HOMILY FOR THE TWENTY-NINTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR A.
HOMILY THEME: GIVE TO CAESAR WHAT BELONGS TO CAESAR AND TO GOD WHAT BELONGS TO GOD?
BY: Fr. Cosmas Ukadike
Does this therefore suppose that we have two powers that be? Two authorities to take instructions from?
I like to say that these particular words of Jesus are the most misinterpreted and distorted when it comes to its understanding and application. Jesus certainly is not unaware of the supreme power of God who by himself alone brought all things into being, including man. And the psalmist is very clear about this when he says that:
The earth and all it contains, the world and its inhabitants belong to God (Ps 24). What could belong to Caesar that doesn’t come from God? Reflecting through the first reading from the prophet Isaiah, we could see that it is God who anoints kings and leaders and uses them to work for the good of his people (Isa 45, 1, 4-6). St Paul also confirms this when he instructed that: For there is no power but from God; and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God… (Rom 13, 1).
Going by the facts above, we must acknowledge that what Jesus is truly saying in the answer he gave regarding the trap which the Pharisees had set in today’s Gospel, concerning giving to Caesar and to God (Matt 22, 15-21), isn’t a confirmation of two powers. He is not saying that God and Caesar are demanding loyalty from their subjects but rather, he is reminding them and us, of something which we seldom think about, that is; “Give to God what belongs to God”. He is saying that; we must never give to Caesar what belongs only to God.
Like for example; we must never sacrifice people’s life, dignity or happiness to any or for the reason of power. Authorities are put in place to enhance order and further peace and development.
Power is never meant for oppression or for vengeance. If people in authority realise that they have been put in place by God to serve as his lieutenants and to assist him in bringing and spreading the dividends of our God-giving natural resources, surely those in power will see their positions as truly that of a SERVANT.
Those being served will do everything possible to cooperate with those who serve them through paying of their tax/rates and making sure that each government in power succeeds.
We must therefore focus our attention on giving to God what truly belongs to him, which is; loving and treating with dignity our fellow humans whom God has created in his own image and likeness. And not forgetting that he has called us in charity to live in harmony with one another, by contributing our own quota. When we do this, we douse every tension, thus inviting peace and development.
May God help us and our leaders to do his will.
Have a blessed week