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Lectionary reflections - Year A
Ordinary Time
Proper 24

Isaiah 45.1–7
1 Thessalonians 1.1–10
Matthew 22.15–22

The question as weapon is one of the oldest techniques in controversy. You will hear it used to perfection most mornings on the radio. The art is to find the question to which there is no acceptable answer, so that any response simply digs the answerer into deeper and deeper trouble. This, of course, changes the whole nature and purpose of a question, since the point of most questions is to elicit an answer, with
the assumption that the one asking the questions does not know the answer and is then, in some sense, dependent upon the one who does. But the point of the unanswerable question is to put the questioner in a position of power.

The Pharisees are confident that they have found the perfect question to ask Jesus. Whichever way he answers this, he will alienate some of his followers, and that is exactly what the Pharisees want: they want to erode Jesus’ power base, without dirtying their own hands. So, they calculate, if Jesus replies that taxes should be paid to the illegal Roman usurper, he will anger those of his followers who hope and believe that he is the Messiah, the one who will reassert God’s direct rule over his people, and get rid of the Romans. But if he tries to please that group by saying that taxes should be withheld, he will be liable for arrest by the civil powers, and he will frighten off the ordinary people, who want no trouble with the authorities, but who just come to Jesus to hear about God and to find consolation and healing. ‘Got him!’ the Pharisees chortle...

Taken from Lectionary reflections year A by Jane Williams - Published by SPCK

Publisher: SPCK - view more
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