Jewish leaders sent to Jesus some Pharisees with members of Herod's party, with the purpose of trapping him in his own words. They came and said to Jesus, «Master, we know that you are true; you are not influenced by any-one, and your answers do not vary according to who is listening to you, but you truly teach God's way. Tell us, is it against the Law to pay taxes to Caesar? Should we pay them or not?».
But Jesus saw through their trick and answered, «Why are you testing me? Bring me a silver coin and let me see it». They brought him one and Jesus asked, «Whose head is this, and whose name?». They answered, «Caesar's». Then Jesus said, «Return to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's». And they were greatly astonished.
The gospel reading is very difficult to apply in our daily lives, because we don’t have such deep wisdom and the capacity of discernment. Jesus was able to discern their mentality and answers rightly to the intentions behind than the questions posed. It is important in our own relationship, not to jump to give answer, before analysing the intentions behind such question. It is equally right and agreeable in a complicated situation, to return the question to the author of the question, than trying to respond with affirmation or negation.
For our spiritual nourishment, Jesus affirms that the image can be a visible sign of the invisible reality. Since God has created us in His image, we should identify this image in our interpersonal relationship. Once we realise this invisible image of God, we will never sin.
The third affirmation is the ownership of the worldly and material things. Everything belongs to God, including Caesar. The more we remind ourselves of this truth, we will be very sensitive to the needs of others and will become less possessive. Have a wonderful day.
Daily Quote from the early church fathers:
Put off the earthly image and put on the heavenly one, by Origen of Alexandria (185-254 AD)
"Some people think that the Savior spoke on a single level when he said, 'Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar' - that is, 'pay the tax that you owe.' Who among us disagrees about paying taxes to Caesar? The passage therefore has a mystical and secret meaning. There are two images in humanity. One he received from God when he was made, in the beginning, as Scripture says in the book of Genesis, 'according to the image and likeness of God' (Genesis 1:27). The other image is of the earth (1 Corinthians 15:49). Man received this second image later. He was expelled from Paradise because of disobedience and sin after the 'prince of this world' (John 12:31) had tempted him with his enticements. Just as the coin, or denarius, has an image of the emperor of this world, so he who does the works of 'the ruler of the darkness' (Ephesians 6:12) bears the image of him whose works he does. Jesus commanded that that image should be handed over and thrown away from our face. He wills us to take on that image, according to which we were made from the beginning, according to God's likeness. It then happens that we give 'to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what is God's.' Jesus said, 'Show me a coin.' For 'coin,' Matthew wrote 'denarius' ( Matthew 22:19). When Jesus had taken it, he said, 'Whose inscription does it have?' They answered and said, 'Caesar's.' And he said to them in turn, 'Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's.'" (excerpt from HOMILY ON THE GOSPEL OF LUKE 39.4-6)
«Return to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's»
Fr. Manuel SÁNCHEZ Sánchez
Today, we marvel again at Christ's wit and wisdom. With his masterly response, He directly points out to the fair autonomy of the worldly realities: «Return to Caesar what is Caesar's» (Mk 12:17).
Today's Word, however, is something more than knowing how to successfully get out of a conflict; it is something utterly relevant to all aspects of our life: what am I giving God?; is it really what I prize more in my life? Where did I place my heart? Because... «where your treasure is, there will your heart be also» (Lk 12:34).
Yes, indeed, according to St. Jerome, «you must necessarily render unto Caesar the coin in his image; but you willingly give your best to God, because it is his image, not Caesar's, that is on us». Throughout his life, Jesus Christ constantly poses the matter of choice. It is up to us to choose, and our options are clear: either we choose the worldly values to live by or we decide to live by the Gospel's values.
It is always a time for choice before us, a time for conversion, a time to “replace” our life again in the dynamics of God. Our prayer, and specially the prayer made by God's Word, will gradually be discovering us what God expects of us. He who opts for God becomes God's dwelling place, for «if a man loves me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him» (Jn 14:23). And prayer becomes the true school where, as Tertulian says, «Christ teaches us which was the Father's purpose which He was carrying out in this world, and what a man's ethical behavior should be so that it is in agreement with this very purpose». If only we would succeed in choosing the right way that suits us!