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Myanmar Catholic Church
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29th Sunday

God is Supreme – Country is the family of Brothers and Sisters – Fratelli Tutti

Sermon Preached by Cardinal Charles Maung Bo., SDB, Archbishop Yangon, Myanmar.



First Reading:   Isaiah   45: 1,4-6   I have called you   by your Name

Second Reading:   1 Thess   1:1-5   Calling to Mind faith, love and hope

Gospel: Mathew 22: 15-21: Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In the name of Jesus, Greetings to all of you.

God is everywhere.  God is in our family. God is in Us.  Let the omnipresent God bless you all as you participate in this liturgy.

To all of you enjoying good health, praise be to God. To those of you for whom life is becoming a greater challenge, let me assure you with the words of Jesus: Be not be afraid, I am with you always. 

To those of you under the challenges of health and the anxiety of the pandemic, my prayer is the Prayer of Jesus: Be Healed.  Jesus is the Lord.

To those of you faced with great challenges to Livelihood and face everyday challenges, my prayer is to Jesus, who multiplied five loaves and distributed to the poor, inspire good souls to come and share the bread with all who seek daily bread, during these days of lockdown and stay home.

To those families and friends who fell into the grip of this virus and those struggling in quarantine, let our prayer be:  Jesus who cured the long-suffering woman when she touched his garments, be our healer.   Let the faith of the mustard seed move your mountains of anxiety and fear.

To all the front-line workers and volunteers, who day after day, sacrifice their own security for the welfare of the sick and infected, let Jesus words be “I was suffering, you came to console me,’ be the sweet words of consolation.

The Pope has asked us to pray “kneeling and with tears” Let us stretch our hands to pray for this darkness of Pandemic to go away from the family of humanity.  Let us continue   our prayers.

Today’s readings deal with the role of the government in God’s plan.   The first reading talks of King Cyrus, though a pagan was called into God’s plan.  Cyrus is not Jewish and does not worship the God of Israel, he is nevertheless portrayed in Isaiah as an instrument of God — an unwitting conduit through which God effects his divine plan for history.    Our faith believes that God is in charge this world and the rulers of this world are instruments in God’s kingdom.  We are called upon to respect rulers as much as they implement common good.   

This aspect has been amplified during the Pandemic crisis.  The government and the people need to work together.  A government that works for the greater good for the greater number of people is really reflecting God’s will.   Many countries in the world implement this God’s plan during these days.      

In today’ Gospel Jesus faces the question:  Should he obey Caesar?  Or God.   The Israel of Jesus time was colonized by a big power Rome ruled by Caesar.  He looted Israel through his cronies – the Herodians.    They taxed the poor and extracted all the wealth and took them to Rome.   The Pharisees want to trap Jesus: If he were to say obey Caesar then he could be accused of supporting a colonizer; if he were to say refuse to pay the taxes, he could be accused of being a rebel and condemned to death.  Jesus handled it with tact asking them to show the Roman Coin which showed Cesar on one side.   Jesus ended the conversation with the words:  Give to Cesar what he is worth; Give to God what is meant to be given.

That is our challenge today:    What is the role of government in our life especially during these very challenging times? What is the role of God in our lives?   

Pope Francis has warned through the Encyclical, Covid is not a punishment but a warning.  Warning to the world leaders to avoid wrong priorities.  The pandemic has brought injustice to the poor and the vulnerable.   The role of modern day Cesar is not to wage war, worry about national security, but to worry about human security.   Human beings, the Pope says, are created in God’s image.  We cannot dispose of human beings as waste; as some countries allowed the old people to die, some countries could not reach out to the poor.  Modern day Caesars are interested in war, in creating huge armies, using people’s money to buy arms but forgot to develop a healthy community.   When Jesus says, give unto Caesar Jesus is clear. The modern-day governments have not only rights, but they have duty to the people.  People belong to God. Citizens may belong to a country.  But God is the sovereign of all as Prophet Isaiah says:

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

Rulers of any nation have rights based only on duty.   Jesus was telling the people if Caesar looked after God’s people, he had a right to collect taxes and maintain an army. His main duty is to protect the people, not his own rule.

