Sunday Stride – Returning focus to God

How often do you look at what’s on your coins?

In all honesty, who even carries coins anymore? I had to go to the store yesterday to help the tooth fairy out with cash… apparently she only uses Venmo these days.

Yesterday, my twins learned about heads and tails for the first time off of one random quarter we managed to find in our home. They were fighting over a string of Mardi Gras beads they found in the back of the minivan (minivans are such treasure troves). In order to settle the fight, my husband tried rock, paper, scissors first. They didn’t quite get the concept of both showing their sign at the same time. After three tries where one would flash scissors and a few seconds later the other would flash a rock, he gave up and said “Just bring me a coin!” 

So they did a series of heads or tails in order to “win” the beads. After the matter was settled, however, they kept flipping the coin asking whomever was nearest to call “heads or tails”.  

It occupied them for a whole 20 minutes! And I think it was the first time they really looked at whose head was on the coin. It’s always good to learn something new!

I also learned something new listening to the short reflection video on today’s readings on USCCB. The coins during the time of Jesus had an image of Caesar with the label “son of the divine Augustus.” A constant offensive reminder to observant Jews at the time. 

In today’s Gospel, Jesus asks whose head was on the coin, and when the Pharisees answered “Ceasar!” he replied “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”

This end of the Gospel reminds me of St Ignatius’s First Principle and Foundation. In it, he says we must use the things of this world only insofar as they help us deepen our relationship with God. We should also rid ourselves of those things that get in the way of deepening our relationship with God. In other words, this Gospel isn’t justification for our current arguments of Church and state but instead a reminder that our relationship with God and living into the person God created us to be is paramount. 

My prayer for us this week is that we are able to refocus on those things that are of God in our life. May we recognize who God is calling us to be in the world and put pursuing that first. Then, I believe, everything else will fall into place.

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