Caesars to account
for what they have done and what they failed to do. And we might
be asked to explain how we let them get away with it in the first
READINGS THIS WEEK
I am the Lord, there is no other.
1 Thes 1:1-5
Paul greets the Thessalonians.
Render to Caesar what is Caesar's.
the people of St Francis Xavier - St Clare parish, seek to live
lives, celebrating God’s presence & our faith values
through worship, outreach, service, justice & hospitality.
our Vision Statement
Next meeting: 6 November 2014
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