Offerings and Taxes

Mark 12: 13-17
Tb 2: 9-14 / Psa 112

Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.
(Mark 12:17)

Lord, we give to You what You own,
Redeemed at a very high price;
In Your likeness make us be known,
And by the Name of Jesus Christ

They sent some Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to trap Him in His words. They came and said to Him, “Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity. You are not concerned by the opinions of men, nor their status; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn’t we?” But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. “Why are you trying to trap me?” He asked. “Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” They brought the coin, and He asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?” They replied, “Caesar’s.” Then Jesus said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” And they were amazed at Him. (Mark 12: 13-17)

Reflection

The Pharisees and the Herodians were two camps with opposing principles. But like two evil forces they banded together to entrap Jesus with their trick question thinking that whatever answer Jesus gave, either camp would have the opportunity to condemn Him. If Jesus said, ‘It is right to pay taxes to Caesar,’ the Pharisees could accuse Him of being a false prophet, with allegiance to the hated Roman conquerors. And if Jesus advised against paying taxes to Caesar, then the Herodians could accuse Him as a subversive to the Roman authorities. But their plan only succeeded in showing to the people that Jesus possessed no ordinary human intelligence, and in fact only provided our Lord the opportunity to give an important lesson about man’s dual obligations to God and to society.

Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” Jesus is teaching us in today’s Gospel passage that as Christians we have the responsibility to give support to our Church and to the proclamation of the Gospel, just as much as we are obliged to pay our taxes and uphold the Constitution of our country. As citizens of our beloved country, it is our patriotic duty to support our government financially by giving back a portion of what we have earned here. In the same way, for all the blessings that we have received from God including our own life, it is only fitting that we assist His Church on earth, including His priests, whose vow of poverty makes them totally dependent on our generosity. After all, our ‘spiritual taxes’ manifest our citizenship in the kingdom of God. And if we owe our peace and freedom to the cost of supporting our government’s military and police, just consider at what cost our salvation from sin was redeemed!

Our Church (unlike many other denominations) does not oblige us to “tithe” (ten percent of our income), because this is an Old Testament prescription that our Lord Jesus did not even require His followers to practice. Instead, the Word of God has given us enough instructions to support the Church and the poorest in our community by works of charity. Generosity is a gift from God that keeps us from the grave sins of avarice and selfishness. St. Paul wrote to Timothy: “Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all evils, for which some in their desire for it, have strayed from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Tim 6:9-10).

Dear God, we are made in Your image and likeness because we come from You, therefore as Your currency, we must give ourselves back to You. Do with us as You will, Lord God, for we are certain that in charity, we will grow in full measure. Amen.

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