The Gospel reading from the Mass for Sunday Cycle A of the 29th Week of Ordinary Time is Matthew 22:15-21.

After thoroughly rebuking the Jewish priests, scribes and elders, two other opposing Jewish factions join forces to confront Christ.  The Pharisees were ultra-rigorous Jews who believed God would reward Israel if every one just acted holy.  The Herodians, the Roman’s choice to administer Roman rule, were Jewish elite who enjoyed riches and power by collaborating with the Romans. These opposing factions band together and form an evil coalition to seek to condemn Christ.

Scheming, they seek to trap Him. First they attempt to flatter Christ; ironically, they speak the truth about Christ but don’t believe what they are saying. Foolish, they think they’ve set the perfect trap: If Christ says “to pay” the census tax to Caesar they can accuse Him of siding with the Romans instead of His own Jewish people and if Christ says “do not pay” they can report Him to Caesar for insurrection.

Christ easily sees through their hypocrisy and authoritatively directs the Herodians and Pharisees to bring Him a denarius, a Roman coin with Caesar’s image, idolatrously venerated by Romans as a god. They foolishly bring Christ a coin proving their own hypocrisy by carrying an idolatrous coin and then He forces them to further participate in their own humiliation, asking whose image is on the coin. After they reply “Caesar”, Christ responds with words that have been quoted for over 2000 years, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s.”  Totally outwitted, the Herodians and Pharisees slink away, “marveling” at Christ (v. 22; omitted).

Awed by Jesus ChristDivine Wisdom, Christ knows the hearts of the attackers and masterfully eludes their attempted trap. Divine King, Christ outwits, humiliates and rebukes some of Israel’s best thinkers, leaving them in awe. Divine Teacher, Christ’s words continue to teach men throughout the ages. Son of God, even Christ’s enemies can not but help marvel at His wisdom.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Christ is the greatest debater/orator who has ever lived, for He is the Son of God. Think of men or women that impress you as eloquent, witty or combative speakers and realize that Christ is infinitely superior.

2) As in the days of Rome, many men today “worship” political or social figures, putting their faith and trust in mere human beings to solve the world’s problems. Review the Catechism’s teaching on Idolatry in the First Commandment (CCC 2112-2114) and pray for Christ to help you to put your faith solely in Him and not in men.

3) While Catholic men are called to be good citizens (“Render unto Caesar”), we can never cooperate with evil; Catholic men in the rapidly decaying modern culture must be both wise and courageous. Review the Church’s helpful catechesis on the Fourth Commandment section on Authorities in Civil Society (CCC 2234-2246) and pray for Christ to give you the fortitude to refuse to support or cooperate when governments/institutions/organizations acts immorally.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Sorrowful Mysteries

Daily Devotion – The Guardian Angels

Virtue of the Day – Justice

Corporal Work of Mercy – To clothe the naked

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To counsel the doubtful