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Caesar Vs. God – A Lesson Plan on Citizenship

Understanding the interplay between faith and citizenship is an important topic, especially for young Catholics. This lesson plan on citizenship delves into the balance of duties to our nation and our faith. The title, “Caesar vs. God,” stems from a biblical passage where Jesus responds to a question about paying taxes. By examining this passage, students will explore how faith informs our roles in society. The plan offers discussions, activities, and reflections to help learners discern the fine line between civic duties and religious obligations. It’s designed to be engaging yet informative, aiding participants in forming a well-rounded perspective.

From this lesson plan on citizenshp, youth will gain insights into the relationship between their religious beliefs and civic responsibilities. By studying the Caesar vs. God context, they’ll better grasp how to navigate the complexities of being both a faithful individual and a responsible citizen. The discussions and activities will provide them with practical scenarios and reflections, helping them to discern when to prioritize faith values or civic duties in everyday situations. This knowledge can equip them to make informed decisions in their adult life, balancing both societal and spiritual commitments.

Opening Game for Lesson Plan on Citizenship

Start this lesson plan on citizenship by playing Protect the President. If you don’t have an appropriate space for this, then Kingdoms is a good option which can be played in a meeting room.

Before diving into the deeper implications of citizenship, it’s important to recognize that understanding and upholding our civic duties isn’t always straightforward. Just as the game illustrated the complexities and choices we face in a lighter context, real-life decisions can be challenging to navigate.

Balancing our religious beliefs with our responsibilities to society can often present dilemmas. Let’s now explore the idea that citizenship, much like faith, requires consistent effort and consideration.

Citizenship requires some effort.

  • What are some good things about being a citizen of our country?
  • What are the costs of citizenship (taxes, voting, etc)?
  • How do these costs support the beneficial things the government does?

Having set the stage with the foundational understanding of citizenship and its complexities, it’s time to dig into the heart of the matter. We’ll discuss a scripture reading which illuminates how our spiritual life intersects with civic responsibilities, offering guidance on the balance we should strive for in our daily lives.

Scripture Reading for Lesson Plan on Citizenship

Read Matthew 22:15-21:

The Pharisees went off and plotted how they might entrap Jesus in speech. They sent their disciples to him, with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. And you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion, for you do not regard a person’s status. Tell us, then, what is your opinion: 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.”

Matthew 22:15-21 – the Gospel for the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

Discussion for the Lesson Plan on Citizenship

In this gospel, the Pharisees are trying to trap Jesus. They know that the people hate living under Roman rule and they long for a Messiah who will overthrow the Romans. And they also know that the Romans enforce their laws brutally and that opposing them can land a person in deep trouble.

Jesus knows this is an attempt to trip him up and cause division. The Pharisees are not looking for spiritual direction, but setting a trap. If he tells the people to pay taxes, this will make him seem like he supports the Roman occupiers, which would make him unpopular with the people. If he tells them not to pay taxes, then he could find himself in deep trouble with the Romans.

He cleverly answers the question by steering the conversation himself. And his answer indicates that we are to engage in our political systems while still being faithful to God.

This can be a challenge. First it requires us to be well educated on the issues facing our country. Just knowing soundbites and one liners is not enough. We must understand the issue and really delve into the pros and cons. If we only understand “our side” then we cannot have a thoughtful conversation with those who hold an opposing viewpoint.

Our political action must work within the law. And they should also reflect our Christian values. So we must treat others with respect and compassion. We should seek reasoned discussion rather than inflaming a situation. It is possible to respectfully listen to another person’s point of view, even if you don’t agree with them. They are more likely to listen to what you have to say if you are courteous to them.

And when others treat you with disrespect, either continue to try to engage them in true discussion or walk away. Escalating a situation rarely changes another person’s mind.

Reflection Questions for the Lesson Plan on Citizenship

  • What are some ways you can support the good things that our government does?
  • Are there things in our society and laws which are in opposition to our beliefs as Catholics? What are they?
  • How can we work within our political system to make our government reflect our Catholic faith?
  • How do you reconcile moments when civic duties seem to conflict with religious teachings?
  • Are there historical or contemporary figures you admire for balancing their faith with civic responsibilities? Why?
  • How can communities support their members in navigating the challenges of citizenship while upholding their faith?
  • In what ways can religious teachings enhance one’s understanding of being a responsible citizen?
  • How might one’s understanding of citizenship change in different cultural or national contexts?
  • Are there civic responsibilities that you believe align particularly well with Catholic teachings? Which ones and why?
  • How do personal values play a role in interpreting both civic and religious duties?
  • Can you recall a situation where you had to choose between a civic duty and a religious belief? How did you handle it?

Challenge for the Lesson Plan on Citizenship

This week, think about something in our government or society which you would like to see change. If you have time, spend some time researching the topic and learning the facts. Then commit to pray every day for God’s will to be done for that issue. And if appropriate, write to your government officials and express your views on the issue.

