“Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not? Should we pay or should we not pay?” Thinking that they could outsmart Him, the Pharisees posed these questions to Jesus so that they would have a solid ground to put him to trial for treason. Their words seemed flattering and courteous but in reality, they were not interested with the truth. Instead, their real motive was to trap Jesus.
As I read the Gospel, I confronted myself “Are there times when I am like the Pharisees when I ask Jesus? I have to admit that sometimes in my prayers, I attempt to ask Jesus to grant me something I really want to have but may be contrary to His will. In my seminary journey, I remember several instances where I asked the Lord for graces that did not seem to conform with my vocation and even tried to give justification. For instance, I refused to forgive someone who had offended me and even tried to justify why I withheld forgiveness. Sometimes when under stress, I tend to ask him for immediate consolations which are contrary to the invitation for me to carry my crosses without any reservation.
Today’s Gospel invites me to shed off my ill intentions like those of the Pharisees and Herodians, especially in my prayer life. It reminds me to always examine my motivations and purify my intentions whenever I ask the Lord in my prayers like when I ask for something that I know would hinder the path in knowing Him more deeply. The Lord knows us and He knows what is in our hearts. When we pray, He already knows what we want and what we need, before we even utter a single word. May this usher us to ask for the grace that we may be able to pray and ask for what we need, not for what we want, so that we can give to God what is rightfully His. That is, no other than ourselves.
By: Sem. Alvin R. Cedo
Some Pharisees and Herodians were sent
to Jesus to ensnare him in his speech.
They came and said to him,
“Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man
and that you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion.
You do not regard a person’s status
but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.
Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?
Should we pay or should we not pay?”
Knowing their hypocrisy he said to them,
“Why are you testing me?
Bring me a denarius to look at.”
They brought one to him and he said to them,
“Whose image and inscription is this?”
They replied to him, “Caesar’s.”
So Jesus said to them,
“Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar
and to God what belongs to God.”
They were utterly amazed at him.