Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A - 16/10/2011 - Gospel: Mt 22, 15-21

Trick Question
A trick question is not an ordinary question. It is a question that a questioner doesn't want to learn more about the truth or knowledge but rather is aimed to humiliate and victimize their opponent. The more humiliation their opponent feels the better they like it.  To that end a trick question is a question with hidden evil intension whose aim is to make some one feel embarrassed, disgraced or discredited.  A trick question is not a spontaneous question but a question well prepared by a group of persons who try to catch their opponent off guard because both the answer yes or no would fall into their trap.

The Pharisees, religious leaders and political leaders sat together to form a tricky question to ensure that Jesus would be trapped. They hate Jesus not simply because of his popularity but more because of his radical teaching about God's love and forgiveness. Jesus challenges them and us to value love over money, sacrifice over personal rights and mercy over judgment. Their hatred came to the boiling point when they intended to use other people's power to eliminate Him. They put this question to Him

Is it permissible to pay taxes for Caesar?

Probably the crowds who came to listen to Jesus would feel the tension. The question is too clever and sensitive and relates to the politics. Jesus certainly would be trapped, humiliated and would have no way out. It is obvious that if Jesus answered 'yes' they would label Him as a traitor of the people and that would be the end of him. If Jesus answered 'no' they would report Him to the Roman conquerors and be charged as a rebel, inciting revolution. Either ways Jesus would be in trouble. However, their happiness didn't last long. After seeing the coin Jesus told them,
Give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.

To their consternation, the answer Jesus gave was beyond everyone's predictions. The opponents of Jesus have set up a trap for Jesus to fall into but they have fallen into of their own trap. Jesus somehow publicly reveals their evil intention and further more they are the co- operators of the Roman conquerors. If they are not cooperating with them why do they keep carrying the Roman coin in their own pockets? On the contrary Jesus does not even know whose head was inscribed into the coin circulating at the time. It is not a sign of ignorance on Jesus' part but is a sign of saying I am totally free from their wealth. Their occupation of the land does not mean that they occupy people's hearts. What Jesus wants is not what people of this world long for but what God inscribed into their heart from the beginning.

Caesar is representative for the power and materials of this world. Jesus on the other hand is representative of the power of the spiritual world that is buried in the depth of a human heart. Those who embrace the image of Caesar and their rewards for being faithful to that should know that they are embracing a dead image, a transitional one. What belongs to God is the image of God given to us in our heart when God said let us make them after God's image. The image of God is the right image they should keep it with them all the time, not in their pocket but in their hearts. They need to embrace that image, show it to others and they also need to see that image in the life of others.