Tuesday, October 14, 2008

October 14, 2008

Today’s text

Matthew 22:15-22

Then the Pharisees went away to work out between them how to trap him in what he said. And they sent their disciples to him, together with some Herodians, to say, 'Master, we know that you are an honest man and teach the way of God in all honesty, and that you are not afraid of anyone, because human rank means nothing to you. Give us your opinion, then. Is it permissible to pay taxes to Caesar or not?' But Jesus was aware of their malice and replied, 'You hypocrites! Why are you putting me to the test? Show me the money you pay the tax with.' They handed him a denarius, and he said, 'Whose portrait is this? Whose title?' They replied, 'Caesar's.' Then he said to them, 'Very well, pay Caesar what belongs to Caesar -- and God what belongs to God.'


They thought they had you, Jesus. And I must admit it is a clever question. The Herodians supported paying the taxes to maintain favor with Roman occupiers. The Pharisees favored resisting Rome, choosing to serve God alone, not the state.

No matter how you answered you would alienate one side or the other. And you might even get yourself arrested for stirring resistance to the powers that be.

What no one expected was that your response would echo through the rest of history. I know, you were simply side-stepping your opponents’ well-laid ambush: “Give to Caesar what belong to him, and to God what belongs to God.”

But your words beg an eternal question: Just what does belong to God?

The question haunts every soul who is aware of the simple fact that they did not create themselves. What is really mine, and what belongs to the Mystery who made me and all that is?

The answer is not hard. The world and all it holds is yours, my Lord, shared with us for our joy and the service of your holy purpose. And our joy is, indeed, part of your purpose.

But the first awareness is that I am yours, all I am and have is yours, and all is to be used to honor you.

Your clever words to your opponents offer no clues about how to do that. You simply ask us to live and choose our way in light of this simple awareness: You are the Infinite Source of all that is, and all life in every moment is to savored and handled to honor you.

Know this, you say, and find your way. And know also that every soul you meet and touch today belongs also to me.

Pr. David L. Miller

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