In today’s Gospel, the Pharisees are trying to trap Jesus with his words. So they approach him with flattery. “Rabbi, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully.” Then the loaded political question: “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” If he says no, then they can accuse him of being anti-Roman and anti-government. If he says yes, he would lose the support of the people for whom the tax was a financial burden and a bitter reminder of their lost freedom. He clearly avoids the trap and responds: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.”
As Catholic Christians, we have a double citizenship. To our country, we owe our allegiance and gratitude for the safety it provides. There are countless services the nation provides for its citizens. If Caesar wants a few denarii, give them to him, because it will remind us that life does not consist in the abundance of one’s possessions.
The second half of Jesus’ answer might be unintentionally simple. When we begin thinking of “the things that are God’s” it takes only a moment for us to think. All things are God’s. Life is not intended to be a constant dividing of things: One for you, one for me, and one for God. All things are God’s: All goods, all possessions, all realities. Life is intended to be a stewardship of all things. All creation is God’s gift. What we make of our lives, our country, and our world is our gift to God. In this election year when we seem so divided as a nation, better to remember we are one nation under God with liberty and justice for all. The more we can become God-centered, the more all the other issues will fall into place.
Love, Peace, Joy,