Tuesday of the 9th Week of the Year

Mk 12:13-17

Paying Taxes to the Emperor


Paying taxes is a sign of allegiance to one’s country, of a sense of responsibility for the welfare of the whole nation. Our fidelity in this aspect surely shows the depth of our concern for the betterment of our society, whether or not our revenue people are honest and whether or not the government uses them sincerely. We do what we should and leave everyone to do what should be done. The gospel offers a visible proof that Christ has become incarnate, truly a Jew, and a faithful one. He accepted the authority of His Father. And He was willing to pay the price for such allegiance, without reservations. When exacted the temple tax, he paid. And He did more: He gave His life to the Father as a sure sign of this fidelity to Him.

As citizens of both heaven and earth and our country, we are called to an allegiance to both. “Give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, to God what belongs to God.” (Fr. Bernard Collera, SVD Bible Diary 2002)


In our gospel passage today, we have a highly charged situation: economically, politically and socially. First of all, we note that the Jews hated the presence of the occupationary forces and much more so to pay taxes to the Ronan emperor in coins minted with his image and inscription.

Then we see how desperate the religious leaders were that they were willing to lie down with the enemy, so to speak, just to trap and catch Jesus in His speech. They put forward a question to get Him into deep trouble, no matter which way He may answer.

Jesus was locked in the horns of a dilemma. He was damned if He dared to pay taxes and he was likewise damned if He did not. If He said it was lawful to pay taxes, then the Jews will rise up against Him; if He said it was unlawful, He risked being arrested by the Romans for being a revolutionary.

Jesus noticed without difficulty how insincere and malicious these people were. They just wanted to catch Him right then and there. Looking at the coin and seeing the inscription on it, He told the people: “Give to Caesar what is his and to God what is God’s.”

How sincere are we in dealing with people: our fellowmen/women, our fellow priests, our fellow Sisters, our fellow brothers, our fellow community/organization members? (Fr. Fred Mislang, SVD Bible Diary 2004)


One day God decided to watch a game between two world religions vying for the world basketball championships. The religion coming from the East cornered God and inquired: “Lord, which of the two teams are you cheering on?” The leader of religion from the West pressed on: “Yes Lord, tell us the team you are favoring.” After a teasing smile, God looked at the two leaders and remarked: “My sons, you are practically missing the point, I am here simply to watch and enjoy the game.”

The presence of Jesus surely irked the church leaders of His time. As a consequence, they were absorbed in trapping Him and hopefully to dispose of Him. Thus to the devious question: “Is it lawful to pay census tax to Caesar or not?” Jesus responded craftily and even brought the issue to a higher realm: “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God.”

First, it must be understood that Jesus adheres to the importance to the role of the State. He sees the value of temporal rule as a means of establishing the Kingdom of God. When Jesus drew the line between religion and state, he did so to put order into the temporal things of this world. He was not playing favorites, but was concerned with the wholeness and sanctity of the person. This could be achieved when state and religion complement each other. Good governance is also a concrete manifestation of God’s reign here on earth. If only those entrusted with power and responsibility, those in government, church and family, could consistently strive to live with an ounce of honesty, integrity and a zealous spirit of Christian discipleship, perhaps we can cultivate a culture of life over a culture of death. The question is, how far are we willing to contribute and sacrifice to achieve this mission? 9Fr. Flavie Villanueva, SVD Bible Diary 2006)


In these silly, short-sighted trick questions that people are repeatedly using on Jesus, in order to catch Him out, we gain some valuable insights and lessons.

Should we pay taxes to Caesar? Rightly so, for Caesar is kinatawanan ng bayan. However, the Jews perhaps had some reason for not seeing themselves bound to support their occupation by a foreign power which Caesar represents, but we on the other hand, have no justification for stealing from Caesar, whether by theft or tax evasion or by graft and corruption.

We see today a great disregard for this fact, not only on the part of some of our leaders and those who have responsibility in our society, but also among rank and file in our country. We hear over and over again the phrase dala ng kahirapan advanced as a motivation behind theft, violence, tax evasion, graft and corruption. However, while many people are suffering and others in positions of responsibility are taking advantage of them, this does not mean that we also should act for our own advantage only.

