In this week’s Agape’ Newsletter – supplement for the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church service for Sunday, October 19, 2014 – we are invited to examine our relationship with money. Are we rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and still making room for God? Find out more below:
The Pharisees went off and plotted how they might entrap Jesus in speech. They sent their disciples to him, with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. And you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion, for you do not regard a person’s status. Tell us, then, what is your opinion: Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?” Knowing their malice, Jesus said, “Why are you testing me, you hypocrites? Show me the coin that pays the census tax.” Then they handed him the Roman coin. He said to them, “Whose image is this and whose inscription?” They replied, “Caesar’s.” At that he said to them, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”
Mt 22: 15-21
Is 45: 1, 4-6
Ps 96: 1, 3, 4-5, 7 -10
1 Thes 1: 1-5b
Paying Unto Caesar
This week’s gospel provides an important message for the modern world – the importance of having a “right relationship” with money. As was the case in Jesus’ time, we are human beings living in a material world. As such, it is important to tend to our material needs. In this gospel specifically, the material need being addressed is that of societal support which is provided for through taxation. Such is the case in our culture as well. We have a government structure whose job is to provide for our wellbeing as laid out in the Constitution. In exchange for this support, we pay taxes. As such, whenever we pay taxes, we are “rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s,” and this is our responsibility as a US Citizen in exchange for the measures provided for by our government.
What this gospel also reminds us is that we are more than just material beings. As such, our sole focus cannot be on the material. Instead, we are invited to give equal weight to the spiritual support that we need as well. Spiritual support is always provided for us, whether we are paying attention to it or not, but we actually FEEL that support when we “render undo God what is God’s.” In other words, when we set time aside to be PRESENT to our Divine Source of loving support and we do this through our spiritual practice. Prayer, meditation, creative activities, being in nature, etc. are all ways in which we “render unto God what is God’s.”
What proportion of your time are you giving to your material concerns?
What proportion of your time are you giving to your spiritual needs?
How might you bring these into a more equal relationship?
Spiritual Practices – Taking Inventory
This week’s spiritual practice will be very practical. Please attend this week’s virtual church service for a more prayerful practice.
- Make a list of all the things you do in the day that are targeted toward meeting your material needs and how much time is dedicated to each of these things.
- Make another list of all the things you do in the day that are targeted toward your spiritual needs and how much time is dedicated to these activities.
- Compare the two. Where is there balance? Where is there a lack of balance?
- Write your thoughts and reflections on this.
In Authentic Freedom, Temperance is the spiritual virtue that is attained when we find a way to balance our spiritual with our material needs. When we are firmly rooted in our spiritual nature, we are able to give to our spiritual needs and are able to do so without entering into a state of imbalance. We are able to enjoy the fruits of our labors while not distracted by temptations to waste or hoard while being able to share from our excess. Regarding “Caesar,” we feel no resentment about contributing financially to the programs that are there to support the common good.
How are you finding peace in a state of temperance – maintaining a balance between tending to your material as well as your spiritual needs and finding contentment in that?