Prayer for the Lesson Plan on Citizenship

Conclude this lesson plan on citizenship by praying a Rope Prayer for the United States or A Prayer for Our Nation.

Themes for the Lesson Plan on Citizenship

  • Interplay of Faith and Citizenship: The lesson plan on citizenship emphasizes understanding the relationship between one’s religious commitments and duties as a citizen, exploring how these might overlap or come into conflict.
  • Biblical Interpretation and Application: The lesson plan on citizenship revolves around a specific Bible passage (Matthew 22:15-21), which serves as a foundation for the discussions and activities. Students are encouraged to interpret and apply the teachings of Jesus in the context of citizenship.
  • Critical Thinking and Discussion: Through discussions and reflection questions, students are prompted to think critically about the complexities of being both a faithful Christian and an engaged citizen.
  • Ethical Dilemmas and Decision Making: The lesson plan on citizenship underscores the challenges faced when making decisions that align with both one’s faith and civic responsibilities, drawing from Jesus’ interaction with the Pharisees.
  • Political Engagement and Christian Values: The lesson plan on citizenship delves into how Christians can be politically active in a manner that reflects their faith, emphasizing respect, compassion, and reasoned discussion.
  • Active Citizenship: With challenges and reflection questions, students are encouraged to actively engage with their society and government, promoting changes that align with their faith.
  • Prayer and Reflection: Emphasizing the spiritual side of the lesson plan on citizenship, students are guided towards prayer as a means of seeking guidance and support in navigating the complexities of faith and citizenship.

Background Material for the Lesson Plan on Citizenship

Understanding the intricate relationship between faith and civic responsibilities is fundamental for Catholics, given the church’s teachings on our duties in society. The Catechism of the Catholic Church offers a comprehensive view on this topic.

The Duties of Citizens

Within the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the section titled “The Duties of Citizens” (CCC 2238-2243) offers a comprehensive perspective on the responsibilities that Catholics, as citizens, have towards their respective countries.

First and foremost, the Catechism underscores the moral obligation of citizens to respect the laws of their country. This respect for legitimate authority and laws isn’t merely a civic requirement but is seen from a faith perspective as a response to God’s order, reflecting the belief that governments and their laws derive their authority from God.

Fiscal responsibilities, particularly the payment of taxes, is another highlighted duty. Beyond being a legal obligation, paying taxes is viewed as a way to contribute to the common good and support societal infrastructures and public services. Through this lens, paying taxes becomes not just an obligation but a moral act of support for one’s community and nation.

The act of voting is emphasized not only as a civic right but also as a responsibility. Voting offers Catholics a chance to influence the direction of their society in a manner consistent with their faith and values. The Catechism promotes the idea that by actively participating in the democratic process, Catholics can help shape a just society.

A particularly notable point in this section is the discussion on civil disobedience. While the Catechism upholds the general principle of obeying civil laws, it also recognizes that there might be specific situations where laws are contrary to the moral order, fundamental human rights, or the teachings of the Gospel. In such cases, civil disobedience, or refusing to adhere to particular laws, might not only be justified but could be seen as a moral imperative.

Other References

The section on Participation in Social Life (CCC 1913-1917) highlights the significance of being active participants in public life. It underscores the idea that such participation fosters mutual respect among individuals and strikes a harmony between private and public spheres of life.

Furthermore, the Social Doctrine of the Church (CCC 2419-2423) elaborates on how Catholics should interface with society. It focuses on the church’s perspectives on societal constructs, the collective well-being, and the principles of justice.

Scripture also offer guidance. For instance, in Acts 5:29, the apostles prioritize divine laws over human decrees.

But Peter and the apostles said in reply, “We must obey God rather than men.”

Acts 5:29

Micah 6:8 encapsulates the spirit of social justice, urging believers to act with justice, mercy, and humility.

You have been told, O mortal, what is good, and what the LORD requires of you: Only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8

Lastly, Matthew 5:13-16 portrays disciples as the ‘salt’ and ‘light’ of the world, emphasizing their role in making a positive impact.

You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father

Matthew 5:13-16

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen once remarked, “Freedom does not mean the right to do whatever we please, but rather to do as we ought.” Echoing a similar sentiment, Pope Francis noted, “A good Catholic meddles in politics, offering the best of himself, so that those who govern can govern.”

Together, the teachings from the Catechism, the Bible, and insights from prominent Catholic figures serve as a foundation for this lesson plan, guiding us in understanding our dual roles as devout believers and responsible citizens.

Youth Ministry Lesson Plans

Youth Ministry Lesson Plans and Reflections

Lesson plans are meant to give a framework for introducing information to youth. This Lesson Plan on Citizenship is part of a larger set. Most of these also include reflection questions for small group sharing. These help youth think about how to apply what they have learned to their everyday lives.

Frequently Asked Questions for the Parable of the Lesson Plan on Citizenship

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