Matthew 22: 15-21
That’s when the Pharisees plotted a way to trap him into saying something damaging. They sent their disciples, with a few of Herod’s followers mixed in, to ask, “Teacher, we know you have integrity, teach the way of God accurately, are indifferent to popular opinion, and don’t pander to your students. So tell us honestly: Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
Jesus knew they were up to no good. He said, “Why are you playing these games with me? Why are you trying to trap me? Do you have a coin? Let me see it.” They handed him a silver piece.
“This engraving – who does it look like? And whose name is on it?”
They said, “Caesar.”
“Then give Caesar what is his, and give God what is his.”
The Pharisees were speechless. They went off shaking their heads.
The Religious authorities are determined to undermine Jesus’ authority and once again Jesus manages to undermine their authority instead.
Clearly, the authorities do not stand apart from the Roman occupation, since they readily seem to be able to produce a coin with Caesar’s head on it. It is significant that Jesus is unable to produce a coin himself since he is homeless, dependent on the goodness, generosity and hospitality of others.
Jesus affirms the need to fulfil our civic duties, but even more so – as creatures who are bearers of God’s image – we are called to go beyond the law showing love, mercy and justice to others and to all of creation. This love is made manifest not in a passive desire to avoid doing wrong, but in an active determination to work for the flourishing of all.