In this reflection and discussion, youth are encouraged to think about how their duties as citizens and their call to discipleship overlap with each other.
Start off by thinking about citizenship:
- 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?
Now 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
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.
- What might happen if Jesus says, “yes, pay taxes”?
- What might happen if Jesus says “don’t pay taxes”?
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. 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.
- 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?
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.