October 19, 2014: 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
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.” (Matthew 22:15-21)
The Jews and Romans didn’t like each other very much. One topic they argued about was taxes. Hoping to trap Jesus in a mistake, the Pharisees asked if it was lawful to pay taxes to the emperor or not. They thought Jesus would be in trouble no matter how he answered.
Jesus’ direction is direct and simple: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, but give to God what is God’s.”
In the future you will be faced with having to make many decisions, not the least of
which is distinguishing between the demands of government and the commands of God.
It is a good idea to develop now a habit of thinking carefully before making decisions.
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