Is 45:1, 4-6; Thes 1:1-5; Matt 22:15-21.
What does God want? This is the question that Jesus is posing implicitly to the Pharisees and Herodians. What does God want? The answer is simple: Everything. God wants everything – all of who we are.
Jesus is making the point that it’s not so much what we do as where our hearts are. The first reading from Isaiah tells us: “I am the Lord and there is no other God besides me….There is no other.” The point, the imperative, is that we love God single-heartedly—whatever it is we do.
“Give your life to something larger than yourself and pleasure — to the largest thing you can: To God, to relieving suffering, to contributing to knowledge, to adding to literature, to something else. Happiness lies this way, and it beats pleasure hollow” (qtd.Rolheiser.Sacred Fire 96).
God calls people to all walks of life – even political life, the realm of Caesar. God can use political leaders to his ends as he did with Cyrus, a civic leader. I remember how I was struck by an editorial in the Herald Leader that evaluated the two candidates for mayor of Lexington. In a civil tone and content, it outlined the accomplishments and achievements of each of the two men. If we look at this political office more, we see more – that is, if we see through the eye of faith. I could see that these two men had used their God-given gifts to promote the common good, to enhance the commonwealth of the city, of the people.
Again, in the important activities of our lives, do we demonstrate that God is first? It is important to ask ourselves: “Why am I doing this?” If it’s for my family, isn’t that tantamount to saying it’s for God? St. Benedict, in fact, writes into his famous Rule for monks: “Prefer nothing to the love of Christ.” Our lives are not either/or – God or Caesar. Rather, we are called to love God as we fulfill our civic responsibilities as well as our familial and religious ones.
Why? Because the image of God is imprinted not on us — as on a coin — but in us. It is that image within that we enact outwardly in the world. Each of us is called by God to love God above all else because God’s image is marked within us. These readings ask us to examine our images, our choices, and our priorities. When our time comes to die and someone is planning our funeral, will we be remembered as someone who gave to God the things that are God’s and demonstrated in living outwardly the image of the one God within and no other?