Two-Minute Homily by Fr Peter Dillon for the Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time 2023.
“God is in control, not human beings. We don’t need to try and manipulate God or others. If we are faithful to God, and work within our field of expertise and authority, God will do the rest.”
- Two-Minute Homily Transcript
Two-Minute Homily TranscriptAuthor: Archdiocese of Brisbane
In the paper the other day someone wrote about the current economic instability as a ‘crisis of faith’. It seems that some people have come to believe in the money market as a religion. Now, one of the most common terms we hear today is ‘the cost-of-living crisis’. For many people who are experiencing great financial difficulty now and predicting worse in the future, they’re desperate to cling to any life raft, to hear any supportive news from someone who might present a confident response to a demanding situation. They’re told that if they just keep the faith in the banks and financial institutions then they could weather the storm ahead.
Now, for a long time, while things have been travelling relatively smoothly, we just thought that money would make money and money would buy happiness, not realising that, sooner or later, that credit would crunch, and that holes in risky, fast-buck investments would be exposed. So now we’ve lost that faith, and people fearing to spend, and the banks fear to lend. Now, it would be very easy for Christians to say, ‘See, we told you so. You worshipped money, not God, and this is where it’s got you.’ But that’s not much help to the people who are hit hardest. Such as families on small incomes. Yet, as the ‘religion’ of the market let’s people down, do we as Christians have a different vision of money and the economy to offer? Or is Christianity not concerned with such things?
It rather seems from what Jesus says is, that we’re not to be concerned. ‘Give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.’ Now, this verse has often been cited by Christians who want church and politics to stay apart, and with some good reason. After all, we’ve seen plenty of totalitarian governments that had a Christian veneer, and even in democratic politics, if a Christian party acts corruptly just once, it ruins the reputation not just of the party, but of the Christian faith as well. But is this what Jesus is getting at? See, the Pharisees are trying desperately to get rid of Him. So if He says you can pay taxes to Caesar, then He’s on the side of the hated Romans, which they hoped the longed-for Messiah would free them from, so they can stir up the people against Him. But if He says not to pay Caesar, then He’s guilty of treason and they can hand him straight over to the Romans. Fortunately Jesus saw straight through this. And His answer was just not clever, it had a very basic message that we often forget. God is in control, not human beings. We don’t need to try and manipulate God or others. If we are faithful to God, and work within our field of expertise and authority, God will do the rest.
So should we just grin and bear it, then? But if our situation is bad, if people around us are living with injustice and oppression, shouldn’t we do something about it? By all means let’s ask God for what we want. But let’s be open to His way, His initiative which may well be a prompt to our action. Saint Paul was an amazingly active and energetic, yet always in response to the guidance he received in prayer. A world away from seizing illusory happiness from a fast car, a dream holiday, and paying nothing till Christmas. In these tough times, we are encouraged to rely on God’s providence. Not as a last-ditch response though bursting of a bubble is never pleasant, rather, it’s an opportunity.
If we put our trust in God, listen to His invitation, we can persevere in real hope. Perhaps discovering that there might not only be enough for us but even more than can be shared with others. This is our opportunity to let go of the religion of money, so that money becomes what it should be, a useful tool, not our master.