In the Gospel reading from Mark 12, Jesus is asked by some Pharisees and Herodians about paying taxes. They try to trip Him up by asking, “Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not? ” Jesus’ reply is quite well known to most people.
“Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” The question asked to Jesus was a trick question. And in His inimitable fashion, Jesus gives something of a trick answer. In fact, the last sentence of today’s reading tells us, “They were utterly amazed at him.” Many people still struggle with this issue today. How much is too much to “render unto Caesar?” What about unjust taxes, such as when our tax dollars go to fund abortion or other immoral things? Are we still obligated to pay?
I certainly am not qualified to answer these tough questions. As citizens, we are certainly obliged to pay taxes. But perhaps the questions themselves miss the point that Jesus was making. I believe it is this: it all belongs to God. Jesus spoke again and again about our relationship with money and possessions. And He made it very clear that we must be willing to part with everything. Because it all comes from God in the first place. And if God calls us to give it away (or back), then that is what we must do. Easy come, easy go!
Father, we thank you for giving us everything. Help us to be willing to part with any or all of what you have given us so freely as a gift. Amen.
(Gus Lloyd, Caesar's or God's?)