Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in what he said. So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?”
But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin used for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” They answered, “The emperor’s.” Then he said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
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.
“For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction” (1Thes 1:5).
As often as I proclaim the Gospel and preach about what it says, most of the time I simply take for granted the fact that it has “come to me.” Trying to tease a message for today from its words, do I ever consider its history? Not the history of its composition that I studied in theology classes, but rather the living history it witnesses to. It has been passed on for centuries, often with great effort and much sacrifice. And even today many are deprived of its beauty because those with earthly power fear what it may inspire in those they wish to control.
While Jesus does teach “pay unto Caesar,” surely we know that our priority is to first repay to God “what belongs to God.” How often do I read the Gospel aware that “in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction” I might give my life for it, as others have before me?
—Fr. Mark Mossa, SJ, is the Director of Campus Ministry at Spring Hill College in Mobile, AL.
Lord, help me to hear, know, and appreciate the beauty of your Gospel each day. No matter how many times I hear it, remind me not to take it for granted. May I appreciate not only what you would have it teach me today, but also the efforts of those who safeguarded it, and sacrificed for it, so that I could have the privilege of encountering you in it.
May the Gospel message so penetrate my heart that I may be inspired, like Christians before me, to be a living witness to your word in all that I do. And may I have the courage to do what is required to make certain that others can come to know you as I have, even in the face of opposition and fear.
—Fr. Mark Mossa, SJ
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