What's Your Status?
Updated: Oct 19, 2020
Gospel Reflection for the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
"Teacher we know that you are a truthful man and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. And you are not concerned with anyone's opinion, for you do not regard a person's status." (Matthew 22:16)
Last year, I poured out my heart in a book titled Single Truth: You are more than your relationship status. As I share and reflect on my story, I recognize the fire burning in my heart to remind myself and others that we are more than our relationship status. Each and every one of us is more than our status on any sort of resume or biographical fact sheet. Though I am not shy, I have noticed the discomfort that comes with sharing woundedness especially areas in which I feel inadequate.
As I prayed with this experience of exposing myself as a single marriage counselor, I saw Jesus showing me the wounds in his hands and feet. The Son of God became man in order to draw us closer to Himself. Yet, we crucified Him because we felt threatened by His power and authority. There was a lot we did not understand in letting Him be our Lord, so we grasped for other things that were a little easier to manage. Being a manager of a company with clear goals for Q4 may be easier to grasp than being a father laying next to a sick daughter on the bathroom floor. Being an intimidating judge who makes calls with the bang of a gavel may be easier to grasp than being a mother with a teenage son who tells you that his girlfriend is pregnant. Living with an intimate partner may be easier to grasp than being single in a sexualized society of couples. These are just some examples on top of my head that highlight how we lean on the statuses we hold in professional and social life. We are all in different seasons throughout our lives and one is not better or higher than another.
One of the gifts of single life has been to explore ideas and activities without needing to consult anyone other than God. Jesus is not concerned with others' opinions. So, why are we so obsessed with our reputation and how others see us? We put so much weight into our earthly status, while God invites us to remember our heavenly status. Fr. Mike Schmitz quoted David Brooks’ book The Road to Character in his homily that talked about "resume virtues" and "eulogy virtues." We spend almost all of our precious minutes on this earth concerned about our resume and what we've achieved. We care about our business cards, nameplates, paychecks, and accolades. We care about boxes we've checked, the size of our homes, and whether or not we have a ring on our finger.
In this Gospel, Jesus invites the Pharisees and Herodians to "show their cards" by revealing the coin they carry. They are trying to satisfy Caesar and all of the resume virtues he stands for. Jesus then calls them to something greater and more lasting. He tells them to "repay... to God what belongs to God." What belongs to God are their eulogy virtues. At the end of one's life, we truly see the impact they have made on our hearts and the loss that will be felt as they leave. God is the one who instills His own likeness deep within our hearts and souls. Everything we are and everything we have belongs to Him and is to be repaid to Him wholeheartedly with joy and gratitude.
How much are we letting the world define who we are? How often do we ask others what they think before we turn to God?
On October 10, 2020, Blessed Carlo Acutis was the first Millenial to be beatified! He was a wonderful example of putting God first in His life and spending his days drawing others closer to Our Lord. He once said:
"We all are born as originals, but many die as photocopies."
When our gaze is looking down at the world, we come out as cheap black-and-white copies that can be easily disregarded in a stack. When our gaze is looking at heaven, we display our beautiful uniqueness like a priceless stain-glass window in a church or a precious painting above a mantel.
It is ironic that Herodians and Pharisees are trying to trip Jesus up with a tricky question and yet affirm that He is truthful. In The Catechism of the Catholic Church, we read a whole section about God as Truth:
"The sum of your word is truth; and every one of your righteous ordinances endures forever." "And now, O LORD God, you are God, and your words are true"; this is why God's promises always come true. God is Truth itself, whose words cannot deceive. This is why one can abandon oneself in full trust to the truth and faithfulness of his word in all things. The beginning of sin and of man's fall was due to a lie of the tempter who induced doubt of God's word, kindness and faithfulness. (CCC 215)
God's truth is his wisdom, which commands the whole created order and governs the world. God, who alone made heaven and earth, can alone impart true knowledge of every created thing in relation to himself. (CCC 216)
God is also truthful when he reveals himself - the teaching that comes from God is "true instruction" When he sends his Son into the world it will be "to bear witness to the truth""We know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, to know him who is true." (CCC 217)
So, in this world of fake news and empty promises, will we turn to the Truth that God alone offers? Will we trust God when He says we are His Beloved? Will we favor the temporary value of a penny or the priceless worth of "In God We Trust?" Are you grasping at what seems to satisfy in this world or asking God who He has called you to be?
In the final moments of the first episode of the first season of The Chosen TV series, Jesus' first scene is with Mary Magdalene. She is depressed after nearly attempting suicide. She seems to be reaching to drink her worth away. As she reaches out for her drink, Jesus places His hand on hers and says, "That is not for you." Then, He calls her by name and proclaims Isaiah 43:
"Thus says the Lord who created you. He who formed you, fear not. For I have redeemed you. I have called you by name. You are mine."
Are you living as a slave to the world or as a child of the King?
Spend some time with Jesus this week without your "resume." Come as yourself and don't be afraid to ask questions. After all, He's the one who is Truth. :)