Gospel Reflection
Malvern Minute

 

TWENTY- NINTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

OCTOBER 22, 2017

ALLELUIA

Shine like lights in the world

As you hold on to the word of life.

ALLELUIA

 

 

A reading from the holy Gospel according to St. Matthew:  22: 15-21

                     Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and

                                 to God what belongs to God

 

Then the Pharisees went off and plotted how they might entrap him 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.”

The Gospel of the Lord

 

REFLECTION provided by Monsignor Joseph T. Marino

The drama found in the Gospel readings of the past few weeks between the Jewish leaders and Jesus continues, and grows in intensity.  Today, the Gospel clearly reveals that the exchange was not initiated by the religious leaders from an intellectual perspective or a desire to pursue religious truth.  Even today, there are some who attempt to disguise their disdain for Gospel truth by deceptive questioning and debates.  In reality their goal is the same as the Pharisees and Herodians in the past which was so that they might entrap him.   Their real intention is malicious, and only to discredit and not to pursue real truth.

Throughout history this passage has created many intense debates and arguments.  Enthusiasts from different perspectives have used the response of Jesus to justify their actions.  So then, what is the context, and what further insight might be drawn other than the obvious.

It is evident from the text that the Pharisees who opposed Roman taxes were the conspirators who pulled the Herodians into the mix because Herodians supported paying taxes to the Romans.  Therefore, both sides of the argument were present, and in this way, no matter how Jesus responded, some group would be angry.  The Pharisees were setting a trap that they hoped would force Jesus into a conflict either with the Roman authorities and their Herodian allies or with the general population that opposed the taxation. 

In a back-handed way, while the Pharisees sarcastically offered to flatter Jesus, they inadvertently were acknowledging Jesus as a truthful man and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.  In a cleaver way, Saint Matthew had the enemies of Jesus proclaim Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life!   Jesus is the Truth of God, the teacher who reads hearts and who is not concerned with anyone’s opinion, for you (Jesus) do not regard a person’s status.   Therefore, as the Pharisees predict, Jesus reads their hearts and exposes their hypocrisy by asking for the coin that pays the census tax.  

The Roman Coin bore the image of Caesar and the inscription: Tiberius Caesar, son of the divine Augustus, high priest.  The very possession of this image by a Jew was a sacrilege – a grave act of idolatry!  The Pharisees and their co-conspirators produced the coin which implied their use of the Roman coins and their bearing of graven images of a pagan god. 

Jesus takes the failed plot to trap him, and turns it into a powerful revelation concerning one’s indebtedness to God.  If the coin bears the image of Caesar, then give the coin back to Caesar.  However, if you are made in the image and likeness of God (which you are), then give yourself – your total self to God.  The Romans expected the tax to be paid in full.   Does God not have the right to expect that we acknowledge our complete indebtedness to Him, and to render to God the fullness of ourselves!

How blessed we are; how sacred we are in both body and soul for we are made in the image and likeness of God!  The Gospel boldly encourages us to reflect on who we are, and in turn, it demands that we acknowledge whose we are!  We are the hand-mades of God; we are the baptized immersed in Christ; we are the temples of the Holy Spirit!  We belong to God, and in turn, we are to give to God all we are!

Does our daily prayer acknowledge how God has gifted us?  Does our life render praise and thanks to our generous God?

 

ENCOUNTERING THE DIVINE PHYSICIAN, JESUS CHRIST

HEALING OF THE PARALYTIC (LUKE 5: 17-26)

Consider joining the Men and Women of Malvern by deepening your personal relationship with Jesus and your commitment as a disciple through a weekend retreat.  See our website for details: MalvernRetreat.com

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