Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?’ But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, ‘Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites?
Reflection by Janet Derby
On the surface, this passage seems to be about taxes, which most of us don’t like to pay. Our son, Josh, was an exception. He used to explain to his nephew, Jamie, why taxes were a good thing – that they pay for vital services like roads and schools. This year on my local ballot there is an initiative to exempt senior citizens from paying taxes to the school system. Given that we qualify – it sounds great. And yet… I work for the school system and my salary comes from that income. So… it’s complicated. But aren’t all issues? Shouldn’t we try to view all our decisions not just from what we stand to gain or lose personally, but on how it affects everyone?
Jesus seemed to recognize that politics can be complicated also. He understood that the question was deeper than a simple yes or no and that the person asking was not really interested so much in his answer as wanting to catch him. Apparently, things haven’t changed much in 2000 years. We still too often approach those with whom we disagree with malice and closed minds. This is not healthy for us or for our society. We all would do well to be open and understand that each of us comes to issues from a different place. Treating each other with respect and listening in love will create a much less toxic environment where we can work together for the betterment of our world.
God of Many Names, Help me to be a willing listener and to be willing to consider the many aspects of every situation. Amen.