Mark 12: 13-17
Some Pharisees and Herodians were sent
to Jesus to ensnare him in his speech.
They came and said to him,
“Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man
and that you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion.
You do not regard a person’s status
but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.
Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?
Should we pay or should we not pay?”
Knowing their hypocrisy he said to them,
“Why are you testing me?
Bring me a denarius to look at.”
They brought one to him and he said to them,
“Whose image and inscription is this?”
They replied to him, “Caesar’s.”
So Jesus said to them,
“Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar
and to God what belongs to God.”
They were utterly amazed at him.
Today marks the anniversary of my paternal grandpa’s death. While some kids grow up with memories of going fishing with their grandpas, or going to a baseball game with them, I have a different sort of memory of time with Grandpa K. You see my Grandpa K was a very political man. The man loved politics. He was active in politics not in the spotlight but from behind the scenes. He was the guy that liked to put up those signs you see in people’s yards every two years. However when I was a kid those signs weren’t the cheap plastic ones they have today. Nope, they were 4 ft by 8 ft sheets of plywood. You had to drive 6 ft fence posts into the ground and muscle one of those signs into place and wire them to the fence posts. That was a lot of hard work for a man in his 60’s, and that is where I came into the picture. Like I said, some kids go fishing or to baseball games with their grandpas, I went campaigning with mine.
Grandpa was an old school political type. He subscribed to every news magazine there was. He subscribed to two daily newspapers and two weekly newspapers and wrote countless letters to the editor. Township politics was the furthest he ever sought in elected politics. Back in the late 70’s or early 80’s he was asked to run for a the Minnesota House. He talked to Grandma about it and called the people back the next day and said, “No, Ma won’t let me, she’s too afraid I’d win.” In the end, even after he lost his eyesight and could read no more, he always found a way to stay active. He’d listen to the news on TV, on the radio, and various people would take turns reading his magazines and newspapers to him.
But it should be noted, that Grandpa never lost sight of the important things in life like faith and prayer. When he rarely had nothing to do, he’d pray. Not that you should only pray when you have nothing to do, I know he prayed other times, but he would simply not waste his time. He gave to God what God was owed, prayer and worship. He also gave the government what it was owed as well.
In today’s Gospel reading we see the Pharisee’s and the Roman Herodians conspiring to entrap Jesus. They hope that in asking Jesus a trick question for which there is no right answer (the think) that based on whatever answer he gives them either one of them will be able to try and convict him (they hope). Jesus doesn’t give them the answer they expect. Neither is correct, neither is wrong. He tells them that God get’s what God is owed, and the Government get’s what they are owed. In many ways I could see that in my grandpa.
Thought for the day: Do we give God as much time as we give our political leaders? Do we ask God and thank Him as much as we ask of and are thankful for our government? Who’s really in charge and where does true prosperity come from?