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Tuesday – Ninth Week – OT2
Readings: 2 Pet 3:12-15a, 17-18; Mk 12:13-17.
1/ First reading: 2 Peter 3:12-18
12 While waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be kindled and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire! 13 But according to his promise we wait for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. 14 Therefore, beloved, since you wait for these, be zealous to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. 15 And count the forbearance of our Lord as salvation. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, beware lest you be carried away with the error of lawless men and lose your own stability. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
2/ Gospel: Mark 12:13-17
13 And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to entrap him in his talk. 14 And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are true, and care for no man; for you do not regard the position of men, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? 15 Should we pay them, or should we not?” But knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a coin and let me look at it.” 16 And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, Caesar’s.” 17 Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were amazed at him.
THEME: Let make God’s kingdom come by living truthfully.
Many people are wrong when they think that if the government doesn’t meet what the faithfuls want, they must fight in the name of the Church to the end and are ready to pour out blood to attain their wish.
Today readings help us to recognize what the faithful should do and shouldn’t do. In the first reading, the author of II Peter’s letter reminds the faithful that this world will disappear together with all of its vainglory. The most important thing which the faithful must do is to live in a way that they and all people shall inherit God’s salvation. In the Gospel, some political men and some hyporite Pharisees together with those belonging to Herod’s party used the name of the truth to put out a trap for Jesus to fall into. They asked Jesus, “Is it legal to pay tax for Cesar?” Knowing their wicked thought, Jesus gave them the answer not only that they can do nothing to Him but He also invited them to rethink about their way of falsifying the truth, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
1/ First reading: “Beware lest you be carried away with the error of lawless men and lose your own stability.”
One thing that Jesus and His disciples always warn the faithful is to be cautious of those who preach the wrong things; their purpose is for the faithfuls to doubt what Jesus preached and gradually give up their faith. Jesus called them the wolf under the shepherd’s cloak to kill the sheep (Jn 10:12). St. John called them the anti-Christ and is more dangerous before they are in the midst of the sheep (I Jn 2:18-19). St. Paul frequently advised his disciples, Timothy and Titus, to caution these people. He wrote, “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of stress. 2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, fierce, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding the form of religion but denying the power of it. Avoid such people” (II Tim 3:1-5). The author of II Peter’s letter wants to emphasize two things for the faithfuls:
1.1/ The Last Day will come: Jesus guaranteed that the Day shall certainly come; when it comes no one knows except God the Father alone. The author mentioned two aspects of this Day: First, the universe shall be destroyed, “the heavens will be kindled and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire!” Second, “But according to his promise we wait for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” That Day, all people must appear before God to be judged. Only then all people shall see God’s justice.
No one knows when that Day shall come; but according to the scripture, the faithfuls can make that Day to come earlier by the following ways:
+ Praying: in the Our Father, Jesus teaches his disciples, “to pray for the kingdome comes, His will to be done in the world as also in heaven.”
+ Preaching the Good News: Jesus commands his disciples, “to go into the world and to preach the Good News.” This sentence can be understood that when the Gospel is proclaimed to all people, God’s kingdom shall come.
+ Repenting and obeying God: This is the most important requirement. As the Father who wishes to save all of His children, God shall choose the Day that shall save all or the most of His children. St. Peter said, “God shows His patience in order to save you.” That Day doesn’t happen yet because there are still many people who shall be losing their souls. St. Paul also said in a similar way, “When the Jews believe in Christ, that Day shall come.” Therefore, all faithfuls should put this effort above all things if they sincerely wish for God’s kingdom to come.
1.2/ Don’t be shaken by false teachings:
There are so many false teachings in the world which the faithfuls can only fight against by learning the truth. One of them is the way of living of those who don’t believe in the eternal life. Since they don’t believe in the eternal life, they spend all of their time and effort for building this present life. Jesus and His disciples invite the faithful to look up to heaven because it is the true and eternal nation of all faithfuls. We are only foreigners or residents of this world. Jesus himself answered Pilate in His passion, “My country doesn’t belong in this world” (Jn 18:36).
