This week’s Gospel presents Jesus’ well-known response to those who asked him about paying taxes to Caesar. Since the Roman coin bore Caesar’s image and inscription, Jesus said, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” The deeper question, of course, is: What belongs to God? We do. For we bear his image and inscription. Where? How? Traditionally theologians have said we image God as individuals, through our rational soul. That’s true. But St. John Paul II says that “man became the image of God not only through his own humanity, but also through the communion of persons, which man and woman form from the very beginning” (TOB 9:3). God himself is an eternal Communion of Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The call to a similar communion is inscribed by God right in our bodies as male and female. The body itself is a witness to self-giving love. God took on a body precisely to make a gift of his body for us. Let us “repay” God by making a gift of our bodies for him.
Rome, Church of Santa Maria della Vittoria of Ecstasy of St Theresa, by Bernini Gian Lorenzo, 1644-1652, 17th Century, marble.
Teresa of Avila — next to Mary the Mother of God, she may be the most famous mystic bride in Church history. When Jesus praised the wise virgins (see Mt 25:1-13), through his divine foreknowledge, he must have had Teresa of Avila in mind (after his Mother) as someone at the top of the list.
Since Teresa’s feast day falls on a Sunday this year (Oct. 15), she won’t be getting the attention she deserves. So I thought I’d say just a little bit about her.
Each month, I hold a live Question & Answer chat with Cor Members on our private Membership Facebook group. It’s one of the many perks of being a member (you get a huge amount of resources at your fingertips for just $10/month). The topics are wide-ranging and often deal with real-life challenges of learning, living and sharing St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body (TOB). Here is a sample from a recent Q&A. I hope you find these discussions helpful.
In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus tells the parable of the landowner who leased his vineyard to tenants who beat and killed his servants. When the landowner’s son came, the tenants said to one another, “This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.” Contained in that sentiment is the root of every tragedy known to man. In his Theology of the Body, John Paul II described original sin (the sin from which all horrors flow) as the questioning – and, ultimately, the denial – of God’s gift. From eternity, the Father has bestowed the riches of his Love upon the Son as a free gift, and we yearn to participate in that inheritance. But we came to believe the utter lie that God is a tightwad, that he was keeping his gift to himself and didn’t want to fulfill the desires of our heart. We thought the only way to get what we wanted was to kill God’s Son. Oh the tragic irony: in the very act of trying to take the life we wanted, the Son was offering it to us freely – “This is my body given up for you….” Lord, show us the ways we deny your gift. Help us to repent and believe the good news of your gift to us!