To Caesar or To God?

Reading I Isaiah 45:1, 4-6
Responsorial Psalm Psalm 96:1, 3, 4-5, 7-8, 9-10
Reading II 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5b
Gospel Matthew 22:15-21

Matthew 22:15-21
The Pharisees sent two of their disciples to entrap Jesus with a question, “Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?” They asked, not because they wanted to learn from Jesus, but to test him. Their only concern was to prove him wrong or to get him into trouble. Since they had not succeeded before, they returned with a question which should have made him blunder. If he agreed to pay taxes to the Romans, he would lose the sympathy of the big majority of the Jews who were fiercely nationalistic. If he did not agree to pay taxes, he would be accused before the Romans of rebellion by inciting people to disobedience. Jesus turned the trap into a teaching moment by saying, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is to God’s
Jesus exposed the questioners’ hypocrisy. It was not the love for the country that was at stake, for the Jews had already resolved the issue of paying taxes long ago by complying with the law. This charge was actually raised when Jesus was arrested but it did not stick, for no two witnesses agreed on an incriminating statement made by him. They did not look for an answer which would give them moral guidance but for a statement that would hunt Jesus for the rest of his life. People have not changed. When they ask a sensitive question, they at times do not want to hear the truth but justification of what they already do.
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