Tuesday, June 2 ~ Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Saint Marcellinus and Peter, Martyrs
Holy Gospel: Mark 12:13-17 Some Pharisees and Herodians were sent to Jesus to ensnare him in his speech. They came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion. You do not regard a person’s status but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not? Should we pay or should we not pay?” Knowing their hypocrisy he said to them, “Why are you testing me? Bring me a denarius to look at.” They brought one to him and he said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” They replied to him, “Caesar’s.” So Jesus said to them, “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” They were utterly amazed at him.
Meditation: What do we owe God and what’s our obligation towards others? Paul the Apostle tells us that we must give each what is their due (ref. Romans 13:6-8). The Jewish authorities sought to trap Jesus in a religious-state dispute over the issue of taxes. The Jews resented their foreign rulers and despised paying taxes to Cesar. They posed a dilemma to test Jesus to see if he would make a statement they could use against him. If Jesus answered that it was lawful to pay taxes to a pagan ruler, then he would lose credibility with the Jewish populace who would regard him as a coward and a friend of Cesar. If he said it was not lawful, then the Pharisees would have grounds to report him to the Roman authorities as a political trouble-maker and have him arrested. Jesus avoided their trap by confronting them with the image of a coin. Coinage in the ancient world had significant political power. Rulers issued coins with their own image and inscription on them. In a certain sense the coin was regarded as the personal property of the ruler. Where the coin was valid the ruler held political sway over the people. Since the Jews used the Roman currency, Jesus explained that what belonged to Caesar must be given to Caesar.
Prayer: O God, who surround us with protection through the glorious confession of the Martyrs Saints Marcellinus and Peter, grant that we may profit by imitating them and be upheld by their prayer. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Contemplation: This passage has another deeper meaning as well. We, too, have been stamped with God’s image since we are created in his own likeness (ref. Genesis 1:26-27). We rightfully belong, not to ourselves, but to God who created us and redeemed us in the precious blood of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ (ref. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Paul the Apostle says that we are to present our bodies as a living sacrifice to God (ref. Romans 12:1). Do you acknowledge that your life belongs to God and not to yourself? And do you give to God what rightfully belongs to Him?