Sometimes after I finish speaking with someone, I later think if only I had said this or that. Or other times: Why did I not think of that answer yesterday when I was talking? Often I realize that I should have said something more or different. One priest, I know always said, Do not ask me a question when I am standing, I cannot understand or give a good answer. I think as I live a life that this response makes more and more sense to me. In the Gospel passages, Jesus is about the only one who has a corrector good answer or comment when he is asked a question or needs to say something. The rest of the characters in the gospel stories seem to be stymied at times or give incorrect answers.
All through the many, many chapters of the Prophet Isaiah we discover the true greatness of God. We are reminded that not only did God create us and know us intimately, but also this great God of ours is so unbelievably incomprehensible that his glory is greater than anything we know. This means that all the “greatness” we know in this world, whether it be super-wealthy, awesome power, or international fame, could only be accomplished through God’s authority. Thus Paul writes to the Thessalonians that God has created them for great things and that God has the power to transform their lives.
We hear and learn in the Gospel of Matthew this weekend that Jesus’ words distinguish between the worship of God from paying homage to anyone else. Jesus speaks very clear, but kind words to the Pharisees when they are trying to manipulate and trick him. Notice how the Pharisees are unable to answer their own questions. Jesus also tried to help them using logical deduction, a common method of critical thinking. He used the coin that had an impression of Caesar’s head and title on it as his example. The Pharisees knew that taxes had to be paid to Caesar. We know that Jesus agreed; however, he added this insight and message: that what belonged to God, namely glory, should be given only to God. We are not to confuse the two different payments.
In any country, and especially in our democratic republic, separation of church and state can get very, very messy. We know that our forebears who founded this country were believers in various degrees and ways in God. They decided that we should use the phrase “In God we trust” on our money, one of the most commonly used objects we have. As it was in the days of Caesar, there is in our country a common belief, but not absolute, that God is the ruler over all people. Most of us today would also say that the power of government comes from God through his people, not through a leader or monarch. During this “election season”, it is very important to reflect upon our Catholic vision and understanding of all human life and its resulting issues as we decide for whom we should vote. It is not simple, but complex. It requires our faith and our thought.BACK TO LIST