“I have called you, though you do not know me..though you do not know me, I arm you” ..does God work through unbelievers, to convert kings, like Cyrus king of Persia, & your next door neighbour, to faith/belief? yes, certainly “political intelligence” coming from God..
“tell of his wonders among all the peoples” especially those we write off/delete.. ; Lord have mercy “O sing a new song to the Lord” a song in Covid not from the voice but from the heart.. ; Christ have mercy “he will judge the people’s in fairness..” ..in fairness or with mercy?.. ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
..these days, with health & safety best practice, we are surrounded by notices of caution..our gospel this morning warrants one “beware of lip gloss & polished words”..”Master, we know you an honest man & teach the way of God in an honest way & that you are not afraid of anyone, because a man’s rank means nothing to you” it could be Donald Trump speaking..slippery words from slippery characters” last Friday week Class 3 Mass here & gospel of sheep & goats; we had half class on front bench one side the other half on other side; as I read about sheep, I paused to tell this side “you’re the sheep” big smiles; further on I told other side they were goats..they looked a bit “sheepish” until I had read whole gospel & said to goats “how do you feel?” one lad spoke his truth “guilty”; our gospel here has full spectrum of religion & society including Jesus with one thing in common, & with you & I..guilt..a Good Shepherd of sheep & goats who carries goats home as well as sheep..why is that suddenly news to us?..so is it Caesar or God?..or is it Caesar & God? beware of Fr Bede’s polished words & risk of a fall..so great a threat was Jesus in person & message, groups religiously & politically opposed, formed an unholy alliance to try to destroy him..not unlike way many labour voters joined ranks of Tories to vote for a new government promising to control immigration & protect “our” jobs, unaware of just how crucial many of those immigrants were to be for “us” & “our” Health Service when the Covid pandemic struck the first time & now again..sheep & goats..Caesar & God.. ..Jesus lived preached & died guilty in run up to an unsuccessful colonial uprising..a time of underground revolutionary movements, illegal street armies, acts of terrorism as Roman forces of occupation bullied & harassed; Rome kept local ruler Herod as their puppet, so understandably Herodians were collaborators with colonial regime; in contrast Pharisees deeply devoted to nationalist Jewish tradition, its laws & culture, couldn’t stand Romans; the Kingdom of God, the promised land would come when Jewish people were liberated & came to full power..Herodians were rather easy going, where the status quo provided protection jobs & privilege, whereas Pharisees more fanatical narrow minded as subversives often are; on their side were Zealots, military revolutionary activists, who harassed the forces of occupation..wouldn’t dream of paying taxes to Caesar, & would intimidate those who did, levying their own form of taxation in villages, in contrast to so called respectable Pharisees..what a crew, an alliance combining against common threat, Jesus “you hypocrites! why do you set this trap for me?” when he does come to die at hands of Romans & Herodians, betrayed by nationalists, he has only one loyal follower left..his mother Jesus’ reply is lectio, spiritual reading, at its best “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, & to God what belongs to God” game set & match for Herodians for status quo “we’ve always done it this way” but Jesus is much more alive attuned “whose head is this?” for Jews it is a graven image, they were forbidden to make an image of the human form, the coins of God’s tribute are the living coins stamped with God’s image, us..we reflect the reality of God fully-alive..we in relationship are the divine currency, where divine love is practised in Church & in daily life..religion & politics in mutual respect harmony & service of all, especially the poor & marginalised; shared with you in August courage of Zimbabwean Catholic Bishops Conference, for so long divided by their tribal differences, formed at last a common alliance to speak out against poverty & social injustice; government reply 22 pages began “the Government has taken due note of the Bishops Pastoral Letter of 14 Aug 2020, a communication which, sadly, betrays a markedly unspiritual determination on the part of its authors to breach what is, & must always remain, the un-breachable fire-wall between politics & religion in our country.” Jesus, then & now, attempts to teach that liberation goes far deeper than political lockdown or alliance..real liberation lies in faith that God is He who loves us, he who unconditionally & for a lifetime of track & trace, loves us, not because we are Jews, Christians, practising Catholics, labour or tory, swaledale or herdwick, sheep or goats, but because we are who we are..a love of God helps us to see gradually who we are, showing the futility of our idols..appearances, wealth, status..the latest x-box, the images of ourselves we portray, the lip gloss & the tinsel..a God who liberates us & lifts us to a new life in the Holy Spirit.. ..politics religion psychology spirituality spectatorship & discipleship interwoven, the Body of Christ at its best..God Christ & us.. ..& our gospel shared with us Matthew Ch 22 v 15-21 leaving out last verse, v 22..we wonder why leave out the one last sentence, the juicy bit? “this reply took them by surprise, & they left him alone & went away” went away from Mass at last understanding?..or defeated, to lick their wounds?..or to risk believing what you have just heard?..the Body of Christ at its best..God Christ & us..& Caesar.. [29th SunYrA; Mt 22; 15-21]