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Friday, October 14, 2011


       (Matthew 22:15-21)

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            Because Israel was under the Roman Empire during the time of Jesus, the Israelites had to pay a tribute to the Roman Emperor in form of taxes.  They were forced to pay being a conquered nation but they could not expect social services in return. For the nationalistic Jews, payment was an offence to Israel yet refusal to pay would be a form of rebellion.
          When he was asked by the Pharisees and the Herodians about the lawfulness of paying the census taxes to the Roman emperor, Jesus was actually being led into a trap.  Either which way, Jesus’ response would anger both the Romans and the Israelites.  It was a very difficult dilemma for Jesus but his response stunned his hearers: “Render to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” 
          It may seem to appear that it was a political question on payment of taxes but the truth is the question was meant to destroy Jesus.  When Jesus asked for a coin, they gave him a denarius which bore the face of Caesar.  It means that they were carrying the Roman coin and they knew they had to pay the taxes so there was actually no need to ask the question. Here is a concrete example when people maliciously use religion to destroy other people.
          In human relationships, how often do we use such tricks for entrapment?  Like the Pharisees some people use seemingly kind words which may appear charitable to the other person but in reality they are like poisoned arrows ready to pin down an enemy.   They are, just like the Pharisees, masters of hypocrisy.  We have to be very careful how to deal with them.  Sometimes we have also to be aware that it is us who are in their shoes.
          The response of Jesus is a wisdom to ponder on:  It is the standard of justice.  Yes we give our due to the government in forms of taxes, we cast votes during election, etc the failure of which is detrimental to us.  Because God is just, he gives what is due to us in terms of the blessings that we receive.  But how much do we give what is due to God?   He does not need anything because he is complete unto himself.  But he wants us to give him something which is due to him: our adoration, praise, love and fidelity.  One very concrete way of giving what is due to God is our rendezvous with him every Sunday in the Eucharist.  If we can spend long hours on movies, TV, sports, shopping, why can we not spend an hour with him on Sundays?  We also give what is due to God by living good lives that will reflect back his goodness to the world.  We do not just avoid doing evil; we become God’s ambassadors of goodwill through our good works which change the lives of others as well as our own.   One very meaningful ritual that we can do before going to bed every night is to examine our consciousness and ask ourselves “What good have I done today?”   If we can honestly say that we have done at least one good deed during the day, then we are justified in living out the borrowed time that was lent to us by God for the day.  We can sleep at peace with our self and God knowing that we did not live the day in vain. 


  1. I want to sleep at peace every night Fr. Vlad! Thank you for this wonderful homily. I will post and share with the Prayer Brigade Group. Ate L