Give to God What Belongs to God—Even Our Feet

29AIsaiah 45:1,4-6 / I Thess 1:1-5 / Matthew 15-21
No matter what people say about Jesus—
nobody—nobody can say he wasn’t smart.

The Pharisees were looking
for a simple “yes” or “no” from Jesus.

But he wouldn’t give it to them?

They were trying to trap Him.

“Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar?”
This was such a loaded question.

If Jesus were to answer “yes,”
“yes” that it is lawful to pay the Roman tax,
the Pharisees would accuse him of
betraying his own Jewish people.

The Romans were occupiers of Jewish land,
they greatly resented having to pay taxes to Caesar.

But it wasn’t just the taxes that
was an issue.

It was the coin used to pay those taxes—
a Roman coin.

It had the image of the
Roman Emperor Tiberius on it—
and the inscription under his image read:
Tiberius Caesar,
Son of the divine Augustus Caesar, High Priest.

Did you hear that—
The coin claimed that Tiberius was the Son of God,
because his Father—
Augustus Caesar was a God.

blasphemy to the Jews.

Some pious Jews wouldn’t even hold such a coin.
So if Jesus answered the wrong way—
His Jewish followers may revolt

But what if Jesus answered “no,”
that is if it was not lawful for a Jew
to pay taxes to Caesar,
then he could have been arrested
by the Romans for insurrection.

So with their question about
paying taxes with the Roman coin—
the Pharisees think they have Jesus trapped.

So what does Jesus do?
It’s brilliant isn’t it!!!

He shows them a Roman coin;
and asks them whose picture was on the coin.

And with this, He forced them to
reach their own conclusion.

As brilliant as Jesus’ response is to the Roman tax,
I think what is more important
is what Jesus said next.

Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar—
but give to God what belongs to God.

You have to understand what an insulting comment
This would have been to the Pharisees.

The Pharisees, after all, were notorious,
for their strict following of the Law.

How dare Jesus challenge them
to give to God what belongs to God.

They gave to God every day.
They thought they were the supreme givers to God.
They thought they set the example.

That’s a trap that all of us can easily fall into—
I know I can.
Thinking that I’m giving so much to God—
Thinking what I do for God is enough.

So what does belong to God?

Whose image is stamped on us—
God’s image—
we were created in the image and likeness of God—

We are God’s!!!
We belong to God!!!

All of us.
Our body, our mind, our heart, and our soul—everything.

That what’s belongs to God—
That’s what we give back to God.

And giving ourselves to God is not like
some repressive tax that God places on us—
we can choose not to pay back to God—
it’s our choice—
it’s not something we have to do—
like paying taxes—
after all, God doesn’t need taxes—
God doesn’t need us.

But boy does God love us.

And we all know how true love works!!!

When we realize how much God loves us—
and that the all-knowing and all-loving God
wants nothing but the best for us—
then what’s our only response—
what’s the natural response—
we love back—
we give ourselves—
we give ourselves completely as a response to
the infinite love that we have received.

With true love—
We want to give back!!!

St. Igantius of Loyola,
in his masterpiece The Spiritual Exercises,
gives a wonderful little rule for discerning on
what actions in life we should take.

He gives a simple little rule on how to make decisions.

It’s simple.
Do whatever will give the greatest glory to God.
Do whatever will give the greatest glory to God.

Simple—and right.

And what happens when we do whatever gives
the greatest glory to God?

Our lives are oriented in the right direction—
Oriented toward love—
True love.

Love of God and love of neighbor.

Do whatever will give the greatest glory to God—
Which means giving of ourselves—
Which means—
To love.

As my basketball coach father used to say:
The game is easy—
The players make it hard.

I want to end with one of
my favorite Mother Theresa stories.

Shane Claiborne, an American,
spent a summer in the slums of
Calcutta with Mother Teresa.
It changed his life.

He said that after this experience in Calcutta,
that people would ask him,
“What was Mother Theresa like?”

He would answer that she was short, wrinkled, and precious,
maybe even a little ornery—
like a beautiful, wise old granny.

“But there is one thing,” he said,
“I will never forget—
and that’s her feet.

Shane said that her feet were remarkably deformed.

Each morning at Mass,
he said, he could not help but to stare at her feet.

They were so deformed that he even
wondered if she had contracted leprosy
and that the disease was somehow effecting her feet.

But he wouldn’t dare go up and ask her,
“Hey Mother, what’s wrong with your feet?”

But one day one of Mother Theresa’s sisters asked
the group that Shane was with,
“Have you noticed how Mother’s feet look?”

All the group nodded that they had noticed.

The sister then explained. She said:
“Her feet are deformed because
we get just enough donated shoes
for each sister to have just one pair.

Mother doesn’t want anyone else
to get stuck with the worst pair,
so she’s the first one to go digging
through the donated shoes.

Digging through them
so she can find the worst pair to wear.
And years and years of doing this
have deformed her feet.”

The game is easy—
The players make it hard.

Do whatever will give the greatest glory to God!!!

Because we have to?
Because it’s some God tax?

Because we have experienced God’s love
and we’re just responding—
Because we want to—
Because it orients us in the right direction—
It orients us toward true love

Even if it’s picking out a pair of crappy shoes—
So others can have a better pair.

And we are created in the image and likeness of God—
We were created to love.

So give to God what belongs to God—
All of us—
Our bodies, our minds, our hearts, and our souls—
Even our feet.

Holy Spirit 10/20-21/2017

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