Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
In the Gospel for the Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus states, “Give therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
This simple statement offers a unique perspective regarding the role of faith in society. There is no question that there is growing hostility in the world toward the Christian faith. Various surveys indicate that Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world (Center for Studies on New Religions). Politically, people of faith are being pushed to the margins in the name of secularism.
It seems that in more and more public places, people are afraid to talk about God. If faith is removed from public discourse then we are all impoverished. Christianity, and in particular, our Catholic faith, teaches us about right relationships. The first and most important is our relationship with God. From this flows our connection with one another in society.
The proper relationship between Church and State is rooted in complementarity, as both work toward the common good of society. The State focusses on the correct ordering of society through justice. The Church, as a sacrament of salvation, focuses on our spiritual union with God and one another.
The Church calls its members to holiness within the world so that they can help to renew the face of the earth. Christianity is not about abandoning the world or trying to control the world. It is all about transforming the world into a more faithful reflection of God who is love.
The proper relationship that should exist between faith and society can be summed up in the last words of St. Thomas More just prior to his execution: “I die the king’s faithful servant, but God’s first.”