29th Sunday of Ordinary Time, the 22nd October 2017
gospel: Matthew 22:15-21
Isaiah 45:1.4-6. Psalm 96. 1Thessalonians 1:1-5b
The gospel seems to be about paying tax. Was Jesus interested in politics?
-It seems He was: He died on a cross, which was a political execution; religious execution was by stoning (cf. St. Stephen in Acts 7:58-60)
-It seems He was not, cf. His discussion with Pontius Pilates, where he feels threatened, but Jesus assures him that His Kingdom is not of this world (Jn 18:28-19:16)
Jesus preached the Kingdom
of God: it is not to replace our society, but to transform it:
-Relations are turned upside-down: last shall be first and first shall be last (Mt 19:30)
-It is another justice: more than just imposing rules, a merciful justice (Mt 5:20, Lk 11:42)
But when He preaches the
love of God in word and deed, it becomes clear that following Jesus also has
political implications. So, Jesus was a threat to the Herodians, who collaborated
with the occupying Romans.
Herodians and Pharisees were enemies, because the Pharisees sought a pure religion, strictly following the Rules without any pagan influence. Since they had a common enemy in Jesus, they became friends for one day and tried to get this Jesus out of the way.
Jesus, however, sees through their motives and unmasks both. His answer is really smart: the emperor is imprinted on the coin; give to the emperor what is his and give to God what belongs to Him (Mt 22,21).
So, what does belong to God?
All there is, according to Psalm 24.
But in this context Jesus refers here in particular to us, ourselves: just as the emperor is imprinted on the coins, thus is God’s image imprinted on each and every human being; we are created in His image! (Gn 1:27, W 2:23)
So what begins as a question about taxes, is turned into a call to give ourselves to God: “Give to God what is God’s”; He has imprinted His image upon us! Look at your neighbour: you see an image of God! Treat your neighbour as such! (cf. Mt 25:31-46) Look in the miror: you see an image of God. Give to God what belongs to God! Give yourself to God! (Rm 6:13)
-What is your first thought when you wake up? (So late already?! I don’t want to get up?) Begin the day by giving thanks: for your life and for this new day and all the opportunities it contains to receive and share and do good! Ask Him to inspire you and make you an instrument of His goodness, love and justice!
-What is the last thought when you go to bed? (God, I am tired? Or anger, anxiety?) Take a silent moment and consider where did I see God present and active today; where did He meet me? And what was my response? Thank Him! Ask for forgiveness if needed and for further growth in faith, hope and love!
-During the day: call to mind that He is with you, accompanying you, helping you and allow Him to warm your heart! And be grateful for this! (Col 3:15, 4:2)
Give to God what belongs to God! Give yourself to God by becoming more and more like Him in thinking, willing and acting (Mt 5:48); that we may be recognizable as His beloved children and thus find the lasting happiness that He wants to bestow on us all (Rom 8:15-21, 1Tim 2:4, 2Tim 2:10, 1Jn 3:1f). Amen.
V. Rev. Fr. Mark-Robin
Provincial Superior of the Passionists in the Netherlands and North Germany