Saint Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs
We live at a time of great turbulence in our society. More and more people are suggesting that religion may be bad or at least should be minimized. Scholars from the entire spectrum now question whether there is any modern justification for religious freedom and some even argue that there is nothing special about religion any longer that could justify extending special protection for religion. As we heard in yesterday’s gospel, Jesus’ well known teaching “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God,” can you get some sense of hope for us Christians in the midst of turbulence time in our society?
Many people have interpreted Jesus’ words as the foundation of separation between church and state. But Jesus was not specifically discussed about the separation of church and state but rather he invited us to discuss the nature of God and His Kingdom. G.K. Chesterton said that religions are pretty much alike when it comes to their practices but they differ radically in what they understand about God. Similarly, George Cardinal Pell explains that the story of the Fall and the doctrine of original sin, which explains the presence of evil in the world, are the point of distinction between Christianity and other religions or belief systems that deny the existence of evil in men’s hearts.
In his speech to the German Bundestag some years ago, Pope Benedict XVI wished the German parliament to have a listening heart that is able to discern between good and evil, and thus to establish true law, to serve justice and peace. The Pope delivered this speech because history tells us that the Caesar or those who serve Caesar think that the cause of evil does not ultimately lie in themselves but rather in political realm outside themselves. In other words, they deny God as the true source of moral truth and they refuse to acknowledge that the political disorder was caused by “evil” or “sin.”
By declaring “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God,” Jesus signifies that He is the King and Lord who have conquered the evil one both on earth and in heaven. As you reflect on the Gospel passage, you can ask yourself this question: do you recognize and accept Jesus as your king?