THE JEWISH LEADERS then sent out spies to heckle Jesus and discredit Him publicly. In apparent sincerity they asked Him if it was lawful to give tribute to Caesar. A negative answer would be treasonable; an affirmative would offend the Jews.
Showing that He knew their intention, Jesus replied:
“Why do you test Me, you hypocrites? Show Me the coin of the tribute.”
They passed Him a denarius, and Jesus asked them:
“Whose are this image and inscription?”
“Caesar’s,” the spies replied. And Jesus concluded:
“Render, therefore, to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
The same day He was questioned by some Sadducees, who denied the resurrection after death. Posing the case of a woman who was married and widowed seven times, they asked Christ which of the seven husbands would be her spouse at the resurrection. But Jesus said:
“You err because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. For at the resurrection they will neither marry nor be given in marriage, but will be as angels of God in heaven. But as to the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”
Then a Scribe who was present asked Jesus which was the greatest commandment, and Jesus answered:
“The first commandment of all is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one God; and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind, and with thy whole strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second is like it, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
The Scribe agreed that charity far outweighed “holocausts and sacrifices.” Jesus approved, saying:
“Thou art not far from the Kingdom of God.”
Meditation: Love is the great commandment. But the love of God always comes before the love of man. Moreover, love of man must be motivated by the love of God. In our fellow man we must see the reflection of God; and seeing that, we can show our love for God by helping our neighbor. Do I see in my neighbor the image of God?
Information from The Life of Christ “Our Lord’s Life with Lesson in His Own Words for Our Life Today” The Catholic Press, Inc. 1959. 207-208. © 1954 edited by Reverend John P. O’Connell, MASTD and Jex Martin, following mainly A Chronological Harmony of the Gospels by Stephen J Hartdegen OFM NIHIL OBSTAT John A McMahon; IMPRIMATUR Samuel Cardinal Stritch, Archbishop of Chicago August 1, 1953. Print. Drawing by Albert H Winkler.