Then they sent to him some Pharisees and some Herodians to trap him in what he said. And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality, but teach the way of God in accordance with truth. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?”
But knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why are you putting me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me see it.” And they brought one. Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” They answered, “The emperor’s.” Jesus said to them, “Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were utterly amazed at him.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
In praying with this passage this time, I found myself focused on the way the Pharisees and Herodians interact with Jesus. When they approach him, they aren’t interested in getting to know Jesus, or really hearing what he has to say. Had they really engaged the person in front of them, they wouldn’t have simply been “amazed” that Jesus avoided their trap, rather they would have had an encounter with the living God.
How often I find myself approaching others in this way. Instead of seeing another person, I see a transaction to be completed so that I can get what I want and move on with my day. What if I took the time to recognize the gift of God standing before me? What if I reverenced this person as being loved beyond measure? I think that I would find myself having many fewer transactions, but many more encounters with the living God in my everyday life.
—Matthew Stewart, SJ, is a transitional deacon of the Central and Southern Province preparing for priestly ordination in August.
“Editor’s note: this reflection was written before the recent unrest and the protests around the United States. For resources on racial injustice, visit Ignatian Solidarity Network.”
May my heart be like your Sacred Heart
so as I encounter each person today,
I may see each face with your eyes,
and hear each voice with your ears,
so that I may love as you love.
—Matthew Stewart, SJPlease share the Good Word with your friends!