June 6th, 2023

The Gospel according to 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.


Today’s Gospel features an encounter between Jesus and those who the evangelist says were trying to “ensnare him in speech”.  They clearly did not have the most positive motives, no matter how they tried to flatter Jesus at the start.  And, the writer of the Gospel clearly accounted for Jesus seeing through their false flattery.  The question, though, still applies to us even in our modern times.  The question really is about how do we live as followers of Christ in a world that is increasingly turning away from Him?

I’ve mentioned in various of my reflections of how I’ve watched the online series “The Chosen”, which provides an interesting perspective on the stories from the Gospels, and the people that Jesus chose for His disciples.  The one thing that I’m a little envious of is how the characters are shown living their faith very openly.  I remember the episode with the miracle at the wedding in Cana, and how the “master of the feast” got everyone’s attention and led them in a prayer of thanks to God.  Nowadays, it’s even less frequent that God even gets a mention in social gatherings and celebrations.  Well, except for those who do live out their faith more openly.

Jesus did not promise that living a life according to His law of love would be easy.  But, He did promise that it would be worth it, and that we would receive blessings along the way, just for acting in a way that shows we put others if not first, at least right level with ourselves.  That’s how we “render to God what is God’s”. 

We are also called to “render to” the civil authorities what belongs to them.  What does that mean?  One way to look at it is to be a good citizen, a good neighbor, and to use our power at the ballot box to express our belief that all deserve dignity.  It may not seem to make a difference, but these small acts are truly the only ones that do make a difference.  And if we think no one notices, we should think again.  God notices, and God remembers the good that we do.  The hard part is not losing heart, but if we ask that same loving Lord to help us, believe that He will not disappoint, and then just keep at it, one day at a time, one encounter at a time, one good, kind act at a time!

Action for the Day:

Ask God for the grace to truly render to Him what is His, and to be the best neighbor and friend you can be.  This may mean not asking your neighbor to return the tools he borrowed a long time ago, even though you would really like to have that tool back!

If you would like to hear this reflection, click the link below! 

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