Image and Likeness
Matthew 22: 15-22
“Whose likeness and inscription is this?”
At Advent we say, “Come, Lord Jesus.” The Lord of your life is the one who receives your highest loyalty. Who is that for you?
When Jesus’ enemies asked him the loaded question about paying taxes to Caesar, Jesus asked for a coin stamped with Caesar’s image. Give to Caesar, Jesus says, the things that bear his likeness, and give to God all that bears God’s likeness. Immediately the questioners understand: every person is created in the “image and likeness” of God. Thus, the mere coin belongs to Caesar, but our lives belong to God. When the first Christians proclaimed, “Jesus is Lord,” they meant, “Caesar is not.”
There are many Caesars in our lives, and they all lay claim to our ultimate loyalty. There are Work Caesars and School Caesars and Sports Caesars; Social Caesars; Religious and Political Caesars; Family Caesars. All of these things are good, but limited. Yet all lesser goods present themselves as supreme, and because we are born with a basic human impulse to seek and serve the ultimate, we easily believe that work or social success or even church work can fulfill that deep need in our lives.
Don’t give to any Caesar, Jesus says, your one precious life. Give them a coin—whatever they are due, but don’t give them your highest gifts, “my soul, my life, my all” as the old hymn sings it. Only God can receive that ultimate donation and not deplete, but fulfill you.
Advent is a good time to ask: What counts as ultimate in my life?
Prayer: Thank you, Creator God, for giving me, a mortal, your image and likeness; what else could I do but give it back, and so receive it more? Amen