Gentle Whisper: Absolute Loyalty
In the encounter between Jesus and the disciples of the Pharisees, they (the Pharisees) believe they will trap Jesus in a chargeable offense.
The Pharisees’ disciples pose a sensitive question: “Is it lawful to pay taxes to the Emperor, or not?”
Jesus know this is an entrapment. A malicious intent to shame him to the people as well as fishing for evidence to indict Jesus. Jesus knows that the Pharisees and their disciples wanted him to be destroy by the people through their manipulation. They use their authority and all powers in their disposal manipulating the people’s mind and emotion depicting Jesus as obstructionist to their plans so much so let the people destroy Jesus and much more their very own sins- corruption and injustices be hidden. And so, a trap, a malicious intents. “Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
Jesus instead turns the tables on them and ask for a coin. He then becomes the questioner: “Whose head is this, and whose title?”
Here, Jesus is very clear: A coin with the image of Caesar on it belongs to Caesar. A human being stamped with the image of God belongs to God. Rather than falling into the trap of the Pharisees and their lap dogs, Jesus simply tells them give “to God the things that are God’s.”
“The Pharisees met together to plot how to trap Jesus into saying something for which he could be arrested. They sent some of their disciples, along with the supporters of Herod, to meet with him. “Teacher,” they said, “we know how honest you are. You teach the way of God truthfully. You are impartial and don’t play favorites. Now tell us what you think about this: Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
But Jesus knew their evil motives.”You hypocrites!”he said. “Why are you trying to trap me? Here, show me the coin used for the tax.” When they handed him a Roman coin, he asked, “Whose picture and title are stamped on it?”
“Caesar’s,” they replied.
“Well, then,” he said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.”(Matthew 22:15-21)
Jesus established very basic jurisprudence: 1. the Kingdom he inaugurates on earth is not a rival political rule that will topple down the existing order, with its unjust and oppressive structures. Rather, God’s rule is established in people’s hearts and is meant to transform them from within, and empower them to work for a more just and humane social order.(Dianzon fsp, Bernardita)
2. Give God what rightly belongs to God. A few moments of your day. A few of your thoughts. Some observation of what is around you. Some listening for sacred sounds.(Wen-Ling Lai, Upper Room Disciplines 2017)
Our Sunday October 22 Liturgy Readings: Exodus 33:12-13; Psalm 99; I Thessalonians 1:1-10; Gospel: Matthew 22:15-21.*