It is commonly known that the Pharisees despised Jesus and over and again in the Gospels we see many instances where they try to cause trouble for Jesus.
Today’s Gospel proclamation gives a detailed recount of such an intense effort from the Pharisees’ to entrap the Lord. The Pharisees could not have chosen a better time, with the presence of the Herodians, the ones who held the political powers in Israel at that time, to ask the crafty question ‘Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?’
In whatever way Jesus chose to answer this question, he would have been at fault, either with the Pharisees or with the Herodians. Yet our Lord sees right through the carefully crafted plan of the Pharisees and makes it an opportunity to drive an important message home: ‘repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.’
In saying so, Jesus did not deny the civil duty of the time but emphasised that there is more to life than what the Pharisees were focusing on. Our highest priority should be to serve God and give him what is due: ‘give to God what belongs to God.’
We, who are made in God’s own image, therefore, belong to God fully and completely but are we living in this beautiful awareness? When the Pharisees looked at the coin, they had no trouble in recognizing Caesar’s image and did not object to what Jesus had to say to them.
In the same way, when someone looks at us, can they see the face of God through our countenance? Can I see God’s face shining through me when I look into the mirror every morning? Do my thoughts, words and actions reflect the image of God? Are we ready to give ourselves in service to God because we know that we belong to him?
These are challenging questions that would test us beyond our imagination, but we are reminded in today’s second reading of our inheritance, that came to us ‘not merely in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction.’
As sons and daughters of God, let us hold fast to our inheritance and live in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Today, we may be confined to a limited understanding of our worth and value, defined by our successes and failures and shaped by the words of the world around us, but the word of God is spoken anew over us, reaffirming our identity as God’ children, chosen and set apart, so that we may stand firm and offer our lives in service to the one whom we belong.
Prayer: Abba Father, we stand before you, ready and willing to be sent forth as a light unto the world. Amen.