Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.


The Tax Day Gospel

Roman coinSurely the Gospel reading for April 15 is
Then the Pharisees met together to think of a way to trap Jesus into saying something for which they could accuse him. They decided to send some of their disciples, along with the supporters of Herod, to ask him this question: "Teacher, we know how honest you are. You teach about the way of God regardless of the consequences. You are impartial and don't play favorites. Now tell us what you think about this: Is it right to pay taxes to the Roman government or not?" But Jesus knew their evil motives. "You hypocrites!" he said. "Whom are you trying to fool with your trick questions? Here, show me the Roman coin used for the tax." When they handed him the coin, he asked, "Whose picture and title are stamped on it?" "Caesar's," they replied."Well, then," he said, "give to Caesar what belongs to him. But everything that belongs to God must be given to God." His reply amazed them, and they went away. (Matthew 20:15-22 in the New Living Translation)
One way to follow Jesus command that I have heard is this. A man causually mentions that he tithes, giving a literal 10% of his income, to his church. His friend replies that he gives 100% of everything he makes to God. The first man asks, "How is that possible?" His friend explains, "When I get paid, I throw everything I get in the air. Whatever God wants, God can keep. Whatever lands on the floor is mine."

That's a nice big loophole, but it misses the point of Jesus' story which is that we are to give our very lives to God. The coin Jesus held that day bore the image and likeness of Caesar. Genesis 1:27 says,
So God created people in his own image; God patterned them after himself; male and female he created them.
You bear the image of God. Giving the coin to Caesar acknowledged the coin as something one owed to Caesar. Giving your life to God acknowledges that you were created in the image of God. In the words of one very ancient communion prayer, what we offer to God every time we come to worship is "our selves, our souls, and our bodies." What God gives in return is everything, even his own Son.


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