Mt 22: 15-21

Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in what he said. So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?”

But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin used for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” They answered, “The emperor’s.” Then he said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

The things that are God’s

The Jewish leaders wanted Jesus to deny that we have any obligations toward secular society. His response was that we must know where to draw the line. This requires that we be discerning people who live in secular society but know “the things that are God’s.” Do we know where to dissent from the secular media’s presentation of the news? Do we bring Christlike compassion to our analysis of the situation of immigrants fleeing hunger and oppression? And are we ready to do all we can to eliminate the scandalous situation of African Americans who are beset by the challenges that bedevil our inner cities?

—Fr. Jack Zupez, SJ, is a member of the Jesuits Central and Southern Province. He lives at Jesuit Hall in St. Louis and has served in full-time prison ministry. 



Lord, give me a discerning heart. May I see issues from the perspective of the suffering and oppressed, and from the perspective of the young who will inherit the world we leave to them. Break down the barriers in my thought that divide my self-interests from the interests of all those in need, my brothers and sisters in Christ. All are God’s children.

—Fr. Jack Zupez