Reflection for 29th Sunday of Year


My dear Friends

Jesus...came to make the human heart a temple, and the soul an altar, and the mind a priest. (Kahlil Gibran)

I hope you have had a positive and creative week! If it has been tough and challenging, try to remember that each day can give birth to a new and better beginning!

Today’s Gospel is one we have often heard: smooth, fork-tongued, civil and religious politicians trying to verbally entrap Jesus with, and in, his own words. Jesus replies, ‘render to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and render to God what is God’s.

No doubt, there are multiple interpretations and applications of Jesus’ words to civil and religious leadership and law. However, I think this gospel has another interesting facet! As a deacon, I remember making out baptism certificates. When I had finished them, I used to place each certificate into the parish seal. This seal was made from two rounded pieces of metal, engraved with the name and image of the church and parish. When I pushed down on the seal’s large, brass handle, a crisp embossed image, and name of the church, appeared on the certificate. There was no ink. The seal created the image from what was engraved, etched, into it. I think the same thing could apply to each one of us in our relationship to God and the world!

If we look at the people in today’s Gospel, the religious and political figures of Jesus’ day, what had been etched, engraved, into their psyches/brains by culture, tradition, political and religious persuasion (often referred to as ‘socialisation and conditioning’), they replicated or defended by ‘embossing’ every daily scenario with the engraved/etched image in their psyches. To a large extent, we, ourselves, sometimes do the same thing! There are times when people are possessed by a righteous passion which blinds them to God’s love, his compassion, and his forgiveness. The ‘other’ does not fit in with the standard, acceptable ethos of the group, so s/he is undermined, marginalised and destroyed. This was the ploy of the ‘friendly’ talkers in today’s Gospel.

The great Lebanese poet, Gibran, expresses this very beautifully in the words, Jesus... came to make the human heart a temple, and the soul an altar, and the mind a priest. In other words, in each of our unique love stories with God, Jesus wants to etch, engrave, the qualities of God’s love, compassion, peace, justice, and forgiveness, into our hearts, so that every word that leaves our mouths, every action we do, will be embossed with Father’s Seal of Divine Love

and Presence.

Next time we look at the embossed head on a coin, or certificate, perhaps we can also reflect on the embossed words which have just left our lips, or the embossed actions motivated by what is etched on our they resemble the characters in today’s Gospel... have our hearts been transformed into temples, our souls into altars and our minds, into God’s priests?

Remember me as loving you,

Fr. Antony