CHRIST’S COIN IS HUMANITY

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TEXT

Matthew 22:15-22

Then the Pharisees met together to think of a way to trap Jesus into saying something for which they could accuse him.  They decided to send some of their disciples, along with the supporters of Herod, to ask him this question:  “Teacher, we know how honest you are.  You teach about the way of God regardless of the consequences.  You are impartial and don’t play favorites.  Now tell us what you think about this:  Is it right to pay taxes to the Roman government or not?”

But Jesus knew their evil motives.  “You hypocrites!” he said.  “Whom are you trying to fool with your trick questions?  Here, show me the Roman coin used for the tax.”  When they handed him the coin, he asked, “Whose picture and title are stamped on it?”

“Caesar’s,” they replied.

“Well, then,” he said, “give to Caesar what belongs to him.  But everything that belongs to God must be given to God.”

His reply amazed them, and they went away.

NLT

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First love God.  Extend yourselves out toward God; and whomever you can, draw to God…A son, perhaps, or a spouse, or a servant; draw them to God.  A stranger; let her be drawn to God.  An enemy; let him be drawn to God.  Draw, draw your enemy; by drawing him he’ll cease to be your enemy.

And that’s how love should be advanced and nourished, and, being nourished, brought to perfection;…that’s how the image of God, after which we were created, by this advancing should be engraven anew in us.  For by sin it was bruised, and worn away.  How is it bruised or worn away?  When it is rubbed against the earth.  And how “rubbed against the earth”?  When it is worn by earthly lusts…What is looked for in an image is Truth, not vanity.  By our loving the truth, that image, afterwhich we were created, is engraven anew, and His own tribute rendered to our Caesar.

For so you have heard from the Lord’s answer, when the Jews tempted Him, as He said, “Show me a Roman coin.  Whose picture and title are stamped on it?” that is, the image impressed on it and the inscription.  Show me what you pay, what you get ready, what is exacted from you.  And they showed Him a denarius; and He asked whose image and inscription it had.  They answered, “Caesar’s.”  So Caesar looks for his own image.  Caesar doesn’t want to lose what he’s minted, and, surely, God doesn’t want to lose what he has created!  Caesar, my brothers and sisters, didn’t make the money; the masters of the mint make it; the workers have their orders, he issues his commands to his ministers.  His image was stamped upon the money; on the money was Caesar’s image.  And yet he requires what others have stamped; he puts it in his treasures; he will not have it refused him.  Well, Christ’s coin is humanity.  That’s where Christ’s image is, and Christ’s Name, Christ’s gifts, Christ’s rules of duty.

—St. Augustine (354-430)

Sermon 90

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