October 18, 2020 – Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
At that he said to them, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” (Matthew 22:15-21)
The Pharisees and Herodians had heard Jesus say, “You can’t serve two masters.” They attempted to trip Him up by asking whether or not they should pay taxes to Caesar – can one serve both God and the Roman Emperor? By saying, “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God,” Jesus made the distinction between being in this world and being of this world.
We are in this world. Because we are in this world, as good citizens we must abide by its laws, assuming they are not immoral or directly in conflict with God’s law. Speed limits, taxes, neighborhood association bylaws, school dress codes, and airport security searches are all expectations society may put on its citizens. We abide by these rules as they are reasonable and or may help maintain order.
Unfortunately, society also allows for, accepts, and in many cases seems to endorse, many other behaviors for those wishing to be of this world: materialism, abortion, disregard for the dignity of human life, sexual immorality, and much more.
Many people choose to be both in this world and of this world. Unfortunately for those who do, God’s law becomes more and more distant, often falling out of sight altogether.
Jesus urges us to recognize the difference between being in this world and being of this world. Be in this world (repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar) when it comes to following its laws, but do not get caught up in the immoral behaviors it promotes. Instead, do those things that will lead you to the Kingdom of God (repay to God what belongs to God).