The Gospel reading for the Daily Prayer of the Church is from the 20th chapter of the Gospel according to Luke where we hear the Jewish leaders trying to trap Jesus:
When the scribes and chief priests realized that he had told this parable against them, they wanted to lay hands on him at that very hour, but they feared the people.The Question about Paying Taxes
So they watched him and sent spies who pretended to be honest, in order to trap him by what he said, so as to hand him over to the jurisdiction and authority of the governor. So they asked him, ‘Teacher, we know that you are right in what you say and teach, and you show deference to no one, but teach the way of God in accordance with truth. Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?’ But he perceived their craftiness and said to them, ‘Show me a denarius. Whose head and whose title does it bear?’ They said, ‘The emperor’s.’ He said to them, ‘Then give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ And they were not able in the presence of the people to trap him by what he said; and being amazed by his answer, they became silent. (Lk. 20:19-26).
The Roman coin, the denarius, had stamped on it the image of Caesar with the inscription in Latin “Ti[berivs] Caesar Divi Avg[vsti] F[ilivs] Avgvstvs”, meaning “Caesar Augustus Tiberius, son of the Divine Augustus.” For the Jewish leaders to have this coin would technically have been blasphemous because it stated that Caesar was god. So they would have produced the coin with a bit of embarrassment to say the least. Jesus responds, “Then give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” God is Lord of all, even over Caesar who claims to be god; therefore, everything belongs to God, even the mighty Caesar. Jesus certainly put things into perspective: all that we are, all that we have, all the universe is God’s alone.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, you are Lord of all, even the rulers of the world. You taught us to pray for your Father’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. May it be so through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Your servant in Christ,
The Rev. Chester J. Makowski+St. Augustine of Hippo Episcopal Church
Galveston, Texas 77550