“Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor?” Matthew 22:17
A friend of mine spent some time in rehab and while there his driver’s license expired. Upon returning home, he realized he no longer had any photo identification. No longer able to drive, he went to the Department of Motor Vehicles to procure a “Non-Driver’s Photo ID”. When he arrived at the DMV he was told he did not have the proper documentation. He needed to produce a certified copy of his birth certificate.
He was born in another state. He went home and made a phone call requesting the needed documentation. “No problem,” he was told. “All we need is a current photo ID.” He explained that he had a very recently expired driver’s license and the reason he needed the birth certificate was to obtain a current form of photo identification. “Sorry,” he was told. “An expired photo ID is not acceptable.”
“What am I supposed to do?” he asked me as I hummed to myself” ‘There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza …”
Anyone who has read Kafka’s The Trial has been led through the ringer of bureaucratic nightmares. But even if you haven’t read Kafka, you have probably heard about the time Jesus was asked if it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar. This question was carefully contrived with evil intent in the hope that Jesus would stumble over a technicality. According to the Scripture Jesus was aware of their malicious intent. He turned the question on its head with a kind of Solomonic wisdom. “Whose picture is on the coin?” he asked. And you know the rest of the story.
Have you ever encountered an absurdity associated with the simple act of living every day? Perhaps at work – the bureaucracy can get to us. Maybe in your family relationships. Almost certainly if you have any dealings with government – local, state or national!
If absurdity makes its way into your life today (and there is a high probability that it will!), don’t forget to laugh … and to pray. To paraphrase a line heard on an episode of Seinfeld: God, when absurdity arises in my life grant me Serenity Now. Amen.
A blessed Tuesday to you.