Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in what he said. 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. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the Emperor, or not?" But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, "Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin used for the tax." And they brought him a denarius. Then he said to them, "Whose head is this, and whose title?" 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."
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, my Creator and Redeemer, everything good comes from you. You are the one source of peace and happiness. Thank you for bringing me into existence and insuring I received the inestimable gift of the faith. Thank you for accompanying me in every moment. I am grateful for your mercy and love and wish to respond more generously to you in my life.
Petition: Lord, may I remember who I am: one who bears the name “Christian.”
1. Signed: How often do we reflect on what we are doing when we make the Sign of the Cross? In The Spirit of the Liturgy, the future Pope Benedict said: “to seal oneself with the Sign of the Cross is a public and visible ‘yes’ to him who suffered for us, to him who in the body has made God’s love visible, to a God who reigns not by destruction but by humility of suffering and love which is stronger than all the power of the world and wiser than all the calculating intelligence of men.” We are saying that we believe in the power of the cross and particularly in what it means for our own life – our own bodies will rise again. We sign ourselves as belonging to the one who has won our redemption by his blood on the cross, as belonging to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We are signed and we belong to God. The Sign of the Cross is a daily reminder that we are to give to God what is God’s, that is, our very selves.
2. Delivered: Christ prayed at the Last Supper, “They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.... Father, I desire that those also whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world” (John 17: 16-24). And so it is that we are to be delivered to where we will see his glory and be with him. We bear an inscription as those baptized into his life, and we outwardly recall this when we make the Sign of the Cross with water from the fonts in the entrances to our churches. It is up to us then – with the thoughts, words and actions of our lives – to live this truth coherently, giving to God what is God’s.
3. Detached: Pope Saint John Paul II, reflecting on Psalm 145, writes: “Man therefore finds himself facing a radical choice between two contrasting possibilities: on the one side is the temptation to ‘trust in princes,’ adopting their criteria inspired by wickedness, selfishness and pride. In fact, this is a slippery slope, a ruinous road, a ‘crooked path and a devious way,’ (Proverbs 2:15) whose goal is despair. Indeed, the Psalmist reminds us that man is a frail, mortal being, as the very word ‘adam’ implies; in Hebrew this word is used to signify earth, matter, dust. Man – the bible constantly states – is ‘like (…) a strip of grass that is green at dawn but has withered by evening (Psalms 89:5-6).’ With this in mind, we “give to the emperor” what is of this world by relinquishing or simply detaching ourselves from it. We give what is eternal, namely our souls, over to God because we belong to him.
Conversation with Christ: Lord, Jesus Christ, sometimes I am attracted by the things of this world and influenced by those who try to convince me to trust only in the world’s ways. May I not be hoodwinked by this world but keep my heart set on the world that will never pass away. Only in your world will I be filled with your grace forever.
Resolution: Today I will examine my conscience to do some “house cleaning” of my soul. I resolve to treat the goods of this world only as a means towards holiness, stepping stones to communion with God.