Matthew 22: 15-21
Jesus in this passage is described as someone who is not ‘swayed’ by other people, a person of integrity who teaches ‘the way of God in accordance with the truth’. And yet the Pharisees and the Herodians join forces and set out to trap Jesus, beginning with insincere compliments which lead into the question of paying taxes to Caesar or not. Jesus is shrewd knowing that either answer of a yes or a no would lead him into trouble of some kind with those waiting to hear how he might respond. Taking the coin Jesus asked them whose head was on it?
Then in his answer the Pharisees and Herodians are told to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s. Caesar’s head maybe printed on a coin but all creation is God’s. They are to make sure not to give to Caesar what is God’s! Give to God all that is God’s, they are told. What then do we understand to give to God what is of God? In the previous accounts in Matthew 21 we are reminded in the parables as to some of what is of God – God’s generosity, God’s understanding, God’s goodness, God’s patience. Give to God all that is God’s.
What is of God is of such importance that we cannot make concessions about any of it. It has to do with love. God’s ways are about forgiveness and love, generosity and friendship, all that builds up the Kingdom of God. Jesus challenges us in this Sunday’s Gospel reading to examine our priorities and how they are for God and about God.
Edel Murphy O.P.