Twenty-Ninth Sunday In Ordinary Time – Year A
October 18, 2020, 10:30 AM
Saint Cecilia Catholic Community
Deacon Sharon Kay Talley
Isaiah 45:1;4-6 | Psalm 96:1;3-10
I Thessalonians 1:1-5B | Matthew 22:15-21
+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Have you ever been asked a trick question? A trick question is difficult to answer, because there is a trap in it, and usually the obvious answer is not the correct one.
Knowledge and common sense do not help you with trick questions.
Here are some examples:
–Imagine you are in a boat surrounded by sharks around the boat. How can you save yourself? Don’t imagine the situation.
–A cowboy rode into town on Friday. He stayed’ in town for three days and rode out on Friday. How is that possible? His horse was named “Friday”
–A father and his son have a terrible car accident and the father dies on the way to the hospital. The son is severely injured and requires immediate surgery. But when he is taken to the ER, the doctor says, “I can’t operate because he’s my son.” How was this possible? The doctor was his mother
–What will you find at the end of every rainbow? The letter “w”.
In today’s Gospel from Matthew, the Herodians are trying to trick Jesus with their question, “Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?”
This question was to entrap Jesus since if he condemned the tax, He could be charged with treason, and if He condoned it, He was being unfaithful to Judaism and Roman oppression.
So, Jesus asked to see the coin which was a denarius, equal to one penny, that had the image of Caesar on it. Jesus immediately pointed out that since it was stamped with Caesar’s image, it already belonged to Caesar.
In today’s first reading from Isaiah, God had Cyrus free the Israelites and help them return to the Promised Land in order to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. Although Cyrus was a powerful king and ruler, God empowered him to free the Jewish people. Cyrus the Great is known as the patron and deliverer of the Jews. In his reign, he followed God’s request to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem and actually brought back the sacred vessels which had been taken from the First Temple. Cyrus as King of Persia conquered Babylon and liberated the Jews.
In our second reading from First Thessalonians, Paul encourages Christians to welcome the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. It was Paul, Silvanus, (known to us as Silas), and Timothy, who founded the church in the Greek city of Thessalonica around 50 AD, about 20 years after the resurrection of Jesus
Going back to our Gospel, the Pharisees, who were upset by Jesus’ Parable of the Wicked Tenants, since they felt that they were the culprit wicked tenants, planned to counterattack Jesus with a trick question.
The Pharisees were a religious party who were awaiting the arrival of the long-awaited Messiah. The Herodians were a political party who constantly fought against the Pharisees, but on this occasion, they cooperated with each other in an attempt to trap Jesus.
The Pharisees began by flattering Jesus, by describing Him as a “teacher” and” truthful man who follows God’s way”. They went so far as to bring in their political enemies, the Herodians, to join in their trap, by asking Jesus, “Is it lawful to pay tax to Caesar or not?”
When Jesus states, “Show me the coin”, He is reinforcing the fact that He does not have the emperor’s coins, they do. And when Jesus asks, “Whose image is this and whose inscription?”, they replied “Caesars.”
To this, Jesus replied, “Then give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.”
Jesus’ answer infuriated the Pharisees and Herodians since their plan had failed. When Jesus states, “Give to God what is God’s” He does not mean taxes or your vote. What God wants is your love, loyalty, and respect.
God wants us to accept His Son, Jesus, as our Savior. He wants us to devote our lives to Him and become more like Him. God is more concerned about who you are than what you do. God cares more about your character than your career. We were all created to do good works. God does not want us to be rich, powerful, selfish, or famous, but to be imitators of Jesus for peace on earth and the best possible life for everyone.
As the death penalty, gun control, and government collection of digital services to leverage technology and data become more controversial, a balance between individual freedom and governmental legislation are talking points in many conversations. It is imperative that Christians respect and honor government leaders and abide by just laws. However, Catholic Social Teaching tells us that no one has a duty to obey an unjust law. We should live as people who are free, but not use our freedom as a means to do evil. Governments are servants of God, and as such, they should assist those in need, maintain justice for all, and protect everyone’s pursuit of happiness, property, and health.
The Roman coin was stamped with the image of Caesar. But we are all made in God’s image, so do we want to serve God or false idols like Caesar, or our own greed, need for power, money, or fame?
There’s a story about an old man and his grandson who are out camping. One night, while they are sitting at a campfire near the lake, the grandfather said, “A fight is going on inside me. It is a terrible fight between two wolves. One wolf is Evil, full of anger, sorrow, greed, pity, and self-pride. The other wolf is Good, full of love, peace, kindness, and faith.”
“This great fight is going on inside of you and every person on this earth.”
Suddenly, the grandson asked, “Who won the fight?”
The old man simply smiled and said, “The one you feed.”
So, do we want to do good deeds in our lives, or evil, selfish ones?
What has God called us to do? Amen.