The Question About Paying Taxes ~ Matthew 22:15-21
Give to God the things that are God’s. ~ Matthew 22:21
Listen to the Homily by Fr Chito Dimaranan SDB
Everything belongs to God
Kakanyahan o Kakayahan?
Give the Lord glory and honor. ~ Psalms 96
Primo Piatto (Lectio Divina)
29th Sunday in OT (Is 45:1,4-6; Matt 22:15-21) – October 22, 2017
PONDERING GOD’S WORD (Meditation)
One feature of the Gospel passages on Jesus preaching in the Temple in Jerusalem are the “trap episodes” where the Jewish leaders seek to ensnare Jesus with their questions. The Pharisees are in the picture and so are the Herodians who were supportive of the dynasty of Herod and thus were loyal to Rome. They give Jesus a simple albeit sugar-coated and double edged question: “Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?”
It is a tricky question that should give Jesus a dilemma. If he said yes, he would be accused of accepting that the people of God should be subject to foreign power, an answer that would be favorable to the Herodians; if he said no, then he would be accused of standing against Roman sovereignty, an answer that would be favorable to the Pharisees. It was a no-win situation because it was a question crafted with malice, one that would alienate from either group. Jesus calls out the hypocrisy in such a question and asks for the coin that was used in paying the Roman tax. His answer did not favor either group. In advising to give what belongs to Caesar, he merely affirms what the status quo is, that as a people, the Jews are subject to the Romans; in advising to give what belongs to God, he is affirming that there are indeed things due to God and these should be given. In giving to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s, there need not be any contradiction.
We are not only Christians; we are also citizens of a nation. We belong to the Church, and we also belong to a civil society. We participate in social life—and this is a teaching of the Church whose members live in the world. The message of Jesus in the gospel is ever relevant: following God’s law need not go against following civil law, as long as the latter is not unjust and immoral. We can be both good Christians and upright citizens.
- How do I exercise my participation in social life, that is, being an upright citizen while being a good Christian?
- What does “giving to God what is God’s” mean to me? What are the things due to God that I give to him?
Pray for the country and its leaders. Ask God to touch those who make decisions for the nation.
Bring before God your concerns about giving to him what is due to Him—worship, reverence and praise.
Lectio Divina by Fr Joel Camaya SDB