October 22, 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Giving to Caesar: a Sunday Scriptures blog

In Jesus’ times, there were groups who wanted to overthrow the Roman occupiers of Palestine, other groups who resisted paying their taxes as a protest, and still others who used “Caesar” to accomplish their own ends — like getting rid of Jesus. Jesus himself seemed always to stay “apolitical.” He healed a centurion’s servant and praised his faith, made friends with a tax collector. And in today’s parable, his measured advice, when asked if paying taxes to the occupiers was lawful, was to “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what belongs to God.” But how are we to be regarding our government? Catholic social teaching emphasizes the role we as believers have to be responsible citizens. “Giving to Caesar,” for us Catholics, means more than just paying our taxes. But it is difficult for us to discern how exactly to interact with our government. It is difficult to sort through complex issues, difficult to know how to influence legislators and promote changes in law. That makes it easy to become politically passive. My brother Charlie is a “Catholic” who is spiritual but not religious. He bombards family and friends weekly with material about climate change, national politics, Israel and Palestinian issues, and other causes he follows. He supports some causes financially, subscribes to various things. When it gets too much, I remind myself that he is tireless in staying engaged. He does not drop out because he feels it won’t make a difference, or that no one is listening. So I sigh and dig in again myself, put aside my citizen weariness, maybe write another letter. Responsible citizenship means engaging our government on all levels, being watchful and critical observers, and speaking up. Besides taxes, these are gifts we have to “give to Caesar.”

— Blog entry by Sister Mary Garascia

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