From Father Tom …

Matthew 22:15-22

The Pharisees went and plotted to entrap Jesus 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.” When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away.

In this week’s Gospel the Pharisees sent their disciples along with the Herodians to entrap Jesus. While we are familiar with the Pharisees, the Herodians only appear twice in the New Testament. First they are in Galilee and later in Jerusalem.  In both mentions they are hostile to Jesus. 

It’s no wonder they don’t like Jesus.  It has been said that the Herodians were probably a public political party, who distinguished themselves from the two great historical parties of post-exilic Judaism (the Pharisees and Sadducees) in the fact, that they were and had been sincerely friendly to Herod the Great. (Wikipedia) In other words they were sent to Jesus because they had underlying motives to not like him. He was a prophet maybe even someone who many were saying he could be the messiah and they didn’t believe it for a minute. In fact they had their own ideas about who should be in and who should be out. Much like we all do.

In my part time job in the finance industry I frequently spend time in an office setting looking through financial records for the company that I work for. This allows me to become much like the fly on the wall that no one really notices.

These past several months I have been privy to some conservations where people have categorized other people as “others” or “one of them” as if they were not like them. It’s almost as if they were Pharisees or Herodians. I would caution us in going down this road because it is a slippery slope that only leads to us doing the exact opposite of what Jesus wanted us to do which was to love one another!

When we find ways of division, instead of ways of uniting we tend to categorize those around us into mere binary groups. Then it’s only a matter of time until those who are in certain categories or groups can’t enjoy the same inalienable rights that we all are guaranteed by our constitution. By law it wasn’t until the 15th amendments to our constitution was added before African American’s could be considered more then 3/5’s of a human being. Simply by defining things as some wanted during our history people, human beings, became property or slaves instead of citizens who were entitled to the same rights as everyone else. 

Today I think of the plight of the LGBTQ community and their ongoing and continual quest to be accepted. Why they would want to apart of a society that calls them names is beyond me.  They want equal rights. Names and labels generally only degrade and categorize people. In most cases it places one label in a position of superiority with the other at a disadvantage. 

Many of us are about to vote (or already have) for our next president and other people who will represent us in various political offices. Whether you vote red or blue or green or whatever, take a moment and pray to our creator for the guidance to vote as our triune God would want you too. Be true to your baptismal covenant and respect the dignity of every human being with your vote.

We are St. John’s Episcopal Church! We are the Beloved Community! 

Father Tom

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