“Render to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God” (Mark 12:17). We have all heard this famous saying of Jesus. At first Jesus seems to call for an equal distribution of things: give Caesar his due and God his due. But Jesus’ saying is a little more subversive since all things belong to God, even the things of Caesar: “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it” (Psalm 24:1). So, God’s will must come before all, even the will and ways of Caesar.
We see this conflict between God’s will and a king’s will in our first reading. The Greek king Antiochus wants the Jews to abandon their religious law and follow the religious customs of the Greeks. Mattathias sides with the things of God and against the king: “God forbid that we should forsake the law and the commandments. We will not obey the words of the king nor depart from our religion in the slightest degree.”
Jesus came preaching the Kingdom of God: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news” (Mark 1:15). We put our faith in the Gospel and pledge to put God’s Kingdom, God’s will and way before all political or religious leaders. “Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will be done.”