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Our Gospel this Sunday is a good example of the saying: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” In this Gospel we see the Pharisees joining forces with the Herodians in an effort to entrap Jesus on the question of paying the census tax to Caesar. The two groups would have been very unlikely allies. The Herodians would have favored paying the census tax to Caesar, while the Pharisees would have opposed this. And yet these two groups united to approach Jesus with the question: “Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?” Jesus was in a tough spot. If he said yes to paying the tax he would lose standing with those who opposed the Roman occupation of Israel. If he said no, he could be seen as an insurrectionist. Jesus, though, shrewdly sidestepped the question by asking to see the coin used to pay the census tax. (In asking to see the coin he sends the clear message that he himself did not have such a coin.) When given the coin Jesus asked “Whose image is this and whose inscription?” They replied “Caesar’s.” Jesus then said; “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” While the coin bore the image of Caesar, the unasked question in this exchange is “What bears the image of God, and therefore needs to be given to God?” The answer of course is us. We are all made in the image and likeness of God.
Our first reading this weekend is from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. In the section we read this Sunday God uses King Cyrus --- who was not Jewish --- to reestablish Israel. He tells Cyrus: “I have called you by your name, giving you a title, though you knew me not.” This reminds us that God can call and choose anyone to achieve God’s purpose.
Our second reading this weekend contains the opening verses of the first Letter of Saint Paul to the Thessalonians. After an opening greeting Paul thanks the Thessalonians for their “work of faith and labor of love and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ………...”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
1. Do you see yourself as belonging to God because you are created in God’s image?
2. Have you ever felt that God had used you to bring about God’s will?
3. If someone followed you around for a day would they be able to recognize and thank you for your work of faith and labor of love and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ?