READINGS: Isaiah 45:1, 4-6 / 1 Thess. 1:1-5 / Matthew 22:15-21
29th Sunday In Ordinary Time

‘Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s’ (Matt. 22:21). This is the very intelligent answer which Jesus gave to the coalition of Pharisees and Herodians who were attempting to trap Him. Unfortunately, however, some Christians have either misunderstood or misapplied this statement:

  • Some Christians, for instance, use this biblical verse to justify why they can serve God while performing some indigenous (idol) religious practices.
  • Others have used it to justify remaining Christians while seeking spiritual protections from unchristian sources or powers.
  • Still, some drunkards use this verse to justify why they drink excessively.

Beloved, none of the above applications is right. The reason why Jesus said that the tax should be paid to Caesar is that the money or coin belonged to him as the person who represented the Roman Empire (as shown by his image on it). This means that we should be good citizens of our country. On the other hand and more importantly, we should give to God what belongs to Him. Jesus’ message could, therefore, be re-stated as: ‘Give to your country what belongs to her, and to God what is due Him’.

This statement of Jesus can rightly be applied to marriage, family and work. The first application is: Give to your wife/husband what is hers/his and to God what is His.

  • If a man/woman would give to God what He deserves, he/she should also give to his wife or her husband what is due her/him, otherwise his/her worship is meaningless.
  • A man/woman, who makes time for devotion to God, should likewise make time for his wife or her husband.
  • A man/woman, who loves God, should likewise love and care for the wife or husband.

Secondly, this goes to children: Give to your parents what is theirs, and to God’s what is His!

  • As much as children obey God’s commandments, they should obey and honour their parents.
  • As much as children should study God’s Word, they should be studious to please their parents.

Thirdly, parents, give to your children what is their due, and to God what is His!

  • Parents: feed, clothe, and shelter your children as much as you contribute to the growth of God’s church.

Fourthly, to the employer: give to your workers what is their due, and to God what is His.

  • You may give generously to the church, but if you do not treat workers as fellow human beings, if you do not pay them fairly, and their conditions of work is poor, your worship of God is a negative balance.

Finally, to workers: give to your employers what is their due, and to God what is His.

  • You can be a very active church member (attending Masses every day), have daily quiet time, be very prayerful, and yet if you do not respect your employer, work diligently and avoid stealing or embezzlement, your worship of God might be in vain.

CONCLUSION: Beloved, as we give to God what is His and to our country, spouse, parents, children, workers and employers what belongs to them, may we (in turn) enjoy fairness from others and be blessed eternally. Amen!

By Very Rev. Fr. John Louis

Bishop John Kobina Louis

Most Rev. John Kobina Louis is an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Accra, Ghana. More about him here.

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Catholic Homilies and Sermons for the Liturgical Year by Most Rev. John Kobina Louis, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Accra, Ghana.

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