The Challenge of Being a Citizen of Both the Church and the State

In today’s Gospel, Jesus demonstrated to His disciples respect for authority and the law of society. Thus, He commanded Peter to pay the temple tax.

I remember one conversation I had with a friend during the election period. He asked my opinion on who was possibly going to be the next president. He also inquired whether I would be in favor of a particular presidential candidate if he or she won. I answered him, “Yes, I will. Whoever wins will have my respect. The fact that he or she was elected president of the Philippines, and I am a Filipino, means that he or she is my President.”

Reflecting on the said encounter, I asked myself, “Am I not called to respect each person regardless of their color, race, status, ideologies, or political color?” I believe it is my responsibility as a human being and as a member of society. Being a Christian does not separate me from being a member of the state. It is my duty as a citizen of both heaven and earth to give respect where or whom it is due. Paying respect is different from tolerating wrongdoing. Jesus, too, had many criticisms about the leaders of His time but He gave the respect that is due them. He respected the law and the authority that prevails.

Jesus in the Gospel today challenges our being citizens of both the Church and the state, of heaven and earth. For we are both, and we cannot separate one from the other.

By: Sem. Niñonel Setosta

Today’s Gospel

Matthew 17:22-27

As Jesus and his disciples were gathering in Galilee,
Jesus said to them,
“The Son of Man is to be handed over to men,
and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.”
And they were overwhelmed with grief.

When they came to Capernaum,
the collectors of the temple tax approached Peter and said,
“Does not your teacher pay the temple tax?”
“Yes,” he said.
When he came into the house, before he had time to speak,
Jesus asked him, “What is your opinion, Simon?
From whom do the kings of the earth take tolls or census tax?
From their subjects or from foreigners?”
When he said, “From foreigners,” Jesus said to him,
“Then the subjects are exempt.
But that we may not offend them, go to the sea, drop in a hook,
and take the first fish that comes up.
Open its mouth and you will find a coin worth twice the temple tax.
Give that to them for me and for you.”

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