Saturday, October 15, 2011

Sunday 29A: In Whose Image?: every human being bears the “image” of God and so belongs to Him

"give back to God what belongs to God"

We are what we worship. Sometimes we come very close to worshipping the things that we see. Images are not simply things to see, however: our use or abuse of images can also tell us who we are and may tell us things about ourselves we do not like.

Images hold a very powerful allure in our world. People want to be what they see in fashion photography so they buy the clothing; they want to look like the people they see in diet advertising so they buy the diet plan; they want to look like people in workout videos so they buy the supplements. And also we see the manipulation of images in order to win friends and influence people. You can delete or un-tag any photos of yourself on Facebook, for example, that you don't like or even substitute someone else in your place.

When our use of images begin to replace reality for us we are abusing them and we are placing ourselves in danger of turning ourselves, our dreams and our future over to something that does not and never will be real. And we may be obscuring or rejecting the image of God that is present in each of us and in everyone.

From José Antonio Pagola:

"The question that some Pharisees put to Jesus, in collaboration with the Herodians, was evidently aimed to trap him: 'Is it permissible to pay taxes to Caesar or not?'

"If he said that it was licit, Jesus would be discredited before the people who would turn against him, and become easy prey for the Pharisees. If he said that it was not licit, he could be accused of being an agitator of the people against the Romans – who had flocked to the streets of Jerusalem for the Easter celebrations. Any such provocation could result in a rebellion against Caesar.

"Without getting into any argument, Jesus just asked them, 'Let me see the money you pay the tax with.' And he added, 'Whose head is this, whose name?' They replied: 'Caesar’s Tiberius, son of the divine Augustus.' Jesus, with that simple question, left them speechless.

"Jesus, then, drew his own conclusion: if that image belongs to Caesar, 'Give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar.' Return the coin to Caesar, as a symbol of his political power. You have been using the coins as barter in all your business transactions. Just follow those rules.

"Jesus, however, is not subject to the Emperor of Rome, rather 'seeking the kingdom of God and his justice', and so he adds something that nobody had asked him: “Very well, give back to God what belongs to God.” That coin had the image of Tiberius, but every human being bears the 'image' of God and so belongs to Him. Never sacrifice humans to any power. On the contrary, protect them."

Saint Teresa of Avila, whose feast we celebrate in these days, teaches about the most important image of all: Jesus Christ, the real image of the living God. The safe route for prayer, she taught, is to contemplate the sacred humanity of Jesus Christ. And when we do this faithfully we can truly love ourselves for we will unfailingly see the image of God in each of us and in everyone. In in Jesus Christ, the true image of God, we will see our future and our dreams come true.

"The vocation of humanity is to show forth the image of God and to be transformed into the image of the Father's only Son. This vocation takes a personal form since each of us is called to enter into the divine beatitude; it also concerns the human community as a whole." (CCC 1877)

Let us go forth to meet Christ in the Eucharist and partake of Him into whose image we are thus transformed! Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!


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