Tobit could easily have taken advantage of his kahirapan and the sad state of his nation and used this as an excuse for relaxing his moral stance, as so many of us do, and keeping the goat he thought his wife had stolen. He did not, however, betray his principles and, like many today who try to be faithful to their values in our country, he was mocked: “Where are your acts of charity? Where are your righteous deeds? These are known about you?”

There is a human temptation for us to plead kahirapan or the fact that everyone else is doing the same and look out for ourselves first. We can perhaps see this inclination as one of the motivating forces behind the question that the Herodians and Pharisees ask Jesus. Jesus’ answer, however, is brilliantly clear for them and for us. (Fr. Alan Meechan, SVD Bible Diary 2007)


During the time of Jesus, the whole country was under the rule of Caesar. The Jews resented this and they despised paying taxes to a foreign power. If they could help it, they would not be paying any taxes to Caesar. But there was nothing they could do.

That was the situation when Jesus came into the picture. Jesus was becoming more and more popular among the people during this time at the expense of the Pharisees and the Herodians. If they resented Caesar, they resented Jesus more! They were, therefore, always looking for an opportunity to put him in a bind. They had their chance when the issue of paying taxes to Caesar came up. So they approached Jesus with a cleverly formulated question, one for the books, for it was a “no way out” situation. They asked Jesus, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” Jesus’ answer was just as clever, if not more! He asked for a coin and asked whose image was engraved on it. Since it was Caesar’s, thus His classic declaration, “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar…” it was as simple as that.

But then Jesus took this opportunity to tell them something more. If we must render to Caesar what is his, then we must also render to God what belongs to Him. And this means our whole being! If the image of Caesar is engraved on a coin which is but a piece of metal, the image of God is engraved in our very being, for we are made in the image and likeness of God! So we owe everything to God as we have been stamped with God’s image (Gen 1:26-27). But that is not all. We also belongs to Him because He redeemed us by dying on the cross for our sins (1Cor 6:19-20).

From their concerns regarding the paying of taxes to a foreign ruler, Jesus was now reminding them that they have a far greater obligation to God! Unfortunately, they did not get it. They were blinded by jealousy and envy.

Would that the same thing will not happen to us? Yes, we have no obligation to obey our elected leaders in government and to pay our taxes, among other things, but we should also always remember that we have a greater obligation to God. We owe Him our allegiance. In concrete terms, God must come first before everything else. (Fr. Vic Uy, SVD Bible Diary 2008)


The gospel starts with hostile questioners flattering Jesus, but actually they were trying “to ensnare him in His speech.” The first praise is integrity, impartiality and devotion to truth and then tried to trap him to make a stand on whether Jews should pay taxes to the Roman Empire.

Flattery is often used when people want to get something from us by touching on our pride. Let us be aware of sweet and smooth talks that massage our ego. They often come with price. A good question to ask is: “Do we use flattery to get what we want?” Behind such technique is manipulation of others. This style (flattery) is very much different from that of Jesus who respects and dignifies people. Jesus never uses people as a means to an end. Now we ask: Are we susceptible to flattery? What makes us fall to smooth talk? Is it insecurity? Is it the need for approval from others?

Jesus did not fall for such ploy. He was secure of Himself and did not need any amount of glib talk to be persuaded. One who relies too much on his/her accomplishments is susceptible to flattery. Genuine humility that boasts in Jesus serves as an antidote to flattery. Let us always stay connected to Jesus. (Fr. Francisco Estepa, SVD Bible Diary 2009)


The story is told of a teen-age son who once asked this tricky question: “dad, is it okay to smoke while I am praying?” When the father said no, the son went to ask, “”How about if I pray while I am smoking?”

In today’s gospel (Mk 12:13-17) Jesus was asked a tricky question: “Tell us, is it against our law to pay taxes to the Roman emperor? Should we pay them or not?” Jesus Himself knew that it was not only a tricky question, but also a trap question. A “:yes” or “no” answer from Him would be used against Him, His person, His message, His mission.

Half-truths are dangerous. The evil one is the master of lies and half-truths. Let us be very careful not to be tricked or trapped. “Come Holy Spirit!” This is the best prayer, especially when we have to make important decisions in life. let us always pray not only for clarity of mind, but also for purity of heart and intentions. May all our decisions, words, and actions be borne out of a sincere and constant prayer.

