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.
This gospel message is being used universally and this doesn’t need any explanation. However, for the application, I would like to invite you all to reread yesterday’s first reading, which continues to flow in today’s readings.
We all should be aware that we belong to God and our real home is where Jesus has promised to prepare for us. It is to this heavenly family that we have become members. Once we realise this truth, our relationship with others will radically change. For we will become humble and gently in our approach. This self-realisation of our own divine identity will help us to grow in our fraternity. There we become true Christian, carrying in us the universal mission of God’s Kingdom.
«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!