Giving Caesar His Due


“Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s.”
We will hear these words of Jesus in our gospel this coming Sunday. Based on a quick reading of the passage, we might think that this is simply a command to pay our taxes. But that’s too narrow an interpretation of the text. Yes, the passage does teach us that we should honor all legitimate civil authority, and obey the tax laws and other laws of our nation (unless those laws command us to do something contrary to God’s eternal law). But giving to Caesar what is Caesar’s also includes other things — like participation in the political process. Paragraph 2240 of the Catechism makes this very point: “Submission to authority and co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to pay taxes, to exercise the right to vote, and to defend one’s country.”
Pope Francis echoed this teaching when he said, “We need to participate [in the political process] for the common good. Sometimes we hear: a good Catholic is not interested in politics. This is not true: good Catholics immerse themselves in politics by offering the best of themselves so that the leader can govern.”
So make plans now to vote on November 3 and give “Caesar” his due. But, as you cast your ballot on that day, remember what else Jesus said. After he told his disciples to give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, he added, “And give to God what belongs to God.”
To God we owe our obedience and our faithfulness in all things — and that includes our voting! As Catholics, we are always supposed to take our moral principles (especially those concerning the sanctity of human life) with us into the voting booth, and choose our leaders accordingly. If you need some guidance in that regard, go to the U.S. Catholic bishops’ web site and spend some time reading the document, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.”
It will be time well spent.