At that he said to them, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”
Welcome as we continue our Ordinary Time journey of study and re-commit ourselves to the work of following, witnessing to, and sharing Jesus.
We have spent weeks focusing on God’s great generosity: unlimited forgiveness; full payment to all workers whether they are old school faithful or new followers; His offer of opportunities to change, turn and repent, and His invitation to all to put on the wedding garment of regeneration.
Today we encounter a challenge cooked up by the religious authorities of Jesus’ time on earth. What should a faithful person do about government and rulers?
Jesus gives a classic answer we all remember: “repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”
A brief thought crossed my mind in preparing for this week. If we are so focused on God’s generosity, why would we ever consider government, rulers, and taxes?
We start by turning back to our first reading where Isaiah recounts God’s words for the ruler Cyrus made in advance of Cyrus’ birth. This prophesied Cyrus would rule all ancient Babylon and would free the people of Israel. Not only would he free them, but he would make their return to Israel smooth.
Throughout the Old and New Testament, the prophets and Apostles point to God’s selection of rulers and government that were ostensibly pagan and did not know God. Yet they were working for God. We are told to honor them, be subject to them, to be obedient, and even pay our taxes without complaint.
This seems odd doesn’t it, especially in our day. Some so-called Christians fight awfully hard for certain candidates for office. Some people channel their anger and louder than life voices behind others. This is why we are called today to consider God’s way of doing things.
In the end, it comes down to whether we trust God’s generosity or not. We heard: there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.
So, what should a faithful Christian do about government and rulers? As followers of Christ, we must let God make the choices for us, and not invest in following politicians. God will establish them even if they are pagans. What is key is how we live as followers of Jesus and members of the Kingdom. Jesus has many more instructions about that.