A message from our Principal
This weekend’s Gospel: Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s
When the Pharisees and the Herodians brought up the issue of paying taxes to the Emperor, Jesus uttered the famous line “render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s. So what does this say about the role of government in our lives? What do we owe to the state?
Despite their flattering words, they were trying to trap him, to force him into a no-win situation.
Consider the circumstances. They are living under the iron boot of a brutal empire which filled the earth with its idolatry. Patriotic Jews longed to throw off the yoke of the tyrants. They prayed for an anointed king who would free them from the Romans as David had freed them from the Philistines. Anyone advocating collaboration with the invaders could not possibly be the hoped-for Messiah. No, he would appear as a traitor. But on the other hand, anyone preaching resistance to Rome would be branded an enemy of the Empire and would wind up suspended from a cross.
A NO-WIN SITUATION
So the Pharisees decided to put Jesus on the spot in front of the crowd. They asked him a question bound to get him into trouble one way or the other. “Is it lawful to pay taxes to the Emperor or not?” First of all, Jesus teaches us how to deal with a bogus theological question. He unmasks it for what it is, an effort to trip him up rather than an inquiry proceeding from a sincere desire to know the truth. And then, rather than letting himself be controlled and put on the spot, he takes charge of the conversation and puts the Pharisees on the spot. He answers a question with a question. “Whose head is on that coin that you have in your pocket, the coin that you are using to pay for the temporal necessities of life?” “Caesar’s.” Next Jesus says something that makes them think, much like he did with the men eager to stone the woman caught in adultery (John 8). “Then give to Caesar what is Caesar, but give to God what is God’s.” (Mat 22:15-21).
Jesus wins the battle. He transforms an attempt to make him look bad into a teaching moment recorded for all time, providing all peoples and ages with some very important food for thought.
RENDER TO CAESAR WHAT IS CAESAR’S
Government is a fact of life. Rulers, laws, police, taxes. What should a worshiper of God make of it? One thing Jesus points out to the Pharisees is that they participate in this societal infrastructure. They don’t live on a deserted island but are dependent upon the imperial system for everything from the food in the marketplace to protection from thieves. One rural community in the USA recently celebrated their independence and freedom from local taxes after seceding from the nearby township. A few days later, they were unpleasantly surprised when the town trash trucks failed to show up.
Jesus says we can’t have it both ways–if we benefit from secular society, we need to support the infrastructure of society. This can take the form of taxes, military service, jury duty, and informed, conscientious voting.
GIVE TO GOD WHAT IS GOD’S
On the other hand, Jesus says that we need to give to God what is God’s. This is the real punch line of the story. For God has given us everything. In fact, it is he who raises up kings and nations and through them provides for us. The Lord used the Babylonians to punish the stubborn disobedience of the kingdom of Judah. But when the time of exile was completed, God used the pagan Persian king, Cyrus, to break the stranglehold of Babylon and allow the Chosen People to return home. The prophet Isaiah even calls this unbeliever the messiah or anointed one! (Is 45:1-6)
But there are also times when political rulers overstep their authority. Sometimes, they demand to be worshiped, like Caesar did. Other times they attack human dignity, violating natural law which demands that innocent human life be respected and that liberty be protected. These are times when Christians have a duty boldly to insist that while Caesar is owed his due, we won’t stand by and silently watch him step on God’s toes.
(from the work of Dr Marcellino Ambrosio)
Can a student’s personality be affected by homework?
Homework may have a positive influence on students’ conscientiousness. As results of a study conducted by University of Tübingen researchers suggest, students who do more homework than their peers show positive changes in conscientiousness. Thus, schools may be doing more than contributing to students’ learning, but they may also be effecting changes of their students’ personality. The study results were published in the Journal of Research in Personality.
Previous research finds that homework effort is consistently related to student achievement. Also, conscientiousness appears to be the most important personality trait for predicting homework effort. With this connection in mind, proponents of homework have argued that the effort which students invest in their homework may have positive effects on students by influencing their conscientiousness. In their study, the Tübingen scientists investigated whether this claim holds true.
They analyzed data from a longitudinal study with 2,760 students from two different school tracks in the German states of Baden-Württemberg and Saxony. Students were initially assessed right after their transition from primary to secondary school in Grade 5. For the next three years, students were assessed annually between six and eight weeks after the start of each school year. They answered questions such as how many of their last 10 homework assignments in mathematics and German they did as well as possible. Also, they were asked how conscientious they thought they were including whether they would describe themselves as tidy or rather as messy and negligent. In addition to students’ self-reports, parents were asked to assess their children’s conscientiousness as well.
Results show that those students who invested a lot of effort in their homework between Grades 5 and 8 also profited in terms of their conscientiousness. Previous research has shown that conscientiousness tends to undergo a temporary dip in late childhood and early adolescence. As the results found by the Tübingen scientists suggest, doing your homework thoroughly and meticulously appeared to counterbalance this dip. Indeed, researchers found a substantial decrease in conscientiousness for students who reported that they had not made an effort with their homework. Those results were also backed by parents, whose reports matched those of their children.
“Our results show that homework is not only relevant for school performance, but also for personality development — provided that students put a lot of effort into their assignments,” says Richard Göllner, first author of the study. “The question whether doing your homework can also influence the development of conscientiousness has been mostly neglected in previous discussions of the role of homework,” criticizes Ulrich Trautwein, director of the Hector Research Institute of Education Sciences and Psychology. “We need to define more precisely what expectations we have of the potential of homework and how those expectations can be fulfilled.”
So…..girls at Bethany. Let’s get those great habits ingrained into our daily life so that we can become more meticulous and conscientious about what we do in school.
This week we keep in our prayers:
- Ms Nelson, who gave birth to a healthy baby girl, Harper. Mum and bub and doing well; and
- Mrs Parsons, who is recovering from injuries received in a recent serious car accident.
- Mrs Rowland who finishes up this week as she prepares for the birth of her child. We wish her a safe delivery.
We also welcome Miss Catherine Tomasulo to the staff. She will be part of the TAS faculty and will replace Mrs Rowland until the end of the year whilst she is on Maternity Leave.