Pretty close approximation to the homily I delivered today at both our 4 and 6 pm vigil Masses; will be back at it tomorrow afternoon:
Did you hear the news today? Too many people making too many problems and not much love to go around; this is a land of confusion! This is the world we live in and these are the hands we're given; use them and lets start trying to make it a place worth living in.............Phil Collins
As people of faith we are called to be great citizens by giving our all to God!
As we read these words from the 22nd chapter of Matthew, we ask: what does this Gospel mean?
By now, Jesus has pretty much frustrated the ruling authorities, whether they were loyal to Rome or detested everything about Rome. Two opposing sides, the Pharisees and the Herodians plot together against Jesus with a simple question about paying taxes. These guys must be the original IRS. But Jesus knew the malice, the collusion and the hatred; so he outsmarts them with the simple solution: who is on the coin with which the tax is paid? Caesar! Then give to Caesar what is Caesar; give to God what is God's.
They didn't know it then, but we should know it now; to God we owe our everything; our all!
We have a dual citizenship brothers and sisters, most of us here are citizens of this country but we are also, here and now, citizens of the kingdom; the kingdom of God. That citizenship is not just when we, hopefully, arrive in heaven, it is right here, right now. Yet we have to live as citizens of both our nation, and the kingdom, everyday. How should we do this? With God at the forefront of our every action, thought and word.
Holy Mother Church, through her Catechism gives us some guidance on what we must do and must not do while we live under civil authority.
Among many things the Catechism reminds us to respect and pray for public officials, our national, state and local political leaders. We must approach our dealings with them and our words as we speak of them with the assumption that they are representatives of God and stewards of his gifts. Furthermore, we are called to pay our taxes and obey all laws that contribute to the common good. All the time, we are also called, with the work of our own hands, to contribute to the common good with a preferential option for the poor.
But sometimes things don't work out so well and man-made laws can be unjust or completely contradict the will of our Father. Then what? The Catechism tells us that the citizen is obliged not to follow these laws, not to follow these directives.
Some examples that should be incredibly obvious to us include, but are not limited to:
slavery, human trafficking, abortion, euthanasia, the redefinition of marriage, any unfair and unjust burden put upon citizens particularly on the poor and most vulnerable among us.
We reject such things and we work to reverse unjust laws not just by our protest, but by using the hands we are given to make this a world worth living in. As we sometimes sing in church, to God we should give all that we have and all that we offer!
Homework: Reread this Gospel at least once this week with the Catechism next to you. Then review paragraphs 2234 - 2246. Don't have a Catechism; get one; this is a must for every Catholic home.
And remember: this is the land we live in, but our true citizenship is the kingdom of the Father, and these are the hands we are given, use them to make this a land worth living in.
There is a reason, at the very end of Mass, we say: go in peace, glorifying the Lord by our lives.
May God continue to bless us and America, but may we, citizens of this land, America; may America truly bless God!