Wit With Ness Or Less

Matthew 22:15-22 – The 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time – for October 16, 2011

“Tell us then, what do you think, is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor…” (Matthew 22:17)

My wife and I were on our morning walk, the dog trotting near us, when I asked, “What housecleaning should we do today?”

You know the drill. Friends were expected for a visit. It’s the bad news/good news about guests: drats we have to tidy up, but it’s an incentive to tackle neglected chores.

By asking the question, by putting the obvious on the table first, I thought myself clever. Why? Like all right-thinking and intelligent human beings, I can’t stand cleaning. Nonetheless, some work must be done and I figured—‘cuz I’m also sneaky—asking her to list possible chores “first” allowed me a chance to nab the least-worst items on our impending list of tasks. In other words, my lovely wife would suggest priorities and I’d claim the easiest ones.

I asked my question. We strolled along the sidewalk. The dog sniffed a tree as if a dogsled running the Iditarod took a break around its trunk.

“Well,” she answered, “what do you think are the most important ones?”

Gotcha. A question with a question. My wife does that. A lot. She’s a teacher—and I think a darn good one, though I’m biased—and her teaching style includes questions for her students. She wants them to think, wonder and grow. She avoids lecturing and encourages discussion. And she brings her work home!

Some religious leaders in Jesus’ day famously approached him, infamously scheming to trick him into a dangerous mistake, and wondered if it’s “…lawful to pay taxes to the emperor or not?” Continue reading →

B is for . . .


How does that saying from Jesus go: my yoke is easy and my burden is light (in Matthew 11, I think)?

Jesus lied! Jesus snookered us.

Living out faith is more rather than less a burden. Forgive another? Hard work! Turn the other cheek? Takes a massive effort (and it hurts too)! Give all of your treasure or take the cloak off your back and happily hand it to another?

Please, show me the changing room so that I can shed the burden of faith for the carefree clothes of not caring and cynicism. Wait. Faith is a burden. And rightly so. In the “burden” of forgiveness, in the hard work of loving another, we glimpse Jesus’ call to love the neighbor.

Every action is a burden, weighing almost exactly the amount of the next person who needs your compassion.