Jesus faces a dilemma in this weekend’s Gospel. He is faced with deciding on how to answer a question that was meant to trap him. The question is asked by two opposing groups, the Pharisees and the Herodians. The Pharisees opposed Roman rule and wanted their independence and the Herodians wanted to keep power in the Herodian dynasty, while sympathizing with Rome. Both groups banded together because Jesus was perceived a threat to their authority. They believed by asking him whether one should pay a tax to Caesar, he would be caught in a no-win situation. They surmised, if he answers in the affirmative, he will lose support from the Jewish people. If he answers in the negative then the Herodians will be able to turn him over to the Romans as a dissident. However, Jesus’ answer sends both factions off in disappointment. Jesus’ answer is, give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s. Since Caesar’s image is on his coin used to pay the tax, it is reasonable to give him back what belongs to him. How about what is God’s? We are created in the image of God, so that means we may honor authority here on Earth, but we belong to our loving creator. We are adopted children of God. He does not desire material things from us. His great command is to love one another as I have loved you.
The answer that Jesus gives offers us a test of how to put God at the center of our decisions. Since we are made in the image of God, we ask ourselves will our decision negatively impact our dignity, worth, and catholic social teaching? Will our decision take care of the common good? When we face important decisions, it is important to remind ourselves that we are not part of one faction or another. We are made to bring the kingdom of heaven to Earth. We can honor those in authority positions, but God is the God of all. We are always challenged with competing issues of thought from other groups, friends, society, or members of our family. I know there were countless times where I was challenged to make a choice between what my faith informs me and the pressure from friends and even family. However, as followers of Christ we are challenged to look at both sides of a question and then make a decision based on the Creator’s image in each one of us. Jesus stands in the middle of our decision making. Therefore, we take our deliberations to prayer. We sit before the Blessed Sacrament and meditate. We examine the hierarchy of goods. We remove ourselves from the high emotion and energy of the moment and ask Jesus for guidance, so we can bring God into the center of ourselves. We know our decision is the correct one when it leads us to inner peace of mind and heart. Guigo the Carthusian is quoted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church regarding scripture and prayer saying, “Seek in reading and you will find in meditating; knock in mental prayer and it will be opened to you by contemplation. (CCC 2654).
Sounds like a good start before we make those important decisions in our life!