21 October 2017

DIFFERING LOYALTIES?

XXIX SUNDAY OF THE YEAR 
isaiah 45:1, 4-6; 1 thessalonians 1:1-5b; matthew 22:15-21

the opening scene of a film shows two puppeteers arguing over who should control the strings of the puppet on the stage below. as they argue, one tries to wrest the strings from the other. the puppet is pulled this way and that as each puppeteer pulls the string to an arm or leg, hand or foot.
our many commitments can do the same to us. family, school/office/workplace, possessions, the church, the government… to a varying extent, these determine the way we spend our time, energy, resources and money. we feel pulled in many different directions, and we often feel helplessly out of control.

who or what should take priority? 
this sunday, in response to the pharisees’ and herodians’ carefully-formulated and absolutely-loaded question—«is it lawful to pay taxes to caesar or not»—jesus gives us a response to our important question! 
he challenges them (and us) to «repay… to GOD what belongs to GOD.» first, there is no dichotomy between GOD and the many caesars in our lives; each has its rightful place. second, «repay» what belongs to GOD. what does? in one word: everything! resources, my being, me… i belong to GOD! 
jesus illustrates this when he asks for a tax coin and then asks: «whose image is this?» the emperor’s image, stamped on the coin, showed that the coin belonged to him. we are stamped with the image of GOD. we belong to him!*


how am i going to give myself to GOD in the week ahead? 
today is mission sunday. how will i give myself to the mission of proclaiming GOD, his love and his kingdom?
may i allow GOD to tug at the strings of my heart and mind. then, my differing loyalties will not leave my out of control; i will discover balance and equanimity.

* there’s an addition: belonging to GOD means belonging to one another! so, give to others what belongs to others. it’s not charity when we give people sustenance and shelter, freedom of speech and religion; it is justice. to give to GOD is also to share the goods of the earth with all people… and with all of creation!