The tribute to Caesar
M Mons. Vincenzo Paglia

Gospel (Mk 12,13-17) - At that time, they sent some Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus, to catch him in his speech. They came and said to him: «Teacher, we know that you are truthful and do not stand in awe of anyone, because you do not pay attention to anyone, but teach the way of God according to truth. Is it lawful or not to pay tribute to Caesar? Should we give it, or not?”. But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them: «Why do you want to test me? Bring me some money: I want to see it." And they brought it to him. Then he said to them: «This image and the inscription, whose are they?». They answered him: "Caesar's." Jesus said to them, "Render what is Caesar's to Caesar, and what is God's, to God." And they remained in admiration of him.

The commentary on the Gospel by Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia

Jesus contrasts a nationalist conception of religion: the payment of the tax to the emperor did not constitute a violation of the rights of God. However, Jesus adds that God's rights must be recognized. On this second dimension Jesus asks for the decision: give to God what is God's. And what is God's? If we open the first page of the Bible it speaks of man and woman made in the image of God. To be precise, the image is "collective": "God created Adam in his image... male and female he created them" (Gen 1.27). The individual person and the entire human family, jointly, have imprinted the image of God. They must therefore return to God. Together with the entire creation. There is therefore a common destination to be recognized which concerns all peoples as well as the heavens and earth they inhabit. "Giving to God what is God's" means not only recognizing the common destiny, but also the definition of the vocation of man and woman: working so that human history is directed towards heaven, towards the celestial Jerusalem with the new heavens and the new earth of which the Apocalypse speaks. This is the primacy that we must rediscover. While Christians are invited to "give to Caesar what is Caesar's" and therefore commit themselves to peaceful coexistence among all, at the same time we are called to the responsibility of communicating the Gospel to all peoples so that they understand and hasten the common destination towards the kingdom of God.