Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Year A, Ordinary 29

This Week's Lectionary Texts
Exodus 33:12-23 or Isaiah 45:1-7
Psalm 99 or Psalm 96:1-9, (10-13)
1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
Matthew 22:15-22

This Week's Reflection
This week's gospel lesson has us continuing through Matthew and is the beginning of a series of moments when "the powers that be" attempt to trap Jesus in order to have reasonable charges to lead to the getting rid of this man who has displeased them with his teaching. Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey with a parade of misfits, threw out money-changers from the temple, and told stories in which he painted the rich rulers as the bad guys - a whole new way of talking about those in power. So, now the writer of Matthew tells us right up front that the Pharisees are trying to entrap Jesus by asking about his allegiances. There is no way out of this question, by the way. "Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor?" A "yes" will offend the religious establishment. A "no" will offend the state establishment. There is no winning here. Jesus, of course, throws them for a loop. "What? Why are you wasting my time with this? Oh, good grief, give to the emperor what is the emperor's and give to God what is God's." Now, stopping at this point seems like Jesus won. They left speechless, it appears, but if you read further, you see that this was just the first question of many and they gather others to continue to bombard Jesus with questions that are posed for the purpose of trapping him. There was no winning with these people.

Seems like Moses may have felt like he couldn't win either in the Exodus text. In conversation with God, Moses says, "I've done everything you have ever asked me to do and I'm not seeing any benefit yet. Do something, God, show me your glory!" And, God, being the wonderful God that God is, finds a way to provide. "You can't see me because seeing God in complete glory is too much for your little pea brain. But, I hear you and I will pass by so that you can get a sense of my glory and feel appreciated for all you have done." The prophet Isaiah shows a similar aspect of God. God says, "You don't even really know me, but I help you, I love you, I am your right arm."

This Week's Artwork
(In order of appearance in the reflection)