Give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God.
These words, used by Jesus to the disciples of the Pharisees are a perfect answer to the trap they were trying to set. If Jesus had advised against paying taxes, he would have been denounced to the Romans as a rebel rouser. If He had said outright that the Jews were permitted to pay taxes to the occupying forces, He would have been denounced as being a Roman sympathiser. But these words also speak loudly to us. With these words we are being informed that we must contribute to society. The religious freedoms we enjoy come at a cost, the cost is paid for us through our taxes.
But our forefathers in faith paid for our religious freedoms with their lives. When we pay our taxes, we are buying peace, we are buying stability, we are buying good order, including the justice system to try and keep us safe, and the armed forces to keep our borders safe and contribute to keeping the world safe. In turn we elect a government to decide how and when our money should be spent. This is all for the common good.
The government, elected by the people, are there to represent the people and the people’s interests. For most people our involvement in politics is to turn up and use our vote when election time comes around. This vote, for the common man and woman was hard fought for; with some people losing their life in the fight to win the vote for everyone. We have a moral duty to honour those who fought for this right; to use our vote, and as Christians we have a moral duty to use our vote according to our conscience.
As Christians apathy should never be in our DNA; apathy is a tool of the enemy. As Christians we care about ourselves and those around us. That is because we belong to God. The second part of what Jesus says was “give to God what belongs to God.” Just as the coin had the image of Caesar and so belonged to Caesar, so we who are made in the image of God, belong to God. This was confirmed at our baptism when we became adopted children of God, and one day hopefully will return to God.
In the first reading we hear Isaiah tells us that God calls us by our name, giving us a title even though we do not know Him yet. He continues that God is with us every day and “apart from God, all is nothing.” As Christians we are taught to respect authority, but respect does not mean that we should allow that authority to rise roughshod over what we believe in or allow them to impose laws which are unjust or discriminatory. When we see this, we need to exercise our conscience and speak out either verbally or in writing to oppose injustice.
The psalm today reminds us to give praise and glory to God and one of the options for the dismissal at the end of Mass uses the words “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord with your life.” If we do glorify God with our lives, then others will notice and hopefully be drawn towards God through our actions.
In the world today there are great injustices being carried out and innocent people including children and the elderly are being indiscriminately killed or displaced. These include Christians, Jews and Muslims. Every death through violence is wrong regardless of who commits it or who the victim is. We hear the numbers on the news, and they label them as so many Israelis killed on such and such a day and so many Palestinians killed in this attack. Every one of these horribly high numbers was a person, with a family and a life has been cut short. The people who espouse violence and hatred do not come from God; regardless of what they claim. This war, in the land where Jesus walked, is a human tragedy on a Biblical scale. Good governments work tirelessly to bring peace for the people who elect them, indiscriminate killing of a whole people for the acts of a few of them fuels the spiral of destruction giving the terrorists new political energy and eager recruits.
I would urge everyone to extend the words of Psalm 122 which calls for us to ‘Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem’ to extend those prayers to the whole Holy Land and that all peoples can live in peace and harmony. Pope Francis has called for a Global Day of Prayer and Fasting on Friday 27th October1 to bring an end to the Israel-Hamas conflict. Maybe those of us who fast can donate any money we save as a result to the Missio collection next week, helping people less fortunate than ourselves.
Like many people, in the early years of our marriage we struggled financially, sometimes getting extremely fed up that just after pay day we knew we had very little; if anything; to see us through to the next pay day without having to go into the overdraft or use a credit card. For many this is still the case. I wish that back then we had access to something like the Money Coaching sessions which are on offer from Christians Against Poverty [CAP]. These are available at St Bede’s Church on the 2nd, 9th, 16th and 23rd November at 7pm, all are welcome, but booking is essential, please book at Get to grips with your finances | CAP UK, booking helps us to allocate you a space and helps us with catering. The sessions are FREE and start with a FREE MEAL. If you would like more information before committing to this please email me on email@example.com.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
CCC 1897-1917: participation in the social sphere
CCC 2238-2244: duties of citizens
For more information on Money Coaching Money coaching | CAP UK | CAP UK
Please keep in your prayers this week
- Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
- All those struggling to feed their families at this time.
- Those working to help others who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.
- Those discerning a vocation and those considering coming into the Catholic Church.
- The success of the Money Coaching sessions, which are coming to St Bede’s.
- Those attending the Called and Gifted session at St Bede’s this weekend.
- Those attending RCIA at St Bede’s next Wednesday.