What belongs to God
Tuesday, June 05, 2018
9th Week in
1st Reading: 2Pet 3:12-15Gospel: Mk 12:13–17
Jewish leaders sent to Jesus some Pharisees with members of Herod’s party, with the purpose of trapping him in his own words. They came and said to Jesus, “Master, we know that you are true; you are not influenced by anyone, and your answers do not vary according to who is listening to you but you truly teach God’s way. Tell us, is it against the Law to pay taxes to Caesar? Should we pay them or not?”
But Jesus saw through their trick and answered, “Why are you testing me? Bring me a silver coin and let me see it.” They brought him one and Jesus asked, “Whose head is this, and whose name?” They answered, “Caesar’s.” Then Jesus said, “Return to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” And they were greatly astonished.
(Daily Gospel in the Assimilated Life Experience)
Jesus’ adversaries were always on the lookout for occasions to force him to take a dangerous position. In today’s Gospel they used a taxation issue hoping he’d get into trouble with the authorities. They asked: “Is it against the law to pay taxes to Caesar?” (Mark 12:15). A yes answer could have jeopardized Jesus’ public standing because the Jews resented having to pay taxes to Rome. A no answer could have hastened Jesus’ Passion and Death because taxation was a sensitive issue to the Romans. Campaigning against taxation was a crime of inciting people to rebellion. “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God” was a very wise answer because it took the conversation from the political realm to the spiritual. In effect Jesus was saying that they should observe both duties to an earthly king and the heavenly king.
Jesus was still charged later before Pilate for inciting people not to pay taxes. “They began to accuse him, saying, “We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Christ/Messiah, a king” (Luke 23:1-4). Pilate may have remembered earlier reports about how Jesus convinced key tax collectors to quit their jobs. He called Matthew away from his tax collector’s post. Zaccheus did not only leave his post to follow him but also compensated the people he had defrauded. Pilate had reasons to suspect that Jesus was working underground against the Roman government by winning tax collectors over to his side so that no Jew would collect duties for this foreign rule. So Pilate washed his hands, leaving Jesus’ fate to an angry mob.
They forced Jesus to take a dangerous political position. When this strategy didn’t work, they came out in the open and used lies to finish him off. – (Atty.) Rev. Fr. Dan Domingo P. delos Angeles, Jr., D.M.
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