Bread In the Wilderness
Father Carl Diederichs
All Saints Catholic Church

The scripture readings for Sunday October 19, 2014 are: Isaiah 45: 4-6, I Thessalonians 1: 1-5b, and Matthew 22: 15-21.

Today we get to hear about money, politics and religion. Many would say these are the three topics one should stay away from, especially in church! But the texts are given for our transformation and we can’t make believe Jesus didn’t address them, even to his death. Money, politics and religion, let’s see what Jesus might have in mind for us as we listen to and pray upon the readings.

For many, these three topics are not open for discussion because we don’t want to be told what to do, especially with our money. We will not tell anyone what to do with it here, but we do need to see these three important parts of our lives from the vantage point of our faith. If faith doesn’t inform and touch our daily life it is hardly a faith worth talking about.

Jesus is confronted with two groups of Jews, the Herodians and the Pharisees. They were enemies but came together because Jesus was challenging both. And the issue was a very special noxious tax paid directly to the occupying Romans. This was the tax that supported the Emperor in Roman.

Should they pay it or not, they ask Jesus. The Herodians benefited from the tax, the Pharisees saw it as an abomination. On the face of it, Jesus could not win. And they knew it.

Jesus asks to see a coin. And the face on it is Caesar’s. So, Jesus says, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and give to God what belongs to God.”

And for us today, what do we hear in our hearts when Jesus says to us: “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and give to God what belongs to God?” How do we declare? What belongs to God for us? Instead of focusing on the “image” on the money, let’s focus on the “image” that is on us. We have been made in the “image and likeness of God.” And this is often forgotten when we speak about money or politics. Even though we may be aligned with a political party, we are first of all in Jesus’ party, a Christian. And the money we have is also part of God’s Kingdom to be used to build it up.

If we don’t hold to the fact that we are made in God’s image, we will probably make monetary decisions that seem to say that we are our money. Our bank accounts will tell the story about who we really are. We equate who we are with our money.

We are so much more than all we own. But all we own is meant for the common good.

As we live our lives we know that we do need to “render unto Caesar” for the common good. And even that “giving” ought to come from the conviction that we are serving the common good, we are in solidarity with the rest of society.

But the bottom line is that we are God’s. And as God’s begotten child, made in God’s image, all we do and say ought to flow from that conviction. How we spend our money, how we vote, all flow from our relationship with God.

One of the commentators I read this week spoke about a minister who asked the congregation to participate in an exercise that was designed to help them focus on the fact that all we have belongs to God, including our money. Each was asked to take a magic marker provided and mark a credit card or cash with the sign the cross. Can you see how this might help us reflect on whether or not our purchases are aligned with God’s purposes?

This little exercise can help us bring our faith into our economic life. We are children of God placed in God’s Kingdom, given good things, including money, to be used for godly things.

God said: “I am the Lord, there is no other.”