Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Sunday, 22nd October 2017
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 22:15-21.
The Pharisees went off and plotted how they might entrap him 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."
Copyright © Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, USCCB
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Commentary and Reflection
Becoming a true image of God
Saint Lawrence of Brindisi (1559-1619), Capuchin, Doctor of the Church
Sermon for the 22nd Sunday after Pentecost, 2-5 ; Opera omnia 8, 335
“Therefore give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” We are to give back to each their due. Now this is a saying that is truly full of wisdom and heavenly understanding because it teaches us that there are two sorts of power, one earthly and human, the other heavenly and divine... It teaches us that we are bound in this way to a twofold form of obedience, one to human laws and the other to divine... We are to pay Caesar with the coin bearing the image and inscription of Caesar and God with what has received the seal and image of the divine likeness: “The light of your countenance, O Lord, is signed upon us” (Ps 4:7 Vg.).
We have been created in the image and likeness of God (Gn 1:26). You are a man, O Christian. So you are the money in the divine treasure-chest, a coin bearing the image and inscription of the divine emperor. From now on if I ask with Christ: “Whose image and inscription are these?”, you reply: “God's”. And I answer: “So why do you not give back to God what is his?”
If we truly want to be God's image then we must resemble Christ, since he is the image of God's goodness and “the very imprint of his being” (Heb 1:3). And God “predestined those he foreknew to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Rm 8,29). Christ truly gave back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God. He observed in the most perfect way possible the precepts contained in the two tablets of the divine law “becoming obedient unto death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:8). Thus he was adorned in the highest degree with all virtues, both manifest and concealed.