Today’s gospel reading from the Gospel of Matthew (22:15-21) tells of how the pharisees wanted to entrap Jesus in speech by plotting against Jesus. It is similar to a strategic game of chess where we see Jesus being stuck in a checkmate by their question, “Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?”
It is a known fact that the Jews who is God’s chosen people hated Caesar as he was a foreign ruler and did not want to pay taxes to someone that did not care for the well-being of the Jews. There are two sides of the coin to this outcome of the question posed by the pharisees. First, if Jesus answered “Yes”, he would be a friend of Caesar and lose his support with the Jewish people. Second, if Jesus answered “No”, than Jesus would be arrested by the pharisees who would report him for not being loyal to their ruler. Often, we are faced with great dilemmas that we find it hard to find a suitable answer to the questions that people pose to us, regarding our faith and religion.
When we look at our own country’s coins, it conveys not only of the country’s origins but every coin has its own unique image on both sides. Even till today, money is seen as the greatest need of the world but we are mistaken as technically, the money belongs to the country of origin and is just seen as a form of currency. There are instances where people fight over each other’s wealth and where money is misappropriated due to greed. I have learned that wealth is not everything as I think being happy and at peace is more important. We live in a material world where things are temporary as Jesus promises more tangible and spiritual wealth that cannot be compared, and it is deemed as matchless. Therefore, what belongs to Caesar should be given to Caesar.
In today’s readings, the pharisees told Jesus that he did not seem to be concerned with anyone’s opinion or a person’s status. It is true that Jesus still wants us to pursue our dreams, careers and hopes but we must know that we belong to Jesus. The lure of the material world makes us neglect our spiritual being and doubt the church’s teachings. This is the reason that in the world, people are leaving the church and our faith life can seem to be lying in ruin. It does not end here since we are made in the image of God, and we still can touch people by dispersing the darkness and giving people hope to believe again. Yes, there is a church and God is present. Are we ignorant of the bigger picture that Jesus is showing us?
Belonging to Jesus means saying “Yes” to his promptings and having him to enter our lives and hearts. Ever since joining the Catholic society, I have learned to let God take control of my life, so that I can give Jesus my being and soul to be loved, redeemed and to praise his name. I owe so much to Jesus for answering my prayers, to understand his teachings and draw closer to him.
This week also marks Mission Sunday where we are called to experience the Joy of Jesus through the church and to be of service unto others with love, compassion and not to judge others.
This month’s intentions by our Pope Francis calls us to pray for peace in countries torn by constant war, violence and the suffering of innocent people that they find comfort in Jesus from whom they also find the strength to rebuild their lives. As the church celebrates World Mission Sunday, may every believer have the renewed zeal to carry the gospel to people who are seeking Jesus and those who do not know Jesus. We pray to Mother Mary for her continued intercession for our prayers and the Holy Spirit to guide us to never lose sight of Jesus.
I pray for my own family and my well-being ( I have not been in the greatest of health recently) that Jesus continue to bless me with strength and wisdom to face one day at a time.
God Bless! and may we know that Jesus belongs to everyone and we belong to Jesus as we go about spreading the good news of the gospel.
Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong