Then they sent to him some Pharisees and some Herodians to trap him in what he said. And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality, but teach the way of God in accordance with truth. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?”
But knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why are you putting me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me see it.” And they brought one. Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” They answered, “The emperor’s.” Jesus said to them, “Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were utterly amazed at him.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
When I read today’s Gospel passage, I remember something Dorothy Day said: if you repay to God what belongs to God, then there’s nothing left for Caesar.
I spend a lot of time holding on to what I’ve been given and wanting more. I hold onto happy memories to avoid the reality that things may have changed for the worse. When things are good, I scoff at the possibility of a future where things are more difficult. I pine for more money, longer weekends, or the newest MacBook, because I work hard and I deserve it.
But Day’s interpretation of the Gospel reminds me that the goodness in my life is pure gift. What God has offered me is only mine until God calls it back. It takes great courage to hold God’s gifts lightly and, when the time comes, to let them go.
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.
—St. Ignatius of Loyola
Please share the Good Word with your friends!