9th Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: 2 P 3:12–15a, 17–18
As you wait for the Day of God and long for its coming, when the heavens will dissolve in fire and the elements melt away in the heat. We wait for a new heaven and a new earth in which justice reigns, according to God’s promise.
Therefore, beloved, as you wait in expectation of this, strive that God may find you rooted in peace, without blemish or fault.
And consider that God’s patience is for our salvation, as our beloved brother Paul wrote to you, with the wisdom given him.
So then, dearly beloved, as you have been warned, be careful lest those people who have gone astray deceive you in turn and drag you along, making you stumble and finally fall away. Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ: to him be glory, now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
Gospel: Mark 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.
What strikes one more and more in the gospels is the sheer intelligence of Jesus. And when intelligence is in the service of a good heart, it is an unstoppable force for good. This saying of his, “Give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar,” was of great importance to the early Christians, because they were often accused of disloyalty to the state. See for example Acts 17:7 “These people… have broken every one of Caesar’s edicts.” And Paul wrote an exhortation to loyalty to the state (Rom 13:1-7), where he even says that the taxman is doing God’s work! Clearly there is a tradition of civil loyalty that goes back to Jesus himself.
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