Reflection: Twenty-Nineth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Chinese Mass:Every Sunday 2:15 p.m.

Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)

After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering

Bible study/sharing every Saturday (2:00-4:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church, 5 Leicester Place WC2H 7BX (near See Woo Chinese Supermarket, Leicester Square tube station)

Talk and discussion meeting First Monday of every month (4:00-6:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church


[1st Reading – Is.45:1,4-6; Ps.95; 2nd Reading – 1Thess.1:1-5; Gospel – Mt.22:15-21]


In today’s gospel, we do not have the Chief Priests and the Elders (as was in the previous Sunday gospels) and instead we have the Pharisees and the Herodians who knew Jesus but still they went away to work out how to trap him in what he said.  We are specifically told that they knew Jesus to be an honest man who teaches the way of God in an honest way.  They also knew that he was not afraid of anyone because man’s rank meant nothing to him … yet their intention was still to trap Jesus and the question they asked is a very subtle question in the context of the gospel.

The Pharisees and Herodians themselves were not keen on paying taxes to Caesar.  They saw in Caesar a dominator, someone who was taking their own money in taxes.  Also, both the Pharisees and the Herodians had a very strong connection with money where:

(1) the Pharisees were in control of the money that passed through the Temple; and

(2) the Herodians had control of the public money because they were the civil authorities.

Although the question posed to Jesus was quite smart, they did not take into consideration that Jesus’ wisdom is far more superior, and when they tried to trap him, Jesus not only understood what their intentions were, but he also uncovered their “hypocrisy”.  They are hypocrites not because they asked the question – they truly wanted a (possible negative) answer for their own benefit, they wanted to evade the taxes paid to the Romans which they knew was impossible.  Jesus’ answer was a surprise for them: Give Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s. So, where do their hypocrisies lie?

∙ They know that Jesus is an honest man… and yet they want to set a trap for him;

∙ They admire Jesus because Jesus does not give importance to a man’s rank.  But for them, rank is important … and yet, they do not respect God!

∙ They are against paying taxes… and yet they do everything to gain money for themselves

Let us reflect on Jesus’ wise answer to the Pharisees and the Herodians and consider if we too are “hypocrites” in our life:

  1. In my everyday ‘civic’ life, do I often ‘want’ this or I ‘want’ that around me… and what is my contribution so that that thing may be possible?  What am I giving to ‘Caesar’?

  2. In my everyday life, what is there that is God’s?  What am I giving to God?

Lord, quite often in life we mix things up in such a way that we no longer recognise what is ‘Caesar’s’ and what is ‘God’s’.  Lord, give us the wisdom that we need to be able to have this recognition again and the power to be able to give everyone their due respect.  Thank you Lord!



Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo )

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