St. Justin, Martyr
Tobit 2:9-14 + Mark 12:13-17
June 1, 2021
“‘Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.’”
Jesus trips up the Pharisees and Herodians in today’s Gospel passage because of a dichotomy in their thinking. They easily recognize the image of Caesar, but fail to see two even more clear images. Focus on the first.
They fail to see Jesus as the divine Image of God the Father: in other words, they don’t recognize Jesus’ divinity. In addressing Jesus they say, “Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man”. Then they assert of him, “You do not regard a person’s status but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.” In both statements they speak of Jesus in regard to truth (he is a truthful man and he teaches the way of God in accord with the truth) without recognizing that Jesus, as the divine Image of the Father, is the Truth made flesh.
We might be willing to pardon this, as no one else in the Gospel (excepting perhaps Mary, Joseph and the Baptizer) seems to recognize Jesus’ divinity, either. This failure is at the heart of the drama in the Gospel, and reaches a climax on Calvary with Jesus’ cry: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” [Luke 23:34].