In today’s gospel pericope, the coin presented to Jesus has the image of Caesar, however, Caesar also was created in someone’s image and likeness???

Tax is in simple terms defined as money paid to the government to support and make governance effective. Every citizen of any nation has this civil obligation or duty to pay tax.

However, at Jesus’ time, the Jews where under Roman rule and so, many saw payment of tax as swearing allegiance to the Romans and affirming their superiority, hence, they won’t pay. The question put before Jesus though with some ulterior motive was meant to bring Jesus to either offend the people or the Roman government. But Jesus seized this opportunity to teach us about our civil duties as well as rights. He said, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God” (Mark 12:17).

In this single statement Jesus emphasizes the need for us to be committed to our civil duties: payment of tax, exercise of our franchise and so on. But then, the question of whose image leaves us with an important dimension to reflect upon. If the coin had Caesar’s image, Caesar both as a human person created and as a lawfully constituted authority has whose image?

In the heat of the Covid-19 pandemic, Prof. Ben Ayade came up to say that his people are prone to die more of hunger and poverty virus than of Corona virus .
With a speech cladded in an overflow of emotions, the Governor exempted the following – the poorest of the poor: okada Riders, taxi drivers, farmers, artisans, hotels of less than fifty rooms, those who live in thatch and mud houses from the payment of taxes.

This act of the Governor of Cross River State has been viewed with so much scinicism as some term it mere political propaganda. Be that as it may, whether it’s politically driven or not, one thing is certain, the Governor reminds all Caesars that they carry the image of someone who:

  1. Created his people
  2. Cares for his people
  3. Came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Therefore, as much as the people have a civil duty, they also have civil rights. As much as Caesar can enforce the payment of taxes, Caesar must also ensure the welfare of the people which consists of the provision of basic amenities like pipe borne water, motorable and good roads, good health care facilities, electricity, quality education; the security of lives and property. The people have a civil duty, Ceasar has a sacred duty. When Caesar fails to keep his side of the bargain, the people are not bound by any moral obligation to keep theirs.

When we give to Caesar the coin because it bears his image, Caesar must know that every human person is engraved with God’s own image and likeness; CAESAR must know that 70yrs is our span and 80yrs for those who are strong (cf. Psalm 90:10). Caesar must know that he has the duty of clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, ensuring the protection of the citizenry. The coin bears Caesar’s and Caesar, God’s. May the Lord remain our refuge in every generation. Amen.

Good Morning! Have a wonderful day!