Commentary on the Gospel of

Jesus’s answer to the intentions of the Pharisees sounds pretty straightforward and harmless: “Return to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” The Pharisees might have been a bit disappointed that the answer was so simple and commonsensical that they could not trap Jesus with it.

But, how they missed the point! For, beneath the external simplicity of the statement lay a deeper truth. Had they really understood the implications of what Jesus said, they would have been stunned into silence. For, if we give to God what truly belongs to God, then what is left for Caesar? Dorothy Day answers: “When you give to God what belongs to God, there is nothing left for Caesar.” David knew it: “Yours, LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours…. Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand (see 1 Chr. 29:10-14). The Psalmist sings: “The earth belongs to the Lord, and everything in it—the world and all its people” (Ps. 24.1).


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