Peace & Justice

This is the blog of the Commission on Peace and Justice for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Rendering unto Caesar

Earlier this month, Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan preached on one of the most familiar Gospel readings, which contains these words of Jesus, “Render to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, but to God what belongs to God.” He notes that, “for 2000 years we, His followers, have been struggling to keep that delicate balance.”
Jesus and His Church, of course, have always encouraged us to be “in the world but not of it,” so, political responsibility, faithful citizenship, is a duty, a virtue . . .

For 2000 years we followers of Jesus have been trying to balance our duties to God and our duties to Caesar, to our government, longing for a society where the two orders are allied, not in conflict.

Our attempts these past two millennia have been awkward. At times we have erred on the side of our faith, believing that government owes religion certain privileges, power, dominion, even that government should enforce and impose a particular creed. This, of course, is theocracy; it is bad for the believer, bad for the Church, and bad for society, as we have learned the hard way.

At other times, we have erred on the side of attributing to the government a power and an authority reserved to God alone, reducing faith, religion, the Church, to a harassed, handcuffed hobby.

He then goes on to quote Blessed John Paul II, who spoke the following words on the mall in our nation’s capital thirty-two years ago:
Human-Christian values triumph when any system is reformed that authorized the exploitation of any human being; when upright service and honesty in public servants is promoted; when the dispensing of justice is fair and the same for all; when responsible use is made of the material and energy resources of the world -- resources that are meant for the benefit of all; when the environment is preserved intact for the future generations. Human-Christian values triumph by subjecting political and economic considerations to human dignity, by making them service the cause of every life created by God.

They both are correct. To read the rest of the homily, go here.

Labels: ,