Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture in which we see how God had called us and chosen us from among the nations. He has called us to follow Him and to become His disciples, and yet, many of us are often reluctant to follow Him, because of our lack of faith in Him.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, in the Gospel passage today, all of us heard of how the Lord Jesus confronted the Pharisees who attempted to trap Him with His own words, when they asked Him whether they should pay taxes to the Romans, specifically to the Roman Emperor, the Caesar, or not. They hoped that by His answers they could find fault with Him.
If Jesus were to answer that they should not pay taxes to the Roman Emperor, then the Pharisees could easily seize that moment and reported Him to the Roman authorities, as a great treason against the Roman state. The collection of tax was a very important matter for states at that time, just as it is today. Anyone who refused to pay tax to the government, would immediately be considered as rebels.
And then if Jesus answered that they should pay taxes to the Roman Emperor, then the Pharisees could have also used that statement against the Lord, as the Jews were quite unhappy at the taxes imposed on them by the Romans. That was why in various times throughout the Gospels, we heard how the tax collectors were reviled by the Jews because they were seen as traitors to the nation and country.
Therefore, whichever answers that the Lord gave them, each of them would lead to difficulties and trouble for Him. But, the Lord knew what to do, and He simply told all of them, that since the silver coins bore the image of the Roman Emperor, they belonged to him, and it was right for the people to return them to who they belonged to. And He said that they should give to God what belongs to God.
The Pharisees were unable to respond to the statement made by Jesus, since they recognised in that statement an inviolable truth, and they could not refute what the Lord has said. Their attempts to blackmail and strike at the Lord had ended in failure, because God was not with them, and they were serving their own selfish interests, instead of obeying the Lord’s commandments.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, we may think what the Pharisees had done were bad, and indeed they were, for they were putting their own selfish interests and personal jealousies and issues against the Lord ahead of their responsibility to guide the people of God, who had been entrusted to them, to the truth of God. Yet, if we look carefully on what happened, and reflect on our own individual lives, we should realise that in fact in many occasions within our lives, we have done something similar.
How is that so? That is because whenever we do not give to God what belongs to God, we are doing what the Pharisees had done. They were unable to give themselves to the Lord, that is by obeying His laws and precepts wholeheartedly. Instead, they persecuted the faithful who listened to the truth. In the same way, whenever we are too preoccupied in our daily activities and busy schedules, we tend to forget about God and our obligations to Him.
It has been too often throughout our history, that we mankind have wandered away from the path that God had set upon our feet, because we have been tempted to do what the world wanted us to do. We have also been spending so much time with our worldly concerns, that we shut the doors of our hearts and minds against God. God wants to come unto us and to be with us, but we rejected Him, because we would rather satisfy our personal desires instead of obeying God.
Let us ask ourselves, on how much time we spent with the Lord every day? How much time do we spare for Him in prayer, to talk to Him and to listen to Him speaking in our hearts? I am not saying the time we spent in our prayers and our petitions, but rather, in quality time which we spend with Him, knowing what it is that He wants for us to do in our lives. Too often we find ourselves rushing from one activity to another, without even turning to look at the Lord.
We often sidelined the Lord and only came to Him when we are in great need for help. Besides that, He is practically forgotten and non-existent in our lives. But that is not what we should be doing, brothers and sisters in Christ. Rather, what we heard in the Scripture passages today are reminders for all of us Christians, that first of all, we must give what it is that we owe the Lord, for each and every one of us, our lives, and our very breaths are due to the gift from the Lord, and without Him, we would not have existed.
Therefore, just as He has loved us dearly and cared for us, then we should also love Him back with as much enthusiasm and intensity, giving our very best to love Him, not just through words, but also through actions, loving the poor, the weak and the lonely, those who have none to love and care for them. Remember, the Lord Jesus said that, in a parable, that all which we do for the least of our brethren, we do them for the Lord as well.
Then, let us also remember to be good citizens and obedient people, observing the laws of the land as long as they are not contrary to the divine laws of God. This is fulfilling what we heard in the Gospel today, that we should ‘give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.’ After all, the states and nations we belong to have taken care of us, and provided for us in various ways. It is only right that we return the favour wherever possible.
Last of all, today we also mark the occasion of the World Mission Sunday, on which day we remember our mission as Christians, which God has given us. The Lord has blessed us so much in our respective lives, in one way or another. Should it not be rightful for us then to follow Him and obey His commands? And how do we do this? We should go forth and proclaim the truth of God, our mission in this world, by our words, as well as through our actions.
That means, we must be exemplary as far as possible, and strive as best as possible to show care and concern for our brethren, and even for our enemies and all those who disliked us. This is our mission as Christians, that we touch others through our own lives, anchored firmly in God’s love and truth, that we may bring them closer to God and to His salvation.
May the Lord help us in these endeavours, and let us pray that through our missionary efforts, united with all those missionaries who have committed their entire lives, we may bring everyone together closer to God, that we may be saved through Him and in Him. Amen.