Reflection on Mark 12.13-17

But knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, ‘Give … to God the things that are God’s.’

The word hypocrisy is powerful. Hypocrite is the Greek word for ‘actor’, one who pretends to be what he or she is not. To be an actor is to adopt a false persona, it is to hone one’s skills in deceiving others. When we read of Jesus knowing their hypocrisy, we are reading of his understanding of the motivations of those who are trying to trap him into betraying his earthly mission.

We profess a faith in Jesus Christ. We call ourselves Christians, and we pride ourselves on the ‘good lives’ we lead. But, Jesus makes it clear what being a Christian means throughout the gospel narrative. So … do we take up our cross and follow him every day? Do we accept the opposition, even hatred, of those amongst whom we live as our Christian faith comes into direct conflict with our neighbours, our friends and even our families? Do we love our neighbours as we love ourselves? Do we love our enemies as we love ourselves? Do we place ourselves at the back of the queue? Do we even attempt to live in love, peace and unity with others? Do we accept that we are all called to serve? Do we forgive?

Jesus knows the difference between what we say and what we do. Jesus knows that we can be just like those chief priests, scribes, elders, Pharisees and Herodians in our hypocrisy, but he still calls us to follow him. Jesus recognizes our human weaknesses and fallibilities, but he still calls us to strive for the true discipleship our intellects aspire to.

As we live out our daily lives we all live behind a mask. Like an actor (hypocrite) we hide behind a persona we have chosen to project. Today we are being challenged to cast that mask to one side and allow ourselves to go forward in the faith we proclaim. We are called to concern ourselves only with the judgement God will make upon our words and actions, and not upon the fashion-driven, self-interested opinions of our fellow human beings. Taking this step into a new life demands strength and courage, but we were given that strength and courage when the Holy Spirit entered this world. Let us pray that we might accept God’s gift and go forward in his name, and in his name alone.