Friday, May 28, 2010

Taxing Matters!

As I write this we have a new government. A Coalition government! Whether you are happy or sad at the result is not going to change what occurs over the next few years. One thing that is for certain in my view, is we will need to pay more tax in one form or another.

Tax has always been an emotive issue, as far back as the idea was conceived! Even in the time of Jesus 2000 years ago, Tax was a sensitive issue, the Roman’s taxed their conquered territories to pay for the lavish lifestyles of the imperial court in Rome.

Jesus annoyed a lot a people, largely because he stood up against hypocrisy and the abuse of authority. Jesus' enemies kept watching him closely, because they wanted to hand him over to the Roman governor. So they sent some men who pretended to be good. But they were really spies trying to catch Jesus saying something wrong. The spies said to him,

"Teacher, we know that you teach the truth about what God wants people to do. And you treat everyone with the same respect, no matter who they are. Tell us, should we pay taxes to the Emperor or not?"

Jesus knew that they were trying to trick him. So he told them,

"Show me a coin." Then he asked, "Whose picture and name are on it?"

"The Emperor's," they answered.

Then he told them,

"Give the Emperor what belongs to him and give God what belongs to God."

Jesus' enemies could not catch him saying anything wrong there in front of the people. They were amazed at his answer and kept quiet.

So what belongs to God?

I think we owe God enough time and space each day for prayer, meditation, contemplation, so that we are always in communion with God. We owe God (and ourselves) a prayerful contemplative spirit. Many of us are on roller coasters of job, busyness, compulsive activity that do not allow us the time for God that we need, and God deserves. Many of us need to get off our own roller coasters.

Listen to God in Isaiah: "I am the Lord; there is no other." God wants to be at the centre of our lives. We need to spend a lifetime naming and rooting out of our lives the subtle idolatries that keep us from God.

I think God wants us to have a passion regarding our relationships -- our families, our co-workers and neighbours -- the stranger with whom we are not supposed to have eye contact.

We owe God to live in a spirit and posture of praise and thanks. All is gift -- all is grace. All has come to us freely from God. With the Old Testament psalmist, constantly we should praise God for life. St. Paul begins his letters with prayers of praise for the people that he worked with, and subsequently wrote. Each person in our lives, even difficult people, is a blessing, a grace. God deserves praise for these gifts. In fact, it would be good if we let people know how grateful to God we are for them.

What is God's? I do think God wants us to become holy. What is holiness? It is : prayerfulness, a discerning spirit, a critical awareness, a passion for relationships and communion, servant hood toward each other and the world, a reconciling spirit.

In holiness, let us give to God what is God's.