A Penitent Blogger

Mindful of my imperfections, seeking to know Truth more deeply and to live Love more fully.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus? Quem patronum rogaturus? Cum vix iustus sit securus?
Recordare, Iesu pie, Quod sum causa tuae viae: Ne me perdas illa die...

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Render unto Caesar

It is easy to be cynical about politics today.

On the one hand, the political atmosphere has become so poisonous, the battle lines so firmly entrenched, and the “middle ground” a true no-man’s land.

On the other hand, there seem to be people of influence who seem to prosper no matter which political side is “in charge” while the great majority of people feel detached from the very governments that “derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Who wants to get involved in that?

But in today’s Gospel (Matthew 22:15-21), our Lord gives us this two-fold command:

Render therefore unto Caesar
the things which are Caesar's;
and unto God
the things that are God's.

In democratic systems, the people as a whole take the place of Caesar. That which is to be rendered unto Caesar is therefore more than just taxes and obedience: without the active and intelligent participation of its citizens, democracy cannot function – the Caesar of popular sovereignty cannot exist.

Render therefore unto Caesar
the things which are Caesar's

The second half of our Lord’s command, together with today’s first reading (Isaiah 45:1, 4-6), adds critical perspective.

Today’s first reading is addressed to Cyrus, King of Persia and conqueror of ancient Babylon, revealing to him the real source of his power and authority:

...I have called you by your name,
giving you a title, though you knew me not.

I am the LORD and there is no other,
there is no God besides me.

It is I who arm you, though you know me not,
so that toward the rising and the setting of the sun
people may know that there is none besides me.

I am the LORD, there is no other.

It is necessary and important that we get involved – that we render unto Caesar – but it is also necessary and important (indeed, supremely important) that we render unto God that which is God’s:
  • that we integrate our faith with our intelligent and active participation in government and society,
  • that we give proper priority to our duties to God and to his people, and
  • that we realize that our ultimate home and goal is in our heavenly Father’s house.