Homily for the twenty-ninth Sunday of the year - Year A - Mt. 22:15-22


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

"Then the Pharisees went and took counsel how to entangle Jesus in his talk. And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, 'Teacher, we know that you are true, and teach the way of God truthfully, and care for no man; for you do not regard the position of men. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?' But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, 'Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the money for the tax.' And they brought him a coin. And Jesus said to them, 'Whose likeness and inscription is this?' They said, 'Caesar's.' Then he said to them, 'Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.' When they heard it, they marveled; and they left him and went away."





Homily:


"Then the Pharisees went and took counsel how to entangle Jesus in his talk. And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, 'Teacher, we know that you are true, and teach the way of God truthfully, and care for no man; for you do not regard the position of men. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?' "


When the Son of God took flesh in the Virgin Mary, he assumed all of human nature: while eternally remaining God, he became, in time, fully man, assuming human nature in its entirety. Similarly, but in an inverse manner, a child who is baptized shortly after his birth and who is destined to become a man or a woman like all the others, becomes an adoptive child of God, wholly loved by the Father, in the Holy Spirit, as if that child were his own Son.


The Christian, though he is a child of the Father in the Holy Spirit, is a man or a woman like all the others: he has the same rights and duties as other men. Or better yet: the Christian, because he is truly a man after the Heart of God, is, in a certain sense, even more bound to observe all the laws of the City of men, and similarly, he almost has more rights than any other man who is, like him, a citizen of such and such a country. More rights and more duties, these are the characteristics of the true Christian!


While other men cheat on their yearly taxes to the State or to the City, the Christian must try hard to remain honest. Let us not say: "I do it because everyone else does it." But we will be taken for fools! So much the better! Was Jesus not humiliated to the highest degree during his ignominious and insulting Passion? Is the disciple now above the Master?


"But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, 'Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the money for the tax.' And they brought him a coin. And Jesus said to them, 'Whose likeness and inscription is this?' They said, 'Caesar's.' Then he said to them, 'Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.' When they heard it, they marveled; and they left him and went away."


"Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's." The answer is clear. And it is absolutely current! If everyone were to pay the taxes that are owed, if there were less fraud of every kind, would not the general financial and economic situation be better than it is? If there were less money lying idle in safes or in woolen socks, would this not contribute to the amelioration of the commercial activity of the planet? These are just hypotheses, not the counsels of a financial expert...


However, let us reflect a little: are we not very attached to money and to our well-being? And yet, Divine Providence watches over us! Did not many holy personages before our time experience this? Certainly, Providence watches over us, and Mary too! I sometimes think of the story of this great saint: Saint John Bosco. In Turin, in northern Italy, he had a immense basilica constructed in honor of Mary-Auxiliatrix, or Mary Help of Christians. He had no money, but God gave him some through the many donors who presented themselves before him. Finally, the work was completed. The Most Blessed Virgin Mary then appeared to him and told him something like this: "John, you have done great things because you had confidence in me. You would have done even greater things if you had had even greater confidence..." And God knows that the confidence of Saint John Bosco was already immense, like his basilica!


" ...and to God the things that are God's." If we render to Caesar that which is Caesar's, we are already rendering to God that which is God's. For, in rendering to Caesar that which is Caesar's, we are conducting ourselves in a just and equitable manner on the simply human level, something that naturally pleases God, even if God is not directly the object of our justice. Of course, it is the intention that counts: if, in rendering to Caesar that which is Caesar's, we have at the same time the intention of pleasing God, it is better than if we did not have that intention. But every man who, not acting from religious motives, intends to render to Caesar that which is Caesar's because he believes in conscience that it is just, that man renders glory to his Creator, God, even if he does not know him, even if he does not think of him...


On this Sunday consecrated to Missions, let us try to be just in our relations with our neighbors! Let us ask Mary, Mediatrix of all graces, to teach us justice and equity! Through the intercession of the Mother of the Savior, may the Holy Spirit help us to appraise all creatures at their true value, for it is he, the Spirit of God, who is the only true Good given by the Father in his Son Jesus!




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