Peace and Grace to all of you!
In the first reading, King Cyrus is overtaking the Babylonian kingdom under Nebuchadnezzar who took the Israelites captive about 60 years before. Cyrus, a pagan, is well disposed toward the Jewish people. The prophet Isaiah points out that it is God who establishes kings and kingdoms of the earth even though the kings and armies may be unaware of it. In the Gospel, Jesus is questioned in regard to the idea of paying taxes and citizenship under the pagan, Roman Empire. His response is that we, as Christians, possess a dual citizenship. We live in two worlds: we are citizens of earth and citizens of heaven. We are obligated to lead by example in the world so the world can experience the salvation that our faith brings to all people. Christians keep in mind that their true home is in heaven, in the meantime, we are united to Christ in this effort, it is our mission!
As Americans we support a government built upon faith in God and a democratic process. We know that there will always be tensions between different political parties and faith communities. We know that there will always be laws and policies that do not reflect our values as Catholic Christians. Does that mean that we should write it all off and ignore it? Does it mean that we should rebel? According to the wisdom of Jesus, we should value the rule of law for the stability and peace that are necessary for society. If we, as good stewards, are going to grow and build the kingdom of heaven on earth, we should use everything within our power as good citizens through reasonable tax support and use our voices through the polls where we vote. As Christians, we vote Gospel values; not hatred, anger and destruction. Remember, even one vote can make a big difference. According to Mark Link, S.J., one vote can be monumental! Here are some examples: Had it not been for 1 vote in 1776, the official language of the United States would be German instead of English. Had it not been for 1 vote in 1868, the state of Texas would not have become part of the United States. In 1645, 1 vote placed Oliver Cromwell in control over all of England. In 1649, 1 vote sent Charles I of England to execution. France became a republic in 1875 because of 1 vote. By 1 vote Adolf Hitler became the leader of the Nazi party in Germany. Just think, 1 vote could have saved millions of lives and perhaps delivered our world from the deep scar of WWII! Jesus reminds us that while we live on earth, we should try to bring Gospel values into our sphere of influence because the Gospel does bring life, peace, liberty and justice for all. This is our mission and we are the messengers of good news!
God bless you all! +++ Fr. Peter