Then they sent to him some Pharisees and some Herodians to trap him in what he said. And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality, but teach the way of God in accordance with truth. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?”
But knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why are you putting me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me see it.” And they brought one. Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” They answered, “The emperor’s.” Jesus said to them, “Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were utterly amazed at him.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
As a grade school teacher, one of my pet peeves was when students would answer a question with another question. Often times teachers ask a question with a particular answer in mind, and I would find myself frequently saying, “We don’t answer questions with questions.”
This is exactly what Jesus does today in the Gospel, he answers with a question. The question put to Jesus was one that was meant to entrap him and he saw right through the trickery. So often today we see debates and arguments occurring, especially online. More often than not these debates are heated and nasty.
When we go searching for clear answers like the Pharisees and Herodians (and me as teacher), we turn off our ability and willingness to understand the other. And really, isn’t that what Jesus’ ministry is all about? The real question being asked here is, are you giving what is due to God’s kingdom by living a life that seeks understanding rather than one that judges?
Lord, open our hearts to a greater understanding of those who disagree with us. Help us to see others as you see them, and to let you alone be the judge of our behavior. Teach us to love as you love.
—The Jesuit prayer team
Please share the Good Word with your friends!