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Render Unto Caesar

Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, give to God what belongs to God. 

Jesus is saying that political and religious obligations can both be legitimately met. Paying taxes is not a compromise of one’s duties toward God, nor does serving God exempt one from supporting the civil government. 

“For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay all of them their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due.” Rom 13:6-7

“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.” CCC 2240

What is hard and creates tension is when there is a conflict between what the government and what God is asking. In the Catechism 2242, it says that “the citizen is obliged in conscience not to follow the directives of civil authorities when they are contrary to the demands of the moral order, to the fundamental rights of persons or the teachings of the Gospel.” 

Here in Canada, we enjoy religious freedom not like what our brothers and sisters who live in communist countries do. But in our country, we know that there are laws that are not in accord with the commandments of God. A good example of that is abortion. It is legal here to have an abortion, but God prohibits the killing of an innocent baby. I have great sympathy for those who have done abortion and we should pray for their healing. We are also facing right now the push from the government about “Euthanasia” and they present it as showing compassion by ending the life of a person who is suffering, critically ill or in old age.  

When there is conflict, our allegiance to God must come first before any government institution.  We must remember St. Thomas Moore, a famous dissident to King Henry VIII and a martyr, said before he was beheaded:  “ I die the King’s good servant, but God’s first.”

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