Homily – October 19, 2014

Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s. This has nothing to do with the separation of Church and State. It has a lot to do with how we live our lives as Christian men and women in our society. We are finally coming to the end of this too long a time of campaigning for the election of a mayor and councillors. Our Christian faith and values should have an influence on the decisions we make at the ballot box even on this local level. Do we question where a candidate for public office stands on such things as social housing, social welfare? Do we try to find out what they will try to do for the homeless of our city or what they will try to do to stem the tide of these senseless shootings we’ve heard of recently? What are they willing to do to find jobs for unemployed young people? How will they help the families who use food banks? What programs do they have to help immigrants to our city? There is more to life in Toronto than gridlock and subways.

When politicians promise to cut taxes, that means some services will have to be cut as well and those services are mostly the ones that help and support the neediest among us. It is important we take our Christian conscience into the ballot box. On October 27th we encourage all of you to ‘render to Caesar what belongs to Caesar. Vote.

Every day of the year we are to render to God what belongs to God. When Jesus asked for the coin of the realm he asked the Pharisees whose image was on the coin and they answered Caesar’s. Every day we rub shoulders with men, woman and children who bear the image of God and bear the image of Christ. Remember Christ’s words – whatever you do to one of these the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you do to me. When we accept and respect other people as they are and for whom they are, we accept and respect Christ. When we reach out and support the least and the needy who come into our lives, we support Christ. When we rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn we are one with Christ in the joys and sorrows of others. When we reject good men, women and children out of our lives, out of our consciousness – they are not even there – because of their different nationality, different social statue, different life style, different religious beliefs, we are rejecting Christ. This truth is so basic to our Christian faith. Yet it can be so difficult to live. We’ve received our prejudices and narrow mindsets from our mother’s milk, from the home atmospheres in which we grew up. There was a line from a musical – you have to be taught how to hate and to fear – otherwise we would grow up accepting other people just as they are.

Every day we struggle with Christ’s new commandment – love one another as I have loved you and some days we win and some days we fail but hopefully every day we try. We try to see in all we meet the image of God – a brother or sister in Christ and reverence that image with the reverence that is its due.