Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

[Excerpted from the scripture reflection prepared for the September/October 2017 issue of Emmanuel by Brother John Barker, OFM, of Catholic Theological Union, Chicago, Illinois.] In this week’s Gospel, Jesus does more than simply avoid being trapped by the Pharisees. He also provides us with a reminder about the relative power and importance of earthly rulers.

The question of Roman taxes was, as we might expect, a contentious one at the time of Jesus. The Herodians mentioned in the reading were agents of Herod, a client king of the Romans, and so they supported the Roman tax. The Pharisees, on the other hand, were known for their opposition to the tax, although they did not go so far as to actively undermine its collection or advocate for the overthrow of the regime.