Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard about the well known teaching of our Lord Jesus on the matter of the paying of taxes to Caesar. From there came the words we all must have known, that we ought to pay back or give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God. This is a clear reminder for us, to do our duties to the Lord, which we often forget and neglect.
Why is this so, brothers and sisters? It is because we are often so occupied by the many things of this world to the point that we forget about giving glory to God. It is too often that we seek to please the world and give in to the demands of the world, at the expense of our faith in the Lord and at the cost of our conviction to walk in the way of our God.
We try to please the world, try to be accepted and not to be different from the opinion of the majority, trying to be seen as being open and receptive, all so that we may feel the acceptance by the world, that the world may welcome us and even praise us for what we have done, and also to give us that sense of comfort. But at what cost, brothers and sisters in Christ?
At the cost of our very own soul and our own salvation. We have been given much by the Lord, from our lives to our talents and skills, and all the other graces and blessings He had granted us. But at the same time, this cannot mean that we ought to be on the other extreme, that is to give honour to the Lord alone and rejecting all that is in the world.
For this will mean bringing and unnecessarily causing the opposition of the world upon us. Yes, indeed in the ages past and even now, many have suffered persecution, oppression and even martyrdom for their faith, but this does not mean that we have to purposefully look for this kind of trouble by actively opposing the world and rejecting the world completely and entirely.
Truly, what we should do is just as what Jesus had advocated in the Gospel today. It is the middle way between the two extremes. The Pharisees had tried to trap Jesus in His own words, that if He chose any of the two choices, then they would condemn Him. If He chose to say that we should obey God alone, then the Pharisees would condemn Him before men, before the Roman leaders. If He chose to say that we should obey human authority alone, then they would also condemn Him because then He would have blasphemed against God.
In the same way therefore, we must walk the path of compromise between the two. Remember, give to the world what is due to it, and give to the Lord, what we owe to the Lord. We owe the world the obedience to the human norms and laws, taxes and other things that bind us as people of this world. On the other hand, we owe the Lord even more, namely our love and obedience, our obedience to His laws and commandments, and ultimately our lives itself is due from the Lord.
What we have to take note is, we must be very careful and vigilant, that in observing the laws of this world, we do not make compromises that undermine the wholeness of the truth of the Lord which we have received, and the wholeness of the faith which we have for the Lord. We should be good citizens and follow the customs of the world, but not to the point of sacrificing or giving in to worldliness in the matter of faith and in the matter of our obedience to God.
Today we celebrate the feast of two great martyrs, St. Marcellinus and St. Peter the Martyr, both of whom were Roman martyrs of the early Church, who were martyred at the time of the great persecution against the Church and the faithful by the Roman Emperor Diocletian. They were likely martyred because of their opposition to the Emperor’s demands that all Romans, including Christians, must offer sacrifices to the pagan gods and to the Emperor.
Most if not all Christians at that time were good citizens, paying taxes and obeying the laws as far as they do not impinge on the core tenets of the faith. When the Emperor and the Roman state began to encroach upon this and force things that would cause the people to sin against God, many of them refused to follow suit and as a result were martyred, as St. Marcellinus and St. Peter were martyred.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all reflect on this today, so that we may find our true path in this world, that while we conform to some ways of the world, we will be careful not to let anything to sway or distract us away from our true allegiance to the Lord our God. May God Almighty be with us always and guide us, so that we may resist the temptations of the world and remain faithful to Him. Amen.