Message From Father Maurer
I call upon you, God, for you will answer me; bend your ear and hear my prayer. Guard me as the pupil of your eye; hide me in the shade of your wings.
To you I call; for you will surely heed me, O God; turn your ear to me; hear my words. Guard me as the apple of your eye; in the shadow of your wings protect me.
This Sunday's Gospel has the Pharisees again setting verbal traps for Jesus. Now before we jump on the bandwagon of Pharisee-bashing, we would do well to recognize that generally speaking, the Pharisees and other groups that go up against Jesus in the Gospels, well, there essentially stand-ins for us! We are being invited to look critically at ourselves.
The Pharisees began well enough, highlighting that in the eyes of God, all are equal - there is no status or title that matters in his regard for us. Where things go sideways is in their questioning. What are they getting at?
The answer is that they are looking to create a claim of 'us vs. them'. Through a strawman argument (paying taxes to Caesar), they are seeking to claim superiority to a particular group of people in which they hoped to lump Jesus.
This separation of ourselves against another group of 'them' is entirely sinful. We preach 'love the sinner, hate the sin', but we often skip to the second half, forgetting the first.
May we ask the Lord to help us love as He does - who again and again invites 'them' so that we all might be one.