It is a scene that could be taken from the daily news feed. A young upstart is confronted by two established leaders. While holding opposing views on many issues, the two band together in an attempt to trap the newcomer. This is not a start from the daily news, however. The newcomer is Jesus in today's Gospel passage. The two established leaders, one a Pharisee and the other a Herodian, think they can trap Jesus by posing a question about the payment of taxes. No matter how he might respond to their questions, they would have the means to discredit him. Jesus sees through their hypocrisy and does not fall into their trap. His response gets at the hears of what is truly important: "Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God."
God creates all that is. Each of us is a marvelous creation of God. All that we have is cre3ated through the grace of God and the ways in which we humans use the gifts that have been given to us by God. Thinking about Jesus' question from this perspective leads us to ask ourselves who belongs to God. As the Lord tells Cyrus in today's First Reading, each of us is called by name. We belong to God. If we are truly honest in our reflection, the conclusion we will reach is that everything is God's. We are to be good stewards of it all. Jesus' instruction to give "to God what what belongs to God" calls us to take seriously the realization that all we are, have, and will be is a gift from God, given to us in trust, that we might use it to further God's kingdom on earth.
Most of us can admit that we do not readily think of our lives and possessions as belonging to God. Doing so calls us to think much more deeply about how we use our time, material goods, talents and gifts in our daily lives. When we take to heart that everything that we are and have belongs to God, we learn to put God first. No longer can materialism or worldly success be our god, nor the unbounded activity that fills much of our lives. Each of us has been "loved and chosen" by God to bring Christ's presence to the world, through the power and inspiration of the Holy Spirit (see 1 Thes 1:4). We can do this by giving what belongs to God back to God through the proper use of our lives, gifts and resources.BACK TO LIST