We are invited this week to make a joint offering:
To God and to society.
Three parables in the Gospel of Matthew are followed by four conflict stories. The first one deals with the perennial issue of the relationship between Church and State:
Tell us, Master, is it permissible to pay taxes to Caesar or not? (Matthew 22)
The protagonists try to snooker Jesus:
If he supports the payment of the highly unpopular poll tax, he will lose standing with the people.
If he rejects payment, he runs the risk of being identified with groups who were in more or less perpetual rebellion against Rome, and so presenting himself as a significant threat to peace and public order (Byrne, Lifting the Burden, p.165).
With his brilliant mind and sublime courage, Jesus says,
Let me see the money you pay the tax with.
Etched on the coin is the image of Caesar.
Etched in human beings is the image and likeness of God.
And so Jesus says:
Give to Caesar what belongs to him and give to God what belongs to God.
There is no inherent contradiction between being faithful to your country and being faithful to God.