The Gospel reading this Sunday has some Pharisees cornering Jesus and putting him in a hard place, which he gets through with ease.
Like many stories in the Bible, it is clear that the Pharisees do not like Jesus. He is a rogue in the system that the rich and powerful have created. Dis-crediting Jesus would have allowed this system to continue on peacefully.
The Pharisees see an opportunity to put Jesus into a position that forces him to go against God OR Caesar, both of which would have poor outcomes for Jesus. Jesus takes a very wise path.
The Pharisees ask “Is it permissible to pay taxes to Caesar?” to which Jesus responds with, “Let me see the money you pay the tax with! Whose head is on the back of this coin? Give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and give to God what Belongs to God”.
Many communities face discrimination at the hands of power in our society. The poor are taken advantage of, the powerless are forced to work and the weak are trampled upon. Our faith calls us to care and look after these people where we can, which a vast majority of Christians and Catholics do. There are however groups that face discrimination at the hands of some in our Church.
Members of our LGBTIQ+ community within our world often face discrimination, particularly by those within faith communities. Often, these so-called people of faith claim that this discrimination is actually part of their faith, and that in-fact that what they are doing is out of love and not fear and hate.
In my work within the Church, often I face a similar situation that Jesus faced. People come to me and ask “Do you stand by the people of the LGBTIQ+ community or do you disagree with them wholeheartedly because the Bible says (Insert a Bible verse here)”. This puts me in a difficult situation, but following the advice of Jesus, I can navigate this situation. “Why do you put me in this position? Why do you trap me? How do you treat these children of God? Do you treat them with discrimination, hate and malice? Do not clothe your hate with faith!”
By placing ourselves above others, we make it easy to look down upon those who make choices that we don’t understand or agree with. If we are people of faith, then we must also act like it.
What are we giving to God and what are we giving to ‘Caesar’ within our own lives? Are we living up to the examples that Jesus laid before us and are we treating those in our lives with respect and love. We must not be as small minded as the Pharisees trying to trap Jesus and try to clothe our hate with faith.