“But you promised!"
“But you promised!" Have you ever heard that phrase from a son or a daughter? How many times has one promise been broken to keep another? How many times have you had to break one commitment to keep another? Sometimes what we should do fades against what we have to do. The ideal falls to the real. When others criticize us for failing to uphold the ideal, they force us to face our values and make hard choices. Jesus’ enemies tried to force him into making a choice between the ideal and the real. His answer turned the table on their question. It forced them to make a choice of priorities. In today’s Gospel, the Pharisees try to trap Jesus into making a distinction between what was required under Roman law and what God calls us to do. Unfortunately, even today we are faced with civil laws that come in conflict with what the Church teaches. As Christians, we are often challenged by how we are called to uphold our local laws while also upholding God’s laws. We are seeing this play out currently as our country seeks to fill the open seat on our Supreme Court. The current nominee is a devoted Catholic who aligns closely with Church teachings. Some of these teachings are in conflict with federal laws. This nominee is being challenged as to how she will reconcile her faith with the current laws. Today’s Gospel (Matthew 22: 25-21) is often cited as an indication for the need for a separation of church and state. However, as Jesus is confronted by the Pharisees, it is apparent that at times, this separation is not as easy as one would like. At times, we are forced to make a choice between the ideal and the real. The clash between religious separation and cultural accommodation came from a simple coin and the duty to pay a tax. The symbols of each weighed heavy on the hearts of Jesus' contemporaries. Yet, in their political struggles they forgot God's reason for social engagement and the government of the people, who are to benefit from the common good. In these passages, Jesus gave us the freedom to act in the public arena. But, with that freedom came a responsibility. God calls us to act for the good of all. Let us pray that we follow God’s call to act for common good. Blessings, Deacon Steve