Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Homily at Holy Spirit Catholic Community, 29 Sun. OT, Oct. 19, 2014 by Beverly Bingle, RCWP

Give to the emperor what belongs to the emperor,
and to God what belongs to God.
Render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar.
This is most certainly Jesus talking,
according to the scholars of the Jesus Seminar.
Besides Mark’s Gospel,
this story appears in the Gospels of Mark, Luke, and Thomas,
and it’s in the Egerton fragments
with a different saying at the end.
It’s typical of Jesus,
giving a witty reply
that doesn’t really answer the question
and doesn’t tell his listeners what to do
other than to decide the claims of God
in relation to the claims of the state.
How do we do that?
Here in the United States,
we are blessed with legal separation of church and state,
a tradition that protects our right to practice our religion
without the violence and oppression faced by Christians
in more than 60 countries around the world,
like North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Afghanistan,
Somalia, Mali, and Syria, to name a few.
But freedom of religion doesn’t mean
that we can ignore this Gospel.
Jesus tells us clearly to give to the ruler—our government—
what belongs to the government,
and to God what belongs to God.
What belongs to God?
But that doesn’t mean we can just ignore the government.
Unlike first century Israel, we decide who governs us.
We Catholic Christians have a long social justice tradition.
Both Old and New Testament scriptures show it to us:
from Genesis: we are our brother’s and sister’s keeper;
from Matthew: as you do to the least of these,
so you do to me.
Our tradition insists
on the principles of justice and the common good
for governing our various societies.
The American bishops have issued a statement spelling out
these principles of Catholic Social Teaching;
it’s called
Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship:
A Call to Political Responsibility.
This “Faithful Citizenship” document asserts that it is necessary
that everyone participate in promoting the common good
and that everyone take an active part in public life.
Each one of us, with far greater political power
than Jesus and his disciples had in the Roman Empire,
has the right and the responsibility to decide
what Caesar should and should not do.
Here in Lucas County almost half of the people
belong to a religious organization—
a church, temple, synagogue, mosque.
More than half of those are Catholics,
about a fourth of the population.
It’s predicted that Lucas County
will have a 22% turnout in the November election.
Those statistics suggest
that too many of our Catholic brothers and sisters
are not practicing “faithful citizenship.”

Paul tells us in today’s letter to the Thessalonians
that we must preach
not with mere words
but by our actions.
Our Holy Spirit Catholic Community has dedicated itself
to concentrating our energy and our resources
on caring for the earth,
one of the seven key principles of Catholic Social Teaching.
That traditional teaching tells us
that we should live simply
to meet the needs of the present
without compromising the ability of future generations
to meet their own needs;
that we have a moral obligation to protect our planet.
We’re working on that, and it’s an exciting mission.

Something else: right now, we face a local environmental issue
that we can voice our concern about.
Some of you will be at work and not able to go,
but those of us who can
will be in City Council Chambers
for the public hearing on the Lead Paint Abatement Ordinance
at 4 o’clock on Wednesday, October 29.
Our Community is a member of the Toledo Community Coalition
that has been working with ABLE and TUSA
to stop the damage to our children from lead poisoning,
and we’ll be there to give witness to the need for this law.
And there’s more: between now and November 4
every one of us will be looking at the candidates and issues,
and we’ll be praying for wisdom so that we’ll be ready
to vote our consciences
as faithful citizens of God’s good creation.

Holy Spirit Catholic Community
at 3535 Executive Parkway (Unity of Toledo)
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m.
Sundays at 5:30 p.m.

Rev. Dr. Bev Bingle, Pastor

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