(In) Whose Image?


(In) Whose Image?

In Matthew’s Gospel, the Pharisees and Herodians try to set a trap for Jesus. In doing so, and using Roman coinage, they end up entrapping themselves. The coin that they presented had the effigy of Caesar and bore the inscription “Tiberius Caesar, Son of the Divine Augustus” and the Law forbade the use of images, especially those that could be interpreted as images of the divine.

As always, Jesus’ response has many layers of meaning. In asking whose image is on the coin, Jesus uses the term from Genesis, which describes humans as created in the image of God. In reality, his question challenges his opponents to declare their loyalty, their faith. Are they loyal to God, in whose image they are created, or are they loyal to Rome and the Emperor, whose coins they carry.

Reflecting on this encounter, we can have many different responses. We can scoff at Jesus’ opponents and their naïve assumption that they can entrap Jesus. We can be indignant that they would want to discredit and even destroy Jesus. We can react in many ways that remain on the surface and thus avoid asking ourselves the same question as Jesus asks the Pharisees and Herodians. It is a key question; in our lives, whose image do we bear and project? To whom or what do we render homage? In referring to the Genesis account of creation, Jesus reminds us that everything, including us, is part of God’s creation and contributes to God’s purpose.

Being create in God’s image, Jesus reminds us that the human vocation is to be images of the divine and instruments of God’s creating, healing love in our world. As disciples, Jesus calls us to continue his mission, assures us of the guidance and gifts of the Holy Spirit being poured into us as we live out that mission in every aspect of our lives. When others look at me, what image do they see? That is the question that underlies the scripture passages in this weekend’s liturgy.

By Richard Beaudette, OMI
Vocation Team – East