Between the Lines: Pentecost 18: Proper 24- October 16, 2011

Text: Matthew 22: 15-22

 “…Show me the coin used for the tax.”  And they brought him a denarius.  Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?”  They answered, “The emperor’s.”  Then he said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s…”

Jesus assumes in this parable that the symbols and images we put on our money have significance; money itself is a symbolic currency, representing what we value.

Take a dollar bill out of your pocket or your purse.  Look at it carefully for clues – what do you see?  What might it mean for you?  Look at the Great Seal, with its four-sided pyramid, topped by the “eye of God.”  Thirteen ranges in the pyramid/ 1776 at the bottom of it in Roman numerals/  “Novus Ordo Seclorum” (A New Order of the World)/ “Annuit Coeptis” (She/He/It has smiled on our activities).

One the other side of the bill is the Bald Eagle, the bird of Zeus, American style, holding in his talons both war and peace, thirteen arrows in the one hand, a laurel branch with thirteen leaves in the other.  Which way is he looking?  Over the eagle’s head are thirteen stars arranged in a Star of David.  Keep looking.

What do these images and symbols tell us about the emperor?  What things that are the emperor’s do we give?

– Beth Harrison


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