5 June. Tuesday of the 9th Week
2 Pet 3:12ff. Our true security lies in our faith in God’s justice, in our honest way of life, and in the guidance of the Scriptures.
Mark 12:13ff. “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, but to God what is God’s.”
Although the passage from Second Peter begins with the awesome, appearance of “new heavens and a new earth,” it quickly settles down to ordinary life and homespun virtues. And today’s gospel has a delightful piece of clever humour that hurts no one but still manages to put the haughty person in his place.
It is good for soul and body to find our daily family life mirrored in the Scriptures. If our lives are that clearly found in the Bible, then God must be present in our homes, even amid our quarrels and banter. The principal virtue is perseverance, whose core is faithfulness and whose heart is love, leavened with humour. To bridge and harmonize these qualities, one needs steady shoulders and a well-balanced head. As the most enigmatic writer in the Bible says: “Be not just to excess, and be not overly wise, lest you be ruined. Be not wicked to excess, and be not foolish. Why should you die before your time?” (Eccles 7:16-17)
The gospel also ends with no answer, only a very profound but general remark, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s but to God what is God’s.” If only he had explained exactly what belonged to Caesar as distinct from what belonged to God! Jesus may not always silence our questions with clear answers, but he always supports honesty and compassion and forgiveness. But the Pharisees who questioned him were not seeking an honest answer; so, “knowing their hypocrisy” Jesus began his reply with the question, “Why are you trying to trip me up?”
2 Peter also seeks an attitude of prudence and trust while we await “new heavens and a new earth where… the justice of God will reside.” “Justice,” in the biblical sense, means the fulfilment of all God’s promises so that reality conforms justly with promise and hope. Although this fulfilment is accomplished by God, we contribute our family virtues and attitudes of human vintage, “Be found without stain or defilement.”
First Reading 2 Peter 3:12-15, 17-18
We are waiting for the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire? But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home. Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation. So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him.
You therefore, beloved, since you are forewarned, beware that you are not carried away with the error of the lawless and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
Gospel: Mark 12:13-17
Then they sent to him some Pharisees and some Herodians to trap him in what he said. And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality, but teach the way of God in accordance with truth. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?” But knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why are you putting me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me see it.”