You Belong to God

Homily for 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
October 21-22, 2017
Sacred Heart, EGF – 5:00 PM
Holy Trinity, Tabor – 8:00 AM; St. Francis of Assisi, Fisher – 10:00 AM

Focus:               You Belong to God.
Function:         Give Yourself to God.

Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and repay to God what belongs to God.

What belonged to Caesar?

Matters of state.
Care for the population.
The taxes to be paid by the coin that bore his image.

What belongs to God?

Everything. All of creation.
Glory and Honor, according to the Psalm response for this Mass (Ps 96: “Give the Lord Glory and Honor”).
Most especially, the coin that bears his image.

What is this coin that bears the image of God?

You are.

In the beginning He created them, in the divine image he created them, male and female he created them.

You are made in the image and likeness of God.  Through your baptism, the likeness of God that had been lost through the original sin was restored to you.

You are made in the image and likeness of God.  You bear his image in the world.

Repay to God what belongs to God.

In other words, give yourself to him.

St. Irenaeus, an early Church Father, said this: The Glory of God is Man Fully Alive.
The responsorial psalm for this Mass exhorts us to Give the Lord Glory and Honor.
Jesus says to Repay to God what belongs to God.

So, if we are to repay to God what belongs to God, then we must become fully alive in Christ.  The disciple who is fully alive in Christ gives glory and honor to God.

The person who goes above and beyond,
who pursues excellence and virtue,
who pushes the limits of a charity which knows no limits,
who strives for greatness…
This person gives glory and honor to God.

The person who strives to love rather than to merely fulfill the requirements of the law,
to shoot for the stars rather than figure out the bare minimum to be done,
to sacrifice for the good of others instead of flying under the radar…
This person gives glory and honor to God.

The person who asks not “How hard do I have to work” but rather “What am I capable of?” This person gives glory and honor to God.

The person who seeks to love like Jesus loves,
setting their heart ablaze with the fire of a charity that cannot be contained more than they try to merely avoid sinning…
This person gives glory and honor to God.

We’ve all known people like this in our lives. We’ve experienced the Glory of God
in people who have inspired us, in disciples whose example, whose witness, whose often silent witness, calls and challenges us to be the best that we can be. They call the best out of us.  They inspire it out of us.

They don’t take the easy way out.
They challenge themselves.
They surround themselves with others whose witness challenges them.
They are willing to challenge others to be the best that they can be.
They live the truth of the Gospel without compromise.
They don’t complain.
They are joyful.
They don’t look to their own interests but look to the interests of others.
They love.

And the image of God can be seen clearly in them.

The image of God in them isn’t obscured by selfishness, covered over by negativity, or buried in the mire of vices and sins. Not that they don’t have sins and vices, but they constantly work to overcome them, picking themselves out of the gutter when they find themselves there and returning to the Lord in prayer and the sacraments so that he can polish them, making them shine as they bear his image ever more clearly to a world in need.

In a word, they give glory to God because they pursue one thing: holiness. They strive to be holy.  They abandon themselves to the God whose love is a living flame, and they allow his love to burn away the sins and vices that cover his image in them.  They look to Christ whose image they are to bear and they strive to conform their wills to His, to become an icon, an image, of Jesus Christ in the world.  They die to themselves and allow themselves to be transformed by Christ, to be transformed into another Christ.

CS Lewis described these people in his book Mere Christianity:

Already the new men are dotted here and there all over the earth. Some, as I have admitted, are still hardly recognizable: but others can be recognized. Every now and then one meets them. Their very voices and faces are different from ours: stronger, quieter, happier, more radiant. They begin where most of us leave off. They are, I say, recognizable; but you must know what to look for. They will not be very like the idea of ‘religious people’ which you have formed from your general reading. They do not draw attention to themselves. You tend to think that you are being kind to them when they are really being kind to you. They love you more than other men do, but they need you less. They will usually seem to have a lot of time: you will wonder where it comes from. When you have recognized one of them, you will recognize the next one much more easily. And I strongly suspect that they recognize one another immediately and infallibly, across every barrier of color, sex, class, age, and even of creeds. In that way, to become holy is rather like joining a secret society. To put it at the very lowest, it must be great fun.

Brothers and sisters, you are made in the image and likeness of God.
You bear his image.
You belong to him.

The Glory of God is man fully alive.

Become what you were meant to be.
Become fully alive in the Spirit and give yourself to Him.
Become fully alive in the Spirit by giving yourself to Him.

Give Him glory and honor.

Repay to God what belongs to God.

And at the end, on that day when Jesus looks at you and says “Show me the coin”, all will know to whom you belong because they will clearly see Whose Image you bear.

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