Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Year A 18 October 2020
“Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God, the things that are God's.” Mt. 22:21
Today’s Gospel (Mt. 22:15-21) gives us a fundamental principle of how the Church and society should live together in this world. The Pharisees want to trick Jesus into supporting the state government of the Romans. They ask Him if it is lawful to give tribute to Caesar. Jesus answers them by taking a denarius and asking them whose image is on it. They answer Caesar’s. Jesus then says: “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God, the things that are God's.” Mt. 22:21 Thus Jesus is saying to give to the state (Caesar) what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s. There is no separation of Church and State as both have their rights. Rulers of the state were for the good of the people, and citizens obey the state for the common good of all the citizens. Everyone also has the obligation to obey the laws of God and the Church.
Pharisees test Jesus
The major reason for questioning Jesus on the paying of tribute to the state was to trick him and cause Him to oppose the Jewish religion. If Jesus says it is lawful to pay tribute to Rome/Caesar, then he would be supporting the foreign domination of Rome. The Pharisees hated the Romans and anyone who supported them! If Jesus did not pay the tribute, then the Herodians, who favoured the Romans, would denounce Him. Anyone who opposed Caesar would be an enemy of Rome and denounced by the Herodians as inciting revolution. From a human point of view, the Jews had Jesus trapped; whatever He said would indict Him either to the Romans or to the Jews. Of course, Jesus who is divine wisdom itself, easily defeated the Jews. He said: “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God, the things that are God's.” Mt. 22:21 There should be no opposition to the two; men should give to Caesar what is his and to God what is His.
Obligations to the State
In the First Reading from Isaiah (45, 4-6), we see the fundamental principle of giving to the state what belongs to the state and what belongs to God what is God’s We see in Isaiah how God blessed even a pagan king. As all authority comes from God, God has either willed or permitted the pagan king to rule: “Thus saith the Lord to my anointed Cyrus, whose right hand I have taken hold of, to subdue nations before his face, and to turn the backs of kings, and to open the doors before him, and the gates shall not be shut... For the sake of my servant
Jacob, and Israel my elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have made a likeness of thee, and thou hast not known me. I am the Lord, and there is none else: there is no God, besides me: I girded thee, and thou hast not known me.” Is. 45: 4-6 From this passage, we can see how God’s Providence rules the world. He will bless good rulers, like King Cyrus, who do His will for the good of his subjects. God rewards good rulers and punishes evil rulers. Evil rulers may prosper for a time, but God will only allow evil to prosper to go so far. “Woe to them that make wicked laws: and when they write, write injustice... I will send him to a deceitful nation, and I will give him a charge against the people of my wrath, to take away the spoils, and to lay hold on the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets.” (Is. 10:1 and 5-7) Governments must make all laws in accord with God’s Commandments. The American patriot, George Mason, said, “Nations will be punished in this life.” The prophet Jeremiah spoke of all who did not do God’s work as He commanded: “Cursed is he who does the work of the Lord deceitfully.” Jer. 48:10 In today’s world we see how many leaders in various states opposed God’s Commandments by permitting evil works: promotion of divorce, contraception, abortion same sex marriage, euthanasia, and many others. In our time, it is not just that people are more evil than in other times, but the leaders are! We now live in a “Culture of Death” because we do not obey God’s Commandments.
Obligations to God
Our Lady at Fatima emphasized that men must obey God’s Commandments: “Men must stop offending God who is too much offended by men.” Men must promote justice for all. They should obey the social teachings of the Church which word and labour. They should obey the marriage laws of the Church. Our Lady said at Fatima: “Many marriages are not good... they are not of God.” Today, we see so many “living in sin” by not marrying and living with partners. So many use contraception and do not want the children that God wants to give them. St. John Vianney said in the 19th Century to a woman who thought that she was too old to have children: “There are many women in hell who did want the children that God wanted to give them.” We need also to keep the Third Commandment and keep the Sabbath (Sunday) holy by going to Holy Mass, not doing servile work and not shopping. We also need to restore family prayer in the family, especially the Holy Rosary: “The Family that prays together will stay together.” Can we take a chance at losing our soul in hell for all eternity; Jesus said: “For what doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his own soul? Or what exchange shall a man give for his soul?” Mt. 16:26