Father Edward McIlmail, LC
Some Pharisees and Herodians were sent to Jesus to
ensnare him in his speech. They came and said to
him, "Teacher, we know that you are a truthful
man and that you are not concerned with anyone´s
opinion. You do not regard a person´s status but teach
the way of God in accordance with the truth.
Is it lawful to pay the census tax to
Caesar or not? Should we pay or should we not
pay?" Knowing their hypocrisy he said to them, "Why
are you testing me? Bring me a denarius to
look at." They brought one to him and he said
to them, "Whose image and inscription is this?" They
replied to him, "Caesar´s." So Jesus said to them,
"Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God
what belongs to God." They were utterly amazed at
Introductory Prayer:Lord, I come before you humbly. As
one who has frequently fallen into sin, I am
aware of my weakness. Your great love, though, assures
me that your grace can keep me on the path
Petition:Give me guidance, Lord, on a big decision
that I have to make.
1. Setting the Trap: The Pharisees
and Herodians use an old ploy ― flattery ― to
try to trap Jesus. It is a ploy that
enjoys a long shelf-life. Flattery can cause us to lower
our guard. "You´re an intelligent person, why don´t you
…?" Or: "You´re a good parent, you already have
two kids. You don´t really believe the Church on
…?" Being Christian in the world often means living among
devious people. Hence, Jesus warned us to "be shrewd
as serpents and simple as doves" (Matthew 10:16). To
maintain a balance, we have to live only for God.
Is it Christ who shapes my day?
2. Lying in Wait:
They pose a false dilemma to Jesus. It´s "either/or."
Either Jesus must accept Caesar totally, or rebel against Rome.
Such is how the world sees it. It´s still
either/or. Either we embrace Darwinism (no questions asked), or
we cling to Creationism. Either we are tolerant of
alternate lifestyles, or we are insufferable bigots. But things
are more complicated than that. Moreover, the Catholic faith is
often "both/and." Hence, we give to Caesar and to
God what belongs to each. And how do we
decide what belongs to whom? That´s where things get tricky.
And that is precisely why we are called as
Christians to develop our gifts, our intelligence, our prayer
life ― so as to make the right choices. Catholicism
is not a religion for robots. It demands that
we use our freedom and gifts responsibly to do
God´s will. Am I using my gifts well? Do I
develop my skills and intellect so as to better
3. The Trap is Sprung, the Game is Over:
Jesus´ response floors his critics. Why? Partly because he
throws the question back to them. Now they have
to decide what belongs to Caesar — and what belongs
to God. "You must decide," was Karol Wojtyla´s signature
phrase as a confessor. Nothing can so frighten us
as freedom. It frightened Jesus´ audience. How am I
using my own freedom? How am I using the time
God gives me?
Conversation with Christ: Help me realize, Lord,
that you are calling me in freedom. You respect
the freedom you gave me, even if I misuse it.
But I don´t want to misuse it. I want
to render a good account of my life at Judgment
Resolution:I will read some Scripture or a few
paragraphs from the Catechism or a papal document today,
to try to form myself better in the faith.