When I began reading this Gospel I immediately thought of our current political state. I know… dreadful. But I promise this blog post won’t leave you feeling like you’re drowning in more overwhelming political tension, just hear me out.
This Gospel begins with the Pharisees trying to entrap Jesus in speech. They pose the question to Jesus; “Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar, or not?” They knew that either way he answered the question, it would upset people and get him into trouble. “Which is it, Jesus, do we focus on God and treat civil matters as an afterthought, or do we go all-in on the civil matters, and squeeze in the things of God if there’s room afterward?” Sound familiar?
Jesus realized what they were trying to do and he immediately stopped them by saying, “Why are you testing me, you hypocrites?” Then he answers, “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” I guess I have to pay my taxes then.
You see, the Pharisees were trying to entangle Jesus in the things of this world and the laws of that time, when the things of the Lord are so much higher. The two shouldn’t ever be misused and entangled with one another. Sure, the morals God asks us to hold to should always influence everything we do, and at the same time, there are things of the law that as long as they are moral in and of themselves, should be followed, obeyed, and should be things we adhere to as faithful, responsible citizens.
The problem back then, the problem that we read in this Gospel is that the Pharisees had a skewed relationship in their minds between civil laws, religious laws, and God himself. And isn’t the same happening today? It seems that today we’re even worse! Today we’ve lost our sight of God so much that we at times act as if a certain politician were our God or a political party our religion.
Jesus reminds us in this Gospel that while yes, obeying the law is important and fulfilling our roles as responsible citizens is as well, we should never forget that while we have responsibilities with the laws of our country, we also have responsibilities, and even more important ones, when it comes to following the law of God.
Our political state today is tense, and can overwhelm us easily because the stakes are particularly high these days for many things, but it’s key to remember that we weren’t even made for this world. Politics today aren’t the end-all-be-all, and no matter the outcome or the directions our country may go in, God is still God and He is still good. We should always live our lives for Him.