Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary - Homilies


29th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Fr. Jonathan L. Reardon
October 19th, 2014
Year A

In secular society, one could argue, that commerce makes the world go round. Buying, selling, lending, trading, etc all of which keeps the marketplace – or the downtown – alive. Commerce has many advantages. In this free market society, a person has the ability to start up his or her own business, hire employees, provide for the needs of family, and give back to society. There is a certain sense of freedom that stamped on every bill of currency in this country – icons that symbolize the very beginnings of this country. Naturally then, as a person enjoys the benefits of commerce and the marketplace, there is the need and the obligation to give back, to return those bills whose images bear the symbol of freedom in order to build up the common good and support one’s fellow man. There is no agenda here. There is no political advantage. There is only the common good that ensures that a just and free society be maintained. The laws of this society are meant to protect that common good and help those less fortunate than others. Laws are thus meant to produce harmony among citizens. Taxes are meant to ensure that common good is supported and promoted among those in higher civil authority. When certain malicious agendas and political gain become the primary reason for a person’s involvement in government, then does the common good suffer because it loses its focus.

Jesus is making a similar point in the Gospel of today’s Mass. Just as our own currency bears the images of those iconic men of the past – Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, etc – so too the coins of His own day bears the image of their secular leader. On the flip side of that coin however read the inscription: “high priest,” an insult to the Jewish people because of Caesar’s claim to divinity. Caesar was not a man for the common good. Jesus exposes the question as a false dilemma. One can legitimately meet both religious and civil obligations. Paying taxes is not a compromise of one’s duties to God, nor does serving God exempt one from supporting civil government. He turns their malicious questioning upside down as He states: “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” Thus, Jesus implicitly subordinates the claims of Caesar to the claims of God. If the Roman coin bears the image of Caesar then it belongs to him and should be given back.

But what is it that belongs to God? What bears God’s image? The answer is simple… we do, human beings! It is the human person that bears the image of the living God. Our highest obligation in life is to give ourselves back to our Creator and to care for one another, show compassion towards others, be responsible one another because each of us bears this image of God. This obligation is not merely a religious duty. It is completely compatible with ordinary life in society. For at the very heart of the common good of society is the dignity of the human person. Laws are meant to ensure that people live in harmony with one another. Commerce ensures that we have the goods we need to survive. Taxes ensure that governments care for those less fortunate and keep us safe. Therefore, the activity of our lives in society – in government, in commerce, in our neighborhoods, in our families – must be motivated and driven by this fact: God is the author of life and we are meant to bear witness to this authorship in promoting and protecting the common good and the dignity of the human person from conception to natural death. This is not merely a religious obligation. This is our duty toward our fellow human beings. At the same time, however, we not simply glorified humanitarians. By upholding the dignity of the human person, by supporting one another with compassion, by engaging in the corporal works of mercy and reaching out to those who need a helping hand, we bear witness to love. And in witnessing to love, we make God known to others. For we bear His image as well. We all have the same beginning. We all have the same end. It is time then, that we lay aside our own selfish gains and give to God what truly belongs to Him – ourselves and our love.

May this Eucharist, in which we gather again not for selfish gain but rather in true worship of our Heavenly Father, give us the necessary grace to witness to love in all facets of society and in our daily lives.


Fr. Jon Reardon

Rev. Jonathan L. Reardon is a priest for the diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts.
He serves at Sacred Heart Parish in Pittsfield, MA.

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