Tuesday, June 01, 2021

Whose Image is on You?

“Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” Mark 12:17

This is one of the most satisfying encounters of Jesus with the Pharisees and Herodians. These people were the trolls of Jesus’ day. They pretended to be righteous and truthful and wise, when all they wanted was to trap Jesus. They asked Him whether it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not. How we all wish Jesus’ answer was different! 

Back then, their taxes were even more crippling than ours. There was not only the income tax, there were crop taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, emergency taxes, and a tax collector could even stop someone carrying a load to pay taxes on that as well. The taxes and the grain were sent to Rome and it was used to support the lavish lifestyle there. No wonder there were riots because of the taxes imposed on the Jews. 

Jesus’ answer utterly amazed them. He was not trapped. On the contrary, His answer still resonates with us today. It is so dismaying and disheartening to see how our taxes are being wasted, stolen even, by people in government with no conscience. The government borrowed billions of pesos with almost no account made of how it was spent. It feels like some won the lotto with this pandemic upon us! 

Jesus asked His questioners to show him the Roman coin, the denarius. “Whose image and inscription is this?” On one side, the face of Tiberius Caesar Augustus was inscribed, on the other, the words, Pontifex Maximus or “Highest Priest”. “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God.” Pay Caesar his taxes even if we do not like what he does with it. We are citizens of two kingdoms. One kingdom, in which we are exiled for a little while, will not last. We are also citizens of an eternal Kingdom. 

Whose image is on us? In Genesis, we read that each one of us, is made in the image and likeness of God. His fingerprint is on us, just as a potter’s fingerprint is on his clay pot. You and I, we belong to Him. Kingdoms come and go. Caesars, no matter how much power they seem to have over our lives, decay and become dust. Let us just follow the instruction in Jeremiah 29:7: “Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

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:^) Patsy