IS 45:1, 4-6; PS 96:1, 3-5, 7-10; 1 THES 1:1-5B; MT 22:15-21
Today’s readings encourage us Christian stewards to always be mindful of who we are and Whose we are in every aspect of our lives.
Our First Reading, from Isaiah, takes us back to the very foundation of our faith. The prophet, serving as the “voice” of God, proclaims, “I am the LORD and there is no other, there is no God besides me.” This is a powerful reminder of a fundamental truth. But it is easy to lose sight of this truth in our fast-paced, stressed-out, digital world. As disciples of Christ, we must make intentional choices each day as to how we spend our Time, Talents and Treasure so that each of these aspects of our lives proclaim that we indeed serve God and God alone.
Putting God first in all areas of life takes real courage, especially in this day and age. But we should not be afraid to live boldly for Christ. St. Paul reminds us of the power we have been given along with the gift of our faith. He says to the Thessalonians in our Second Reading (and we can claim these words for ourselves) that “our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction.” Through our Baptism, and with the graces given to us in the Eucharist, Reconciliation, the Word of God, and the strength we find in each other in our faith family, we have everything we need to embrace the call to the stewardship way of life. We belong to God, and there is no other, after all.
Jesus reminds us of this truth in our Gospel passage today as He cleverly puts the Pharisees in their place during their attempt to verbally entrap Him. They ask Him whether it is lawful to pay the tax to Caesar. This tax was a daily reminder to the Jewish people of their humiliating status of occupation by the Roman Empire. The Pharisees thought they had laid a perfect trap for Christ. If He agreed that the tax should be paid, He would disappoint His followers. If he replied that it should not be paid, He and His followers would be in real trouble with the Romans.
But the Pharisees were thinking small. Christ, on the other hand, thinks big. We all know how the story goes. Christ asks to see the coin that pays the tax and has them state whose image is on it. They of course, reply, “Caesar.” In response Christ tells them to “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” With that, He reminds us that while civil authorities should be obeyed, we answer to an infinitely higher Authority, God, Who is Lord of everything and everyone. All things and all people were created by God. In Baptism we have been claimed for Christ. Our lives are a gift from God and we have the privilege and responsibility to use every aspect of our lives in grateful response to Him.
Let us joyfully give thanks to this wonderful God by the way we live our daily lives. We belong to Him and there is no other!