We need brilliant and wise people in the church today, but more than these, we need disciples who really listen to the Master in prayer. (Fr. Jerry Orbos, SVD Bible Diary 2015).


A Taxing Question

June 2, 2015 (readings)

Tuesday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time

Father Edward McIlmail, LC

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.

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I come before you humbly. As one who has frequently fallen into sin, I am aware of my weakness. Your great love, though, assures me that your grace can keep me on the path to holiness.

Petition: Give me guidance, Lord, on a big decision that I have to make.

  1. Setting the Trap:The Pharisees and Herodians use an old ploy ― flattery ― to try to trap Jesus. It is a ploy that enjoys a long shelf-life. Flattery can cause us to lower our guard. “You’re an intelligent person, why don’t you …?” Or: “You’re a good parent, you already have two kids. You don’t really believe the Church on …?” Being Christian in the world often means living among devious people. Hence, Jesus warned us to “be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves” (Matthew 10:16). To maintain a balance, we have to live only for God. Is it Christ who shapes my day?
  2. Lying in Wait:They pose a false dilemma to Jesus. It’s “either/or.” Either Jesus must accept Caesar totally, or rebel against Rome. Such is how the world sees it. It’s still either/or. Either we embrace Darwinism (no questions asked), or we cling to Creationism. Either we are tolerant of alternate lifestyles, or we are insufferable bigots. But things are more complicated than that. Moreover, the Catholic faith is often “both/and.” Hence, we give to Caesar and to God what belongs to each. And how do we decide what belongs to whom? That’s where things get tricky. And that is precisely why we are called as Christians to develop our gifts, our intelligence, our prayer life ― so as to make the right choices. Catholicism is not a religion for robots. It demands that we use our freedom and gifts responsibly to do God’s will. Am I using my gifts well? Do I develop my skills and intellect so as to better serve God?
  3. The Trap is Sprung, the Game is Over:Jesus’ response floors his critics. Why? Partly because he throws the question back to them. Now they have to decide what belongs to Caesar — and what belongs to God. “You must decide,” was Karol Wojtyla’s signature phrase as a confessor. Nothing can so frighten us as freedom. It frightened Jesus’ audience. How am I using my own freedom? How am I using the time God gives me?

Conversation with Christ: Help me realize, Lord, that you are calling me in freedom. You respect the freedom you gave me, even if I misuse it. But I don’t want to misuse it. I want to render a good account of my life at Judgment Day.

Resolution: I will read some Scripture or a few paragraphs from the Catechism or a papal document today, to try to form myself better in the faith.

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TUESDAY OF THE 9TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR B) – Marcos 12:13-17. KINSA MAY NANAG-IYA SA ATONG KINABUHI? Sa karaang panahon ang sensilyo gipanag-iya sa sa emperador, kang kinsang hulagway nakatatak niini. Sa pag-ingon ni Hesus, “Ihatag kang Cesar ang mga butang nga iya ni Cesar ug sa Dios ang butang nga Iya sa Dios”, iyang gipasabot nga ang sensilyo nga adunay panagway sa emperador angay nga ihatag ngadto sa emperador. Apan ang tawo, nga gitatakan sa panagway sa Dios, angay nga ihalad ngadto sa Dios. Ang Dios, dili ang emperador o bisan kinsang pangulo, maoy tag-iya sa atong kinabuhi. Busa, ang atong numero unong obligasyon ngadto gayod sa Dios nga maoy atong Magbubuhat ug Amahan. Uban ni San Pablo kita moingon: “If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or we die, we belong to the Lord” (Roma 14:8). Posted by Abet Uy



One Bread, One Body – Reflection for June 2, 2015


“Why are you trying to trip Me up?” –Mark 12:15

Tobit and Anna, in the first reading, get into a terrible fight, the worst of their marriage. The physically blind Tobit is also blind to the kindness and support of his wife. Tobit is stung, as a husband and a man, by his inability to support his family, and takes it out on his wife. The blind Tobit believes the worst of his wife, while she had been working hard to support the family.

Anna, understandably, is stung by her husband’s wrongful accusation that she is a thief. Yet she likewise chooses to turn a blind eye to Tobit’s lifetime of charitable works. She, too, responds to anger with anger, saying something so hurtful that Tobit would prefer to die rather than hear such insults (Tb 3:6). Those closest to us are in a position to hurt us the most (see Ps 55:13-15). When tested, do not return insult for insult. Instead, may charity be the foundation of our lives (Eph 3:17).

