October 18, 2020
Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time A
Isaiah 45:1, 4-6; 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5b; Matthew 22:15-21
Sometimes we hear people speak of a clear division in life between the “spiritual” world and the “real” world. This is dangerous. It seems to imply that what we do in our prayers, at Mass, and in our life of faith has little or no impact on our daily existence. Also, it suggests that our ‘real’ life is more important, and more immediate, than our spirituality- our relationship with God. For the Catholic Christian believer, this is unacceptable. We believe that God touches every part of our life. God is part of our practical, daily existence as much as he is part of our prayer life. But, we could ask, then why does Jesus Himself say, in today’s Gospel: “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God”? Is this not dividing “spiritual” and “real” life? Not really. First of all, Jesus knows that he is talking to a group of people [the Pharisees] who are not there to listen, but who are trying to trap Him so that He can be arrested for breaking the law. They know that if he says they don’t have to pay the tax He will be taken prisoner by the Romans. They also know that if he does tell them to pay the tax to the emperor, He will lose credibility with the people who hate the Romans who are an occupying army in the Jewish land. His enemies are convinced that they have given Him a no-win situation. They were wrong. Jesus takes their pettiness and shows them how ridiculous it is. In holding up a coin that they themselves use to buy things, He points out that if they are not disturbed enough to purchase things with Caesar’s coin, they are being hypocrites in trying to trap Him with that same coin. St. Matthew, in his Gospel, shows us once again that the wisdom and authority of Jesus is superior to those who would reject Him. Jesus teaches us that we need to deal with daily reality, but that it is God who is master over every moment of every day. Our lives belong to Him. No matter what happens, God is part of it all. There really is no division in our life between what is spiritual and what is called ‘real’, and this is very good news indeed!