Reflection for Wednesday, June 3, 2020: 9th week in Ordinary Time.

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Lierk, Kyle
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|I remember once meeting someone in my formative college years who refused to pay taxes because of his disagreements with how the government was choosing to use those funds. He claimed his retirement plan was to write a book from prison once he was arrested for tax evasion. To my 19 year-old ears, this was confusing and curious all at the same time. I remember thinking, "But I saw him pull up in a car that traveled on roads that were maintained by taxes. And wouldn't his prison 'retirement plan' be heavily funded by taxpayers? How can he both benefit from, while also rejecting, the system in which we all live?" My brain was all tied in a knot.|Perhaps I would have felt the same if I was in the crowd on the day depicted in today's Gospel passage. Some political and religious leaders approach Jesus and try to "ensnare" him in his own teachings. They shower him with empty platitudes and then spring the question on him, "Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?" In his typical way, Jesus cooly calls them out on their antics ("Why are you testing me?") and flips the script by asking them to present a coin ("Whose image and inscription is this?").|We form our students at Creighton to embrace in their hearts the awesome awareness and utterly humbling reality that they are each made in the image and likeness of God. "This is my beloved child in whom I am well pleased." As I read today's Gospel and consider this theological lens, I can't help but wonder, "What can I look to in my life, like Jesus asked the leaders to do with that coin, and see the 'image and inscription' of God?" And then, once I have taken this inventory, face the harder question: "Am I repaying 'to God what belongs to God'?"|While I could wax poetic about "finding God in all things," looking around my currently isolated life at home, it really boils down to a few "currencies" that truly hold God's image and inscription -- God's imprint: my wife...our dog...the natural world on which our home rests and…(perhaps the hardest to see) my own embodied existence that can often feel both messy and glorious all at once.|As my wife and I lean into the grand "Yes!" of our vocation to marriage with the multiple, smaller, daily "yeses," we are embracing the stance that Fr. Anthony deMello, S.J. recommends we take with God: "Behold the One beholding you, smiling." As our dog pursues us with unapologetic love, affection and acceptance, I witness Thompson's depiction of the Divine as a "hound of heaven." As I watch the four locust trees planted by the original owner of this home standing like sturdy sentinels through multiple human lifespans, the cardinals and bluejays flit and flurry in feathery exuberance, and the seasons break through on the heels of one another in some sacred square dance, I am humbled by God's creative composition. And as I gaze with gentle eyes at the ways in which I live out this human adventure (some days better than others), I see the Divine author continuing to pen the story of my life.|After all of this embracing, witnessing, watching and gazing, it is then time to do what Jesus asks: repay to God what is God's! But how? I have found that the greatest way to provide God the "return on investment" for this abundance of gift is through the ways in which I choose to share and engage these wonderful treasures for "the greater glory of God" and in an effort to bring reconciliation to our world.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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