Is 45,1.4-6 ; 1Thes 1,1-5b ; Mt 22,15-21
Give to God what belongs to God
In today's Gospel, did Christ call for conformity and blind agreement towards illegal and illegitimate political power? After all, the Roman emperor was not a legitimate ruler of Palestine. The Romans were the occupants and imposters. What mean the words, "repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar"? Is Christ preaching (?) that we have to pay the taxes to an illegal political power, and in this way is He urging us to conformism and blind obedience? Does He even oblige us to pay taxes?
I think that in today's Gospel there is not at all a question about paying taxes and political issues. Christ doesn't want to be mixed or involved in any political issue and do not want to get involved in politics because this is not the purpose of His mission. He rather asks us to note that since we are so diligent in fulfilling our civic duties, why then do we forget so often and so easy about our duties towards God? His evasive answer is neither encouraging to conformity, nor provoking to a rebellion against the government (even illegal and illegitimate). No He is far from all this political playoffs.
Of course, we do not have to live a life isolate and alienate of worldly and political affairs, because we do not live on the moon or in the desert, because we are the members of a human society, each human society is inherently political (as Plato says "man is a zoon politikon - social animal") . But that's not the purpose of Christ's statement. If we were to translate His words into contemporary language, they would be: "Do not neglect your civic and social responsibilities, be anxious about your earthly life (render unto Caesar that, what belongs to Caesar), but above all do not forget about your obligations and duties toward God, about your eternal life, about of your soul (Give to God what belongs to God)."And I, do I really give to God what belongs to Him?
Jesus' statement that we have to give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar is certainly not demanding that His disciples should always be subjected to any political and even tyrannical power. Sometimes it is just immoral to submit to the illegal and illicit political power. Especially when the government enters into the prerogatives of God, trying to put a man on the place due to God alone. How many examples in our recent history do we have, when human laws are in stark contrast to divine law (eg. God's fifth commandment to not kill and the human "right" for abortion!!!). Respecting human rights (which are only and ONLY!!! conventional), we must always remember that it is more than that. Above the conventional human rights there is the RIGHT of a well-formed conscience, or objective natural law, Divine law inscribed in the human nature: "You will not kill, you will not commit adultery, you will not steal …"
In my everyday busy life, do I not forget about this what belongs to God?
Is not so, that I am more diligent in giving to Caesar even what he should not have, while I don’t give to God what belongs to Him?