Readings: 2 Peter 3:11-15,17-18, Ps. 90:2-4,10,14,16, Mark 12:13-17

"They sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to entrap him in his talk.” (Mark 12:13)

It may shock you to know the extent to which your enemies are ready to go when they want to bring you down. Jesus warned us: “Behold, I send you out as sheep amid wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear testimony before them and the Gentiles.” (Matthew 10:16-18).

The worst kind of enemy is the one who comes to you as a friend. It is easier to avoid a known enemy than to hide from an enemy who pretends to love you. In today’s Gospel passage, the Pharisees and Herodians came to Jesus pretending to be his friends. They began by praising him: “Teacher, we know that you are true, and care for no man; for you do not regard the position of men, but truly teach the way of God.” (Mark 12:14). Who doesn’t like to be praised? Our first lesson today is: Be careful of praise singers. It is not all that glitters that is gold. In today’s first reading, St. Peter says: “Beware lest you be carried away with the error of lawless men and lose your stability.”

Jesus was never in the habit of receiving praise from people. When the rich young man approached Jesus, he said: “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17). To the shock of everyone present, Jesus began by saying: “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.” (Mark 10:18). Jesus is God, yet in this passage, Jesus spoke as if He was somehow less than God. Why? Jesus wanted to avoid flattery. Jesus knew that flattery leads to pride and that pride goes before a fall. Avoid flattery; those who flatter you may not mean well to you – they may be trying to get you relaxed so that you can agree to their terms.

Having cleansed the Temple by driving out those buying and selling, Jesus knew he had crossed a line. He knew that the chief priests, scribes and elders would never forgive Him for exposing their broad daylight robbery in the Temple. As such, Jesus was on guard. As soon as He saw the Pharisees uniting with the Herodians, Jesus immediately recognised this as a red flag. When you see people who do not normally agree together, know that you might be the target. Our second lesson today is: Be innocent as a dove but wise as a serpent. Don’t be too quick to trust people. Only God deserves your complete trust.

Jesus listened to them speak but did not respond immediately. Mark tells us that Jesus knew their hypocrisy. To succeed in life, learn to be a good listener. A foolish person hears what others say, but a wise person also listens to what is unsaid. Perhaps this is why God gave us two ears but only one mouth. St. James would say: “Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” (James 1:19). Don’t rust to say something; take some time to pray about what you want to say. Call on the Holy Spirit to intervene. Jesus did something similar when he was asked a tricky question concerning the woman caught in the act of adultery. (cf. John 8:3-11)

Jesus said: “Give to Caesar those things that are his and to God, the things are God’s.” Many Christians misunderstand this verse. Jesus did not say it is okay to worship other gods; rather, we must be good citizens (pay our taxes) while ensuring that we worship God with all our minds, body and soul. The world does not belong to us; we are only pilgrims. Nevertheless, we must be responsible pilgrims. Our third lesson today is: Do not turn money into an idol – do not abandon God in the name of trying to make money. Give God His Due.
Let us pray: Almighty, ever-living God, grant us the wisdom that surpasses all human understanding so that we may discern before we speak. We ask this through Our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever. Amen.

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. May God's abundant blessings be upon us all. (Tuesday of week 9 in Ordinary Time. Bible Study: 2 Peter 3:11-15,17-18, Ps. 90:2-4,10,14,16, Mark 12:13-17).

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu