In today’s Gospel (Matt 22:15-21), the Pharisees are trying to trip up Jesus. They wanted to get rid of him, kill him or at least put him in jail. He was a troublemaker for them.
They thought they would get Jesus in big trouble by asking him about the census tax. Should a Jewish person pay the census tax to Caesar? If Jesus said YES to pay the tax, then he would be breaking the Jewish law. The Romans regarded Caesar as a pagan god. So paying the tax to the pagan Roman Emperor was breaking the Law of Moses.
If Jesus said NO, don’t pay the tax, then he’d be breaking the Roman law by avoiding the paying of the tax to the Romans. How Jesus could come up with the answer he did in a second or two we’ll never know. His answer is still used today many times.
Jesus asks for a Roman coin and asks the Pharisees: “Whose image is on the coin?” They respond: “Caesar’s.” “Then give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and give to God what belongs to God.”
So the Roman coins belonged to Caesar and U.S. coins and bills have dead presidents on them, so we must pay our taxes every April 15th.
Who has God’s image stamped on them? You and I do. We are made in the image and likeness of God. By the very nature of who we are, we need to give back to God because we belong to God. This is what I try to do – “Give back to God,” not because I’m a priest or I’m so holy. I want to “Give back to God,” because I’m made in God’s image and I belong to God.
Some friends of mine live on the first floor of a condo building. One day a baseball came flying through their picture window. My friends immediately got ahold of the boy who broke their picture window. They got his name, phone number, address and the names of his parents.
When they called and reached the boy’s parents, his parents promised that they would pay for replacing the window. But both of them were out of work and it would take a while.
My friends went ahead and replaced the picture window, paying with their own money. They simply could not wait and wait.
Several months went by and Thanksgiving was coming. They called the boy’s parents to see about their paying for the window. They seemed sincere and they said they would certainly pay for the window, but they had been sick and still without work. So it would have to be a few more months.
Without pressing them any further about payment, my friends for some reason said, “I’m heading to the grocery store to buy food for Thanksgiving. Can I buy you what you need?”
“I can’t believe you’re saying that,” the woman replied, “We need everything.”
My friends went to the store and bought two of everything and dropped off the bags full of groceries at the home of the boy who broke their picture window. How could they possibly do something like that? They knew who they were. They knew who they belonged to. They knew what Jesus would do today. When they got out of the shower they read the label that was always on them – MADE BY GOD.
Thanks to Karolina Grabowska for the picture.
Question: How do YOU think the boy’s unemployed parents felt getting bags full of groceries from people they owed money to?
Question: Which of the two families had the greater joy on Thanksgiving? How YOU answer this question will tell YOU a whole lot about the person that YOU are.
THOSE WHO LEAVE EVERYTHING IN GOD’S HANDS WILL EVENTUALLY SEE GOD’S HAND IN EVERYTHING!
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