We cannot build Heaven alone…we are our brother’s/sister’s keeper
One of the big challenges in our world at this time is the seeming lack of respect that many of us have for some groups of people: eg. Luya/ Kikuyu, etc. The readings draw out the distinction between the Jewish people (the Chosen race) and the pagans (non-Jewish people).
We see this reflected in our world today when extremists declare non-believers as the enemy. We see the demonising of political opponents in the USA: Democrats verses Republicans. However, can enemies assist us to improve our lives? To live together in safety and peace?
Of course, the answer is NO. Family, friends & neighbours, together, create a safe community. When everyone is working together, and everyone is treated fairly, then, prosperity increases.
Today’s Gospel reveals the painful reality of the Israelites (Jewish people), living under Roman occupation: they don’t like it, but they work with it as a way of survival,
while waiting for God to rescue them and destroy the Romans.
They use the money issue as a way to get rid of Jesus, who is slowly by slowly trying to change the way they understand God’s teachings, and they fear losing some privileges and power.
The Chosen people could not see that everybody – including the non-believers – are important to God; and that the Chosen people are a key part in transforming the non-believers. But they/ we also need transformation, in order to know God’s Truths more clearly.
Often, we require an outside “influence” (FORCE) to correct ourselves. Jesus did not destroy the Romans – as much as the Chosen people had hoped God would do.
The 1st Reading teaches us that our future also depends on the non-believers in our community and our world. God works through everyone and everything to bring about the salvation of the world. And, therefore, we need to have respect for those we consider to be non-believers.
St Paul, in the 2nd Reading, praises the Thessalonians for their behaviour: their good actions: I’m convinced those actions went beyond themselves for they were a small group of Christians.
The good actions we do for non-believers, is a direct cooperation with God and blessings will also come back to reward us in the future. This challenges us to reflect deeply on what is the purpose for our religion?
The answer Jesus gave to the Pharisees is not just clever: it’s a deeply profound teaching: the Kingdom of God requires us to work with God AND to work with human leaders.
We are all on a journey of transformation: just as God is patient with us, so we, also, must be patient with the non-believers and human leaders.
The Church calls this Sunday: Mission Sunday. In building up the good of a country (world), we also build up the Kingdom of God.
As a Mission Impossible movie would put it: “Your Mission, _____, if you choose to accept it,” is to live God’s Truths and make the world peaceful and happy through cooperation, tolerance, respect and generosity. “As always, should you or any of your” Associates corrupt God’s Truths, God “will disavow any knowledge of you.”
To our Country, we owe many things: security, education, medical and social benefits. So, we have a debt of obligation. Paying taxes and behaving is part of our Christian duty.
The Government is not a money tree, it’s our tree. The Government is not some magician, we are the Government. What we pay as taxes is only the MINIMUM contribution to our society. The rest we give “in kind”: actions of helping our neighbour; actions of protesting injustice.
Sadly, in many countries and communities, “the individual” has absolved themselves from personal action to help our neighbour: it’s not my job, where is the Government? The more we avoid personal responsibility for society, the more God gets lost = hell increases.
So, a final thought on the importance of our example and understand why division comes in our communities. The recent tension between so-called African Americans and white Americans reveals an ongoing, and very public struggle, with racism in the USA.
It is so important for parents/ guardians/ teachers: to guard carefully our criticisms of groups of people, so that children do not learn to hate or despise others.
Do not be afraid… we are called to change the world, simply by being faithful in “small” things: love, joy, truth (Pope Benedict XVI) and mercy (Pope Francis).
By Gerard Conlan, OMI