Hope and Hopelessness

Brothers and sisters:
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing
compared with the glory to be revealed for us.
For creation awaits with eager expectation
the revelation of the children of God;
for creation was made subject to futility,
not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it,
in hope that creation itself
would be set free from slavery to corruption
and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God.
We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now;
and not only that, but we ourselves,
who have the first fruits of the Spirit,
we also groan within ourselves
as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.
For in hope we were saved.
Now hope that sees for itself is not hope.
For who hopes for what one sees?
But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance.
(Romans 8:18-25)

Scripture Study

8:18 sufferings of this present time Earthly suffering is not an eternal reality. In v. 17, Paul’s reference to suffering together with Christ likely alludes to persecution for confessing faith in Christ. Here, the present sufferings may refer to more than persecution and encompass the full range of human experience: sickness, injury, natural disaster, financial loss, poverty, hunger, and death. glory The Greek word used here, doxa, points to the transformation of the body through resurrection (see 1 Cor 15:42–44; Col 3:4).

8:19 revelation of the children of God Refers to the final unveiling of God’s family of glorified humanity—those glorified through faith in Christ. There may also be a hint of the unveiling at the apocalypse, as Jesus returns with His “holy ones” (compare Zech 14:5; Rev 19:11–16), a term applied in the OT to both divine beings loyal to Yahweh and believers (Dan 7:21–22, 25, 27; 8:24).

8:20 made subject to futility Sin affected more than humanity’s relationship to God; creation itself was spoiled and suffered decay (v. 21). the one who subjected it Usually identified as God, acting in response to the sin of Adam and Eve (compare Gen 3:17–19).

8:21 glorious freedom Creation will benefit from the freedom afforded to the children of God through Christ.

8:22 groaning in labor pains The created order is in turmoil. Like God’s people, it is longing for Christ’s return, when He will liberate the world from death and decay (see Rev 21:1 and note). This restoration is a prominent theme of the OT prophets (compare Isa 35:1–10).

8:23 first fruits An OT expression referring to the first part of the harvest, which God designated for Himself and His priests (Lev 23:10; Deut 18:4). Here, its usage refers to God’s initial transformative work in His people, which will result in resurrection glory. groan Expresses frustration with the present evil age and the anticipation of complete redemption. our adoption The Greek phrase used here indicates that the Holy Spirit makes believers children of God (compare Gal 4:6). redemption of our body God the Father raised Jesus from the dead, working through His Spirit.

8:24 in hope In the NT, hope is not wishful thinking; it is a confident expectation in the fulfillment of God’s promises. Paul described Abraham as an example of hope in God. Abraham trusted in the hope of God’s ability to fulfill what He had promised.

8:25 endurance Present troubles are manageable when living in hope of future redemption.

Scripture Reflection

For in hope we were saved” Romans 8:24.

There’s a lot of hopelessness in our society today. Polls show that huge numbers of people have concluded that the future of Western society is dark and that the future of this country is not bright for their children.

But it is the birth and introduction of new life into this world that should continue to give us hope in the future. It is why the Church is so vocal about the right to life. We know that without new life, the darkness of this world becomes oppressive and hope disappears. But with faith in the hope of what new life represents for our world and our faith, people are capable not only of surviving great evils, but they are capable of living meaningful and hopeful lives in the midst of the darkness that surrounds them.

Given the problems in our country today, including serious problems in the Church, it’s a lesson that the downcast in our own time need to learn. We won’t be able to change things without hope in the future, for hope is what enables one to live a joyful life right now in the midst of adversities. The most positive sign of that hope is the birth of children. I learned from them that our hope and our joy in life can also be a great help to others who see the political and societal problems much the same way that we do, but whose lack of faith leaves them in a paralyzing hopelessness. In Christ is our true eternal hope.

