Give Caesar His Coin, God Yourself – Jun 04 – Homily – Fr John Lawrence

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Fr John Lawrence gives the homily at Bloomington, IN, on Jun 04, 2024, on how Jesus teaches to give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's, emphasizing the need to honor God's ultimate authority.

In today's Gospel, Jesus is questioned by his enemies, aiming to trap Him. They asked if it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, hoping to force Him into a problematic answer. The background includes the Roman occupation of Judah, which many Jews resented. Historically, around A.D. 6-7, a rebellion led by Judas of Galilee arose when Rome imposed a census and taxes, inspiring the zealot party that continued to resist Roman rule.

The Pharisees and Herodians, typically opposing groups, united against Jesus. The Herodians supported Herod Antipas, Rome's puppet ruler, while the Pharisees were strict Torah observers. Jesus, recognizing their hypocrisy, avoids their trap by requesting a coin and pointing out Caesar's image and inscription on it, teaching that they should give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's.

This passage is sometimes cited to support the idea of the separation of church and state, but the context shows that no one in first-century Palestine held a secular view of the state. The authority of temporal powers is legitimate but not absolute. Jesus emphasizes giving to God what belongs to God, referring to humans created in God's image with His law inscribed on their hearts (Jeremiah 31:33 - God's law in hearts -

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that citizens must not follow civil directives against moral order or fundamental rights (CCC 2242 - Civil disobedience in moral conflict -

Today's reading from 2 Peter reminds us that the current world will dissolve, urging us to hasten Christ's coming by living righteously (2 Peter 3:11-12 - Holy, godly lives hasten end -

Saint Augustine noted that sin can obscure but not destroy God's image in us. We await new heavens and a new earth (2 Peter 3:13 - Await new heavens and earth -, and Saint Paul explained that creation itself will be set free from corruption (Romans 8:20-21 - Creation freed from decay -

Like our bodies at the resurrection, the world will be transformed, not destroyed. Saint Peter advises that God's patience allows time for repentance (2 Peter 3:9 - God's patience for repentance - Saint Paul’s letters, sometimes difficult to understand, are often twisted by the unstable, but we must remain steadfast in our faith (2 Peter 3:16-17 - Beware of misinterpreting scriptures -

Give to God what is God's: give Him yourself.

Further Reading

CCC 1899 - Authority derives from God -
CCC 1903 - Authority must act morally -
CCC 2257 - Duty to refuse immoral orders -

Ave Maria!

Mass: Tuesday 9th Week of Ordinary Time - Wkdy
Readings:  -
1st: 2pe 3:12-15, 17-18
Resp: psa 90:2, 3-4, 10, 14, 16
Gsp: mar 12:13-17

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