Welcome to our weekly Understanding the Gospel Series. Through Understanding the Gospel, we seek to give parents the confidence to have conversations with their children about scripture.
Our best tip for implementing UTG is to print off this page, stick it in the car and talk about it on the way home from mass. But some families may prefer to use this as an opportunity to preview the readings ahead of time. This can also be an excellent strategy as it gives the children some knowledge going into mass and something they can “be on the lookout for” to help them stay engaged and listening.
( Remember that the meditation and questions are geared toward your kids! 🙂 )
In Which Jesus Gets a Little Political
Today’s Gospel reading is a pretty famous one where we see the Pharisees trying to trick Jesus. They pose a question to him that they think will be impossible to answer without getting in trouble with someone. They ask him if they should have to pay taxes to Caesar (to the government). You see, they know that if he says they should pay taxes, the people are going to be angry with him, and if he says that they shouldn’t pay taxes, he is going against the Romans and they will have cause to arrest him (they didn’t have nearly as much freedom in Jesus’ time as we do now). Jesus doesn’t fall for their tricks, though. He answers by saying, “… repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”
Wait a minute, what does that even mean?!? Let’s start by asking this – what belongs to God? Everything! Our love, our devotion, our adoration, our worship. Everything we do should be focused on growing in virtue so that we can become the people God created us to be and we can one day be saints in heaven with HIM forever! But worshiping God should not mean that we only focus on our Church community and not our wider community. In fact, we can take Jesus’ command to “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar,” pretty literally as we still, to this day, pay taxes to our Government. The government uses that money so that they can build parks, maintain our roads, help people who need help, etc. It is important that we give the government what it needs so that it can help people on a larger scale than we could alone.
That being said, it is also super important that along with paying our taxes, we also are actively involved with helping our government to be the best it can be. Sometimes you might hear people say that we (especially as Catholics) need to keep our religion out of politics. And that could not be further from the truth. A part of being a good citizen means that we need to help our country and our government be the best that it can be. Our faith, and growing in virtue, is what is going to form us into the best that we can be.
Sometimes the direction our government is heading may be in opposition of what we know to be good and true. That can be really hard to witness and we can never support what we know is wrong. In those cases, we have the freedom to stand up and speak out. We can do that by voting in elections, by writing letters to members of our government, and by engaging in respectful discussions with other members of our community.
Mom and Dad – Have a discussion with your kids about faithful citizenship. Tell them about how you navigate the political waters. How do you decide what to vote for? What political topics mean a lot to you? Are there any ways in which we sometimes give to the world what belongs to God?
Is it the case that you need to be better about being more politically involved? Maybe you don’t particularly enjoy politics? That’s ok (I’m right there with you)! Work together with your kids to come up with a family action plan. Maybe you could volunteer at a local pregnancy center raking leaves or organizing baby clothes. Maybe you can help your kids write letters to local government officials. Consider spending the afternoon cleaning up trash at your local park. Or, ask your kids how they would like to serve their community and provide a positive/moral influence on their local community – I’ll bet you’ll be blown away by their awesome suggestions!
For more information on Faithful Citizenship see –