– Fr. Mark Pilon

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

Seen and Touched

Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on the sabbath.
And a woman was there who for eighteen years
had been crippled by a spirit;
she was bent over, completely incapable of standing erect.
When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said,
“Woman, you are set free of your infirmity.”
He laid his hands on her,
and she at once stood up straight and glorified God.
But the leader of the synagogue,
indignant that Jesus had cured on the sabbath,
said to the crowd in reply,
“There are six days when work should be done.
Come on those days to be cured, not on the sabbath day.”
The Lord said to him in reply, “Hypocrites!
Does not each one of you on the sabbath
untie his ox or his ass from the manger
and lead it out for watering?
This daughter of Abraham,
whom Satan has bound for eighteen years now,
ought she not to have been set free on the sabbath day
from this bondage?”
When he said this, all his adversaries were humiliated;
and the whole crowd rejoiced at all the splendid deeds done by him.
(Luke 13:10-17)

Scripture Study

13:11 had been crippled by a spirit The woman’s distorted posture appears to be the result of demonic activity, as opposed to a defect suffered from birth.

13:14 Come on those days to be cured The people were coming to Jesus for healing without regard for the day. Jesus was not bothered by this; indeed, His actions encouraged it. The religious leaders saw His healings as a violation of God’s command to honor the Sabbath by refraining from work.

13:15 untie his ox or his ass Jesus calls attention to the religious leaders’ willingness to make exceptions to the law to care for animals but not to care for God’s people.

13:16 This daughter of Abraham Identifies the woman as a Jew.

Scripture Reflection

He laid his hands on her, and she at once stood up straight and glorified God” Luke 13:13.

One of the interesting thing about many of the stories Jesus tells is the anonymity of the person being healed. In today’s story of the woman being healed on the Sabbath, we only know that Jesus “laid his hands on her, and she at once stood up straight and glorified God.” From what we can infer, this woman was known but unknown; present yet invisible to others until Jesus recognized her.

Have you ever felt totally alone in a crowded space, walking around yet seemingly invisible to others? Our human nature is very sensory in its origin and this creates a desire in all of us to be seen and touched just as this woman was.

How open are we to being touched by Jesus in our daily lives? One way to prepare ourselves for this wonderful intimacy is to come before the Lord in prayer, and in silence, open our hearts to Him and say, “See me Lord, touch me and know me.” Are you ready?

– Adapted from Mary Marrocco’s posting in Living Faith

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

Simple Yet Hard

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees,
they gathered together, and one of them,
a scholar of the law tested him by asking,
“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”
He said to him,
“You shall love the Lord, your God,
with all your heart,
with all your soul,
and with all your mind.
This is the greatest and the first commandment.
The second is like it:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”
(Matthew 22:34-40)

Scripture Study

22:35 [A scholar of the law]: meaning “scribe.” Although this reading is supported by the vast majority of textual witnesses, it is the only time that the Greek word so translated occurs in Matthew. It is relatively frequent in Luke, and there is reason to think that it may have been added here by a copyist since it occurs in the Lucan parallel (Lk 10:25–28). Tested: the verb is used of attempts of Jesus’ opponents to embarrass him by challenging him to do something they think impossible (Mt 16:1; Mk 8:11; Lk 11:16) or by having him say something that they can use against him (Mt 22:18, 35; Mk 10:2; 12:15).

22:36 For the devout Jew all the commandments were to be kept with equal care, but there is evidence of preoccupation in Jewish sources with the question put to Jesus.

22:37–38 Cf. Dt 6:5. Matthew omits the first part of Mark’s fuller quotation (Mk 12:29; Dt 6:4–5), probably because he considered its monotheistic emphasis needless for his church. The love of God must engage the total person (heart, soul, mind).

22:39 Jesus goes beyond the extent of the question put to him and joins to the greatest and the first commandment a second, that of love of neighbor, Lv 19:18; see note on Mt 19:18–19. This combination of the two commandments may already have been made in Judaism.

22:40 The double commandment is the source from which the whole law and the prophets are derived.

Scripture Reflection

You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:39.

A famous violinist was being interviewed about a piece of music she was going to be playing and noted the beauty in its simplicity, yet she said it was a hard piece to play. The reporter asked her what made something so simple so challenging. The violinist replied, “It’s hard to do what is so simple because simple does not mean it is easy.”

We can take this thought into today’s verse. A person who genuinely loves God should thereby also love their neighbor. But if that were true, wouldn’t the entire world be different? What then makes this simple commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself” so difficult?

