If we all were to take out a coin, looking on each side, we notice an image and words. Constant reminders of who we honor, of what we hold dear as citizens of this country. On the coin Jesus asks to see is the image of Caeser Augustas ruler, autocrat, dictator. Offensive to any who disagreed with his life or edicts, a symbol of oppression, blasphemous especially to Jews. He made no compromise with anyone and had no sleepless nights condemning any who would be a political threat to his realm and to his decrees. Our gospel is no simple passage of who gets what in our lives.
Throughout the ages Christianity has found relevance in the life of the world: often at the expense of the identity originally given by the cross. We have forgotten that we are people of God who is the one we give first allegiance. Not the flag. Not the country. Not the president. Not the Senate nor the Congress nor governors.
It is our responsibility as followers of Jesus to understand the relationship of faith to civil authority, the present social and political and economic reality, in a redemptive perspective. If we do not we do not understand what Jesus was teaching both these tricksters but also all who were to come. And he will soon discover, hanging on a cross, that is not enough to cope with human or governmental pressures, but one must take a stand against institutions that dehumanize people, that do not seek the redemption of all persons.
When our conscience is tapped is there silence about war or genocide or torture? Do we oppose or support abortion or family planning or legalizing marijuana? Do we stand by immigrants or transgender friends or marriage equality or quietly go our own way? For as we all know there are devout Christians on both sides of all issues. Jesus stood against oppression in all its forms; how we do that is our choice. But a choice that must be made. What does your coin, your image, say about you? What does Jesus say about your coin? It may be difficult to ask but it is necessary.
The Rev. Linda R. CalkinsRector, St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church