02.06.2020 — Greater responsibility versus Limited duty

Posted under Reflections on June 1st, 2020 by

9th Week in Ord. Time, Tuesday – 2nd June 2020 — Gospel: Mk 12,13-17

Greater responsibility versus Limited duty

Reading the mind of his opponents and seeing their hypocrisy, Jesus uses the opportunity to teach them a universal truth. He acts very practical: requests a coin, holds the coin, inquires about coin’s image and inscription, and makes the inquisitors respond. In the context of these actions, Jesus’ response is amazing because he has slipped out of their trap. Jesus not only tells his listeners to “give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s,” he also demands that they “give to God the things that are God’s” (12,17). The denarius belongs to the emperor because of his image; in the same way, we owe to God our lives as we are made in His image. Conversely Jesus’ response severely limits what is owed to Caesar. The detestable coin with its idolatrous inscription is the sum total of ‘the things that are Caesar’s’. So what is given back to Caesar is strictly constrained. However, what is owed to God is limitless and beyond boundaries. In harmony with Paul’s teaching in Rom 13,1-7, Jesus affirms, in principle, the basic legitimacy of human government. But he insists that one’s obligation to God is always greater that it severely limits what is owed to the state. Jesus’ response resolves the conflicts that inevitably arise between one’s duty to the state (moral obligation) and one’s responsibilities to God (accountable). But Jesus’ wise teaching establishes a universalistic norm and continued relevance for those living as members of the kingdom of God in the political domain of the state.

01.06.2020 — Respond faithfully not irrationally

Posted under Reflections on May 31st, 2020 by

9th Week in Ord. Time, Monday – 1st June 2020 — Gospel: Mk 12,1-12

Respond faithfully not irrationally  

In the parable of the wicked tenants, the fault of the tenants is not simply a failure to produce grapes, but a treacherous series of responses to the landowner’s representatives. At least five attempts are made to contact the tenants and receive what was due for the landowner. One of the attempts speaks of “many” emissaries (12,5). The series culminates in sending his “beloved son”. This obviously refers to Jesus. This same phrase unmistakably evokes the heavenly voice at baptism (Mk 1,11; Mt 3,17) and transfiguration (Mk 9,7; Mt 17,5). This same truth is seen in Jn 3,16 and Heb 1,1-2. God attempted to communicate by sending several representatives, even His own son. This represents the longsuffering of God and his desire to establish a covenant relationship. But there is a clear increase in the ill treatment done to them (beating, beating on the head, killing). The landowner’s hope is ardent and idealistic, but ultimately futile. The tenants at this point are not just evil but irrational. Jesus did not tell the parable to suggest that God was going to take the kingdom away from “Jews” and give it to “Christians.” The critical issue in the parable is not the identity of the “others” but the failure of the tenants to respond faithfully, in accordance with their tenant obligation or in accordance with the covenant. How do they hope to inherit the vineyard after acting so disloyally? The outcome is inevitable: judgment, retribution, and replacement.            

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