God is Love. God owns everything. God showers us with abundance.
It really is quite simple. It seems that our country recognizes a need for tax reform. But we need to ask ourselves a few questions. What is the problem with our tax code, as it exists? Is it fair? How do our taxes pay for national defense, safe roads, water, food, or disaster relief? Does our nation’s spending of taxes reflect our motto, “In God we Trust”? God is more concerned about how we spend the 90% left over. God gives laws like tithing, to teach us how to give 100% Love! God gives us everything… even Jesus in his mother’s arms. If we are involved in tax loopholes or avoiding paying our fair share of taxes to Our One Nation Under God or to God in the poor, refugee or immigrant, is it possible that we are naively plotting ways to entrap Jesus?
So if Jesus were to ask us, “Show me what you pay your taxes to Uncle Sam with,” how will that turn out? Our money states clearly, “In God We Trust”. But today we pay bills without cash. If we had no money, credit card or Internet, how would we buy anything? We just don’t realize that sometimes we pay more to our phones, Internet, football tickets, concerts or health insurance than we do for treasures in heaven.
I have veteran friends in Puerto Rico who were able to post on social media. “Went to CVS and found a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream, found two spoons in the car, turned on the car and sat in parking lot in AC and devoured the pint of ice cream. WOW. What a treat. Takes very little to entertain and make us super happy. … Life is good we have our little routine and are enjoying life as it is now. We have our faith, each other, family and friends and our home. Life is good and the beauty of our Island is shinning through this all. So come on down folks.” How grateful are we today, really?
When Jesus says, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God,” what could we possibly give to God for our breath in this world? I remember when my mother was being ravished by cancer that metastasized her body as she was literally starving to death. Every day she lived was phenomenal and painful for all of us. For as much pain as she was in, I wouldn’t trade a billion dollars for one of those horribly beautiful 40 days. Although my family was begging for the suffering to end, there was something awesome, something beautiful we couldn’t give to God yet.
One day, less than a week before her death, I sat with my mother and father at the back window of their home as about 70 people from the Cursillo group sang to my mother across the pool. My mother, who had no water in her tear ducts, was upset because she couldn’t share the gift of her tears. She wanted to give something in return for their awesome gift of song and love.
A couple days later, my family gave to God what was God’s, our mother. Yes, God gave her to us, but we trusted God with her. We thank God in the Eucharist for her to this day. Her love is stronger than her death. What we gave to “Caesar” was the hospital bed, the doctor bills, her unused social security check, and her taxes for the first six months of 2000. Caesar seemed to give nothing in return, except more bills and a death certificate.
We will all die one day, and give back our bodies to God. And God will give us eternal life in exchange for our worn out bodies, if, and only if, we love one another and recognize that when we give to the poor, we give to God. We owe God everything. Without God we are nothing. We are called to act with justice and to give to God tender love that we share with one another. Without love we are worth nothing. Wouldn’t it be Great News if we truly gave to God what God most wants from us?
22 October 2017 ~ St. Monica, Palatka & St. John Interlachen~ Father Ron
Isaiah 45:1-6 ~ I have called you by name, giving you a title, though you knew me not.
Psalm 96 ~ Give to the LORD, you families of nations, give to the LORD glory and praise; give to the LORD the glory due his name! Bring gifts, and enter his courts.
1 Thessalonians 1:1-5 ~ We give thanks to God always for all of you,
Gospel: Matthew 22:15-21 ~ Knowing their malice, Jesus said, “Why are you testing me, you hypocrites? Show me the coin that pays the census tax.” Then they handed him the Roman coin, He said to them, “Whose image is this and whose inscription?” They replied, “Caesar’s.” At that he said to them, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”