Memory of the Mother of the Lord

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Spirit of the Lord is upon you.
The child you shall bear will be holy.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Mark 12, 13-17

Next they sent to him some Pharisees and some Herodians to catch him out in what he said.

These came and said to him, 'Master, we know that you are an honest man, that you are not afraid of anyone, because human rank means nothing to you, and that you teach the way of God in all honesty. Is it permissible to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay or not?'

Recognising their hypocrisy he said to them, 'Why are you putting me to the test? Hand me a denarius and let me see it.'

They handed him one and he said to them, 'Whose portrait is this? Whose title?' They said to him, 'Caesar's.'

Jesus said to them, 'Pay Caesar what belongs to Caesar -- and God what belongs to God.' And they were amazed at him.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Look down, O Lord, on your servants.
Be it unto us according to your word.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Gospel of Mark is accompanying us through the last days of Jesus’ life before the Passion. His days are filled with preaching and debates. The opposition against him is growing stronger and more pressing. The Gospel now presents the Pharisees and the Herodians, who ask about the tribute to Caesar. Their duplicity is noted at the very beginning. They flatter Jesus to set a trap for him. But shrewdness will not get us close to the Gospel. The word of Jesus cannot be bought with trickery or deception. It is clear and good, without deception or subterfuge. Jesus does not accept their falsity and changes the question. We need to give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, but likewise everything that bears God’s likeness, God’s "image," should be given to God. It is on this issue that Jesus is asking for a decision: give to God what belongs to God. What is God’s, if not human beings? In every human being is written God’s image; every human being, even the smallest and most defenceless, belongs to God and should return to God. The absolute primacy of God in human life should be defended at all cost, just as civil society and its laws should be given respect. This Gospel passage helps us be respectful and tolerant, knowing that no one has a right to injure or humiliate human life. God alone is the Father and Lord of all. Consequently, Christians are called to obey laws and sincerely collaborate with legitimate authorities. But Jesus’ invitation to give to God what is God’s recalls us to our responsibility to give witness to the Gospel and to live out the teachings of the Church with liberty and conscience, so that the lives of men and women might be protected and safeguarded in our societies and in the world.