As Cardinal Ratzinger pointed out in his book “Truth and Tolerance,” the episode of the burning bush was a radical departure from the other world faiths in that God identified Himself as “I AM”, affirming that He exists and is not just the preference of a culture or the figment of our imagination.
God is the creator of the universe which He holds in being by His power. He is our maker and Lord, having given us a spiritual soul so that we may love Him both here and in eternity. Our religion is not therefore a matter of taste or preference. Sometimes, people treat faith as if it were a worthy hobby, like doing a run for cancer research or walking the neighbour’s dog. For the Christian who believes the Gospel and the Creed, it is an absolute duty. It should of course be more than that, a service given out of love, but it is not a matter of pleasing ourselves.
“Jesus Christ is Lord.” For St Paul and the early Christians, that was a title given to the living God Himself. Therefore Christ is the One who rightly speaks with authority. He is the source of our being, our welfare, our holiness, and ultimately of our eternal happiness.
By giving instructions in the matter of taxation, Our Lord shows that His authority is not limited to “spiritual matters” as though His authority were restricted to an optional corner of human life. The social kingship of Christ means that we should live in all our relationships according to His will for our own good and the good of society.
In practice, the Lordship of Christ means that we should place Him before all else in our lives. When we use it of Christ, “Lord” is not an honorific title, but the recognition that His name is above all other names and that we should bend the knee at the name of Jesus. (Phil 2.9-10) His being Lord does not call for a share of our spare time, but for our total commitment and adoration.
In the Sacred Liturgy of the Church, we do what we can to offer due worship, in accord with the commands of Christ and the law of His Church. It is not about us and our preferences, but about the solemn worship of God in spirit and in truth.
We bow humbly before our Lord and God, knowing that He is merciful and rewards our imperfect efforts.
Sermon given by Fr Finigan on 19 October 2014, the 29th Sunday of the year, at Margate.