The Gospel today is often used to argue for separation of Church and State. But is this what Jesus meant? If we look carefully at the question, the question was about paying taxes. In response, Jesus tells them to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and he adds, and to God, the things that are God’s. Why did Jesus add God into the answer when the question was only about Caesar? The reason is Jesus is going back to the basics. Caesar will not exist without God. We see this in the First Reading where God says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped to subdue nations before him and strip kings of their robes, to open doors before him – and the gates shall not be closed. God is the creator of the government. By arguing for separation of Church and State, we are saying God has nothing to do with the government. The truth is God has everything to do with the State and it is the Church who has the authority to say what is moral and not. If I say I will vote one way without considering the moral stand of a candidate, I am saying God has nothing to do with government and I am not submitting to the authority of God.
The Psalm tells us: Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. We give glory and strength to the Lord. We give dominion, power, authority to him because he is the One who appoints our leaders whether they acknowledge it or not. If we have bad leaders, it is because we allow wicked leaders to rule over us. If we have righteous leaders it is because we have allowed God to dictate the morality of society.
All these arguments for separation of Church and State are words. But St Paul said in the Second Reading: our message of the Gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with conviction. People may argue all they want. Politicians may say they are Catholics and yet go against everything the Church teaches, saying their belief has nothing to do with their governing. The word Jesus used is hypocrites, which we said in an earlier post, means those who cannot discern God’s Truth from their own opinion. These say words that do not have power. These are deceptions by hypocrites who have nothing in mind, except to be in power for their own benefit instead of the glory of God or for the good of the people. The interpretation of the concept of Separation of Church and State is a fallacy that many have believed. It was to mean the State cannot define one state religion. But many have twisted this concept for their selfish desires.
Jesus said [give] to God, the things that are God’s. The problem with the modern concept of separation of Church and State is the Church has been pushed out but the State encroaches on the authority of the Church. The State now determines what is moral. The State determines what people are to believe or what people can and cannot say. The media determines what to show people to manipulate their way of thinking. Last year, the Canadian government deprived taxpayer funds to organizations who would not affirm their support for abortion. In the next few years, things will get worse. Worship services will be banned and those who violate it will be arrested. Things will not get better until we give to God what is his.
Lord, move in our society. Let your power and honor be seen. Appoint righteous people who will rule over us, with the power of the Spirit and not in words that tickle our ears. Come O Lord, save us.