Dear Brothers and Sisters,
At Father Flanagan’s Boys Town in Omaha, Nebraska there was a kid who was carrying another one and was asked by a visitor, “Isn’t he heavy?” His response was. “No, he is not heavy, he is my brother.” This became the impetus of a song that you and I have heard many times. The meaning behind it was that God has been so good to me that I can’t help but carry someone else.
This labor of love is similar to what the Thessalonians showed Paul and Silvanus. Paul is grateful for the faith and charity shown to them. Paul saw in them good habits in their work and patience for building up the Kingdom of God. Paul and Silvanus had just escaped from prison because of an earthquake that opened the gates. The jailer saw this miracle and he and his whole family were baptized that night. God acted and for sure it must have been on their mind. Peace is the result of knowing what God has done for us, not on what we do for him.
The Pharisees heard only what they wanted to hear, which might be true for many of us. There is something right about a person who has such strong negative reactions from people of so many different stances. He is not tricked by their complements which are only being used to test him or even kill him. Since either way he answers the question about paying the census tax to Caesar he is in trouble.
However, Jesus provides a reality check. He says to them, “Show me the coin.” If we are good observers and look deeply we can see how each thing bears within itself its true identity. Jesus asks, “Whose icon is this and who’s inscription?” He doesn’t judge by externals but by the divine image in every soul. Genesis tells us that God created us in his own image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them.
Even now Christ acts with mercy; he knows their malice but he knows they also have this image deep inside of them that he hopes will be recovered. Christ wants to restore that image buried under the ruble of our sins. Our main mission as a Christian is to allow God to heal the damaged image of him in our soul. This hoped for transformation into this divine image is seen in every gospel. Give what you have to the world; give what you are to God. All of salvation history can be summed up by this image: retrieve this divine likeness that went astray.
The last sentence of this gospel as it is in the Bible says that the Pharisees heard Jesus’ answer, they marveled at it and went away. It seems like they are extinguishing the light of God’s image in them. The Pharisees are too self-satisfied to feel this hunger for God, like we ourselves at times. Christ can use any situation, even our sins, to enter your heart and restore that image.