“Give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God.” (Matthew 22:21)


In this Sunday’s Gospel reading, we see a futile attempt by the Pharisees and Herodians to trap Jesus with a politically charged question about paying taxes to Caesar.  However, Jesus, in His wisdom, not only evaded their trap but delivered a profound response – “Give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God”.   Many of us strive to live as loyal citizens of the state, contributing to the economy by giving the best in our work, fulfilling our civil duties, obeying laws and contributing to the common good.  That’s good and needed; but what about our duties to God?  Do we give in the same measure, intensity and focus as we do for our secular duties?


Like the Roman coin that bears an image of Caesar and rightly belongs to Caesar, we, who are created in the image and likeness of God, belong to Him in a unique and intimate way.  We are God’s beloved children.  This truth should compel us in justice, to offer and surrender our whole selves to Him in loving devotion, trust and obedience.


In the first reading, we meet Cyrus, a ruler not of the chosen people, but anointed by God to fulfill His divine purpose. Through Cyrus, God promised to restore Jerusalem and rebuild His temple. This story speaks of a faithful and loving God who will seek out those who belong to Him in unexpected ways.  As we reflect on this and Jesus’ call in the Gospel reading, how do we measure up in responding and giving what is due to our faithful and loving God?  Sadly our relationship with God is oftentimes one that is based on convenience.  I will pray and read scriptures when I have the time.  I will attend EC if it suits my timing.  I don’t have time for the community.  Rather than putting God in the centre of our lives, God becomes an item we fit into our schedule. What I want to achieve is more important than God’s plans. Our relationship with God thus becomes more and more transactional and as a result we take His love for granted.  To give our heart and soul to God and to love Him with all of our strength demands faith in Him.  Without faith and trust, no love relationship can develop.  It is only through the intimacy of prayer and knowing Him through scriptures that we can grow to love God more and more.


St Paul, in the second reading, shared the example of the Thessalonians who were exemplary in their virtues of faith, love, and enduring hope.  Their faith was alive, firmly rooted in God and evident in their lives as they strived to live according to the teachings of Christ.  They sought to mirror Christ’s selfless love and reached out to others; a love that put priority on the well-being of the community.  Despite challenges and persecutions they faced, their hope remained as they supported each other to grow in faith.


As Saint Augustine beautifully reflected: “Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in Thee.”  Our restless hearts find true meaning and fulfilment only when we embrace God’s promises by giving our hearts completely to Him.  Let’s give God what is due to Him and in the process help to bring His love and His light to the whole world as Christ has commanded us.


By : Florence Ang