Rendering unto Cesar without anxiety

In case you had not noticed, it is presidential election season here in our fair land. There is great tension. The unrest is palpable. We Christians are not indifferent to the political realm – far from it we care deeply about working to protect human life, promote peace, and provide for the general welfare. Because of this, we also like many people of good will may have experienced a sense of anxiety or a lack of peace.

The Tribute Money, by Titian (1516), depicts Jesus being shown the tribute penny.

Now, put simply, caring about others is not optional for us as Christians. You and I are meant to be leaven in the world. As lay people you exercise your kingly role in the world through care and service to your brothers and sisters. The love of Christ, which has been poured into our hearts and which he proves in his Sacrifice continued at this Mass,

“lets us see our human dignity in full clarity and compels us to love our neighbors as he has loved us. Christ, the Teacher, shows us what is true and good, that is, what is in accord with our human nature as free, intelligent beings created in God’s image and likeness and endowed by the Creator with dignity and rights as well as duties.”[1]

USCCB, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, 9

Because of this, our redemption as human beings has an inescapable social dimension. We cannot accept Christ’s love while despising or being indifferent to our fellow human beings. In Christ, we are “members of one another” as St. Paul says. There is an “inseparable bond between our acceptance of the message of salvation and genuine fraternal love”[2]

Participation in the political process, is, therefore a duty of every Christian.[3] This participation takes many different forms, but “is rooted in our baptismal commitment to follow Jesus Christ and to bear Christian witness in all we do.” This means that for us as Christians, fulfilling the duties we have as citizens and inhabitants of this nation, state, county, city, and community, can and should be done out of charity. Of course, different people will participate in political life in different ways according to their vocation and state in life. Yet in all our political decisions, we must love as Christ loved. We must love by willing the good of the other, as other.

This type of Charity leads us as Catholics, to care about many different things. Yet, as the Bishops of the United States articulate, though we Catholics care about many different issues not all issues are equally important. As Catholics, who believe that every human being is created in the image and likeness of God, it is not optional for us to oppose laws and policies which permit, promote, or support abortion and/or euthanasia (mercy killing). Nor can we support policies which foster racism, denigrate the immigrant, or attack the intrinsic nature of marriage as between one man and one woman.[4]

The primacy of opposing these intrinsically evil acts, in no way diminishes the importance of opposing other serious affronts to justice in our society but provides for its foundation. As St. John Paul II wrote,

“the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights—for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture—is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination.”[5]

Christifideles Laici, no. 38

In considering how we fulfill our Christian duty of Charity in the political realm we need to take these principles into account and prudently seek the means which will bring about a society more in harmony with the Gospel. We must oppose laws and policies which promote or defend intrinsically evil acts including abortion and the destruction of marriage.[6]

These non-negotiable principles also inform our voting choices when it comes to elections. We should examine seriously what the candidates say, endorse, and promote. We must think with the Church. With a conscience informed by the Gospel we must prudently decide who we should vote for. Our Christianity informs our actions in everything we do and that includes our choices in the voting booth. This is a serious obligation. Compelled by charity we render to Cesar what is Cesar’s.

In all of this, nevertheless, there is a danger of becoming too consumed with the things of the world. The danger here, and the reason so many of us are so anxious all the time is that we forget that no matter what the result of the election God still reigns. Cesar has his place in the providence of God, and our political action matters, but whatever happens we know God loves us.

The Lord tells us, repeatedly, to be not afraid. Time and again he proves himself to us – showing that he “makes all things work for good for those who love him.”[7] The Bible is replete with stories of God intervening in love for his people. We hear about one of those in the first reading today. Cyrus is a pagan and through him God works to show his love for his people.

Despite this evidence, we often we let ourselves become so afraid and anxious, and this leads to a whole host of personal sins which impact our salvation much more directly than the outcome of a political race. No matter who wins the election, we can be sure that God will provide everything we need to be with him forever.

Saint Teresa of Ávila by Peter Paul Rubens

In addition to the words that our Lord himself says to us, I commend these words of St. Teresa of Avila to you as we approach the upcoming election:

Nada te turbe,

Nada te espante

Todo se pasa

Dios no se muda,

La paciencia

Todo lo alcanza;

Quien a Dios tiene

Nada le falta:

Sólo Dios basta.

-St. Teresa de Avila

We must never, forget that Christ tells us to give to Cesar what is Cesar’s and to God what is God’s. Cesar has no right over our peace. Cesar may determine circumstances, but he can never determine how we react and respond to such circumstances. People have become saints in good times and bad.

God is sovereign. We render to him everything…including our actions in the voting booth, and in politics. Render what is Cesar’s to Cesar – be an outstanding citizen. But recognize you are God’s beloved first. Do not sacrifice the joy and peace which is yours in Christ at the altar of politics.

Homily for Fourth Sunday of Easter | Fr. Will Rooney | Apr 30, 2023 Luke 10:41

  1. Homily for Fourth Sunday of Easter | Fr. Will Rooney | Apr 30, 2023
  2. Priest and Victim | Homily for Holy Thursday | Fr. Will Rooney | Apr 6, 2023
  3. Long for Glory | Homily for Second Sunday of Lent | Fr. Will Rooney | Mar 5, 2023
  4. Purification and Enlightenment – Introduction to 7 Capital Sins
  5. Homily for First Sunday of Lent | Fr. Will Rooney | Feb 26, 2023

[1] USCCB, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, 9

[2] Francis, Evangelii Gaudium,179

[3] USCCB, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, 13

[4] USCCB, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, 22

[5] Christifideles Laici, no. 38

[6] USCCB, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, 31

[7] Romans 8:28

Published by Fr. Will Rooney

Fr. Will Rooney was baptized at St. Anthony’s Parish in Bryan, TX where his parents had been married. He has two younger brothers, David and Travis. Will received his First Communion at St. Anthony’s and around that time began to think about becoming a priest. Will was confirmed at St. Thomas Aquinas in May 2006. During high school, he actively participated in the parish youth group and was involved in robotics competitions. He and his brothers also raised poultry for 4-H and FFA projects. Upon graduation from A&M Consolidated High School in 2009, Will studied Biological and Agricultural Engineering at Texas A&M University. While at A&M, he worked as a Middle School youth minister and felt a growing desire toward the priesthood. In his senior year at A&M, he decided to apply for seminary, was accepted, and began attending Holy Trinity Seminary for pre-theology after he graduated. Two years later, Will was sent to St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston for theological studies. He served his pastoral year at St. Louis, King of France, Catholic Church and School in Austin (2017-2018). He was ordained to the Diaconate May 18, 2019, and served his deacon year at Our Lady of the Visitation in Lockhart, TX. He was ordained to the priesthood June 27, 2020 currently ministers at St. Mary Cathedral in Austin.

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