29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 18: Denarius, a Sunday Scriptures blog

His opponents set a trap for Jesus in today’s Gospel. Rome had imposed a head tax on its Jewish subjects. Pharisees were OK with paying it, Herodians supported it, and nationalists opposed it, sometimes by fomenting rebellions. Who would Jesus side with? Would his answer brand him as an insurrectionist? Jesus upends their question with a brilliant answer: Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God. In this answer Jesus is not giving us a lesson about separation of church and state. Jewish prophets before Jesus frequently inveighed against those who piled up riches at the expense of the poor. The Pharisees and Herodians were the moneyed class; they were already paying the tax, giving to Caesar. What they were not doing was living the second half of the statement — and to God what belongs to God. And of course, that is everything, our very life, our universe. The question Jesus asks, about whose image and whose inscription is on the coin they show him, is another reminder. We are not just Americans, we are God’s, with God’s image stamped in our DNA and God’s words inscribed in our hearts. Does the way we use our resources of time, talent and treasure reveal who we belong to, reveal our true loyalties?

– Blog entry by Sister Mary Garascia

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