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19 October 2014
posted by Canon Dakin on 21-10-2014

Jesus deals very neatly with the question of tax. It was a sore point with the Jews that their country was not free. It had been drawn inside the Roman Empire and its citizens had to pay taxes which in no way benefited themselves but helped to support the Roman system. It wasn’t just a matter of politics. Religion came into it, too.  Julius Caesar was the first Roman Emperor to claim to be divine.  When they handled a coin stamped with the Emperor’s image the Jews were touching something which for them was idolatrous and idolatry was at the heart of the system they were upholding.  This was the point of their question. Our Lord’s answer has been used by some Americans, for instance, to justify the strict separation of Church and State but the incident brings to my mind Chesterton’s dictum that all humans are equal as all pennies are equal because the only value in any of them is that they bear the image of the king. We, indeed, each of us were made in God’s image. That is the basis of the respect and reverence we owe to every human person. When we read the horrible things that people do to each other it is hard to imagine a representation of God’s image - but it is there overlaid and tarnished, maybe, but always capable of being revived and restored.

Because of this basic shared dignity the attitude of a Christian to those who are different by race or nationality should never be tainted by prejudice. This doesn’t mean that immigration may not be discussed - we may well have valid arguments which would justify imposing limits to freedom of movement - but never simply on the grounds that people are different. In God’s eyes those differences are no deeper than the scratches on a penny.       

    

Comments
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