Sunday, October 18th, Pentecost XX, Face on a Coin
Exodus 33:12-23, Psalm 99.1 Thessalonians 1:1-10, Matthew 22:15-22
The Pharisees and Herodians are trying to trap Jesus by putting him in an impossible bind. If he says no to pay the taxes, the Romans can have him arrested. If he says yes, doesn’t that make him look like a collaborator for the Romans?
But Jesus answers a question with a question; whose face is on the coin? And the well known words; give to the emperor that which is the emperor’s and to God that which is God’s.
This seems like an easy question and answer, but is it? At first blush, everything belongs to God and a portion to the emperor. The image which comes to mind is; if two dimensions, the circle of the emperor inside the bigger circle of God, or if three dimensions bubbles.
Or the summary of the law; love God with all your heart and soul, mind and strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself. To love others is an expression of our love of God and is also living out our place in the world as a citizen making our contribution to society and the world.
Yet, at some level, we feel that there are things of the emperor, things of the world which are outside the bubble or circle of God. We may not articulate it like Job, but it is as if God allows certain things to happen which don’t make sense from a loving and all powerful God.
Although it is not a complete and totally satisfactory answer, the notion of free will is at least a start. That God in allowing us to have free-will has allowed us to make choices which would take us outside the understanding of the bubble of God, choices which are not always helpful.
And that the Kingdom of God has begun but is not yet. So we get glimpses of the kingdom but then back to the world of the emperor.
The challenge then for us is to realize, this giving to God that which is God’s is not just a onetime choice. Every day we make choices as to whether we will give to God that which is God’s and also to the emperor that which is his also. The choices we make affect both our relationship with God and also each other. Let us realize the value we have in God’s eyes and what we mean to each other and that our choices and what we do and say does matter to God and to others.