Scripture: Matthew 22:15-22 (CEB)
In last week’s reflection, I shared with you how God has given us Jesus as the Cornerstone of His building project. The building is His church.
God adds new stones by extending His salvation to all people, even those who are hard-hearted toward Him. As our Cornerstone, Jesus is a real human as well as a real God. He is the joining and founding stone that sustains the whole building. As the foundation, Jesus connects and leads those who belong to Him to seek eternal life.
Don’t forget that in Mark 1:15 (CEB), Jesus said “the Kingdom of God is here.” Jesus is the Kingdom of God.
When we welcome God into our lives with an open mind and heart, we experience the mystery of God’s presence among us.
We become part of the bridge Jesus is building from this world to the world to come. This is why Jesus teaches us to pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done ON EARTH as it is in heaven.”
We are living stones who must stay aligned with Jesus and His teachings as our Cornerstone to bear fruit for God’s kingdom. Whenever we experience someone’s healing, we experience glimpses of God’s kingdom. Every human being can be sensitive to spiritual realities, no matter their spiritual status.
My personal understanding is that every person is freely called to seek and participate in eternal life. We can accept or deny it. But whenever we tempted others to deny God’s mighty acts it is because we have hard hearts and minds.
Our stubbornness causes our insecurities to grow. We then tend to work in opposition to unity. We let separateness and polarization rule us. Consequently, we ignore God’s call, and all sorts of sins can rise up in us.
This is exactly what the Pharisees experienced in today’s scripture. These religious leaders were only able to see Moses’ Law partially. They were closed off, and didn’t realize God’s purpose in Jesus, even though He showed through His miracles the beginning of a realization of God’s kingdom to transform earthly reality into God’s realm. When they banded together, Herod’s supporters tried to trap Jesus. They wanted Jesus to take sides, but Jesus operated differently by including both sides.
In Matt 22:23, Jesus said, “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”
If we applied Jesus’ words to our day, we might say, “We must pay our taxes to our Government and our tithes to God, our church.
I know that talking about taxes is hard whenever we are stretching our money. Also, we may not agree with how funds are used. We do need accountability. But, regardless, we need to view the subject with a heart that is open to faith.
We have so many blessings in our country. We even have the freedom to disagree. The consequences of our giving (tithes and taxes) produce fruits that return to us in many different kinds of blessings.
Jesus’ words and other biblical statements about money teach us that giving from our resources is the most practical way we can show our gratitude for all the blessings God has given to us. Abraham recognized this practice and gave to Melchizedek in Genesis 14:20. This is the Biblical reason why the first thing Rosa and I do after we receive our paychecks is to give God, no less than 10%, and to pay our taxes and Social Security.
We always do and will continue doing it. It’s our practical leap of faith in Jesus, as our Cornerstone in whom our faith and lives stand on. Our treasures whether they are money, time, or talents belong to God, and we offer Him our very firsts fruits.
Our biblical stand is not only about keeping God’s law and to do our civic duty. It’s about sustaining our churches’ salaries & ministries. We also support our government authorities, our armed forces, law enforcement officers, EMT’s salaries, teachers, roads, and infrastructure improvements. These things are meant to improve the quality and well-being of our lives.
But another essential matter is that by giving our fair share, we help the poor and the needy and other good people and causes. As we give, we draw closer to God’s kingdom.
The Holy One leads us to build His kingdom. This kingdom building begins now, in this earthly life. God counts on us to be fruitful and faithful to receive and then show his grace to others as we live according to His holy will.
Let’s continue trusting in every word that Jesus, our Cornerstone, has given us. Amen.