Sincerity of Heart – Fr. Tom Tank

Fr. Tom Tank’s Homily October 17, 2020

“I’ve always liked that particular Gospel and the effort on the part of the Jewish leaders to trap Jesus because that’s precisely what they were trying to do. They wanted to trap him and they thought they had the perfect dilemma for him where he would not be able to escape without somehow alienating one group or another. They came up and they started with flattery. ‘We know you’re a truthful man. We know you’re always gonna tell us the truth.’ and that flattery is very often just there to disarm and so Jesus doesn’t accept that, but then they ask him the question, ‘Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?’ Now they knew that Jesus was going to lose either way because if he said yes it’s right, he would have lost the support of the ordinary people who hated the Romans, who knew that they were occupied by theis foreign power and that would have been approving and affirming them, going on the side of the Romans, but on the other hand if he had said no it’s not right to pay taxes then he would be accused of being a betraying and being against Rome and therefore he had good reason to fear that the Romans would come and arrest him for inciting insurrection against Rome and so what does Jesus do? First of all he calls them out and he says, ‘You hypocrites!’ and then he says, ‘Give me the coin. Whose inscription is on the coin?’ Well they said, ‘Caesars.’ and he said, ‘Okay, you’ve accepted Caesar. You’ve accepted the fact of Caesar’s rule over you by accepting his coin, so therefore yes, give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar.’ Now Jesus could have stopped right there, but that’s not where he stopped and he goes on and says, ‘but give to God what belongs to God.’ Now the coin had engraved upon it that image of Caesar and what Jesus was saying about that more importantly he was saying about what had the image of God engraved upon it. Where was the image of God engraved? That was the real point of Jesus’ teaching and where God’s image is engraved is in each one of us. We are created in the image and likeness of God. God’s image is indelibly engraved within our own hearts within our own minds within our spirit, not only through creation, but through baptism so therefore we are called really to render to God what is God’s which means to render ourselves, the gift of our fidelity, the gift of our truthfulness, the gift of our honesty. What is prayed for in that opening prayer today says it very simply where it talks about that we are called to conform our wills to God and that we are to serve God in sincerity of heart. That’s the call that each of us have and that’s a greater responsibility than the service of Caesar. That’s a greater responsibility than anything else is to be faithful to God and so yes, we are members of this civil community and in this civic community that we experience we have responsibilities too, but we always hold God first of all. God and our obligation to God transcends any other affiliation or commitment that we have and so we are called to search out God’s will, God’s call and to serve him with sincerity of heart.”