Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Word on the Word

Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Is 45:1,4-6
1 Thes 1:1-5b
Mt 22:15-21
Perhaps the best way to prepare for Sunday worship is to read and ponder the scriptures you'll hear proclaimed at Mass. So, are you ready for this weekend?

St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, church father, and according to his own words, the classic "bad boy" turned good (or at least turned toward God) was also arguably the Church's greatest theologian in the tradition of justice. In both his Confessions and The City of God, Augustine found the theme of justice a recurring one. While he denied that social justice was necessary simply to maintain order, Saint Augustine noted, in words that have become famous, "remove justice, and what are kingdoms but large-scale gangs of criminals?"

In Augustine's commentary on Sunday's Gospel, he immediately focuses on the real point of Jesus' words--giving to God what is God's. Augustine insists that when we truly succeed in "giving to God what is God's," we are, in his words, "doing justice to God."

"Doing justice to God." What a strange phrase. So, what could it mean? How is "doing justice to God" different from doing justice to others through our carefully calibrated legal system with all its checks and balances? In many cases, the end results may look the same. One big difference is that chasm that divides the "letter" of the law and the "spirit" of the law.

Doing justice to God requires that we return to God, with dividends, that which God has entrusted to us. This is paying our dues to the Divine. "Doing justice to God" then, are the dues humans owe to God.