Give to God What Belongs to God
“Give therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matt 22:21). With these enigmatic words in today’s Gospel, Jesus avoided being trapped by the Pharisees into being a traitor to His own people or being charged as a revolutionary against the Roman occupying forces. It's a waste of time and effort to try to out-smart God! That is what Christ's enemies, the Pharisees, discovered when they set a trap for Him. Jesus outsmarted them by leading them to fall into the trap themselves.
When this Gospel reading occurs in our liturgy, quite often you will hear a reflection on the first part of Jesus’s response; what do we need to give Caesar. But for the most part that is simple enough. Though our true home is in heaven, as St. Paul tells us (Phil.3.20), we are also citizens of the world. We have a duty to respect the government of the country in which we live and to obey the laws which it enacts. That includes paying taxes to finance healthcare, security, roads etc. and to promote world peace and development. But while we must recognise our civic obligations, our final loyalty is to God. Where there is a clash over the demands made on us, God's should always come first.
The bigger question is what we need to give God, the one that gave His very life for us. How careful are we to render to God the things that we owe to Him? This is a greater obligation than all others. How are we doing in terms of keeping it?
Perhaps we could consider a few bible passages that point out these obligations to us. This list is far from complete; but it may be enough to get us thinking about how we are doing in rendering to God what belongs to God:
For one thing, we owe God honor.
"I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt have no other gods before me." (Ex 20:2-3)
Outside of the church building we owe God a godly daily life.
“And what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:6-8)
We need to look out for our less fortunate brothers and sisters.
“Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” (Matt 25:34-35)
Remember that everything that we have is a gift from Him and we must give it away freely.
“Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:38)
He has specifically called us to share the good news of our salvation.
“He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” (Mark 16:15)
And finally, He has a right to our first love. Jesus was asked which was the greatest commandment. And He said,
“‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ “ (Matthew 22:37-40)
it's our duty to render to Caesar what is Caesar's. But let us be even more sure that we do the greater duty—to faithfully render to God what is God's.
God bless you folks, Father Gerard