One thing that is also true, “you can’t give away what you don’t have.” In other words, if you don’t love yourself; if you don’t truly believe you are loved by God; then it is not easy to love your neighbor because you don’t love yourself.

Both love of others and love of self are based on love of God. From all this we can deduce that self-love of the right kind, based on God’s love for man, necessarily involves forgetting oneself in order to love God and our neighbor for God.

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

Welcome to His House

Brothers and sisters:
You are no longer strangers and sojourners,
but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones
and members of the household of God,
built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets,
with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone.
Through him the whole structure is held together
and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord;
in him you also are being built together
into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
(Ephesians 2:19-22)

Scripture Study

2:19 members: I.e., family members by virtue of divine adoption (1:5; Gal 4:5).

2:20 apostles and prophets: The foundation stones of the universal Church, here viewed as a spiritual temple (1 Pet 2:4–8). Both fulfilled the unrepeatable mission of establishing Christ’s kingdom in the world for all time. For other references to NT prophets, see Eph 4:11; Acts 13:1, and 1 Cor 12:28 (see also CCC 857).  capstone [cornerstone]: The first stone set in place when beginning construction on a new building, in this case a temple. It served as the square to line up the rest of the structure and was part of the foundation at the base of the edifice. The honored position of the cornerstone is a fitting description of Christ’s role as the immovable foundation of the Church (1 Cor 3:11). Some prefer to visualize Christ as the keystone that holds together a Roman archway, but cornerstones are generally foundation stones in Semitic architecture (Job 38:6; Jer 51:26). ● The term used here for cornerstone is found only in Is 28:16 in the Greek OT. Jewish tradition expressed in the Aramaic Targum of Isaiah viewed this stone as a symbol of the messianic “king” of Israel.

2:21 a temple sacred in the Lord: The Church is a spiritual sanctuary that is living and inclusive. Its foundation is Christ, his apostles, and the early Christian prophets (2:20); its walls are believers from every nation fitted and bonded together by grace (2:22); and its holiness comes from the sanctifying presence of the Spirit who dwells within (2:22) (CCC 756, 797).

Scripture Reflection

So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God” Ephesians 2:19.

I love this reading from Ephesians as it speaks to the familial nature of the Church and of life that we have all experienced in some manner. For some, the image of family embodies rich and deeply connective memories founded in love. For others, the image of family brings back unpleasant and dark times, devoid of the true love we desire.

The beauty of being members of God’s household is that the Lord knows the disordered nature of our lives that have been affected by choices, many of which we never made but unfortunately must live in and through. In God’s house, St Paul tells us that Christ himself holds it all together through a love that unconditionally welcomes us in.

He notes that Jesus, as the capstone of God’s holy temple, is our refuge when life is beating us down and things seem to be in shambles. The house of the Lord is where we are truly one family, living in the love of Jesus Christ. All are invited to come and ask him, “Jesus, hold me together as I struggle with this life, I hand all the shattered pieces over to you.”

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

The Struggle

Brothers and sisters:
I know that good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh.
The willing is ready at hand, but doing the good is not.
For I do not do the good I want,
but I do the evil I do not want.
Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it,
but sin that dwells in me.
So, then, I discover the principle
that when I want to do right, evil is at hand.
For I take delight in the law of God, in my inner self,
but I see in my members another principle
at war with the law of my mind,
taking me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.
Miserable one that I am!
Who will deliver me from this mortal body?
Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Romans 7:18-25)

Scripture Study

7:18 good does not dwell in me The weakness of people prohibits them from doing what is good. the willing is ready at hand People may have the desire or wish to do what is good, but they lack the empowerment without God.

7:20 sin that lives in me Paul does not deny personal responsibility for sinful behavior, but he recognizes that sin is an indwelling power. In ch. 8, Paul declares that believers are filled with God’s Spirit—the antidote for sin.

7:21 principle The Greek word used here, nomos, could refer to the fundamental pattern of sin’s oppressive influence. Normally, this word refers to the Jewish law.

7:22 the law of God Refers to the law of Moses. in inner self The phrase kata ton esō anthrōpon may refer to the mind since “know” is repeatedly used in this passage (vv. 14, 18). If the apostle describes his own struggle against sin, the phrase may describe the new nature of the Christian.

