“Why are you putting me to the test?”

Mark 12:15

Tuesday, 02 June 2020

2 Peter 3:12–15a, 17–18; Psalm 90:2–4, 10, 14, 16; Mark 12:13–17.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus says ‘Why are you putting me to the test?’. He then goes onto solve a problem the Jews faced with regards to how they should pay a poll tax. Doing so would mean co-operating with the Roman Empire but betraying their Jewish religion. Of course it was a trick to trap him, but Jesus finds a middle way when he declares “Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and give to God the things that are God’s.”
 
In our current day, we too should not put the Lord to the test. Appeals to return to Church and receive communion, despite the public health risks are in someway, I believe, putting God to the test. Underlying this motivation is an erroneous understanding of the Eucharist that it will somehow save or make immune those who ‘faithfully’ attend. Rather, I think, we need to see how Jesus’ response to the secular world and the religious, charted a way through.
 
In our time we should respect with utmost care the public authorities who act to save lives. And we should give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar. But we should also give to God what belongs to God. All things belong to him, of course, for he gave us everything. But if we see our lives as gifts from God, then respecting that gift and keeping it safe will be honouring both the laws decreed by our authorities, and the gift God gave us. Then the closing words of our first reading will make sense to us: “we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.”

Loving God,

We thank you that you have made us and blest us with life. Help us to cherish your gifts and to protect the life you gave to other people. Help me to trust in your purpose at this time. Let me  grow in the grace and knowledge of  of our Lord and Saviour Jesus  Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity.

Amen.

 
Fr Matthew Charlesworth SJ

Fr Matthew Charlesworth SJ entered the Society of Jesus in 2005 and underwent the usual course of studies in his formation, which took him to such varied places as Canada, France, Ireland, Kenya, Spain, Tanzania, the United Kingdom, the United States, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. Matthew manages the background technical aspects of much of the Institute's work and is involved in the Spirituality work whilst completing the Advanced Spiritual Directors Training Course and Spiritual Exercises Training run by the Institute. He is a member of Spiritual Directors International and is also a part-time lecturer in Sacred Scripture at St Augustine College of South Africa.

m.charlesworth@jesuitinstitute.org.za @mcharlesworth
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