Tuesday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
(Tobit 2:9-14; Mark 12:13-17)
Joe Louis was one of the greatest boxing champions because of his readiness to take on all challengers. He defended his heavyweight champion title a record twenty-five times. If you don’t mind the comparison, Jesus in the gospel these days is confronted by different opponents who resent his popularity among the people. He has no more trouble putting down their arguments than the “Brown Bomber” in conquering all foes.
In today’s passage an unlikely alliance of Pharisees and Herodians questions Jesus on the controversial issue of the census tax. The people thought the tax unjust, but few wanted to invite reprisal by speaking against it openly. So the band asks Jesus openly of his opinion of the tax. Jesus sniffs out the conspiracy and responds quite deftly by avoiding the issue. In the process he wins even more fame among the people.
In this case Jesus appears both clever and wise. But more instructive is his profound trust in God. He stands composed because he knows – not through intuition but by constant prayer -- that his Father is with him. We should follow his example. It is better not to strategize to outwit those who take opposite positions from us. Rather, we should pray for God’s enlightenment with due effort to comprehend the issue at hand.