Jesus thwarts the Herodian and Pharisees’ evil trap by revealing men must serve God and good citizens. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by seeking the Fruit of Faithfulness from the Holy Spirit so he can reject scientism and put faith only in God and by pursuing the Virtue of Truth  and refuse to cooperate with any evil law.

Liturgy

29th Week in Ordinary Time – Sunday – Cycle A – Mt 22:15-21

Commentary

After Jesus thoroughly rebuked the Jewish priests, scribes and elders, now two other opposing Jewish factions join forces to confront, condemn, and silence Jesus. The Pharisees were ultra-rigorous Jews who believed God would reward Israel if every Jewish man perfectly kept the various Jewish laws. The Herodians, the Romans’ choice to administer Roman rule in the various parts of the former Israel, were Jewish elites who enjoyed riches and power by collaborating with the Romans. 

Scheming, the Pharisees and Herodians seek to trap Jesus. They attempt to flatter Him, ironically speaking but understating the truth about Jesus (is Truth, is superior to men, is the Way of God), but are liars because they don’t actually believe what they are saying. Foolish, they think they’ve set the perfect trap: If Jesus says, “to pay” the census tax to Caesar, they can accuse Him of siding with the Romans and if Jesus says, “do not pay”, they can report Him to Caesar for insurrection.   

Jesus easily sees through their hypocrisy and childish trap, authoritatively  directing the Herodians and Pharisees to bring Him a denarius, a Roman coin with Caesar’s image, idolatrously venerated by Romans as the son of God. They foolishly bring Jesus a coin proving their own hypocrisy by carrying an idolatrous coin and then He forces them to further participate in their own humiliation, asking whose image is on the coin.  After they reply “Caesar”, Jesus responds with words that have been quoted for over 2000 years, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s.”  Totally outwitted, the Herodians and Pharisees are left, “utterly amazed.”  

Be awed by Jesus Christ

Be impressed by Jesus as He easily masters the best and brightest of His enemies: He Prudently assesses the wicked men who seek to trap Him and their scheme; in Anger, He bluntly Rebukes them and asserts His Authority by commanding them to produce a coin; using impeccable deductive Logic (a part of Reason), He forces His enemies to consider their higher call to serve God and the need for Obedience (a part of Justice) to civil authorities, leaving them humiliated and stunned.

Reject scientism and put faith only in God 

Realize: As they reject God and fall into confusion and evil (Rom 1:17-32), many today are adopting a religion of “scientism”, which idolizes “science” (Latin: scientia meaning, “knowledge, expert”), and they blindly accept immoral new ideologies that have been promoted using faulty “science” and which oppose God; every Catholic man should hold to God’s truth which valid science always supports, and reject false “scientism” which opposes God.

 Believe: Reflect upon Science (CCC 159, 2292-2296) and Idolatry (CCC 2112-2114).

Pray: Holy Spirit, give me the Fruit of Faithfulness so I do not fall into the grave sin of idolizing science, I reject false sciences which oppose Your Truth, and place my exclusive faith in the Blessed Trinity and the Holy Catholic Church. 

Refuse to cooperate with evil laws

Realize: While every Catholic man is called to be a good citizen (“Render unto Caesar”), he can never cooperate with evil; in the rapidly decaying modern world which increasingly uses legal and social coercion to force men to accept objectively sinful acts, every Catholic man must courageously hold to the Truth of Christ and be a witness to the world. 

Believe: Reflect upon Authorities in Civil Society (CCC 2234-2246).

Pray: Jesus, Divine Truth, help me build the Virtue of Truth (a part of Justice) so I always hold to the absolute standards of Your Truth and refuse to cooperate with immoral laws and demands by civil authorities.