Render Unto Caesar (29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Oct. 19, 2014)

In Sunday’s Gospel Jesus speaks his “Render unto Caesar” response to those trying to entrap him. I can’t help but wonder how he would respond to the political/religious scene in our country.

We all are, in some way, the citizens of two kingdoms: citizens of the United States and citizens in God’s Kingdom. As Jesus says, they both require certain loyalties from us.

We all depend to a large extent on our government. Very few people can supply their own water or electricity. Only a civil authority can provide or subsidize education, hospitals, roads, emergency assistance in disasters, assistance for the unemployed, the handicapped, the elderly, civil defense, and on and on.

If these services are to continue and even be improved they require the cooperation and support of the community. We do this for the most part through paying taxes. Taxes are not just a necessary evil. In a just administration they are our contribution to making these services widely available to as many people as possible. One, unfortunately, does meet people whose only interest is in seeing what they can get out of the community for themselves with no intention of ever giving anything back.

We are also citizens of God’s Kingdom. Most of the time, there is no conflict between “Caesar” and God but not always. From the standpoint of the Gospel, we sometimes have to criticize our government’s actions or non-actions. When we really love our country and its people, then we may have to stand in strong opposition to the authorities on certain issues.

Sunday’s Gospel makes it very clear that we have two responsibilities: to the government of our country and to God. Where both are in harmony there will be no conflict. Wherever there is immoral or unjust behavior against people’s dignity and rights, then there has to be conflict, and that’s not always bad. It is because of creative conflict that our society makes progress, and slowly becomes “one nation under God.”

Be sure to vote in a couple of weeks: That’s both a civil and a moral responsibility.

Love deeply, pray faithfully, laugh often!!

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