20 PENTECOST - PROPER XXIV - A - 17 MATTHEW 22. 15-22
Today’s gospel passage follows three parables in succession in which Jesus has basically condemned the religious leaders of his day for failing to carry out their divine mission of being the light of God to the world. In doing so Christ implies that God was about to take the mission away from them and give it to the Gentiles unless they repented and recommitted themselves to the divine task that had been entrusted to them.
By the end of the second parable, the one of the vineyard, the Pharisees and scribes were conspiring against Jesus for they perceived that he was directing the parables towards them. The parable of the wedding feast, in last week’s gospel reading, was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
He out flanks them with his response. His answer has the effect of thrusting his answer back to his interrogators, for one must determine what is rightfully Caesar’s and what can be claimed by God alone.