Oct 18 2020 Reflection
Sunday 18 October 2020
First Reading: IS 45:1, 4-6
Give the Lord glory and honor.
PS 96:1, 3, 4-5, 7-8, 9-10
Second Reading: 1 THES 1:1-5B
Gospel Reading: MT 22:15-21
Today’s Note: Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time
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.”
Why are you testing me, you hypocrites? (Matthew 22:18)
These Pharisees and Herodians thought they had come up with a foolproof plan to ensnare Jesus. If he said it was lawful to pay the census tax, the people would turn against him since they hated the tax. If he said it was not lawful, he would be in trouble with the Roman authorities. In order to look sincere, they prefaced their question by flattering Jesus. But Jesus saw right through their plan and called them on it.
Clearly, hypocrisy was something that angered Jesus. In a series of “woes,” he called the religious leaders who opposed him hypocrites for not following the very precepts they were teaching (Matthew 23:13-29). And in his Sermon on the Mount, he warns people not to pray or fast like “the hypocrites” who do it just to look good in front of others (6:5, 16).
The word “hypocrisy” comes from the Greek word hypokrisis, which means acting on a stage. When we are hypocritical, we are putting on an act, saying one thing and then doing the opposite. But when our actions betray our words, we have to ask ourselves if we really believe what we say we do.
We are all susceptible to hypocrisy—it’s one of those unfortunate consequences of our fallen human nature. For example, we might lecture our children about not spending too much time on their screens and then spend hours and hours watching TV. Or we may claim that we are a team player at work but then create division by criticizing a fellow coworker.
It can be a painful process to search our consciences and discover ways in which our actions aren’t lining up with our beliefs. But the Lord understands our struggles and will forgive us and help us to change. Best of all, the more we are able to authentically live out our Christian beliefs, the more we can become living witnesses to Jesus—and the kingdom he has ushered in.
“Jesus, help me to act on what I say I believe.”