2 Peter 3:11-15, 17-18 / Mark 12:13-17
To sabotage is to deliberately destroy, damage, or obstruct (something), especially for political or military advantage.
Sabotage is a deliberate action aimed at weakening an entity or organization through subversion, obstruction, disruption or destruction. One who engages in sabotage is a saboteur. Saboteurs typically try to conceal their identities because of the consequences of their actions.
So in other words, sabotage is usually carried out by the weaker on the stronger, by the smaller on the bigger, by those who hit and run and hide.
Sabotage is not used the other way round, i.e. by the stronger on the weaker, by the bigger on the smaller.
But in the gospel, we hear of an unusual act of sabotage. There were the chief priests, the scribes and the elders sent some Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch Him out in what He said. They were out to trap Him.
They even disguised their intended devious act by addressing Jesus as "Master" and praising His as an honest man who is not afraid of anyone as a man's rank means nothing, and that He is a teacher of the way of God.
With such hypocrisy to disguise their malice, they asked a politically and religiously sensitive question: Is it permissible to pay taxes to Caesar or not?
It was a politically sensitive question because Caesar's Roman legions had occupied the land, and if Jesus had said "No" to paying taxes, that would mean that He was inciting a rebellion against the occupiers.
It was a religiously sensitive question because if Jesus had said "Yes" to paying taxes, then He is bowing down to Caesar and not acknowledging the sovereignty of God over His people.
But the answer of Jesus "Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God" took them completely by surprise.
Not only did the Pharisees and Herodians caught nothing with their trap, it was like the hunter got into his own trap.
In effect, Jesus was asking them as to why they were resorting to the scheming and devious ways of the world in order to sabotage Him.
As religious people, why were they not aware or listening to the ways of God in their dealings with Him.
So Jesus is actually telling them to give back to the world, the ways that belong to the world. They should go back to God and walk in His ways, and not in the ways of the world.
The 1st reading urges us to live holy and saintly lives without spot or stain so that we can be at peace with God, with others and with ourselves.
Furthermore, the reading also warns us to be careful not to get carried away by the errors of unprincipled people from the firm ground that we are standing on.
Yes, we must stand firm on the ways of God and not be sidetracked by the ways of the world.
We do not return evil for evil. That is the way of the world. Ours is the way of God, which is the way of love and peace.
Even if we are being sabotaged, let us trust that the way of God is truth, and the truth cannot be sabotaged.
So we give back to the world what belongs to the world. We walk the way of God, and we must show that way to a world that has lost its way.