7:23 members The Greek text refers to a person’s natural faculties.

7:24 mortal body Refers to the deathly existence in the body.

7:25 Thanks be to God Paul expresses gratitude for the provision of Jesus Christ. Through his death and resurrection, He gave people an alternative to the ineffective law, empowered people to overcome sin (as He did), and provided them with a relationship with God that sin previously prevented.

Scripture Reflection

For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want.” Romans 7:19

Here we have a vivid description of the interior struggle which many experience, Christians included. In our bodies, there is a “law” as Paul refers to it, an inclination, which fights against the law of our spirit, that is, against the spiritual good which God’s grace causes us to desire. This inclination to sin is referred to as concupiscence, this internal struggle that drives us to act awfully.

Here are some reasons from author Eve Tushnet, why we do ‘awful things’:

Someone told us to do it and we trusted them
Our vanity
Our hunger for things not good for us
Addictions
Lack of rest

We all battle this internal struggle. Paul knew this all too well. Loving Jesus did not stop him, and does not stop us, from making wrong choices and behaving badly. We need to have a daily discipline that allows us to honestly reflect on our choices and actions, a discipline that helps us forgive others and seek forgiveness for our actions.

It is only through God’s grace and our attentiveness to the Spirit’s direction, that we can be made whole. This will also allow us to effectively center ourselves on Christ, thereby minimizing our internal inclination to stray off the narrow path.

 

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

Heart of Fire

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I have come to set the earth on fire,
and how I wish it were already blazing!
There is a baptism with which I must be baptized,
and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!
Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?
No, I tell you, but rather division.
From now on a household of five will be divided,
three against two and two against three;
a father will be divided against his son
and a son against his father,
a mother against her daughter
and a daughter against her mother,
a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”
(Luke 12:49-53)

Scripture Study

12:49 fire: A symbol of (1) God’s presence and love (Deut 4:24; Acts 2:3), (2) God’s judgment on sinners (Lev 10:2; Mt 22:7), and (3) divine purification (3:16; 1 Pet 1:7) (CCC 696).

12:50 a baptism: A figure of Jesus’ Passion, when he will be immersed in suffering and death and will rise again to a new life (Mk 10:38; Rom 6:4; CCC 536, 1225).

12:53 will be divided: Loyalty to Jesus is even more important than family unity (14:26), and peace is possible only if we embrace him in faith (Jn 14:27). The demands of Christian discipleship outweigh even the sacred duties of family unity and loyalty (Lk 14:26). ● The scenes of family strife recall Mic 7:6, where the prophet condemns Jerusalem for her rampant injustices (Mic 6:9–7:10). Although families were suffering internal division (Ezek 22:7), Micah assures Israel that the faithful will be vindicated by God. Jesus evokes this oracle to paint a similar portrait of Jerusalem in his own day: disciples may suffer persecution, but they will be vindicated and delivered in the end.

Scripture Reflection

Our Baptism is a submersion in Christ’s death, in which we die to sin and are reborn to the new life of grace. Through this new life, we Christians should become set on fire in the same way as Jesus set his disciples on fire.

The psalmist tells us “My heart became hot within me, a fire blazed forth from my thoughts.” What could this fire be if not the fire that Christ talks about: “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!”

During his own life on earth, Christ was a sign of contradiction. Our Lord is forewarning his disciples about the contention and division which will accompany the spread of the Gospel. As His disciples, to live a life as Christ taught, is to be branded as radical in the eyes of a world obsessed with the material self. Be bold – live as Christ anyway.

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

Prudence and Wisdom

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Be sure of this:
if the master of the house had known the hour
when the thief was coming,
he would not have let his house be broken into.
You also must be prepared,
for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

Then Peter said,
“Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?”
And the Lord replied,
“Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward
whom the master will put in charge of his servants
to distribute the food allowance at the proper time?
Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so.
Truly, I say to you, he will put him
in charge of all his property.
But if that servant says to himself,
‘My master is delayed in coming,’
and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants,
to eat and drink and get drunk,
then that servant’s master will come
on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour
and will punish the servant severely
and assign him a place with the unfaithful.
That servant who knew his master’s will
but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will
shall be beaten severely;
and the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will
but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating
shall be beaten only lightly.
Much will be required of the person entrusted with much,
and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”
(Luke 12:39-48)

Scripture Study

12:40 the Son of Man will come A reference to Jesus’ return (compare Luke 9:26). The title Son of Man is associated with divine judgment on the Day of Yahweh. Jesus uses this self-designation more than any other; it comes from the OT book of Daniel. This title occurs 30 times in the Gospel of Matthew and often stresses the exaltation of Jesus. Here, however, it highlights His position as a homeless itinerant.

