A Message from Fr. Jay
I read somewhere (source unknown) that Bertrand Russell, a famous philosopher, and Nobel Prize laureate once said: ‘there are three major defects that affect our sights. One is cataract and the other two are Religion and Politics.’
Yes, religion and politics cannot be avoided but they need to be handled properly.
In the gospel, the Pharisees and Herodians, the former hailing from the wing of religion and the latter from the wing of politics, are enemies. They would devour each other at any given time, but coming together to entrap Jesus. Jesus handles them wisely by saying “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”
Political freedom is important and necessary in everyone’s life. Jesus would not deny it. The first reading talks about a Gentile, King Cyrus of Persia, who was chosen by God to throw down the cruel tyrant Nebuchadnezzar and redeem the people of Israel. During Jesus’ time, there were Zealots already fighting for political freedom from the Roman empire. Jesus knew this. He indirectly asks them to decide by themselves to repay what Caesar deserves. A clever and smart answer!
Jesus, as Son of God, belittles the political dominance of these kings. “My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here.” (John18:36). Human dominance is never a permanent achievement, but doing things that belong to God is the true and permanent achievement. He says to repay to God what belongs to God.
The second reading explains the things that belong to God. ‘Unceasingly calling to mind the work of faith and labor of love and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ. The responsorial psalm says, ‘Give the Lord glory and honor.’
With the human ego and triggered by mere justice, people may forget the labor of love and work of faith. Jesus reminds us to do what belongs to God while fighting the evils and violence. We will continue to pray for the safety of innocent lives in the Middle East countries, particularly Israel, the land chosen by God.
My friends, these days I see the Church pews starting to fill back up. The traffic is becoming busier and shopping places more crowded. Welcome back! We are all happy to see you again. Please introduce yourself personally when you happen to see me around the Church. This season will really be an enriching and enjoyable one. You might look forward to the many spiritual encounters and experiences during your stay with us here.
Also, I wish to share with you some of my reflections that I have been pondering over the past several days. The culture of living our lives has been drastically changing. The people prefer to talk to each other through gadgets; kids in particular are becoming more and more silent and losing their space in the Church community. Even though we see so many children in our community attending church and Sunday classes, I wish to honestly ask if they are trained to become the disciples of Jesus in our Church or mere participants of church programs. Amidst the pressures and demands of modern times, are we successful to show our kids the way to recognize, experience and cherish Jesus’ presence in their lives? Young families, please take this into serious consideration. If you are already successfully handling these situations in your family, would you be kind enough to share with others? I request that you reflect on this and let us know your thoughts either through emails or directly.
Living the Faith is not a Sunday event anymore! It must happen in our families on a daily basis.
Thank You and God Bless,
Fr. Jay Raju