In the passage, the Pharisees try to trap Jesus in speech by asking him what he thinks about the lawfulness of paying the census tax to Caesar.
Jesus replied: "Why are you testing me, you hypocrites? Show me the coin that pays the census tax." When they handed him the Roman coin with the image of Emperor Caesar, "then Jesus replies: 'Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's,'" Pope Francis recounted.
In his reply, Jesus "acknowledges that the tribute to Caesar must be paid," the pope said, "because the image on the coin is his; but above all he recalls that each person carries within him another image -- we carry it in our heart, in our soul -- that of God, and therefore it is to him, and to him alone, that each person owes his or her existence, his or her life."
Jesus' line gives "clear guidelines," he said, "for the mission of all believers of all times, even for us today," explaining that "everyone, by baptism, is called to be a living presence in society, inspiring it with the Gospel and with the lifeblood of the Holy Spirit."
This requires humility and courage, he noted; a commitment to building "the civilization of love, where justice and fraternity reign."
Pope Francis concluded his message by praying that Mary Most Holy will help everyone to "flee from all hypocrisy and to be honest and constructive citizens. And may she sustain us disciples of Christ in the mission to bear witness that God is the center and the meaning of life."