When the Pharisees asked the original question, they were planning to trap Jesus. If he answered, “Pay the taxes,” they would portray him as a Roman collaborator. If Jesus answered, “Don’t pay the taxes,” the Pharisees would portray Jesus as a troublemaker to the Romans. Either way, the Pharisees sought to discredit Jesus. Jesus’ answer to the question amazed the Pharisees because their cunningly crafted question was answered with reasoning they could not refute, thus avoiding the trap.
We often ask similar questions. Can we withhold taxes because we do not approve of a government program? How much should we give back to God and is that from the net or the gross income? The first question can be debated many ways: taxes are a way to help the government work on the areas of public well-being; education, health, infrastructure, etc. As to the second, all that we have and are comes from God; whatever we give will never be enough. Time, talents, prayers and the way we live and interact with people should all be part of our giving back to God.
Help us, Lord, give thanks to you in offerings, using the gifts you have given to live lives which show your love and mercy to all. Amen. — DG