Sometimes the unbelievable complexity of life brings amazement. Shorthand and lingo get batted around, effectively excluding anyone who hasn’t been part of the conversation from
the beginning. Sometimes people use big words for the sake of using big words.
On the other hand, at times “conversation” is so starkly simple that it confuses the folks who prefer a more complicated vocabulary. That’s precisely what happens in the encounter between Jesus and the disciples of the Pharisees who at long last believe they will trap Jesus in a chargeable offense.
The Pharisees’ disciples pose an “earnest” question, having opened with flattery: “We know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth.” Then comes their zinger: “Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” No way Jesus can answer this and remain in favor with the crowd and with the emperor. So Jesus does not answer. Jesus turns the tables on them and asks for a coin. He then becomes the questioner: “Whose head is this, and whose title?” A coin with the image of Caesar on it belongs to Caesar. A human being stamped with the image of God belongs to God. People can choose. Rather than falling into their trap, Jesus simply tells them to give “to God the things that are God’s.” When his questioners hear this, they are “amazed” and leave.
That’s it. It’s basic. Give God what rightly belongs to God. A few moments of your day. A few of your thoughts. Some observation of what’s around you. Some listening for sacred sounds, perhaps even filtered through the noise of the world—your entire being.
Simplify it. Silence it. That’s it! You’ll be amazed.
What's amazing, O God, is that you show us who you are. We experience you in our very being! Amen.
In Exodus 33 Moses successfully argues that without Yahweh’s merciful presence Israel is no nation and that Yahweh’s and Moses’ efforts have come to naught. Psalm 99 mentions Yahweh’s royal rule, which brings to mind the human agents of that rule: Moses, Aaron, and Samuel. Each of these leaders facilitated Yahweh’s conversation with the people and Yahweh’s rule over them. The opening lines from First Thessalonians raise a question about the church’s understanding of evangelism. Paul and his coworkers experience a change in themselves because of the Thessalonians, who become a living proclamation of the gospel by virtue of their ready acceptance of it. In the Gospel reading, Jesus answers a question with a question and confuses his “audience” both then and today.
• Read Exodus 33:12-23. When have you most longed for a glimpse of God’s glory? How did God give you the assurance you needed?
• Read Psalm 99. Where in your life is forgiveness needed to restore a loving relationship? How have you experienced “a forgiving God”?
• Read 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10. As your Christian faith has developed, how have you seen it move “from head to heart to hands”?
• Read Matthew 22:15-22. How do you give to God “the things that are God’s”? What are some of those things Jesus wants you to give?
Responda publicando una oración.