Scripture Reading Reflection
By Fr. Andrew Kelly
TWENTY-NINTH SUNDAY ORDINAL TIME – OCT. 19, 2014
During Jesus’ time, Caesar’s image was stamped upon the coins of Caesar’s realm. Anyone who engaged in commerce and received Caesar’s benefits using Caesar’s coin, owed Caesar allegiance manifested by paying Caesar’s levied taxes. This is the meaning when Jesus says in Sunday’s Gospel (Matthew 22:15-21): “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s…”
But Jesus also adds: “…and to God the things that are God’s.” Just as Caesar’s image is stamped upon Caesar’s coin, so God’s image is stamped upon every human soul. Human beings are the “coins” of God’s Kingdom. The questions are: How do believers give “to God the things that are God’s?” How do believers manifest allegiance and pay “taxes” to God?
Believers see God’s image stamped on every human soul. Believers manifest allegiance to God by unconditionally loving human beings as God unconditionally loves human beings. The “taxes” owed God for all God does for believers are: feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, comforting the sick, freeing those unjustly imprisoned, embracing victims of violence and working ceaselessly for peace and justice.
These rendered “taxes” manifest allegiance to the Kingdom of God as preached and revealed by Jesus.
(Father Andrew Kelly is a retired priest of the Diocese of Davenport.)