Twenty-NinthSunday in Ordinary Time
The tribute to Caesar
Then the Pharisees went off and plotted how they might entrap him in speech. They sent their disciples to him, with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. And you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion, for you do not regard a person’s status. Tell us, then, what is your opinion: Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?” Knowing their malice, Jesus said, “Why are you testing me, you hypocrites? Show me the coin that pays the census tax.” Then they handed him the Roman coin. He said to them, “Whose image is this and whose inscription?” They replied, “Caesar’s.” At that he said to them, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” Mt 22,15-21
The today’s gospel asks us to meditate on the inner conflict which our consciences of believers are experiencing in front of the human laws, often perceived as unfair. There is no legal system which can be fully shared by every citizen and when we have to face a law which we do not approve, the temptation to transgress, appealing to our consciousness, is a seriuos one. This attitude became incredibly popular by the recent years in our country among the people “of good will”. The current social and historical situation was made very complex by waves of illegal immigration, facing which the law is circumvented. If it is permissible, or even a duty, to break the unjust laws enacted by dictators, in a democratic state the laws must be improved, corrected or repealed by a referendum, but not systematically violated. There has been the illusion to do something good by encouraging the lawlessness in the name of the charity and of the tolerance, but the results are not acceptable. If I claim the right to transgress the laws for what I consider good, others will give for grant the right to do the same for what it seems to them good and the most complete anarchy will take place. Everything which thrives illegally becomes uncontrollable and dangerous. Also the mafia was created to defend the weakest people. I do not think that the jews of Jesus time deemed appropriate to pay taxes to an invading and dominating state and Jesus, however, urges them to do so, not so much to separate the civil duties from the christian commitments, but to fulfil it to the purpose of being able to devote in a more serene way to “what belongs to God”.