And What Belongs to God?

October 18, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

The Gospel lesson for today is Matthew 22:15-22 and tells of a time when Jesus was asked by opposing groups (Pharisees and Herodians) if one should pay taxes to the emperor Caesar. If he says "yes", he offends the Pharisees who hate all that the Romans symbolize, and if he answers "no", he will be reported as a traitor by the Herodians who collaborate with the emperor. So he asks for a coin and further inquires whose image and title is on the coin. The crowd responds that it is Caesar, the emperor. Then Jesus answers, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and give God what is God's." The query is not resolved because the riddle is extended with an implicit question: what belongs to God?

The question is enormous. I met this boy in Monrovia, Liberia in February, 2008. If he is alive, he is at the edge of young adulthood. If I knew his name then, I do not remember it now. I have this photo framed in my study. I see him staring back at me every day. He belongs to God as I do, made in the image of God as I am. When I ponder the dangers of Ebola and poverty and violence and malaria and hunger and ignorance, I realize that he is in more peril than I. Some voices say his life is not as valuable as those of us who have money in our pockets. And though he lives outside our borders, he belongs to God. We all do.


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