Fr Vincent's reflections on the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
“Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and give to God what is God’s.” We have all heard Jesus’s words, but do we fully understand and apply them to our lives?
Watch the Video: Fr Vincent's reflections on the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Read the text:
29th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2020
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. R/. Amen.
The Grace and Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. R/. And with your spirit.
On this 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, let us pray:
Almighty ever-living God,
grant that we may always conform our will to yours
and serve your majesty in sincerity of heart.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. R/. Amen.
As before, if you don’t have your Bible with you, please pause this video to retrieve your Bible so you can follow along. The Gospel today is Matthew 22:15-21.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew
The Pharisees went off
and plotted how they might entrap Jesus in speech.
They sent their disciples to him, with the Herodians, saying,
“Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man
and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.
And you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion,
for you do not regard a person’s status.
Tell us, then, what is your opinion:
Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?”
Knowing their malice, Jesus said,
“Why are you testing me, you hypocrites?
Show me the coin that pays the census tax.”
Then they handed him the Roman coin.
He said to them, “Whose image is this and whose inscription?”
They replied, “Caesar’s.”
At that he said to them,
“Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar
and to God what belongs to God.”
The Gospel of the Lord. R/. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
We have heard and possibly used this famous quote from Jesus: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and give to God what is God’s.” It is a good quote to try to separate our earthly life from our spiritual life, or just about anything we don’t like from what we do like! But is this really what Jesus wants to teach? We need to look at the whole story to see exactly how you and I should apply this teaching.
The Pharisees saw that the Jewish people were enamored with Jesus, which was turning the people against them, their religious leaders. So, knowing the people hated the Roman occupation government more than anything else, the Pharisees wanted to use Jesus’ pacifism against him. They knew Jesus obeyed the law, even Roman law, so they saw this as a way to turn the people against Jesus. If Jesus said pay the tax, the people would hate him for kneeling to the Romans, and if Jesus said don’t pay the tax, the Romans could arrest him for insurrection. The Pharisees thought they couldn’t lose!
Or course, Jesus outsmarts them, basically by saying Roman coins belong to the Empire, so this should not matter to God’s Chosen People. Yet, this is just the surface answer for what Jesus is teaching, and the Pharisees missed the true teaching. We can too!
We can get so caught up in our day-to-day life, (I certainly find that happening to me very often), that our spiritual life, our relationship with God, gets the tail end of our attention. We want to give God better than second hand moments, so we think, “let me finish this, then I can give undivided attention to God.” However, one earthly event leads to another and then to another. And even though we don’t want to give God second hand moments, that ends up being exactly what happens.
What Jesus has said is that earthly concerns are of minor significance to people of faith. God deserves our first and best attention. So, give the second hand moments to this world, and give our best to God. God, and not this world, has given us life; God has given us earthly blessings, true enough, but only to help us reach heaven. So, if we give our best to this world and what is second hand to God, we are not giving to Caesar what is Caesar’s, but actually the opposite. We miss it because we think we are saving the best for last, but in truth, we wear ourselves out on the insignificant stuff and have little left when it comes to God.
Thus, Jesus is teaching: If I claim that God is first in my life, then God gets the first of everything I have, and this world gets the leftovers. But if I put more time and energy into this world, then I am displaying that God is not first for me. “Caesar,” this world, gets what belongs to God, and God gets what belongs to “Caesar”! So then, who is truly first for me? The answer, whether I like it or not, is: whoever gets my best. I pray that you and I can learn truly to give to God what belongs to God – our all!
The Lord be with you. R/. And with your spirit.
And may the blessing of almighty God,
the Father, and the Son, ✠ and the Holy Spirit,
come down on you and remain with you for ever. R/. Amen.