OCTOBER 19, 2014
TWENTY-NINETH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME. Green
Just is the Lord
Gary Ni-og (OP Postulant)
Jesus says, “Give to Ceasar what is Ceasar’s,” but He also adds, in the same breath: “and to God what is God’s.”
There is no indication that Jesus returned the coin to the Pharisee. Maybe as Jesus proclaims the punchline “and render to God the things that are God’s”--- He pockets the coin and has the last laugh.” and that is another story. Faced with the double-ended trap of the Pharisees and the Herodians, in which it was unsafe to clearly say yes or no, Jesus framed His answer in such enigmatic language that it would be hard for either party to trap Him. In this way, He succeeded in confusing not only His interrogators but also many of us who read the Bible today. If you think Jesus meant that we should have two parallel loyalties, it might help to know that the Pharisees who heard Him did not understand it in that way. In the trial of Jesus before Pilate, one of the charges they brought against Him was that He forbade paying taxes to Caesar (Luke 23:2).
Instead of answering the direct question of whether one should pay the forced tribute to Caesar or not, Jesus raises the question to another level, that of the principle of justice. Greek philosophers before Jesus defined justice as “giving back to everyone what is their due.” Jesus seems to be saying that the only binding obligation is that of justice, that of giving back to every person what is due to them. Serving God is basically a matter of justice? If God has given to us all that we are and what we have, then we are bound in justice to give back to God some gratitude, loyalty, and service. The central act of Christian worship is called Eucharist, which means “thanksgiving.” It is basically a question of paying back the debt of gratitude we owe to God.
Surely, even in our own lives, we might come to the point of asking God as if we are entrapping Him and blaming Him for all of our misfortunes that happened in us. But certainly, one thing is for sure, God will answer all of our questions in due time. Most of the time, we will not recognize his answers because of too much self-centeredness and God is so mysterious.
This is the challenge for all of us --- to become a just man that is to render what is due to our neighbor and to our God. Do not ask your neighbor what good he can do for you, but rather ask yourself you can do well for your neighbor. As Jesus says what you do to others, you do also unto me. With this, we will become a just man that is pleasing in the sight of our Lord Jesus Christ. And I think, He will answer our questions clearly and directly this time.
Cycle A, Ordinary Time, OP Postulants, Justice, Eucharist, Neighbors