12:41 for us, or for everyone Peter asks Jesus to clarify whether His remarks about the master’s return are addressed to the entire crowd (Luke 12:1, 13) or only to the Twelve.

12:42 will put in charge Jesus responds to Peter’s question with a parable hinting at the role the apostles will play after His ascension (compare Acts 1:8; 20:28).

12:45 delayed in coming Perhaps anticipating a lengthy interval before Jesus’ return.

Scripture Reflection

Friends, in today’s Gospel we meet a prudent steward who serves his master wisely. I would like to say something about prudence and wisdom. In the Middle Ages, prudence was called “the queen of the virtues,” because it was the virtue that enabled one to do the right thing in a particular situation.

Prudence is a feel for the moral situation, something like the feel that a quarterback has for the playing field. Justice is a wonderful virtue, but without prudence, it is blind and finally useless. One can be as just as possible, but without a feel for the present situation, his justice will do him no good.

Wisdom, unlike prudence, is a sense of the big picture. It is the view from the hilltop. Most of us look at our lives from the standpoint of our own self-interest. But wisdom is the capacity to survey reality from the vantage point of God. Without wisdom, even the most prudent judgment will be erroneous, short-sighted, inadequate.

The combination, therefore, of prudence and wisdom is especially powerful. Someone who is both wise and prudent will have both a sense of the bigger picture and a feel for the particular situation.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

I Come To Do Your Will

Sacrifice or oblation you wished not,
but ears open to obedience you gave me.
Burnt offerings or sin offerings you sought not;
then said I, “Behold I come.”

“In the written scroll it is prescribed for me,
To do your will, O my God, is my delight,
and your law is within my heart!”

I announced your justice in the vast assembly;
I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.

May all who seek you
exult and be glad in you,
And may those who love your salvation
say ever, “The LORD be glorified.”
(Psalm 40:7-8A, 8B-9, 10, 17)

Scripture Study

40:7–8 Noting that Yahweh does not delight in sacrifice alone, the psalmist declares that he desires to do God’s will and follow His law. His commitment to Yahweh goes beyond outward expressions; it extends into his heart.

 40:9–10 The psalmist responds to Yahweh’s salvation by proclaiming it to the congregation. He tells of Yahweh’s faithfulness and love—characteristics that reveal His dependability to fulfill His promises.

40:9 in the great congregation The Hebrew word used here, qahal, refers to the people of Israel.

40:10 your loyal love or your faithfulness. The Hebrew term used here, chesed, is one of Yahweh’s essential characteristics. When paired with emeth, the Hebrew word for God’s faithfulness (as it is here), chesed, describes God as absolutely dependable to fulfill His promises

40:17 O my God, do not delay Though the psalmist began by expressing his patience (v. 1), here he asks God to come quickly to his help. In the midst of suffering, he pleads that God will not delay.

Scripture Reflection

This psalm has a special importance in the liturgy and in theology because the Letter to the Hebrews uses these verses as the words of Christ and thereby gives a new answer to the question of who speaks.

Once the earliest Christians had understood the life and death of Jesus as perfect obedience to the will of God, it would have been impossible for them to read verse 8 without thinking of him.

The psalmist, who knows that the conformation of his mind and desire to the will and revelation of God takes the place of sacrifice, is a type for Jesus, whose obedience unto death replaced all ritual sacrifice and accomplished once for all the perfect sacrifice.

The psalmist with his praise and piety still must pray for salvation from suffering and sin. That is where we all are. But our prayers are made in hope, because the sacrifice for sin has been made for us once for all.

– James Mays

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

The Benedictus

He has come to his people and set them free.
He has raised up for us a mighty savior,
born of the house of his servant David.

