1. Introductory prayer
I calm down and I feel the presence of God in me. I ask for the grace of the Holy Spirit to open the word of God, I accept it and allow it to fulfill my mission in me, in order to become more and more what I am in Holy Trinity. Then I ask God for this prayer, in my own words, or with those that are here…
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Jesus Christ, you look at everyone because your relationship with everyone is important to you. What is important to you is a genuine and humble heart that goes personally into the conversation, into the relationship. Lord, who loves me from creation onwards, who loves me before I give any answer. I ask you to strengthen my heart in love and the persistent hope that I will be able to talk to you openly without seeking victory or proving right. I especially ask this at this time, when you invite us even more so that we can enter into relationships, into conversations, so that love will live. Let me enter into relationships as I am – a child of God.
2. Reading – Listening: Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s – Matthew 22:15-21 – Meaning and Commentary
Paying the Imperial Tax to Caesar
15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax[a] to Caesar or not?”
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18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”
21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.
Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
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3. Thoughts on the Gospel – Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s – Matthew 22:15-21 – Meaning and Commentary
The Pharisees and Herodians were local authorities in Galilee who did not enjoy popularity among the inhabitants. They decided it was time to kill Jesus (Matt. 12:14; Mark 3: 6). At the command of the priests and elders, they wanted to know whether Jesus supported them or whether he was against showing obedience to the Romans: a deliberate question, full of malice! Under the guise of fidelity to God’s law, they sought grounds for accusation. If Jesus had said: pay, they would have accused him along with the people of being a friend of the Romans. If he said not to pay, they would accuse him of being subversive. They set a loop for him.
Jesus is aware of their hypocrisy. In his answer, he does not discuss with them, but goes to the heart of their question: “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. Jesus then concludes, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” They had already paid the emperor what belonged to him, for with his money they bought and sold and even donated to the temple! So the question was pointless. Why ask something that is so self-evident in everyday life?
The coin had important political power in the ancient world. The rulers issued them with their own image and inscription on them. In a sense, it was considered the personal property of the ruler. Where the coin had power as a means of payment, the ruler had political power over the people. Because the Jews used Roman currency, Jesus explained that what belonged to the emperor should be given to the emperor.
With their questions, they pretended to be God’s servants, but they forgot the most important thing: they forgot to give God what belongs to God! Jesus saw how by their deceptive teaching and conduct they prevented people from entering the kingdom of God (Matt. 23:13). With the words, “and to God what is God’s.” he meant: exercise righteousness as required by God’s law.
But the story has an even deeper meaning. Like a coin, we carry an image – the image of God. We are created in His image: “God created man in his own image… he created man and woman” (Gen. 1: 26-27). We do not belong to ourselves, but to God, who created us and redeemed us with the precious blood of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor 6: 19-20). That is why the apostle Paul encourages us to offer our bodies alive, holy, and pleasing to God (Rom. 12: 1). We are chosen for God’s children, sons, and daughters in Christ, so our lives and all we have belong to God and not to ourselves. Thus we give to God what belongs to Him and by which He wants to reveal His divine kingdom of peace, justice, and love in this time and space.
4. Meditation – thinking
About everything I have read and what has touched me, I am thinking now. I let my thoughts also touch my heart. Think:
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- In the readings and the Gospel, the Lord tries to show us the truth – that we are all loved by God. We all carry the image of God, so we are sisters and brothers. For a few moments, I indulge in observing this in the Word.
- Jesus invites us to give to God what is God’s, that is, to do God’s will. Where, what is God inviting me into today?
- If in any conversation I try to seek God’s will and let go of the need to find what is right in my opinion, what kind of relationships can I live?
5. Personal Prayer
In the next moments of silence, I talk about this with Jesus. I tell him what I think, what I feel, what I want. I ask him for the grace that I need for … (make your conversation with God).
6. Contemplation – Quiet moment with God
Now I let silence be in me. I am simply present in God, as He is quietly present in me. Perhaps from this silence, I hear God’s speech, which invites me perhaps in thanksgiving and worship or to open myself and accept him in my path life and work, maybe He gives me the courage to continue searching for…
When I walk into a personal relationship with God, he changes me, makes me more loving, and encourages me to the concrete action, which is….. (write down your insights for concrete action).
8. Prayer at the end
Thank you, good Jesus, for inviting me to be who I am. Your love is alive and invites me to give myself further in this love. Thank you for walking this winding path with me and lovingly showing me the goal.
9. Review of my prayer meditation or reflection
This is my view on what was happening in me at the time, I spent praying. In my reflection, I can help myself with the following questions:
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- How was I feeling when I started praying?
- What happened during the prayer?
- What feelings and thoughts could I detect in myself?
- How did I feel with the revelations, which I had during my prayer?
- What did I learn about myself, about God, about his attitude towards me and others and me to him and others?
- How did I finish my prayer?
- What did I receive for my everyday life?
- In the end, I can write the lessons, findings, and insights. I can write also, where I had problems, they may have great value in learning about my relationship and myself with God. They can also help to find a more appropriate way of prayer for me.
- Then I thank the Holy Trinity. If I pray with my family or in the community, friends, I can share with them what I felt in this prayer. With a prayer for one another, you can support yourself throughout the week.
Lectio Divina meditations are published and adapted with permission from the Jesuits home – ignacijevdom.si
Text from the Bible – New International Version (NIV)