Tuesday, 6 June 2017 : 9th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Norbert, Bishop (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard from the Gospel passage when the Lord Jesus spoke to St. Peter and His Apostles, about the matter of obeying the human laws as created by the rulers of the time, particularly that of the Roman Empire, which collected taxes from all the people who were under its dominion. The matter was whether one should obey such human and civil laws or whether one should obey only the Law of God.

In another separate occasion, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law tried to trap and frame Jesus by using similar example, in order to trap Him with His own words and hopefully to allow them to discredit or arrest Him. They tested Him by asking Him whether one should pay taxes to Caesar, the Roman Emperor or not. In this manner, had the Lord Jesus told them that they must not pay taxes to him, then it would be tantamount to a declaration of rebellion, and the Jewish elders could hand Him over to the Romans citing His desire to defy the will of the Emperor.

On the other hand, had the Lord Jesus told them to pay the taxes to the Roman Emperor, then the elders could also discredit Jesus, for the Roman rule at the time, and particularly the taxes which the Romans imposed on the Jewish people, told to be particularly heavy, was very unpopular. That also explained why the tax collectors were very reviled and hated by the society in general, because the people saw them as traitors to their people and their country.

Thus, if Jesus had told the Pharisees and the people that they should pay taxes to the Emperor, then those enemies of the Lord would then immediately discredit Him and make the people despise and hate Him in the same manner as they hated the tax collectors. But the Lord knew what those people had plotted in their hearts, and He instead gave the perfect answer, which is also a guide for us in how we ourselves as Christians should carry out our lives and responsibilities.

Jesus told them that one should give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God. That was the perfect answer, to which the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had no answer or reply to. That is because, it is indeed true, that all wealth, all worldly possessions, and all gold, silver and the goods of this world belong to this world, and therefore does belong rightly to the rulers of this world. That is why it is perfectly fine to obey such requirements, if they are just and reasonable.

However, it does not mean that we should obey the rules of the world in just about everything. Why is that so? That is because we have to remember that, all of us are obliged to give to God what belongs to God, just as we have to give to the world what belongs to the world. And what is it that we have which belongs to the Lord? It is first and foremost, our life, which is sacred and given to us by the Lord.

Therefore, all of us as Christians must first and foremost, keep all life sacrosanct and holy. When there is threat to the sanctity of life, through such matters as deliberate causing of loss of life, be it murder, or abortion of unborn infants and children, or be it the abuse of children or any other human being, the destruction of the sanctity of marriage and family life, all of us as Christians must be ready to defend what is rightful to God, that what truly belongs to God, belong to Him and not to be taken over by the world.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all do our best to participate actively in our Church life and work, to proclaim to all the truth of God, and give the Lord the best we can of our commitment and devotion. Let us all be inspired by the holy saints who have preceded us, in their commitment and hard work, to ensure that everything that belongs to God, namely all of us, our lives and our souls, will truly belong to the Lord and not snatched away by Satan into damnation.

Let us look at the life of St. Norbert of Xanten, who was a very devout and committed servant of God, a holy bishop thoroughly devoted to his mission as a preacher and a religious, leading an ascetic and pious lifestyle and gathering many more who would also like to lead the same lifestyle. They devoted their lives completely, in prayer and in hard work, and in preaching the good news to the people and leading them in faith to the Lord.

If they were all able to lead such a life devoted to the Lord, all of us should be able to do the same as well. Shall we commit ourselves, brothers and sisters in Christ? Shall we be ever closer to God, in all of our ways? Shall we seek to love Him ever more and do our best to serve Him with love. May the Lord bless us and help us in our good works. Amen.

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