Archbishop John Wong of Kota Kinabalu Archdiocese
By Agnes Chai
Oct 22 2020
Give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar – and to God what belongs to God (Mt 22:21)
WE give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God. Do we see the drama of the Gospel being played out all around us today?
If fell on Archbishop John Wong, who presided the Sunset Mass Oct 17, to shed light on the Gospel which apparently draws out the relationship between the Church and the government. But what has the Church got to do with the government?
It is not surprising that “most people have the understanding that the government deals with the world or material things, while the Church deals with the spiritual matters, surmised the Archbishop.
“But is there any relationship between the Church and the government, and where is the relationship?” asked Archbishop Wong.
He explained “We live in the world, in a country, in a society; and we have the responsibility to build the nation together, But to do this, we need God to help us. Thus, God’s Word does not only show us the relationship between the Church and the government, but also the power and love of God for His people.”
He continued to share from the Word that “God is always with His chosen people in any situation and that He never abandons them.”
To add on more Good News, the Lord would use anyone, as he did the foreign King Cyrus, who was willing to obey and do His will. King Cyrus, who though a powerful king but who did not know God, was made an instrument by God to lead His people in exile back to the promised land.
Archbishop Wong reflected further on the coin referred to by Jesus that “The coin bore the image of a human being/king” and reminded us that we too need to reflect whose image we bore.
“In the beginning of creation, God made man and woman in His own image and likeness.” he quoted Genesis, and underscored that “we belong to God, not to ourselves; thus we need to give back to God what belong to God: our life, our belongings, our thoughts, our emotions, everything that we have.”
Even all that Caesar had, belongs to God (even the coin), underlined the preacher.
He went on “Yes, we need to pay taxes and fulfill our responsibilities as citizens of our country; but we must never forget that we bear the image of God and it is to Him that we must give our life and all that we have.”
In essence then, Archbishop concluded that we should really ask ‘What belongs to Caesar? – Money! And what belongs to God? Everything!”
We must carry that conviction within us and remain peaceful and calm in a tumultuous world – that God, out of love, will grant us all the graces that we need in our earthly journey, and above all, out of love, He has given us His Only Son!
As we live in the precarious times of the third wave of COVID-19, God’s Word gives hope which is capable of giving strength, support and meaning when everything seems to be floundering around us.