|by Angela (Lambert) Jendro|
October 21st, 2017 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Gospel of Matthew 22:15-21 NAB
The Pharisees went off and plotted how they might entrap Jesus in speech. They sent their disciples to him, with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. And you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion, for you do not regard a person’s status. Tell us, then, what is your opinion: Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?” Knowing their malice, Jesus said, “Why are you testing me, you hypocrites? Show me the coin that pays the census tax.” Then they handed him the Roman coin. He said to them, “Whose image is this and whose inscription?” They replied, “Caesar’s.” At that he said to them, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”
Consider the value and meaning we place on money.
First, there’s the cultural pressure to value ourselves based on our bank account. We call name brand clothes, luxury vehicles, the size and elegance of a home, or exotic vacations “status symbols” because they reflect our monetary power and therefore our personal value. Consider how many people struggle with low self-esteem, whether in grade school or retired, because they lack the apparent wealth of others.
Our perception of the value of our work can also be tied to the numbers. How many decisions do we make based on how much money it pays rather than based on whether it’s God’s will? How many opportunities do we miss because we are afraid of having less and worry that we will thereby be less.
Currency further identifies our national ties. Each country has its own currency with images of its leaders and heroes. To buy or sell in another nation requires exchanging your local money for the proper foreign coins.
These habits of mind might belong in the kingdom of fallen man, but not in the Kingdom of God. God created everything from nothing, and continues to govern it and hold it in existence. He imprinted His image on man and woman, and placed a value of infinite worth on each. The only way to devalue this currency is to distort God’s image within us, which we all do through sin (except Jesus and Mary) since Adam and Eve. Nevertheless, Jesus came to restore God’s image within us, and to elevate it to an even higher union and dignity by uniting our human nature with His divine nature through His Incarnation, suffering, death, and resurrection.
Jesus doesn’t condemn Caesar’s image on Roman coins because it’s an earthly currency for an earthly political system. Rather, Jesus reminds us that our citizenship in His kingdom transcends our human institutions.
God desires that we revere Him as the King of kings, worship Him as Creator, and love Him as Father and Redeemer. He has bestowed His royal dignity upon us and urges us to return back to Him His image. We don’t earn heavenly currency, we become it and we receive it.
Jesus reveals that we are God’s treasure. If we want to chase the dollar, we should chase God’s dollar. Through deeper union with the Lord, His grace transforms us more and more into His likeness. We also begin to see God’s image in others and their corresponding value and beauty.
Thus one person, no matter how broken, is worth more than as many images of Ben Franklin you could stack.
I was reminded again of this truth just a couple of weeks ago when my sister and brother-in-law welcomed my baby nephew into the world. Our whole family rejoiced at such a precious gift and my heart aches until I can visit and hold him in my arms. The only addition possible to this joy, was the preciousness of the love which my sister’s children showed toward their baby brother, and the sweet love my children expressed over him too.
Love sees the whole person. When a family member or loved one becomes ensnared in a serious sin, addiction, or suffers under mental illness, we feel sorrow because we see how these things distort the image of the true person we know, and all they could be. We want the ones we love to flourish. We value them for simply them, not anything they have accomplished or not. I love family reunions just because I enjoy being around those I love. I have grown up with my brother, sister, and cousins for many years now. I have seen us all go through ups and downs, great strides and tough struggles. I love them all when they are doing well, and just as much when they are struggling. I hate anything that would hold them back from the fullness of Christ’s joy, and yet I also know that God can work all things together for good.
Money can buy temporary pleasures and momentary experiences. However, the more we image the Lord, the deeper we experience a well-spring of joy, and far richer experiences than we can find anywhere else. It can hardly be described in words so I won’t even try. Christ doesn’t explain it either. He simply says, “Come and see” (John 1:39).
Come and see Jesus, and see your true worth in His eyes.
- Think of the people you His vision. Ask Him to enable you to see yourself and others as God does.
Make a Resolution (Practical Application):
- Each morning, “give to God what is God’s” – His image in you. Pray for trust that “the One who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6)
|Prayer by St. Cardinal John Henry Newman
God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good; I shall do His work. I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it if I do but keep His commandments. Therefore, I will trust Him, whatever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him, in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him. If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me. Still, He knows what He is about.
- This week, try to see yourself and others as God does. Pray for their freedom and yours from sin, fear, or addiction, and the gift of Christ-filled joy.
~ Written by Angela Jendro © 2017
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