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Sunday, October 22, 2017

Whose Image Do You Worship?

Sermon by Rev. John Paul Shea
29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Oct 22, 2017
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Tucson, AZ
During the past week we have been listening to the parables of Our Lord Jesus Christ calling us to conversion.

Those parables angered those who opposed Christ. 

Today’s Gospel (Matthew 22:15-21) makes it clear  that the Pharisees do not have much admiration for Jesus. In fact, the Pharisees were out to get Jesus. They sent their representatives to Jesus along with the Herodians -- Jews that supported King Herod.

The Pharisees ask Jesus about the legitimacy of the census tax. This tax created controversy because Jews were made to pay it to the emperor of Rome. The Pharisees hoped to use the census tax to trap Our Lord. 

If Jesus said, “Yes, pay your taxes,” He turns away his most loyal followers who despised the Romans.They followed Jesus, who  proclaimed the Kingdom of God, hoping that He would free them from the Roman occupation. 

But if Jesus said not to pay Caesar’s tax then He incites the Romans to arrest Him as a rebel rousing zealot. Fully aware of their trickery, Our Lord does not play their game. He knows that the Pharisees were not questioning Him for the greater good. They were not questioning Him to know the truth.

It is this evil cunning that irritates our Lord. Knowing their malice, Jesus says, "Why are you testing me, you hypocrites?” He says,
“Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God." In other words, Our Lord is saying do what is right.

My brothers and sisters, it is these last words of Our Lord that make up the essence of our Lord’s message in today’s Gospel. Yes, we too live under civil societies with laws and taxes and so on. But, the bottom line is that all things belong to God! Every government, every society, every single thing we make, create, or build belongs to God!

It is when persons and societies and cultures forget that God is the ruler of everything that persons and societies and cultures and even religious institutions lose their way. This is what happened to the Pharisees whom we hear of in today’s Gospel. The Pharisees were the religious leaders of their time, but they had turned the Jewish religion from worshiping God into worshiping an image made in the likeness of themselves. This is why our Lord was so upset with the Pharisees. They had forgotten the truth found in today's Psalm:
"Give to the Lord glory and praise, give to the Lord the glory due His name!"

Today’s Gospel calls us to reflect on what we make the centre of our lives.  Who or what are the rivals to God in our lives?

As Caesar’s image was on a coin, this coin

therefore identified the Roman ruler. This
coin has the head of the Roman emperor on it and the inscription, “Glorified Son of Augustus.” In other words, the coin symbolized all the institutions that tend to divinize themselves as the ultimate in authority. While Our Lord Jesus does not comment on this blasphemy, He reminds us Who really is in charge -- God Himself. 

Therefore, it is God’s image alone that shall be worshiped.
In fact, each one of us is made in the image of God. Do we reflect God’s image in our lives? Or, do we make a false image of ourselves that reflects what is not of God? Are we as concerned about giving back to God what is God's when we think about our image? Does our image reflect our Catholic values?

We all know that today our society teaches us to place ourselves at the center of the world. Our own false image means everything in this

culture: How much money we make… What material possessions we have… Are we attractive? Our society even encourages us to make false images of ourselves and one another based on sexual preference.

Yet, as Catholics we are called not to identify ourselves by labels and images created by the world. As Catholics we are called to identify ourselves as sons and daughters of God and therefore live a new life in Christ! We are called to render God praise for saving us from a fallen world that is passing away and rejoice in thanking God for this great gift! As Catholics we are called to worship God will all our minds, hearts, and to love our neighbours 
as ourselves who have been reborn in the image of Our Lord Jesus Christ!

My brothers and sisters, today’s Gospel
Fr John Paul Shea
passage calls us to give credit to where it is due and to live our lives accordingly. Our God has given us every single thing we have. Our God has given us the very life in which we live and the breath in which we breathe. Most importantly, our God has given us the opportunity for salvation through His Son our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us therefore live our lives today in this society as best we can by doing what is right in what we should do, but most importantly let us place our lives into the hands of God who is the owner of all that we are and all that we have. For He alone deserves the glory due His name. Amen.

1 comment:

  1. Amen.Praise be to God the Father,Praise be to The Saviour
    đź‘‘ChristJesus,His son,Praise be to the Holy Spirit, The Comforter. Amen