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75008 Paris

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29th Sunday 22 Oct 2017

Some words by Aidan Troy [Aodhán O Troighthigh]
{Reflection only the view of the above}


At the beginning of this week, the old British one-pound coin ceased to be currency and cannot any longer be used. The Sterling pound-coin was introduced on 21st April 1983 to replace the one-pound note. This replacement coin is 12-sided and will be in use until the next one arrives.

Coins add up and are valuable. The only downside for me is bringing Kgs in bags of coins to the Bank – but, good exercise! Still, they help to keep St Joseph’s afloat. A word of thanks to all who support St Joseph’s so generously by any form of contribution.

Jesus gets a question today about a coin. But in truth it has little to do with finance. It was a plot of the enemies of Jesus, when ‘the Pharisees went away to work out between them how to trap Jesus in what he said.’ This makes me both sad and annoyed.

Bad enough to criticise any person, but to use a trap to try and bring them down is despicable. A ‘trap’ suggests an animal snare. It is one thing to set a trap to uncover evil; but to use a trap to damage a good person, like Jesus, is so sad.

Jesus turns the tables on his opponents who are out to trap him. He calls for a denarius. Jews found this coin objectionable because it had the image of the Emperor Tiberius on it and an inscription that called him the ‘son of the divine Augustus’. For ordinary business, a copper coin without any image was minted in Palestine. But, to pay the toll tax, the silver coin had to be used.

They hope Jesus is ‘trapped’ – if He affirms that the tax be paid, He would seem to be approving of idolatry; if He says don’t pay it, He will be accused of encouraging rebellion. This is a dilemma not easy to escape from. The wisdom of Jesus finds an escape route – He doesn’t solve the dilemma directly, but respects the civil order by paying, while the relationship with God is also part of our responsibility.

In the first reading there’s a discussion about who matters most in life. Isaiah uses a great phrase about God that gives the true order – ‘apart from me, all is nothing.’ This takes deep faith; it also takes trust. When a child holds onto the hand of a parent, there is security and safety. To let that hand go is terrifying to the little one. We are all children in need of a hand to hold onto. There are wonderful people who know when to reach out with a helping hand, that can be a matter of life or death.

The second part of Jesus’ response to those setting a trap, suggests that we give to God what belongs to God. There is no image on a coin that can match the image of God that is placed inside each person at the moment of their being created by God. God makes us in His image and likeness. Jesus looks at us and sees that image stamped on us for all eternity. We are one of His family.

In good times, we may find it a bit easier to appreciate that we have a spark of Divinity in us. But, looking at the mud through which refugees walk; the hunger in the eyes of children; the desperation in the pleading of those who feel lost and so much more, must make it harder to appreciate this.

All is not lost. So often ‘an angel of mercy’ in the form of an aid-worker, a rescuer in uniform recognises in them a valuable human being to whom a helping hand must be stretched out. The image of God in each of them keeps glowing even in the midst of the most terrible adversity. God must glow with delight whenever his image is recognised, not on a coin, but in a person.

In a competitive world where might is seen as right, it’s worth remembering that our interior life is the one that will last. At the end, faith will fall away – God will be seen. Hope will be redundant because we will have arrived. Love is all that is left – that is God’s name. Apart from me all is nothing!

 

StJoeParis

Saint Joseph's Catholic Church
50 Avenue Hoche
75008 Paris, France
33(0)1 42 27 28 56
stjosephparis@wanadoo.fr

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