VATICAN CITY – On Sunday Pope Francis spoke on the importance of both fulfilling our earthly duties and making God a priority, stressing that the two are never in opposition, but are complementary, with the primacy of God giving direction to our daily activities.
“The Christian is called to commit themselves concretely in human and social realities without putting God and Cesar into opposition, but by illuminating the earthly reality with the light that comes from God,” the Pope said.
Giving priority to God and having hope in him “do not lead to an escape from reality,” he said, but rather, “they make industrious that which belongs to him.”
Francis spoke to pilgrims present in St. Peter’s Square for his Oct. 22 Sunday Angelus address, which coincided with both World Mission Sunday and the feast of St. John Paul II.
In his speech, the pope centered his reflection on the day’s Gospel reading from Matthew, in which the Pharisees question Jesus about whether or not it is just to pay taxes to Caesar.
This meeting constitutes yet another “face-to-face encounter” between Jesus and his opponents, the pope said, noting that the “thorny” issue of taxes is supposed to be a trap.
However, rather than falling into it, Jesus offers a calm response and “takes advantage of the malicious question in order to give an important teaching, rising above the polemics and opposing sides.”
By looking at the image and inscription of Caesar carved onto the Roman coins and telling the Pharisees to “render to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s,” Jesus, on one hand, says that paying taxes to the Roman emperor “is not an act of idolatry, but an act of duty to the earthly authority.”
On the other hand, in his reference to God, Jesus “recalls the primacy of God, asking to give him what is owed to him as the Lord of life, of man and of history.”
While the image of Caesar recalls our rights and duties as citizens of the state, the…