This Sunday’s gospel portrays a group coming to Jesus and asking him a cunning question, wishing to trigger hatred and enemies: is it lawful or not to pay taxes to Rome?
They are partisans of Herod, the Idumean puppet king put in place by Rome; together are the Pharisees, who dream of a theocracy under the law of Moses. They cannot stand each other, but today, they are allied against a common enemy: the young rabbi whose insights reveal a little of what heaven is about, but they fear him, his career as a preacher they want to crush.
The well-thought-out trap invited the rabbi to choose either with us or against us! To pay taxes to the empire or not? Jesus asks what likeness they see in the empire’s coin; they firmly say Caesar’s.
Jesus responds with a double change of perspective. First, he replaces the verb “to pay” with “give back,” rendering unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s; he is not your family after all. He allows you to use his money, but at the end of the day, when you borrow toys, it’s important to remember to give them back.
But God is your father, and you don’t borrow from him. To him, you go with open arms, tired, hurt, and needing healing.
I work for one of them; I live because of the other. After my demise, I will meet only one. I am deeply indebted to him; my heart and soul belong to him.