What belongs to God

Tuesday, June 02, 2015
9th Week in Ordinary Time
 1st Reading: Tb 2:9–14; 3:1

 Gospel: Mk 12:1317

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 reading they used a taxation issue to pin him down. They asked: “Is it against the law to pay taxes to Caesar?” (Mark 12:15). A yes answer would have jeopardized Jesus’ public standing because the Jews resented the payment of taxes to Rome. A no answer would have hastened Jesus’ Passion and Death because taxation was a sensitive issue to the Romans. Campaigning against it was considered inciting people to rebellion. Jesus escaped the trap by taking the conversation to the spiritual level. “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.

This, notwithstanding, Jesus was still charged later before Pontius Pilate for inciting people not to pay taxes. From Luke’s Gospel we read: “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). Hearing this, Pilate may have remembered earlier reports about how Jesus convinced key tax collectors to quit their jobs. He did call 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 ever collect duties for this foreign rule.  Of course that was not Jesus’ motive in winning over tax collectors to his side. Nonetheless, Pilate washed his hands, leaving Jesus’ fate to an angry mob. – Rev. Fr. Dan Domingo P. delos Angeles, Jr., DM. Email:dan.delosangeles@gmail.com. Website: www.frdan.org.

Prayer for the day: God our Father, as we strive to live as good citizens, may we also become good members of your family by religiously observing our duties towards you and towards our fellowmen. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.


SAINT OF THE DAY: MARCELLINUS AND PETER were among a group of Christians martyred at Rome (304), during the persecution of Diocletian. Marcellinus was a priest and Peter probably an exorcist.  Sometime later in the century, the emperor Constantine the Great built a church over the tomb of the martyrs, and his mother, Saint Helena, was buried there.