In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit!
Dear brothers and sisters, today the Holy Church offers us for reading and reflection an extract from the Gospel of Luke about the tribute to Caesar.
The Pharisees, having conferred, sent evil people to our Lord Jesus Christ, as the apostle and evangelist Luke writes, to catch Him in a word and lay hands on Him.
And they say to him: Teacher! we know that You are speaking and teaching truthfully and do not look at your face, but you teach the truth of the way of God; is it permissible for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not? (LX 20: 21-22).
The wisdom of this question was that if Christ answered that he should be given to Caesar, then the Pharisees and legalists would anger the people around Christ and spread the message in Judea that Jesus is the accomplice of the Roman occupiers, and not the Messiah and, therefore, does not bring any liberation to Israel. And if Christ answered that it is not necessary to give a tribute, but only follow the Jewish laws given by Moses, then the Pharisees would take him to the court first to Herod, and then to the Roman procurator, accusing Christ of being in a state a revolt against the Roman authorities and calls on the people not to pay taxes.
In the Palestinian state of the time, there were two types of coins: the everyday that the Jews used for trade relations, and the coin used to pay taxes to the temple. Why is that? On everyday coins it was written that the emperors are gods, and in fact in itself such a coin was already an idol for the Jews. This coinage was not allowed to enter the Temple, and it is obvious that the elite of the Jewish people had very clearly informed the Roman authorities that if they were not allowed to mint their coins for temple needs, then the Jewish people would rebel.
Therefore, sacred sikli or shekels were minted, as they are called in modern times. And in the courtyard of the Temple there were always money changers who converted impure, secular money into religiously pure for temple use.
But he, perceiving their craftiness, said to them, "Why are you tempting Me?" Show me the denarius: whose image and inscription is on it? He said to them: therefore, give to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and God's things to God. (LX 20: 23-25).
Christ asks the Jews to show what kind of money the tax is paid. To pay taxes, of course, a common Roman denarius with the image of the emperor was used, because everything in general gold reserves, and, consequently, all the Roman coins in general were considered the property of the emperor. So why not give the emperor what belongs to him?
The point is that Christ held a coin in his hands, on which it was written: Tiberius Caesar Divi Augusti Filius Augustus Pontifex Maximus. Translated into Russian from Latin, it sounds like this: "Tiberius Caesar, the son of the divine Augustus, Augustus, the supreme pontiff."
Dinar of the Emperor Tiberius
That is, in fact, the True Son of God, the Pharisees gave a coin on which was the inscription that the son of God is the emperor Tiberius. And if Christ only limited himself to an answer that he should give what he owns to the emperor, it would not have de-sacred the emperor in the consciousness of a true Roman and would have given, perhaps, an occasion for new sly questions from the Jews. But the Lord answers exhaustively: give Caesar's things to Caesar, and God's God.
Thus, Christ not only wisely answered the question of whether it is worth paying taxes to Caesar, but also showed the Roman consciousness, Who is the True God and where He is to be sought.
What, then, does the Lord teach us in this Gospel passage? In our life, there are often situations where the world requires a Christian "to give Caesar the things that are Caesar's." For example, the same military duty, the same some new passports with the "seal of antichrist", TIN and other vital and so many questions of concern to us, requiring us to effort and any physical and material costs. And often we have a question: why? How does this bring me closer to God? Or "why does the state compel me to accept the seal of antichrist?"
Christ tells us: give Caesar the things that are Caesar's. After all, in fact, the Roman coin had the same "seal of antichrist", an inscription saying that the Son of God is not Christ, but some kind of Tiberius and, probably, pious Jews could have thought that they recognize God of the Roman emperor and thus renounce the True God.
However, Christ draws a clear line: Give God to God, and give everything to the world and do not worry about it, do not litter your thoughts and do not lose your peace of mind.
So let us not torment ourselves, and create ourselves new worldly problems, and increase the already oppressive soul of the vanity of the modern world: just this vanity and fears distract us from Christ, and not new passports, bar codes or TIN. Amen.
List of used literature
1. Hieronymus of Stridon, bl. Interpretation of the Gospel of Luke.
2. John Chrysostom, St. Interpretation of the Gospel of Luke.
3. Lopukhin A.P. Explanatory Bible of the Old and New Testament.
4. Andrei Berdyshev. What does it mean: "Give Caesar to Caesar, and God's God"? // URL: http://www.foru.ru/slovo.43371.1.html (date of treatment: 10.09.2017).
5. Theodore Studit, pr. Exhortative teachings and testament.
6. Theophylact Bulgarian, blj. Interpretation of the Gospel of Luke.