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what is good

An autobiography published by singer and songwrite, Dion Dimucci, under the title The Wanderer Talks, reveals a very different person from the young man who brought out hit songs like Runaround Sue and The Wanderer back in 1959 and 1961.

His reflections in his autobiography portray him in his youthful heyday, as the king of the disco, dabbling in the drug world and other excesses of life, as being a strange bedfellow for man who today runs a ministry to prisoners and drug addicts and stands at the communion rails on a regular basis.

In the gospel reading for the day, we also see some strange bedfellows in the Pharisees and the Herodians, but while Dimucci never set out to trap anyone, the Pharisees and the Herodians are looking to catch Jesus out in a riddle.

They dream up a question about paying taxes to the colonial Roman government and couch in words so that no matter which way Jesus answers they will catch him out. However, Jesus is up to the mark, asking them for a coin and inquiring whose head is imprinted on the back.

The insidious question and the clever query Jesus throws back at them are not about the separation of Church, or religion, and state, but a continuation of the theme of the readings in our Sunday liturgies over the past two weeks of who owns the vineyard. Or, who do the resources of the earth belong to?

The followers of Jesus know that “the earth is the Lord’s and all it holds” (Psalm 24:1). This takes the conversation out of the realm of politics and into the areas of the relationship between God and all of creation. Everything is of God and we are called to live in such a way that honours this profound truth.

Dimucci was born into a rather disinterested Catholic family, but later in life he rekindled the fledgling roots of the faith that he had received as a child and went back into the fathers of the Church to seek a new wisdom in the old.

He discovered St. Jerome, who was actually a grumpy old man. His nickname was The Thunderer and Dimucci wrote a song in later life taking this as the title.

Just as Jesus was called on to look past the thunder of the Pharisees and Herodians, and see the truth of their plotting and planning, Dimucci looks past the thunder of St. Jerome to see the beauty of the wisdom that he spoke.

In a 2007 interview, Dimucci spoke of the impact that the Church fathers have had on his life. “It was wonderful, man, just to read this ancient wisdom that came down through the Church, for the last 2,000 years… Its just beautiful. Its like a love letter to me.”

Speaking at a study afternoon on eastern Catholic spirituality, Father Olexander Kenez said that we should not zero in on the failings of any person, but look behind that into the beauty that God has created in his own image and likeness, and search for the goodness in every person.

That is what Dimucci has done and that is what Jesus challenged the Pharisees and Herodians to do.