Sunday, October 16, 2011

Render unto Caesar

Mt 22,15-21
I have always admired the cleverness of the Lord, especially in his repartee with His enemies in today’s Gospel. The Herodians and Pharisees, two parties at the opposite ends of the political spectrum, have put aside their differences in order to unite in common hatred of the upstart rabbi from Nazareth who threatens the established order and their own various spheres of influence. After hypocritically complementing Him on His sincerity (and divine intelligence is not needed to see through that one!), they ask Him if it is right to pay taxes to Caesar. If He said “no”, then the Herodians, who were sympathetic to the Roman occupation, would report Him to the authorities. But if He said “yes”, then the Pharisees would denounce Him as a collaborator and erode His popularity with the crowds. And we know how well He sidestepped this trick, saying that they should “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s”. But I imagine that as Jesus looked after His departing, vanquished foes, His heart must have been grieved. How He longed to give them that Wisdom which leads to eternal life, and there they were just seeking to preserve their own narrow vision of reality as well as their selfish interests. But it is also easy for us to paddle about in the same shallow waters. Let us rather determine to follow Bl. John Paul’s exhortation to “go out into the deep” by setting aside petty projects of self-promotion and focusing our attention on the greatness of God’s love and the glorious joy that lies before us.

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