As loyal citizens of any country, we give due respect to the civil authority of the place. Authority also comes in different forms or governments as each country’s history shows the development among generations. There are various ways of electing rightful authority, but once lawfully chosen, they have a right to be followed by the people of the land. At times, the ambition for power sets blocks and conflicts among those aiming for high places in the land. Nonetheless, all earthly rulers are subject to God as the source of all life and authority. We come from God and therefore we belong to God. He rules over the whole world.
Jesus subordinated the claims of the emperor [Caesar] to the claims of God. If the Roman coin bears Caesar’s image, then it belongs to him and should be given back to him. What bears God’s image? The answer is: the human person! Every human being, including ‘Caesar’ bears the image of the living God. We pay obedience to civil authority by observing the laws of the land and participating in public life. On the other hand, the world must become a means to serve the Lord of Life, who said: “I am the Lord, there is no other” (Is 45:6). “Worship the Lord with holy celebrations; stand in awe of him, all the earth. Say among the nations, ‘The Lord reigns!’ He will judge the peoples with justice” (Ps 96: 9). As tax money is rendered to the world’s officials, so should the soul’s worship be rendered to God. His divine image is sculpted within us.
At times when there seems to be a discrepancy between civil and moral/religious obligations, that is, between civil law and moral law, the principle is to “give to God what belongs to God.” Let us imitate the apostolic efforts of the early Christians in seeking unity in mind and heart to follow the Truth and the Way [Jesus] as they gathered in word and the breaking of the bread. Like them, we continue walking the way of Jesus—Together , in communion with one another as seekers and promoters of the Gospel Truth brought to us “not only in words, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit with full conviction” (1 Thes1:5). As Christians we must be convinced of our true identity and that God has the right over our life—this is what belongs to Him. Our mission remains to be proclaimers of and witnesses to God’s life in Jesus Christ, imitating Mary’s constancy to do God’s will humbly and joyfully.