Sunday, October 22
Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Matthew 22: 15 – 21
The Pharisees went off
and plotted how they might entrap Jesus in speech.
They sent their disciples to him, with the Herodians, saying,
“Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man
and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.
And you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion,
for you do not regard a person’s status.
Tell us, then, what is your opinion:
Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?”
Knowing their malice, Jesus said,
“Why are you testing me, you hypocrites?
Show me the coin that pays the census tax.”
Then they handed him the Roman coin.
He said to them, “Whose image is this and whose inscription?”
They replied, “Caesar’s.”
At that he said to them,
“Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar
and to God what belongs to God.”
There were some scientists and biologists who thought they had found the secret to life. They decided to tell God that he was no longer needed. They said they could create life also. God said, “well, I created life from a handful of dirt.” They said we could too. Then they picked up a handful of dirt and started to show God what they could do. God said to them, “…wait just a minute, before you get started, create your own dirt.”
Just as the modern day “know it all” scientists and biologists try to out -smart God, so we see this type of attitude in thisweekend’s gospel. The enemies of Jesus thought they really had Jesus in trouble this time. As you will hear in the gospel, the “know it all” Pharisees and Herodians will try to out-smart Jesus by asking him if they should pay taxes. Jesus’ answer to their question is well known, “…repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.” Jesus avoids getting caught in their trap.
When we hear Jesus tell the Pharisees (as well as all of us), he shows us that God does not come knocking on our doors when we do not give him what we owe him like the tax collector. However, nothing is more important than our relationship with God. Some day we will leave behind all the things that we think are so important, and the only thing we will have left is the love for God and for others that we have demonstrated in our daily lives.
We may get in trouble with the law if we do not give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, but we have the most to lose if we do not give back to God the things that are God’s. Our eternal happiness!
Deacon Frank Iannarino