Rendering to Caesar and rendering to God

first_img Share Sharing is caring! Tweet Share 7 Views   no discussionscenter_img Share LocalNews Rendering to Caesar and rendering to God by: – October 17, 2011 Image via: icr.orgThe hypocritical Pharisees thought they had Jesus in a trap about paying taxes. The situation was this — the Jews had to pay taxes to a government they despised. Rome was an occupying power dominating their lives. For a portion of their income to end up in Caesar’s pocket was extremely galling. As a proud people, they resented it. “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” was thus a particularly loaded question. Would Jesus offend the Jews by siding with Roman domination or would he risk the wrath of the Romans by siding with Jewish nationalist feeling?Jesus sailed above the dilemma with the now classic reply which thrust the decision back at them. It is not often noted that the underlying basis of his response was their use and acceptance of Roman coin. Using Roman coin, the ordinary means of all kinds of transactions and trade, meant some acceptance of the social benefits involved. Jesus didn’t say it but what he implied was if you enjoy benefits, you must contribute something to paying for them. It’s not an either/or situation then between giving to Caesar and giving to God. Rather, give to Caesar what is Caesar’s due, and give to God was is God’s.We have to pay taxes ourselves, whether income tax or VAT or whatever form of tax the government chooses to impose. Indeed, we have little choice in the matter. Whatever the government wants, the government will find a way of getting. The point, however, is that we too enjoy a variety of social benefits, which cost money; and if we want to keep enjoying the benefits, we have to contribute something to paying for them. There can be little argument with the principle that something is owed to Caesar.That’s not the arm of Jesus’ statement that causes us difficulty. The difficulty we have concerns what is spiritually due to God. There’s a standard complaint among many people that the Church talks too much about money. Much of this is rationalization, I think. The Church, the Catholic Church at any rate, hardly talks about money. What is truer to note is that giving to God, i.e. giving to the work of Christ in the world, is a pretty low priority for many people. That’s the case for at least two reasons. First, as a culture we have become increasingly more materialistic. It’s difficult to pay for all the playthings we have to have these days and still give something to God. We’re like the little boy whose mother gave him a dollar to take to Church – fifty cents for collection, and fifty cents for whatever he wanted to buy for himself. On the way he slipped and fell on the pavement, and the coins rolled out of his hands. Fifty cents ended up in the gutter. He looked up to heaven and said in sorrow: Well, God, there goes your fifty cents.The second reason of course is that there is something intrinsically seductive about money. The more we have, the more we want, the more we hold on to, and the harder it is for us to give. Jesus said, “you cannot worship both God and money…” Money is like a drug. It can be just as enslaving as cocaine. That’s why Jesus spoke so stringently about the perils of loving it. He did not say it was a bad to have money, but he warned us to be careful lest we get to a point where the idolization of possession meant that money owned us. The worship of money is probably the most widely practiced religion in our country today. It’s the idol everyone bows down to and worships.As a nation we require a deep conversion away from this idol worship. Let us instead set greater store by possessions that truly matter, that make us rich in a lasting sense. We can see this only when we give ourselves –not only our money – to God, realizing that all that we are and all that we have comes from him and remains a gift. If we take this truly to heart, giving some due to Caesar will not be a big problem; giving to God will be no problem at all.By: Father Henry Charles Ph.Dlast_img

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