Reading: Should we pay, or shouldn’t we?” But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. “Why are you trying to trap me?” he asked. “Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” Mark 12:15.
Good morning, happy Tuesday, and many blessings.
In this Gospel (Mark 12:13-17) once again Jesus has the better of the Pharisees and Herodians: not because he’s superhumanly smart, but because he’s so good at being a human.
Jesus sees through his opponents’ tricks and traps, and he has the personal calm and poise to respond with integrity.
Remember the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11). That was a potentially explosive encounter. If Jesus had contradicted the Law, he could have been stoned with the unfortunate woman. But he waits, finds the words and then speaks: Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7). Have you ever had that poise in a difficult moment?
I note how the Pharisees and Herodians use the truth in a dishonest way to achieve their ends. They correctly say that Jesus teaches the way of God in accordance with the truth, but then try to catch him out by asking him a legal question about human law. It is a question to which there is no good answer, from their point of view.
What is my relationship with the truth? Do I seek it honestly, without trying to put my own spin on it? Am I open to the truth, especially in my relationships with others? Or do I persuade myself that whatever I want to believe is the truth? I sit for a few moments in the presence of Jesus who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and I ask him to help me to see the truth with his eyes and heart.
The hypocrisy of the Pharisees and Herodians does not lie in the question they are asking (this is fair and relevant) but in their motivation for asking it. They want to trick Jesus. Do I ever act for less than honest reasons? Am I ever hypocritical? How do I understand the final statement of Jesus in the circumstances of my own life and times?
Hypocrisy originally meant ‘acting on a stage’. In the bible it means falseness, sham, deceit. Here the lure of wealth distorts authentic relationships. Jesus’ visitors are only trying to trap him: they are not interested in the truth.
We have received everything from God – even life itself. What can we give back to God in gracious gratitude? Although the approach of the Pharisees was flattering and courteous, Jesus recognized that he was being tested. I pray that I may have the presence of mind not to be distracted by empty conversations. Jesus points to the importance of giving due attention in the various spheres of life. I ask God to help me to fulfil as well as I can the different roles that I occupy.