SEPARATE ROOMS?-Sunday, October 22, 2017
The Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
If you walk into a typical home, you will see various kinds of rooms. There will be a kitchen, dining room, living room, one or more bedrooms and bathrooms, perhaps a family room, laundry room, storage room, and so on.
Each room serves a particular purpose. We cook in a kitchen, eat in a dining room, shower in a bathroom, sleep in a bedroom, entertain visitors in a living room, play video games in a family room, etc.
How we structure our homes is often how we structure our lives. We act differently according to the “room” we are in. We do not act the same way in every situation.
Just consider the variety of ways we behave depending on whether we are at home, at work, at school, at a sporting event, at the mall, at a political rally, at church, socializing with friends, or dealing with strangers.
We do not act exactly the same way in our employer’s office or when speaking to our pastor as we do when waiting in line at the motor vehicle agency or driving in congested city traffic.
This Sunday’s Gospel (Matthew 22:15-21) is often used as a justification for structuring our lives into separate “rooms” with different behaviors.
In the Gospel, the Pharisees and Herodians, two opposing groups, join forces to trap Jesus into saying something that will either alienate his fellow Jews or risk the wrath of the Roman occupiers. They ask Jesus, “Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?” Rather than giving a direct answer, Jesus replies, “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”
Many people use those words to justify dividing their lives into various compartments. They have a part of their lives where they make room for God, for Mass, for churchy stuff. Then there is another part of their lives given over to “Caesar,” given over to politics, government, business, and the affairs of the “real world.”
We see an example of that in certain politicians who leave the teachings of the Gospel in the “God room” when they walk into the political arena.
However, if we look at the life of Jesus we see that he was consistent in his teaching, his actions, and his behavior. He did not change to please those he was with or to suit a particular situation.
If we carefully consider the words of Jesus about repaying to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s, we realize that everything is God’s.
Everything we have comes from God – our lives, our bodies, our minds, our senses, our talents and abilities, the land where we live, the food that sustains us, the air we breathe, the people who love us, the faith that allows us to know our Creator. All comes from God and all is owed to him.
“Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” Truly understanding those words means realizing that we cannot have just “one room” in our lives for God.
Our lives need to have an “open floor plan” where the Gospel of Jesus comes not only into our spiritual lives, but also into our family, social, political, business, academic, and recreational lives as well. God needs to be everywhere!
© 2017 Rev. Thomas B. Iwanowski