Tuesday – October 21, 2014; Matthew 22:15-22
15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in what he said. 16 So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. 17 Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” 18 But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? 19 Show me the coin used for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. 20 Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” 21 They answered, “The emperor’s.” Then he said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 22 When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away.
When I was growing up my friends and I would often get together for games of kick-ball, touch football, softball, etc.,…whether it was in the park, on the street or at school, usually two of the best players would decide to be team captains and then the rest of us would gather together and wait to be picked for the teams; and it could be a long wait for some of us.
The best players were always picked first…I was usually picked last, simply because I was just that bad!
This whole experience left me feeling rejected and unwanted, and most of all…hating to play team sports! I came to dread the whole process of picking teams…and since I was a kid I have avoided playing team sports whenever possible, sometimes even feigning an injury or illness to get out of playing!
However, picking sides can be a very natural thing for people to do; after all we are communal beings, and don’t really do well all alone…as people have a deep need to belong, to be a part of…which is why feeling left out can be so hard on us.
As single parents we can often feel as if we have been left out, and rejected, due to a loss of an important relationship, or perhaps due to the perceived loss of our freedom as a result of our giving most of our time to our responsibilities as parents. We can also feel left out when we see so much domestic bliss around us…as family and friends appear to be having a successful and happy family life, while we may be struggling with our responsibilities, loneliness, stress and resentments.
In short we may be feeling like we are not really part of a ‘team’.
In today’s Gospel reading the Pharisees were treating Jesus as an unwanted member of the team…although he probably did come from the Pharisaic Tradition…they tried to trip him up by asking him this loaded question about whether it was right to pay taxes to the emperor, which was a way of calling Jesus out…with an impossible question.
As any answer Jesus gave could cause him trouble: if he said ‘yes’ he would alienate many of his followers who saw him as the great Messiah who would get rid of the oppressive Romans, who hoped he would become a great King like David of old…
If Jesus said ‘no’ then the Pharisees could go to the Romans and point out Jesus as a subversive and finally get rid of him!
However, Jesus knew why the Pharisees asked this question, and the way he answered it was very clever: he asked to see the coin, pointed out that it held Caesar’s image and said: “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Or in other words, he announced to the Pharisees and to the crowds that he was not about to take sides, nor was he going to fall for the Pharisees’ trap…as the message he came to share with the world transcended any earthly or political concerns…
As Jesus carried the message of the truth of God’s great love for us all….no matter who we are, where we are, or what ‘team’ belong to, we are all made one in the light of God’s grace, and given through the sacrifice of Christ!
Through Christ, we are all made part of God’s family, all part of the team and we are all wanted, all belong…and no one is left out.
And best of all, even though we may sometimes feel as if we are doing our parenting alone…on a team of our own, we are never left alone, as God’s love is always with us…both through the Spirit and through each other…the other members of our ‘team’…because as God does NOT take sides, through Christ, we are all given the hope of being on God’s side!!
When times are tough, and we are questioning whether we are making good choices as parents, or feeling lost and alone…it is good to be part of a team, and to have others to rely on and ask for help, advice…or to just have the opportunity to vent!!
It is natural for us to want to be part of something bigger than we are…the good news is that we ARE! As part of the team we are called to share the good news of God’s love with others, our friends, family, strangers and even our children, letting all know that they too are a wanted part of the team!!
Let us Pray:
Dear God, thank you for making us part of your team…for wanting us, loving us, and caring for us. Please help us to invite others to join the team, by sharing the good news of your love and hope with others. Let us work together to share your good news, as teammates, and to never forget the hope that is ours as we share compassion with others in the world and in our lives.