‘give to caesar what is caesar’s’


May 10th 2011
The Pharisees and the Saducees, who wanted an excuse for condemning Jesus, asked him this question: ‘Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?’ Jesus had them give him a coin and asked, ‘Whose head is this?’ ‘Caesar’s.’ ‘Give therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ Christians have been quoting this sentence for two thousand years, yet they have never worked out how much they should give to Caesar and how much to the Lord. For me, it is simple. I light a wood fire and it burns, and I say, ‘What do we see? First of all, a lot of flames, then gases, but fewer of them, then steam, but even less of that. Then, little by little, it all disappears, leaving just a handful of ashes. Well, that is what is returned to Caesar – the substance, the earth that is left, for Caesar’s empire extends only to matter.’ The rising flames, gases and steam belong to heaven. So, there you are – you should devote three-quarters of your possessions, your activities, your thoughts and feelings to the Lord and one quarter to Caesar. That is clear.