The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home
October 22, 2023 – 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Matthew 22:15-21
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So what’s in your wallet – the commercial asks. And something similar was asked by Jesus in today’s gospel when he asked, “Who’s got a Caesar coin in their tunic? I need one for a second. To make a point about what’s primary and most important in life. “Don’t worry,” he added, “I’ll give it back.”
Today’s gospel insinuates that they (the bad guys) were out to trick him. Push him into a corner. Get him in trouble. But as always happens in the gospels, he turns everything upside-down, and they walk away with wonder and their own questions about this new teaching.
Give to Caesar what’s his (actually, not much) and to God everything else. Because God has already given everything to you. Your existence, your life, your days and nights, hopes and dreams, every step you make, every breath you take, every joy you feel, every blessing that is showered upon you. All this is a gift freely given.
But what exactly does God want from us in return?
Does God have a list of personal needs that can be met or fulfilled only by us? Obviously (to some like me) that’s not how it works. God is the creator of all that is, which we now know are enough stars and planets equal to the number of pennies in our national debt. Actually more. So, what does one give to someone who has it all?
My own answer has something to do with the next great feast of the year, Thanksgiving. God wants our thanks, which is the same idea that is associated with the concept of Eucharist, a word that means “giving thanks.”
So, while the various Caesars of the world want our money, attention, allegiance and so forth, God, the Creator of all, is quite “happy” to simply receive our gratitude. We inhabit time and a space that is not of our making. But it is there for our use and to enjoy along with the challenge to make this crazy planet a place where there can be found greater justice and peace at the end of each day.
So, the best night prayer (and morning prayer) that we can say each day is a simple expression of gratitude for all that is. This brings a smile to God’s face.
David M. Thomas, PhD