Jesus, Caesar, and #metoo
The #metoo movement invaded my social media news feed this last week, and I am grateful for it.
As Rhonda and I spoke about it, we literally could not think of a single female (not just woman, any female) in our lives who couldn't have said "me too" when confronted with the reality of sexual harassment.
"Oh, you were harassed sexually? Me too..." is the reply given by all the women in my life.
And maybe you, too.
Guys: are we listening?
This week's Gospel reading made me reflect a bit on how our faith plays into the way we treat things, especially other bodies. We're kicking off our stewardship campaign this Sunday, and so the pull of the calendar tells me to preach on the stewardship of money.
But I can't, because the calendar of our lives compels me to preach on how the Gospel speaks to how steward our attitudes and our treatment of other people's bodies.
The Gospel lesson for this week, by the way, is Matthew 22:15-22. Go ahead and take a gander before moving on, or the rest of this won't make much sense (
just click here to read it
Done? Good; onward...
So there are a couple of odd things about this passage.
First, for all you Star Wars fans out there, is that you cannot read or hear this passage without wanting to yell Admiral Ackbar's, "It's a trap!" because the Pharisees "set out to trap" Jesus.
But even more interesting is the fact that it appears a Roman coin was not difficult for Jesus to get in hand at the moment, which probably meant that one of those gathered there was carrying one around, which for an ancient Jewish person was a big faux pas. The coins of the Roman world were, by some strict Jewish laws, considered to be graven images, especially because the Emperor was supposed to be "divine" for the "good Roman" and Caesar's image was on the coin.
Perhaps Jesus, in asking for a coin, was really asking for one of them to admit that they were breaking the first commandment given on Sinai. Remember it? That "I am the Lord your God" commandment? For ancient Jewish persons, that meant you couldn't carry around any other god-like graven images...including those pesky Roman coins that they had to deal with (which is why the money changers in the temple took those coins and changed them into the local currency...it all makes sense now, right?).
But, so, Jesus has this coin in his hand, with a picture of Caesar on it, and says, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and give to God what is God's."
There are many and various thoughts about what he meant by this, but for me, I go back to Genesis and recall that day of creation when images like Caesar were gathered up from the dust of the ground and infused with the breath of life.