A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew.
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.”
Good News Reflection:
In this Sunday’s Gospel reading, when Jesus asks the Pharisees to tell him whose image was engraved on the coin owed for the census tax, he uses it to teach a lesson about the image that should be engraved upon our hearts. Our hearts should belong to God and to God alone.
The Romans believed that their emperors were divine. Therefore, to possess Roman coins meant carrying around the graven image of a human god. The Pharisees knew this when they challenged Jesus.
Paying the census tax to Caesar symbolized more than just submission to a foreign government. It had religious connotations. If Jesus was a true prophet, he should speak up against Jews possessing pagan coins. If he was a true messiah, he should deliver them from the oppression and taxes of the foreign government – or so they thought.
We don’t know how they happened to have the Roman coin that they showed to Jesus. If they pulled it out of their own purses, which is likely, it revealed their hypocrisy. However, Jesus wasn’t just interested in exposing their hypocrisy; he wanted to make a point about the True Messiah.
If we belong to God, Jesus is engraved upon our hearts. We have been rescued from the destruction of sin by the Messiah. We have let him deliver us from the oppression of evil that was caused by our sins.
Whose image do others see when they look at your life? When people see you, do they see Jesus engraved upon you? To the extent that they do, that’s the extent to which you belong to the kingdom of God!
Questions for Personal Reflection:
How do you know that others see Jesus in your life? What’s the evidence? What have they told you about yourself that is also a description of Christ?
Questions for Community Faith Sharing:
What are some of the ways in which Jesus has come into your life and changed you from within? How has that changed the way you live? How does this evangelize others?
Lord, give me the grace to be Your instrument of announcing the Good News. Preserve me from the sin of omission and from doing good deeds only for the appearance of being good. May all my deeds have their root in You and in my love for my neighbors. Amen.
© 2017 by Terry A. Modica