Catholic Mass Readings and Reflection June 04, 2024


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R/. O Lord, you have been our refuge, from generation to generation

V/. Alleluia

R/. Alleluia

V/. May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ enlighten the eyes of our hearts that we may know what is the hope to which he has called us.

R/. Alleluia.

At that time: They sent to Jesus some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to trap him in his talk. And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone’s opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? 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 denarius and let me look at it.” And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar’s.” Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marvelled at him.

1.      In the gospel today, we have a very practical teaching and guideline of Jesus about how to conduct our life on this earth: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s”.

2.      How to understand this directive? Some, out of their overenthusiastic secularity may interpret it as balancing between the world and God. The danger with this secularized mentality will be to infiltrate worldliness into spirituality.

3.      Their argument will be simple: “We are living on this earth and in this world. Therefore, certain things are demanded of us; we are bound by some earthly ways and concerns. We need to follow certain standards and values of the world; we are both citizens of the earth and also of heaven”.

4.      This type of presentation of the argument is very valid and appealing. It can help us to guard against such a spirituality that is indifferent, unconcerned and uninvolved toward the world. Such a spirituality and Christian life is overly other-worldly neglecting the present concerns and commitment.

5.      Jesus never neglected his duties as a responsible human person, as a citizen of a particular society, or as a partaker of a given culture. Therefore, as true followers of Christ, we have a duty and responsibility toward the mother earth, and toward humanity.

6.      We must be committed to the well-being and well-being of the world. We are obligated to create “new heavens and new earth”. We are duty-bound to establish God’s kingdom here and now. This world is our mission field.

7.      We cannot escape from our human and missionary responsibility in the name of faith and spirituality. In fact, our very faith and mission commit us to the renewal of this world.

8.      However there is always the danger. It can lead to a lot of compromise on the values of Jesus and the duties of a Christian. This responsibility toward the world does not mean that we share everything of the world. Especially, we should always insulate ourselves against all that is evil and false.

9.      We are in the world, not to be tainted by it, but to cleanse and renew it. Therefore, to be responsible toward earth and heaven would mean constantly exercising wise discernment between these twofold duties.

10.  In this process, the praise of the Pharisees and Herodians to please Jesus would hold good. Surely they were flatteries out of hypocrisy, intended to trap Jesus. But they can serve as guidelines for us.

11.  Hear what they tell 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”. Though they did not mean these compliments, they are profoundly true.

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