HOMILY WEEK 09 02 – Year II

Growing in Grace and Knowledge of Jesus Christ

(2 Pt 3:12-18; Ps 90; Mk 12:13-17)


St. Peter, in the first reading, recognizes that we are all keeping vigil – all waiting for the final coming of Jesus Christ to bring all of creation to fulfillment. In this time of waiting, he offers us a profound invitation – to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”

The Gospel picks up that theme by teaching us more about who Jesus is, revealing the brilliance of Jesus when confronted by his enemies. The representatives of both the Jerusalem priestly establishment and Herod Antipas’ regime conspire to entrap Jesus into giving some pretext to arrest and kill him by asking him if it is lawful to pay taxes to the emperor.

This was a genuine dilemma. In strict adherence to the Law of Moses, supposedly advocated by the Pharisees themselves, it was not lawful to pay taxes to the emperor because God was their exclusive sovereign, yet the Romans treated non-payment of tribute as rebellion.

Octavian & Anthony Denarius

Turning the trick question back upon the questioners, Jesus exposes their own hypocrisy and collaboration with the Romans by asking them to show him a coin that strictly speaking they should not possess – literally forcing their hand. Jesus ingeniously gives an ambiguous answer that does not literally advocate non-payment of tribute to the emperor but could be understood that way by those committed to the first commandment of the Mosaic covenant: the things that are the emperor’s, i.e., nothing; and the things that are God’s, i.e., everything.

Our response must be more than amazement, but faith in Jesus and continuous growth in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, as Peter insists in the first reading. Speaking personally, my own knowledge and understanding of who Jesus is for me has grown over the years. I have found myself gradually expressing that growing knowledge in some prayers I say as I enter into my holy hour each morning, reminding myself of God’s love for me – for us all – and then who God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are for me.

Here is the part of that prayer referring to Jesus: “Lord Jesus Christ, totally receptive to the Father’s love, humble, obedient, pure and faithful in response to that love; Son of God, Son of Man, Son of David, Savior, redeemer, Word made flesh, sinless one, free from addiction, the Way, the Truth, the Life, the Resurrection, suffering servant, crucified Messiah, sacrificial victim, victorious king, friend of sinners.

Reflecting back over the years, I truly believe that contemplative prayer and Lectio Divina is perhaps the best way to grow in grace and intimate knowledge of Jesus. Just being in the presence of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and realizing that they are also in my presence as I sit in silence, is humbling and awesome. That the Holy Trinity would deign to come and sit with me, with us, and the particularity of that love for each one of us, is almost too much to take in.

Thomas Keating has a brilliant insight about Mary of Bethany that I treasure for its inspirational richness. He is convinced that Mary, sitting at the feet of Jesus in the posture of a disciples, was not so much listening to his words, as she was aware that she was in the presence of The Word. That distinction can have a major impact on our prayer life when we can grasp it and integrate it into our own prayer.

The Eucharist is itself an experience of grace, growing in knowledge of Jesus, and an act of faith in his presence among us. So, as we celebrate, let us pray that we may, like St. Peter, grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.


Updated: June 4, 2024 — 1:19 am

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