Give From Our True Capacity
Michele McGrath, Presiding Bishopric
“Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?”…Then he said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” -Matthew 22:17, 21
“Paper or plastic, ma’am?”
Our culture loves to present us with opposites: yes or no, all or nothing, Mac or PC. Nowhere is this tendency more present than in politics, where politicians regularly ask their opponents no-win questions in front of crowds to embarrass them. You might say that in today’s scripture text, Jesus was on the receiving end of a “gotcha” question: “Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?”
Roger Swanson says, “There are not two sides to every question; there are five sides for simple things and thirteen (at least) for complex things,” and Walter Wink reminds us there is always a third way. Meanwhile, the Pharisees and Herodians push for a black or white answer to their question: “What is the minimum due Caesar?” Jesus artfully broadens the conversation beyond the original question to the deeper, essential questions: “What is it-who is it-that bears God’s image? And, beyond the minimum due, what is our true capacity to live a life that reflects the image of God? What would it mean to live and give according to our true capacity?” Each person must decide.
The quickly-growing-less-patient cashier asks again, “Paper or plastic, ma’am?”
Neither. I brought my own.
“Attention is the beginning of devotion” (Mary Oliver).
Spend a few moments paying attention, wherever you are. Notice your surroundings. What draws your focus? Look more closely at detail and color. Notice what pulls or prods within you. How is the God-in-all-things speaking to you through what you see and feel right here, right now?
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.