I finally am back, feeling well enough to begin posting again on a regular basis. So far the cancer seems to be in remission, and over all I am doing fairly well. Thanks for your prayers.
Is 45:1, 4-6
1 Thes 1:1-5b
In Star Trek lore cadets in Star Fleet Academy were tested with a situation known as the Kobayshi Maru situation. The catch to this test was that there was no way to succeed. The cadet, assuming the role of commander of a star ship, was placed in a no win situation. No choice the cadet made would lead to a good outcome. Only one cadet, a certain James Kirk, defeated the test by reprogramming the scenario, giving him choices that allowed him to win in a no win situation. In today’s Gospel the Pharisees and Herodians seek to put Jesus in just such a no win situation. They approach Jesus with a question, a question they assume has no good answer. They ask Jesus if it is lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not. They believe they have Jesus trapped, because they see only two possible answers, neither of them good, at least not for the person giving the answer. If Jesus says it is lawful to pay the tax, they can condemn him as a tool of the Roman oppressors. If Jesus says that one should not pay the tax, he can be turned over to the authorities and most likely be put to death as an insurrectionist. The question, like the Kobayshi Maru scenario, seemingly had no right answer. Jesus, however, turned the situation upside down, and gave an answer the questioners never expected. Show me the coin for paying the tax. Whose image is on the coin? Caesar’s. Repay to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s. Let Caesar have the coin with his image on it, in the end what did it matter? Jesus called on those listening, and on us, to give to God that which has God’s image on it, us. In our lives we may face what appear to be no win situations. No situation is hopeless, however, when we simply give to God that which is God’s that which is in God’s image, ourselves. In my own experience I have been in that situation. Faced with a life threatening, incurable disease, no answer seems good, no answer seems right. In this situation giving up would have seemed to be the only choice. Yet, as I discovered, it was not. I had a better choice, I could, as James Kirk did, as Jesus did, change the situation so I could win. Giving myself to God, giving to God what ultimately belongs to God, was the answer. No matter the eventual outcome, by giving to God what is in God’s image, by giving to God that which is God’s, by giving myself, I win. All of us, in the thousand situations we face, the situations that seem hopeless, that seem to be no win, can win, when we simply give God what is God’s, when we give God ourselves.
Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Oct. 19, 2008