How often do we look at our own currency here in the United States? We have coins, pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters, half dollar and dollar coins, interestingly enough they are imprinted with the phrase “In God We Trust.” Now a much debated phrase in our increasingly secular society that debates the involvement of church and state, even religious belief. But, our forebears had something in mind for those who fled religious persecution, those who came here seeking a new life, recognizing that they did trust in God. I know someone who will always stop to pick up a penny, for that simple reason. A way to remind the person that it is in God that we trust, for our lives, our freedom, our faith, our blessings; a small but regular reminder that there is more to life than what we do each day.
In today’s Gospel Jesus is put to the test by the Herodians via the Pharisees when asked under the veil of flattery: “Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?” Jesus quickly responds to these hypocrites by asking them a question: ‘Show me the coin that pays the census tax.” In handing him the coin they betray their complicity with the Roman government having a graven image in their possession. Clearly the coin belongs to Caesar who claimed to be divine, so therefore the coin belonged to Caesar and must be given back. But then, he challenges the Herodians and Pharisees “give to God what belongs to God.”
So, we must ask ourselves: What belongs to God? A steward recognizes that all I have is gift, all that I have comes from God who has given me the talents to work, succeed, and develop my gifts and abilities to provide for others. I haven’t earned anything solely on my own. All that I have is a result of the generosity of God to me in the forms I have received. So, then if everything I have comes from God what do I give back? We can spend hours in thoughtful prayer, many hours working or providing for family, and then giving back to God through our generosity to others, the faith community and those in need. There are so many people in need following the hurricanes, typhoons, earthquakes and the firestorms in northern California. When we trust God we will give back to God by committing a portion of our resources for all of these needs. Consider giving 1% of your gross income to support the ministry, the work of this local church – Saint Anthony parish, without it we cannot do our best to serve God through serving you and serving others.
Blessings, Father Larry Hendel