October 22, 2017
Sr. Phyllis Jaszkowiak
Listen here, or read the text below
Today’s readings give us three steps as to how to maneuver in this world. God, through Isaiah, says, “I have called you by your name.” Paul tells us, “… Brothers and sisters loved by God, you were chosen. For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit.” Jesus says, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”
The question arises, what belongs to Caesar and what belongs to God? The question really seems to be “What could belong to Caesar that does not already belong to God?” (NCR) Since God made the heavens and the earth and all that dwells there, what really is Caesar’s?
We do have a responsibility for this creation that is given us to care for and reverence, to hold as sacred this space for all humans, animals, vegetation and the earth itself. “We are responsible to create societies that serve the good of all.” (NCR)
Each age needs to interpret how best to do that given the circumstances of their time and place. In our world today, we have developed political systems that, when they work well, can really serve the good of all. When they don’t work well, only a few are served and the rest are left. As Ann Wilson Schaef says, “In the absence of the sacred – everything is for sale and life has no value.”
Today we are welcoming eleven young people into our community through baptism, eleven people God has called by name. We ask the parents if they know what they are undertaking by having their children baptized. We need to also ask ourselves, our community, the same question. Do WE know what we are undertaking as we bring these young ones into our community? What kind of life do we offer them? What example are we to them? How do we help and strengthen the parents as they raise their children? Do we let the Holy Spirit guide us in this responsibility as a faith filled community?
Jesus, by his life, shows us how to act out of The Social Justice Principles of our faith and out of mercy, compassion, forgiveness, and love. It is these values that should guide our actions. It has been said recently that it seems our politics guide our faith. When it should be that our faith guides our politics.
Michael Simone in his article in America states that, Political systems “can confer social status but not community, power but not trust, wealth but not fulfillment, pleasure but not joy. By contrast, God, who requires only our faith, provides the love of family and friends, the wisdom to reveal the kingdom in every place, the power to bind up broken hearts and a life that triumphs even after death.” (America)
No political system is perfect, so we let our values, our faith, guide how we act in the political arena so the common good is enlarged, and people and the earth are reverenced and cared for.
This kind of action takes discernment, what is best for the common good, what might help the most people, how does a law help the poor, how does this law enhance participation of the most people? All questions that need the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to guide us.
Sr. Barbara Reid says, “Jesus’ single-mindedness about the reign of God and his cleverness in turning a verbal duel into an invitation to become more deeply centered on the Holy One can help us discern our responses in our day.”
God has called these eleven young people, and all of us, by name. God has chosen all of us to live in the power of the Holy Spirit, to act in such a way that we give to God what belongs to God.
Let us become more centered in our God, draw upon the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, and follow Jesus, as today we act in our world for the good of all.
Mary M. McGlone, BALANCING GOD AND CAESAR. National Catholic reporter. October 6-16, 2017. Page 23
Anne Wilson Schaef, NATIVE WISDOM FOR WHITE MINDS. Ballantine Publishing Group. 1995. See page for October 2.
Michael Simone, SJ, WHOM DO YOU SERVE? America Magazine, October 16, 2017. Page 56.
Barbara Reid, OP, ABIDING WORD YEAR A. Liturgical Press 2013. Page 113.
7 Catholic Social Justice Principles: Respect for all Life; The Common Good; Preferential Option for those who are Poor; Solidarity; Participation; Dignity of Work; Care for Creation.