What has been your reaction to the Occupy Wall St. movement? It has already spread to over 150 other cities in the States and is soon coming to Canada. The whole movement is an expression of people power and people’s frustration. Some have compared it to the Arab Spring Movement in the Middle East. The protestors call themselves the 99% people. The sit-ins are made up of the little people, the have-nots, peaceful people who want their voices heard, people who are living on the edge, people who are angry at the unfairness of the huge profits made by banks and big corporations at their expense. Many of the protestors are young unemployed, frustrated university graduates who cannot find employment and are burdened by their student loan debts.
One writer described it as a leaderless resistance movement with people of many colours, genders and political persuasions. The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%. We are using the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic to achieve our ends and encourage the use of nonviolence to maximize the safety of all participants.
A group representing religious organizations carrying a Golden Calf called Greed, led a procession of protesters through the streets. Greed in the corporate world is what caused the present financial crisis in so many places and it is the little people who are paying the price.
In the light of today’s gospel could we imagine that these good unorganized, disparate men and women are calling on Caesar to render to God what belongs to God? Can we hear these good but frustrated people calling out for justice and fairness in the living of their lives, in the raising of their families?
When the Herodians offered Jesus a coin of the realm it was Caesar’s image they showed him. As we know Caesar ruled over a powerful and extensive kingdom, a temporal kingdom, a kingdom that eventually came to an end as all kingdoms do. As Christian people we struggle to live with the belief that God’s image is stamped on everything and everyone. We are all made in that image while we wear our struggling humanity. It was easy for the Herodians and Pharisees to see Caesar’s image. It takes some reflection and often times hard work on our part to see God’s image upon us and others. We render to God what belongs to God when recognize, support and respect God’s image in every person we meet.
Can we imagine that we render to God what belongs to God when we demand of the Caesars of government and big business respect and support the human worth, human rights and human dignity of every person, especially those most in need of fairness and justice? Can we imagine we render to God what belongs to God when we demand of Caesar protection of the unborn and adequate care for our elderly and seniors? Can we imagine we render to God what belongs to God when we demand of Caesar he respect the rights of organized labour and supports those who ask for a just and living wage? Can we imagine we render to God what belongs to God when we demand Caesar to provide adequate housing for all? Can we imagine we render to God what belongs to God when we demand that Caesar provides clean water, housing and adequate education the our First Nations? Can we imagine we render to God what belongs to God when we demand of Caesar shares the bounty of our land with those coming to our shores seeking a better life? Can we imagine we render to God what belongs to God when we demand that the Caesars of government and big business that they protect our fragile environment curb massive development projects that threaten the well being of our environment?
Today’s gospel is not God talk, it is street talk, impacting on how we live as a people seeking fairness and justice for all.
There is a Chinese curse, ‘may you live in interesting times.’ These are interesting times. May we know that every time we work for justice and peace, every time we work for the integrity of creation, every time we stand for people’s rights and dignity, every time we try to live simply that others may simply live we render to God what belong to God. May we image God in the living of our lives.