Weekly Preaching

Common Good, Character, and Conscience


Twenty- Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 18, 2020

Isaiah 45:1, 4-6/I Thessalonians 1:1-5b/Matthew 22:15-21


Sister Bernadine Karge, OP
Sr. Bernadine Karge, OP

Today’s Gospel raises a question we often hear in today’s discourse. Do I have to pay tax? The census tax referred to in Matthew 22 was imposed by the Roman Empire, the occupiers of Jesus’ country. The coin was a denarius, basically, one day’s wages to support the royal family. Who comes first? The occupying emperor, my country, God, or me?

As we approach the November elections, there is a lot of talk about the three C’s—the common good, the character of the person we elect, and conscience. What choices do/can we make for balancing the inequities in our society that have been revealed to us quite vividly in the last six months of the COVID pandemic? 

The Isaiah passage reminds us that we are called, chosen and companioned by God, “though you knew me not.” The 1 Thessalonians reading reinforces the theme of knowing you are loved by God and how you were chosen. “For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the ­Holy Spirit and with much conviction.” What power we have in God’s love for us, God’s call, God’s companioning presence and the Holy Spirit sharing our breath with much conviction.  

Jesus’ response to the Herodians, the political group supporting the royal family, is ambiguous. If one believes Caesar is due tax, then pay. If one believes everything belongs to God, then don’t pay. Make your choice. Who comes first? “Repay to God what belongs to God.”

The first commandment and greatest commandment puts God first. The second commandment puts the neighbor second and the self, third. We have the power to choose:  One, two, three, GO!

by Sister Bernadine Karge, OP