Scripture Reflection – Twenty-Nineth Sunday in Ordinary Time (21-22nd of October)
The question put to Jesus – ‘Should you pay taxes to Caesar?’ was obviously a trick question to see if he would declare himself on the side of the Pharisees and those who objected to paying taxes to the Roman oppressors or on the side of those who aligned themselves with the Roman oppressors. It was a ‘no win ‘situation for Jesus. Whatever he said Jesus would have offended the Romans to say you do not have to pay taxes to Caesar. Or, if he said yes you should he would have offended the Establishment.
Jesus answer is simple: there is no conflict in acknowledging the state and acknowledging God. There is no conflict if the two are kept in a positive balance.
As people of faith we give to God our allegiance by following the way of Jesus Christ in building up the Kingdom here on earth by our using our talents and gifts given to us by God for that purpose. We are entrusted with the Word of God to provoke our memories to live the Good News. God gives is the Holy Spirit to motivate and direct us in our motive our relationships and actions.
We give to the ‘State’ through living our Christian lives as richly and fully as we can. The way we will build the Kingdom of God will be the way we build a better society.
The conflict comes where we allow our lives to become unbalanced – paying too much attention to one and not to the other. The principle to live by is the Double Commandment – to love God with the intensity of our lives and our neighbour as ourselves.