Memorial of Saint Boniface, bishop and martyr
(2 Peter 3:12-15a.17-18; Mark 12:13-17)
As commonly observed, we live in a fractured society and a fractured Church. In society, the fault line touches abortion. Should the state prohibit abortion? Liberals think that the state has no business regulating what a woman does to her body. Conservatives rightly see the newly formed being in the woman’s body as human. Therefore, the state has an obligation to protect it. In the Church the determining issue is artificial contraception within marriage. Liberals believe that it should be permitted while conservatives see it as wrong. Today’s gospel considers an equally divisive issue in Jesus’ day.
“’Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?’” a group of Pharisees and Herodians ask Jesus. The Pharisees would say “definitely not” as the tax compromises a Jew’s loyalty to God. The Herodians, on the other hand, think that such accommodation is only realistic. That the two parties are collaborating against Jesus indicates the great animus Jesus arouses. More interesting, however, is how Jesus deftly handles the challenge. Rather than falling into his adversaries’ trap by answering their question, he sidesteps the issue. He says, in effect, that each person must decide for herself what belongs to God and what belongs to Caesar.
We would be more like Jesus if we refuse to categorize people according to a standard question. We need to respect everyone by engaging him in dialogue. We also should take care not to abhor others because their opinions differ from ours. Lastly, we should try to claim as our own the positions of the Church on moral and social issues.