“Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?”
Knowing their malice, Jesus said,
“Why are you testing me, you hypocrites?
Show me the coin that pays the census tax.”
Then they handed him the Roman coin.
He said to them, “Whose image is this and whose inscription?”
They replied, “Caesar’s.”
At that he said to them,
“Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar
and to God what belongs to God.” (Mt 22:17b-21)
We have many obligations in our lives. Some of them are easy, some are more difficult. Some of our obligations are joyful, some cause distress. Some of our obligations get fulfilled, some are ignored.
As it is in our daily lives, so also it is in our spiritual lives. We have many spiritual obligations as well.
Some of our spiritual obligations are given to us because of the Church we embrace. We call those obligations the Precepts of the Church and they instruct us to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, and resting from servile works; to observe the days of abstinence and fasting; to confess our sins to a priest, at least once a year; to receive Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist at least once a year during the Easter Season; and to contribute to the support of the Church.
Our spiritual obligations are rooted in the command of Jesus to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our strength, and with all our mind and to love our neighbor as ourselves.
These obligations speak to us of the sacrifice that we need to make by taking up our cross and following the Lord. The way is not always easy but the Lord promises that He will help us along the way. “Take my yoke and learn from me for I am humble of heart. You will find rest for yourselves for my yoke is easy, my burden light.
Sadly, our human nature often gets in the way of our relationship with God. Our human nature often rebels against the spiritual obligations that come our way just as our human nature often rebels against worldly obligations. Call it pride, call it obstinancy. Whatever you call it, we like to be the ones in charge. We do not like others to tell us what we should do, what we need to do, or what we must do.
In today’s gospel, Jesus reminds us that we have obligations — worldly and spiritual — to meet and that we need to fulfill them all.
FAITH ACTION: In quiet prayer this day, reflect upon the many obligations that you have and ask God to give you the grace that you need to fulfill your obligations.