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Do we care more about looking good or do we care more about doing good? The two groups in today’s Gospel, cared more about looking good in front of their peers than doing good for God who was right in front of them. These two groups aimed to ask Jesus a controversial question that would make Jesus look bad so they could look good. Before they ask the question of Jesus, they first try buttering Him up with compliments. One compliment they give Jesus is that He doesn’t care about looking good in front of the people. Once they’ve buttered Jesus up with flattery, they ask Him the controversial question. To pay the tax or not to pay the tax, that was the controversial question the Pharisees and the Herodians asked Jesus. Both of these groups viewed Jesus as troublesome and they thought that if they could get Jesus to publicly answer this controversial question, it would be Jesus’ downfall at the hands of whichever group Jesus sided against with His answer. By answering the question, they thought Jesus would either be labeled as pro-tax and in turn be seen by the religious Pharisees as selling out His Jewish people or Jesus would be labeled as anti-tax and in turn be seen by the more secular Herodians as a revolutionary threat to the Roman Empire they supported. By taking down Jesus with this verbal trap, the Pharisees and the Herodians believed they would look good to their peers by helping retain or gain power and prestige for their group. After they asked the question, Jesus responded by taking the coin that is supposed to be used to pay the tax to the Roman government and asked whose inscription and image is on it. They respond that the coin has the inscription of and is made in the image of the Roman governmental leader Caesar. Next Jesus says, "Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God." With this statement, Jesus reminds us that we are doing good when we repay to others what belongs to them. Just as the tax coin has the inscription of the governmental leader who made it, we believe the desire for God is written on the hearts of each of us. Just as the tax coin is made in the image of the governmental leader who made it, scripture tells us that each of us are made in the image of God who made us. God is the one who gave us our first breath of life. When we understand this, we avoid the pitfall others fall into when they try to find their identity and self-worth in looking good for others and we instead find our true identity and self-worth in being a beloved son or daughter of God. What exactly does it mean for we beloved sons and daughters of God to repay to God what belongs to God? Jesus stops short of spelling out exactly what this means. That’s because Jesus wants each of us to think and pray about what this means. When we think and pray about what it means to repay to God what belongs to God, we are first reminded that everything belongs to God and that we should start living our lives for an audience of one. This audience of one is God who made each of us for friendship with Him and it is time that is the currency of friendship. We are repaying or giving to God by spending this hour with Him at Mass, but God doesn’t want this one hour to be the end of the time we dedicate to Him this week. God wants this hour to be the start of the time we dedicate to Him this week. The God who gave us our first breath of life is the same God who paid the ultimate price by giving His very life on the cross for the sins of each one of us. We are going to experience this truth in a very real way in a few moments when we receive the body and blood of Jesus. As we open our mouths to consume the body and blood of Jesus, let us open our hearts so that Jesus may consume our hearts, so that our hearts may become like His heart, so that our hands may become His hands, so that our feet may become His feet, so that our face may become His face, so that when we encounter others, they may see Christ in us and so that in all those we encounter, we may see Christ in each of them. When we take this approach of seeing God as part of how we live every aspect of our lives, then we give God our time generously while doing the good He made us to do. In fact, we give our very beings to God when we live this way. This is what repaying to God what belongs to God means, giving Him our very beings. Jesus wants us to receive His body and blood here and take Him out into the world to continue His work in the world. One of the greatest goods we can do is going out and helping others have an encounter with Jesus and then bringing them back here to Church to help grow the Body of Christ. We have opportunities in our own community to help others have an encounter with Christ like at this Wednesday’s Act of Charity Day at the Boys and Girls Club, we have opportunities in other states to help others have an encounter with Christ like going with Fr. Jeremy to Texas to help the hurricane victims and we also have the opportunity to extend the hands of Christ into the farthest reaches of the world so that Christ may encounter those in other nations. We can help with this by supporting the World Mission Sunday appeal this weekend. Sometimes it is the ones hardest to reach who most need an encounter with Christ. Doing good must start with us giving God our time in prayer. If we don’t have time to pray, we are busier than God ever intended us to be. When we pray, let us say, “Lord, what would you like me to do today?” Listen in our hearts for the whisper of God’s response and which direction He is tugging our hearts in. Then, when we move into action, let us care less about looking good for our peers and more about doing good for God.

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