Pope Francis talked about the rich nations and their response to Covid.   He said the COVID exposed the injustices in the world.  An economic system that is anti-poor. According to him people were already suffering permanent pandemics like poverty, war and displacement.   Governments that fail people have lost the trust of God. When they lose the trust of God then they become authoritarian.     A government is legitimate when it thinks about the greater good of the greater number of people. Most of the governments are exposed during the pandemic:  They sided with the rich and the powerful.  The COVID virus exposes this hypocrisy.  It infects all. The rich and the poor. The ruled and the ruler. The super power and poor country.   Pope says the Pandemic calls for a new type of Cesar: a Cesar who will worry more about the health of the people rather than the health of the stock market.   A Cesar who will invest more in health and welfare than in arms and weapons, a new Cesar who will train more doctors and nurses than having huge armies.    They will work for building peace. They will treat everyone as a human being with dignity.   They will not discriminate based on religion or race. (Covid is teaching a lesson in nondiscrimination – all people are victims to Covid, no race, no religion, no class).

Like all leaders, we do hope, our country leaders will rise up to God’s expectation, planning for a new Myanmar of peace and prosperity.   We are looking forward to a new Myanmar where the resources are at the service of the people.  The people become the center of all activity.  Let us hope the coming election may bring leaders who fulfill God’s will on earth.   Let us continue pray that the leaders of this nation may have the courage to destroy the permanent pandemics of poverty, war, displacement, human trafficking and all that evils that keep us poor and vulnerable.    We do hope Myanmar leaders will build a post Covid Myanmar, where every one will be brothers and sisters, Fratelli Tutti.   We are of the same blood. We are proud sons and daughters of this golden land.  Let the minds of Cesar’s be inspired to give birth to such Myanmar. 

That much for the rulers:

But Jesus tells the Pharisee another directive:  Give unto God what is God’s.   the Pharisees were silent because they did not know.  But in Jesus we know. God demands only two things: Love God, Love one another.    This is the commandment that comes to us: Love God, show that love in action. 

That is what is happening in Myanmar   last six months.   There is a threat of food insecurity.   There are many generous souls who are distributing food. There are many who are sent to the quarantine center, the families cannot go near to look after them. There are hundreds of volunteers, mostly youngsters who sacrifice their own safety to be with the sick people.   Think of all the front-line workers:  they throw their safety and the safety of their families   and go near the infected people every day. They are the supreme example of ‘Giving unto God what God’s” Yes, we are moved by their testimonies and witnesses.  Life becomes meaningful when we read about these great sacrifices.   God continues to be present among us.

But amidst all these the devil is also active.  The devil of hatred.   Most of the Myanmar people are animated by compassion and mercy.    We have seen great heroism in every religion of Myanmar in extending the services.  Compassion is our common religion, suffering is the only identity now.  But we stand together, reaching out to all others.   Covid did not discriminate in infecting people, religions and races in Myanmar should not discriminate in saving people.  Our blood is same; our tears are same.  We are all Fratelli Tutti – Brothers and Sisters.


But some leaders, including some religious leaders are only worried about their own people.  Even amidst this great pandemic, they are indulging in hate speeches, looking for scapegoats.  Let us look at the face of our suffering our country men and women. Let us not look into the Facebook where the devil is spreading hatred.

These are touch times: tough times need tough faith, unceasing prayers.  It is not the vaccine that would ultimately drive away the Covid, but the mighty hand of God.   Our condition today is like the conditions of the Thessalonians that are mentioned in the second reading: They had all the suffering but Paul exhorts them to live in Faith, hope and love. 

Yes.  With outstretched arms, let us pray:  Amidst this encircling darkness oh, Lord, help us to live in

Faith, Hope and Love!!!

Faith in a living and love God

Hope in the end of all evil in this world, including the evil of Pandemic

Love as the way of life amidst all the challenges, let us fall in love, stay in love. 

Thank you,

Stay safe and stay blessed!




2020-10-19 20:06:04