Through his holy prophets he promised of old
that he would save us from our enemies,
from the hands of all who hate us.
He promised to show mercy to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant.

This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
to set us free from the hands of our enemies,
free to worship him without fear,
holy and righteous in his sight all the days of our life.
(Luke 1:69-75)

Scripture Study

1:69 Jesus is the awaited Messiah from David’s dynastic line (2 Sam 7:12–16; Ps 89:26–29; 132:11; Is 9:6–7). Following Jewish custom, Joseph’s legal fatherhood was equivalent to natural fatherhood in matters of inheritance. Joseph thus confers the privileges of a Davidic descendant upon Jesus (1:27), whereas God the Father anoints him as king (Mk 16:19) (CCC 437).

1:72 remember his holy covenant: God’s covenant oath to Abraham (Gen 22:16–18) nears its fulfillment in the preparatory role played by John’s parents. Even their names symbolize that God remembers (Zechariah) his oath (Elizabeth) and will soon fulfill it through the mission of John and Jesus. Luke situates his narrative within the broader framework of world history (2:1–2; 3:1–2).

Scripture Reflection

Today’s reading is the part of the Benedictus which celebrates the birth of Zechariah’s son, John the Baptist, and the fulfillment of God’s promise of salvation for Israel. Again and again God promised the Old Testament patriarchs that he would take special care of Israel, giving them a land which they would enjoy undisturbed and many descendants in whom all the peoples of the earth would be blessed. This promise he ratified by means of a covenant or alliance, of the kind commonly made between kings and their vassals in the Near East.

God, as Lord, would protect the patriarchs and their descendants, and these would prove their attachment to him by offering him certain sacrifices and by doing him service. See, for example, Genesis 12:13; 17:1–8; 22:16–18 (God’s promise, covenant, and pledge to Abraham); and Genesis 35:11–12 (where he repeats these promises to Jacob). Zechariah realizes that the events resulting from the birth of John his son, the Precursor of the Messiah, constitute complete fulfillment of these divine purposes.

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

Coming From and To

The Pharisees went off
and plotted how they might entrap Jesus in speech.
They sent their disciples to him, with the Herodians, saying,
“Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man
and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.
And you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion,
for you do not regard a person’s status.
Tell us, then, what is your opinion:
Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?”
Knowing their malice, Jesus said,
“Why are you testing me, you hypocrites?
Show me the coin that pays the census tax.”
Then they handed him the Roman coin.
He said to them, “Whose image is this and whose inscription?”
They replied, “Caesar’s.”
At that he said to them,
“Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar
and to God what belongs to God.”
(Matthew 22:15-21)

Scripture Study

22:16 Herodians Likely refers to Jews who supported Herod Antipas and, by extension, Roman rule. This is the only mention of this group in Matthew’s Gospel. we know that you are truthful This flattery is intended to provoke Jesus into criticizing imperial taxes.

22:17 Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar A clever query. Answering yes could discredit Jesus among the people for supporting the empire, but answering no would incriminate Him for opposing it.

22:21 repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar Jesus brilliantly avoids the Pharisees’ trap. Since the coin bears Caesar’s image, it belongs to him. However, God should likewise be given His due—the faithful obedience of humanity, which bears His image (Gen 1:27). 

Scripture Reflection

Friends, in our Gospel today, Pharisees try to catch Jesus on the horns of a dilemma. Jesus deftly escapes from the trap with one of his famous one-liners: “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” Clever, but much more than merely clever. In some ways, it is the implicit resolution of this very vexing problem.

We should not read this one-liner as though there is a clearly demarcated political realm that belongs to the Caesars of the world and a clearly demarcated spiritual realm that belongs to God. And we certainly shouldn’t read it in the modern mode—that the public arena belongs to politics, while religion is relegated to the private dimension.

No, this won’t do, precisely because God is God. Not a being in or above the world, not one reality among many; God is the sheer act of being itself, which necessarily pervades, influences, grounds, and has to do with everything, even as he transcends everything in creation.

God is the deepest source and inspiration for everything in life, from sports to law to the arts to science and medicine. God is love itself. Everything comes from God and returns to God.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.