29th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A - 19/10/2014 - Gospel: Mt 22:15-21
Being cornered
Sometimes in life there are tricky circumstances that we can't avoid and must deal with them. They confront us and drain our energy but some people have more to give than others. It all depends on the location where you live and the vocation you chose. Jesus during His public ministry frequently had to deal with challenging circumstances from His opponents. They wanted to discredit His ministry and eventually to do Him away not because Jesus had done or said something wrong but because His teachings prick their conscience and interrupted their evil plots.  Their attitude shows that they not only rejected the teachings of Jesus but also refused to learn from Him because they thought their way of life is better than the way Jesus offered. They also think that the collective wisdom from their own group would outwit the wisdom of Jesus. This is there reason they meet in secret to form a question in the hope to trapping Jesus. They question started out as religious and ended up with a link to political viewpoint. In their mind they formed a question so that Jesus had no way out and it forced Him to take sides. In fact, they purposely wanted to use somebody else's hand for the blood of Jesus.

Master, we know that you are an honest man and teach the way of God in an honest way and that you are not afraid of anyone, because a man's rank means nothing to you. Tell us your opinion. Is it permissible to pay taxes to Caesar or not?

The bitter tablet with sugar coating would not trap Jesus. Taking sides in this situation means to support one party and against the other. If Jesus answered 'yes' His opponents will label Jesus as a collaborator with the oppressor, the public hatred occupying Roman Empire power. If He answered 'no' they will report it to the ruling power excusing Jesus of provoking and trying to overthrow the ruling party, and that violated the rules of the Emperor and the death penalty would have been unavoidable. Jesus refuses to draw a line in the sand between religious observances and political engagement. Without taking sides Jesus told them what belongs to the world remains in the world and what belongs to God is of God. The two aren't mixed and that is the way it should be because the temporary things of the world can't match the everlasting things of heaven. A human mind is often dominated by a thought that consumes us and it is hard to put that thought aside. For example a person who lives in a concentration camp needs nutrition and the thought of food is constantly on their minds. A person who desperately needs a job thinks nonstop about how to find it. Every time a politician appears in public s/he worries about the improvement of public ratings. A person who unfortunately contracted an incurable disease would never feel at ease. The opponents of Jesus constantly think about ways to disgrace Him and for them the outlook in life seems to be irreconcilable. The opponents of Jesus saw Jesus as the stumbling block in their lives and they were determined to catch him off guard. Jesus saw His ministry differently since He publicly made clear that His mission is to save, to remove the deadly stumbling blocks off our lives and gives us life, free from corruption of sin and death, so that we will live joyfully and live fully of this life and the life to come.  Jesus himself declares that He will not be cornered but will be a corner stone that benefits our souls and the firm foundation for those who would love to have a stable and happy life.