Jesus warns us that we will be held accountable for every unguarded word we speak (see Mt 12:36-37). He also says we speak out of the abundance of our hearts (Lk 6:45). Jesus, when insulted, returned no insult (Is 53:7). He gave His back to those who mocked Him (Is 50:6). When insulted, He returned a blessing. Let Jesus purify your heart and speech. Break the cycle of insults, hatred, and hurt (see Rm 12:19-20).

PRAYER: Father, may I leave to You what is Yours, that is, vengeance (Rm 12:19-20). May I instead give only love and kindness to those who hurt me.

PROMISE: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s but give to God what is God’s.” –Mk 12:17

PRAISE: Filled with the Holy Spirit, Sts. Marcellinus and Peter made converts out of their jailer and his family.



June 2, 2015

Tuesday of the 9th Week of Ordinary Time

Tob 2: 9-14

Mk 12: 13-17

Stamped with God’s Image

In today’s Gospel we see the enemies dragging Jesus into a religious-state dispute over the issue of taxes, a clever trap they set from which they though he could never escape unharmed. To monitor and celebrate the victory over their common enemy they even invited the fanatic religious zealots Pharisees and the equally dangerous Herodians who would do anything to defend their king and his sovereignty. If Jesus answered that it was lawful to pay taxes to a pagan ruler, then he would lose credibility with the Jewish populace who would regard him as a coward and a friend of Caesar. If he said it was not lawful, then the Herodians would have grounds to report him to the Roman authorities as a political trouble-maker and have him arrested. With a cynical intend to inflate the ego of Jesus they even showered on him flowery and extravagant praises: “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.” However, Jesus was not carried away by their dishonest flattery. Wanting to expose their hypocrisy he said to them, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a coin, and let me look at it” – a response that they never expected. They brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar’s.” Jesus right away delivered his final verdict, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” This pronouncement of Jesus was not just one of his amazing escape acts but the universal declaration of the one and the only way to peace and justice in this world – “Give to Caesar his due and to God the things that are God’s.” Every problem we face here on earth is due to the failure to follow this teaching of Jesus. We hear St Paul repeating this very same teaching in his letter to Romans that we must give each what is their due (Rom 13:6-8). In fact, do we have anything that we do not owe God and others?

This story has another deeper meaning as well. We, too, have been stamped with God’s image since we are created in his own likeness (Gen 1:26-27). We rightfully belong, not to ourselves, but to God who created us and redeemed us in the precious blood of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ (1Cor 6:19-20). St Paul says that we are to present our bodies as a living sacrifice to God (Rom 12:1). Do we acknowledge that our life belongs to God and not to ourselves? And do we give to God what rightfully belongs to Him and to our fellow being what they deserve? Dr. Kurian Perumpallikunnel CMI



MY JESUS – “I went to doctors for a cure, but the more they anointed my eyes with various salves, the worse the cataracts became, until I could see no more…” – Tobit 2:10

Project. Smile. Laugh aloud. Exude happiness!

I wonder if I’m the only one who pastes on a smile and tries to act normal. Are there others like me, living imperfect lives, going through trials, and hiding their sadness behind their smiles?

My atheist friends think that our hardships provide proof that there is no God. My Christian friends think that with God on their side, they will never have to suffer. I think all of them are wrong.

You see, I have fibromyalgia. Fatigue is my companion. Pain is never far behind. I look at the crucifix to pray and realize why we have the image of the suffering Christ instead of just an empty cross. It’s a reminder that Jesus went through what I am going through. Pain, loneliness, isolation and despair are not marks of a weak faith. They’re marks of being human.

So I project. I smile. I love and try to give what little I can. Because that’s what my Jesus did. But if things get too much, I cry and He consoles me. Because that’s what my Jesus went through. And He understands me. Cecil Lim (cez_lim@yahoo.com)

Reflection: “God had one Son on earth without sin, but never one without suffering.” (St. Augustine)

My Jesus, I lift up my heart to You in my suffering. Grant me the grace to bear it. No matter what, let me always trust in You.



See Today’s Readings:  Year I,   Year II

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