Photo: Myriams-Fotos via Pixabay.
Our Mission to be God’s presence in the world
The Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap Jesus in His words. They sent their disciples to Him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no
attention to who they are.
Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?” But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” “Caesar’s,” they replied.
Then He said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left Him and went away.” (Matthew 22:15-21) Sisters and brothers, can you remember being chosen to be on this or that team when you played catching, or hide-and-seek, as a child? Didn’t it feel good to be chosen?
By Fr Adrian Danker, SJ
The Mission Sunday Gospel reading challenges us to consider who we belong to, by our words and actions, our choices and decisions. As Christians, we know we belong to God and should live in His ways. We should therefore strive to imitate Jesus, who shows us how God’s love in our lives compels us to love all peoples through charity and service. Are we doing this enough and well? Or, are we more focused on Caesar, a metaphor for worldly values and outcomes, and practising worldly ways to get ahead?
For example, are we at Sunday Mass because this is our Catholic way of life with God, or are we Sunday Catholics fulfilling this obligatory weekly hour so that we can get on with more important worldly routines and pleasures on weekends?
We often struggle to choose between God and the world. For example, how do we care for migrant workers, uplift the poor, and ensure fair and equal justice for all? Is it Caesar, or is it God whom we serve?
It is too simplistic to answer that everything of Caesar must go because it is not of God, or that everything of God has to be put aside because the world has no place for God. We can’t take either side because we live in this world, and we live as God’s own.
A more realistic response would consider whether God and Caesar can co-exist.
What if God created you and me to live in this world, so frequently described as secular, materialistic, and relativistic, to simply be God’s presence in it? We can respond by crying, “We are unworthy!” or bargain, “Yes, but not yet!” or confess, “Thanks, but no thanks!”
What if God created us to live and move and have our being in this world because we are to be, like Jesus, the face of God amidst his people? As Saint Teresa of Avila wrote, “Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”
Oct 22 is World Mission Sunday. Mother Church invites us to remember, celebrate, and believe in her mission to share the love of God with all. If we fail to do so, we would have failed in our mission. As Scottish scholar priest Father James McTavish noted, “The great O-mission is when there is zero mission.”
Though we may succumb to temptation and fall into sin, God still forgives us and calls us to His mission. The Good News is that God does this because we are His, and He deems us worthy. This gives us the confidence to know that, as American Jesuit Fr John Foley, SJ says, “God puts us into the world to be holy in it, to be friends with the things of Caesar, and to work in the world of sin in spite of our own sins.”
So, like the many good Christians who have gone before us in the Church’s mission, let us give God our gift of self, and everything else that bears the image of Jesus. This is only right and just.