SUNDAY REFLECTION - Sunday, October 22nd, 2017

KEEPING PRIORITIES RIGHT

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Matt. 22:15   Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap Jesus in what he said. 16 So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. 17 Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” 18 But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? 19 Show me the coin used for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. 20 Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” 21 They answered, “The emperor’s.” Then he said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 22 When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away.
"Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's"
This saying has been used to justify the claim that religious leaders should not “interfere” in secular fields like politics, economics or culture.        This could not possibly be the meaning, however. The entire teaching of Jesus, indeed the entire bible, insists that the whole of creation “belongs to God” - “his is the earth and the fullness thereof”. There is no question of “separate domains” therefore, since everything belongs to God.        The saying is rather about keeping priorities right.

Michael de Verteuil
Jesus doesn't say that one half of life, the material and economic side belongs to Caesar; or that the other half, the spiritual and religious, belongs to God. His message is different. If we enter the kingdom, we must ever allow any Caesar to sacrifice what only belongs to God: the world's hungry people, the boat people whom come to Europe from Africa, the illegal aliens in our cities. The emperor can't count on our support……..

… At a time when the power of the state is growing, and it is getting harder for citizens to defend their freedom in a society where almost everything is ordered and controlled, we believers must resist any power that tries to rob us of our conscience and freedom.

We must loyally comply with our civic obligations, but we must not be shaped or directed by any power that would bring us into conflict with the fundamental requirements of the reign of God.

Jose A. Pagola
Thought for the day
The relationship between religious faith and public life is perplexing. In some societies, even today, there is virtually no difference between the two. In other, more secular societies, any expression of religious conviction is unacceptable in public. It is true of course that there is an appropriate distinction and even separation to be made, as indeed Jesus does make today in the Gospel. But on at least two issues, there is bound to be some crossover. Religious faith informs our values and in society today policies and laws must be grounded, not in a particular faith certainly, but in values nevertheless.
K. O'Mahony - tarsus.ie
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LOOKING AT LIFE THROUGH THE LENS OF THE GOSPEL

1. The story sees a mixture of religion and politics, a potentially explosive combination. Jesus does not ask us to avoid politics, but that our involvement in the affairs of the world be informed by the perspective of the Reign of God. How does the gospel give you a vision of how your involvement in society should be?

2. Pharisees and Herodians were not natural allies but a shared dislike of Jesus brought them together in an attempt to discredit him. Perhaps you experience the same opposition in society today when you profess to being a Catholic. Jesus did not get into an argument with them but simply professed his belief in the priority of God in his life. What have you found helpful in bearing witness to the fact that you are still a Catholic?

3. Jesus recognises that we can be faced with conflicting claims for attention. He does not tell us how to solve that dilemma, but challenges us to make sure that our allegiance to God takes priority. When have you been faced with a conflict of loyalties? What helped you to get your priorities right?

John Byrne - Intercom