The faithful’ way of living can’t be like as those who don’t believe in the eternal life. The author advised the faithful: While waiting for that Day to come, they must make an effort to “be zealous to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace… grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
2/ Gospel: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
2.1/ The trick to harm Jesus:
Mark’s report clearly indicates the origin, the purpose and the way to trick Jesus. The Sandherin, the highest branch of the Jews, sent some Pharisees together with some Herodians to Jesus. Their purpose is to make Jesus to fall in their trap. The trick is to praise Jesus insincerely so that He shall be deceived and recognized they are sincere people who want to learn the truth. They said to Jesus, “Teacher, we know that you are true, and care for no man; for you do not regard the position of men, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? 15Should we pay them, or should we not?” The reason why the Sandherin sent these people is for their political purpose:
(1) The Pharisees: believe the Jews must be ruled by the Jews (Deut 17:15). They oppose all foreign powers and paying taxes for the Roman emperor. If Jesus says “Yes!” to their question, they shall instigate people to oppose Jesus for His standing with the Roman emperor, the foreign power.
(2) The Herodians: believe a good relationship with the Roman emperor is “good for the religion and peace for the nation.” They showed that many good things that came from Roman governance during the Herodian kings rule. Therefore, they tried to convince the Jews: Let the Roman emperor ruling if he doesn’t interfere with the Jewish religion. To them, if Jesus answers “No” to their question, they will seize and handle him for the Roman army because He tells people to oppose the government.
They gathered together to do evil, they tried to find a reason to kill Jesus. They thought there is no way that Jesus can escape their trap.
2.2/ Jesus’ clear answer for them:
Jesus, knowing of their wicked intentions, so He said to them, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a coin and let me look at it.” 16 And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, Caesar’s.” 17 Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were amazed at him.
(1) First, Jesus separates politic from religion because their goals are different. The purpose of religion is to lead people to God while the puspose of politic is to provide people with their mean of living in this present world. Three duties of a religious leader are: to teach people to know God’s teachings so that they shall not be felt into false teachings, to know how to get God’s grace for people, and to rule people in religious area. The duties of a political leader are: to keep the nation safe, to provide necessary means for people and to protect orders in the country.
(2) People have duty to contribute to protect common goods: To pay taxes is the duty of the people so that the government will have funds to organize and to respond to people’s needs. Moreover, people must also share their efforts and talents in developing and protecting the society. Even Jesus asked Peter to go fishing to pay taxes for him and Jesus. The apostles also encourage people to obey good leaders of the nation. If the government leaders are greedy and donot care for people, people can oppose and find other leaders who care for people better.
(3) Don’t forget to pay back to God what belong to Him: Jesus invited people who were sent to Him to think carefully what they must pay back to God:
+ People are created in God’s imge; they belong to Him. So, they can’t do whatever they want; but they must live according to what God intends so that they shall have a happy life with Him forever. To use freedom as a reason to disobey God shall only lead people to destruction.
+ Remember that all worldly powers come from God, He gave them to people to share in His governance. He gave to Caesar the power to govern the Jews and Caesar must answer God about his governance. Many people don’t understand about God’s providence; they questioned why did God give Caesar the power to rule the Jews, God’s own people? The history gave them the answer: because they disobey God through the prophets’ warnings. When God gives power to people and they don’t know how to use it, He will take it away and give to the person who knows how to use it. God used the Babylonians as a stick to punish His people, then He destroyed that stick by giving it to the Persian king.
The worldly power is always changing according to the divine providence. If God wants to take it away, no one can oppose it; if God wants it to remain, no one can take it away. Of course, when God gives power, He wants that person to use it for the common goods; but a person’s heart is constantly changed and hard to predict. When they do not possess the power yet, they promise to do many wonderful things; but when they possess the power, they become greedy and abuse people more than those who came before them. May be that is the reason why power must constantly be changed. Only when we enter the kingdom of God when Jesus, the righteous king, shall govern us, then we shall have the true peace. How long we live in this imperfect world, our duty is to follow, not to oppose God’s will because we believe that He is governing the world the best as He can with His wisdom and power.
+ The right to possess material things in a way don’t belong to Caesar or to anybody because God created all things for people to use. People are only stewards and they must answer to God about their use of material things.
+ Life belongs to God; time and talents are God’s gifts. People have no right to terminate any life, from the beginning until the end of life. People cannot waste their time on useless things; but must use time wisely to benefit themselves and people. Many people wasted time and talents by using drugs, gambling or living an uncontrollable life. They must pay a dearly price for their abusing of freedom: do whatever they want. In a word, people must accept the truth: Everything belong to God; people can use and must use them wisely to benefit themselves, people and for widening God’s kingdom.
APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We must be humble to recognize that we are not wiser than God. So, we must obey and do what He commands us.
– The most important thing is to work for our and the others’ salvation. All other things are supplement.