Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Coin & the Eucharist (Sunday homily)

It may not be obvious,
but there are a lot of politics in today’s readings.

The first passage refers to Cyrus.
Cyrus was the king of Persia,
and God calls him "his anointed"—
the word in Hebrew is "Messiah,"
the word in Greek is "Christ"!

How strange! What can this possibly mean?

It means this: God has a larger plan,
and whether he knew it or not,
Cyrus going to play a role in carrying out God’s plan.

To put in the terms of the Gospel,
even great Caesar himself, in all his pride and ambition,
ends up rendering to God, whether he wants to or not,
whether he knows it or not, because God is God.

Notice, Jesus asked for a coin.
"Whose image is this?"
Caesar gets what bears his image.

Picture the scene:
They thought they were asking just a preacher,
the way you and I ask each other,
"what do you think of the political situation?"

But they were asking the King of Kings!
All around him swirls
lust and greed and grasping for power—
and he alone has true power, in the snap of his fingers!—
What does he do?
Unnerving them with his calm, he says, give Caesar his due.

It is very hard for many of us
to remain so calm right now.
Many of us are especially focused on the issue of abortion,
so many lost children,
so many wounded mothers and fathers.
It is the fundamental human-rights issue of our time.
As a result, so many have great fears
about one candidate, and repose great hopes in the other.

And then, we fear an economic storm bearing down on us—
how bad will it get?

Too many already lack work,
and many more fear they are next.

Many are fearful for the future—for our Church,
our nation, our businesses, our jobs, our parish.

"If you can keep your head
when all about you are losing theirs"—
people will get very cross with you, have you noticed?
"How can you remain calm at a time like this?"
Yet the Lord did remain calm.

The coin that bore Caesar’s image; he handed it back.

But what about what bear’s God’s image?
That’s you and me—
our body and soul, our heart, our will and our lives—
that is what belongs to God!

Many want me to tell you how to vote on Election Day.
Okay: Vote according to your Catholic Faith!
If no candidate is completely in line
with Catholic teaching, look to see who comes closest.
And remember, while almost every issue involves some moral dimension,
all issues are not of equal weight.
Some are non-negotiable, such as defense of human life,
defense of marriage, rejection of bigotry and racism,
and fundamental human dignity and human rights.

But I ask you, how are we doing on remaining calm?

Many of you know I used to work in politics—
I’ve been through a few elections,
and many of you have been more than I, and you know:
every four years we hear it: "this election, this is it!"
McCain, Obama, the judges, Congress,
will all try their best, but:
they will not have the final word!

The Lord claims what belongs to him:
the hearts of all kings are in his hands.

So, we are active, we speak out, and we vote.
But do we trust?

Do cares about Caesar and the world
tense us up even now,
as we gather in the very presence of the King?
Once again, we are about to behold the Sacrifice,
the true and only power that can and will save the world!

Considering how easily we are dismayed and distracted,
what a gift it is that he does this,
in the Mass, day after day, year after year,
until His Plan is brought to completion.

Let Caesar have his coin, his ambition;
it is all a house of cards.
We have the Eucharist:
not an image but the Lord himself—
and in Him alone do we find grace and peace.


Anonymous said...

Your cold certainly hasnt tarnished your golden voice.

thanks for sharing your homilies.

Anonymous said...

"Keep your head while those around you are loosing theirs . . . and blaming it on you."

A classic line from old Rumpole of the Bailey to one of his pupils, and so fitting.

I only wish we'd get more preaching like this in more places!