The Pharisees are the Wile E. Coyote of the Bible. Just like Wile E. kept coming back for more encounters with the roadrunner that could not end well, the Pharisees kept coming back to duel with Jesus. They never won. The hierarchy thought they had scored the big win on Good Friday, but Easter followed.

In the Gospel for today's Daily Office readings, the Pharisees tried to put Jesus between a rock and a hard place by asking him about paying taxes in the presence of people with conflicting views on that hot topic of the day. He made them look stupid with his "give unto Caesar that which is Caesar's" comeback.

Why did the Pharisees keep rushing into battles they couldn't win? Jesus posed a threat to their settled lives. We can react exactly as they did whenever anyone unsettles our plans or our day. It is extremely easy to react with resentment when anyone interjects a request, thought or perspective that conflicts with our expectations. It's instinctive to desire security, and it can take conscious effort to welcome surprises or challenges.

Jesus was not the enemy of the Pharisees. He loved them. Had he not, he wouldn't have spent so much time with them. He invited them into a connection to God that could survive even the destruction of Jerusalem.

The people who unsettle our days are not our enemies either. Next time we are frustrated with someone, we might try looking for the divine invitation they could be carrying.

Pastor Kathleen Kelly,  
Interim Rector  

The Tribute Money , oil on canvas, 1782, by John Singleton Copley at the Royal Academy of Arts, London
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