Dear brothers and sisters in Jesus,
The readings of 29th Sunday in ordinary time remind us that we are citizens of two “realities”: Heaven & earth – God & civil authority.
We are citizens of the country in which we live. To it we owe many things (safety, public services, education, health, etc.). Because the Christian is a person of honour, each must be a responsible citizen and needs to pay respect to one’s ruler.
We are also citizens of Heaven. Therefore, we owe everything to God and He deserves our complete submission. He made us in His image and likeness. All that we are and have is from Him. In Him we live and move and have our being. We belong to God and we give ourselves completely to Him.
If there is a conflict between our dual citizenship, then we must choose in favour of God, even if this would entail hardships and sacrifices. We must give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God. But then, what if Caesar begins to play God? History tells that it happened and may happen directly or indirectly. When it happens, then, we, Christians, must affirm in faith that all human beings are children of God before they are citizens of the State. Therefore, certain innate rights that we have (Life, Freedom, Happiness …), cannot be sacrificed. Likewise, as Christians we have to abide by God’s law respecting human dignity, equality, and the common good and adhere to God’s law regarding discrimination, abortion, euthanasia, dishonesty ….
History tells us that when “Caesar played God”, there were amazing courageous personalities who defended great values and eternal truths even to the point of sacrificing their own lives (for example, St. Thomas Becket, St. Thomas More, St. Wenceslaus of Bohemia, St. Stanislaus of Poland, the Martyrs of Uganda, and the French Carmelite Nuns during the Revolution, and many others …).
Dear brethren, as we conclude this reflection, let us remember what our Mother Church tells us: “Human institutions … must labour to minister to the dignity and purpose of man. … fight against any kind of slavery, … and safeguard the basic rights of man …. Indeed human institutions themselves must be accommodated by degrees to the highest of all realities, spiritual ones… ” (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, No. 29).
Though we are members of great nations, we primarily belong to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ is our King. Therefore, let us continue to be good Christians & upright Citizens as St John Bosco recommended us.
As the Church keeps the World Mission Sunday, let us pray for all Missionaries in the world and do what we can, so that the Good News of the Lord may reach every corner of the world. Amen.