“Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” The Gospel seems very fitting considering the times we live in, a time when politics is polarized and pageantry. And yet, the Lord Jesus tells us “repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”
We have to keep in mind that Jesus didn’t die to inaugurate a nation or government. He came to inaugurate the kingdom of God – God the Father’s definitive rule over the world – by dying on the Cross, revealing that the Father rules totally and completely in the God-man. And the kingdom isn’t one of legislatures or politicians; it is a kingdom of saying Yes to the Father, of being obedient to the divine will revealed by Christ and entrusted to the Church. It’s a kingdom where God will show Himself as the Judge of the Living and the Dead, a kingdom where no one will escape justice due to them. We Christians are called to be citizens of the kingdom: to see that our salvation comes from God and God alone to whom all glory and praise be!
It is through this lens that we see what the Lord Jesus teaches today. We can love our country because our country is where we dialogue with everyone else. The Catechism teaches that we are obligated to pay our taxes for the common good: for defense, the economy, infrastructure, and so on. But we shouldn’t deify our government, we shouldn’t worship our country. No. A Christian loves their country precisely because their country provides them a home on earth; a place to sleep, a place to be safe, a place to study and work, a place to know others who bear God’s image and likeness.
But at the end of the day, we have to realize that no country is perfect. Our government and country cannot save us from the real injustices of the world: sin. Yes, we have a duty to oppose evils and injustices. But whatever evils we stand against and oppose are ultimately caused by us sinners rebelling against God’s law. And the only way to remedy our hearts isn’t by forming a perfect government or an ideal country – that’s impossible when we have a government made up of sinners. The remedy is to be citizens of God’s kingdom through repentance and conversion so that we may give to God what belongs to Him: ourselves, the true coins bearing the image of God who is Christ Jesus our Lord. For Christ Jesus allows us to be both for God and country, but, as He Himself shows, God must always come first lest we start worshipping a nation ruled by sinners rather than a kingdom ruled by the Almighty.
Joseph Yuson – St. Joseph Seminary, Edmonton, Alberta
Fot. Joakim Honkasal /Unsplash.com