Theme: WE ARE TO PAY OUR TAXES TO OUR GOVERNMENT AND GIVE OUR WHOLE SELVES TO OUR GOD
Isaiah 45:1. 4-6; Psalm 95 (96): 1. 3-5. 7-10. R/ v. 7; 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5
1. Today is the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year A. The readings today tell us that we are to pay our taxes to our government and we are to give our whole selves to our God!
The gospel today tells us that the Pharisees and the Herodians came together to trap Jesus by asking him if it was permissible to pay taxes to Caesar. If Jesus answered “Yes”, he will offend the Pharisees and the Jews, and if Jesus said “No”, the Herodians will report him to the Roman authority.
But Jesus went beyond the question and answered: “Give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar – and to God what belongs to God.”! (SM) That is, the Roman coin with the image of Caesar on it belongs to Caesar, but most importantly, we who are created in the image of God have the image of God in us and we belong to God and we have to give ourselves back to God! (IBC; Lefrois)
It is also important to note that on the Roman coin was also inscribed, “Tiberius Caesar, son of the divine Augustus, Augustus”. (HCSB) Caesar claimed to be divine, but Caesar was not divine. In fact Caesar can be demonic!
As our elections are coming very soon, it is important that we pray and elect a government that does the divine will and not the demonic will! We have to pray and elect a government that is just, charitable, respects religious freedom, respects human rights, respects human life, protects the environment, unites the people, helps the poor, etc.
We must not elect a government that is corrupted, plays racial and religious politics, undemocratic, destroys the environment, legalizes abortion, divides the people, etc.
In short, we must pray and elect a government that does the divine will and not a government that does the demonic will!
2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the Lord anointed the pagan Persian king Cyrus to be “messiah” to liberate the Israelites from their exile in Babylon, so that they may return to their homeland and rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple! (CSB) This is the first and only time that the Lord has anointed a non-Israelite king as “messiah”. He foreshadows Jesus the Messiah who will save us from sin and death! Thus we read in the first reading:
“Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, …. :
It is for the sake of my servant Jacob, of Israel my chosen one, that I have called you by your name, conferring a title though you do not know me. I am the Lord, unrivalled; there is no other God besides me. Though you do not know me, I arm you that men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun that, apart from me, all is nothing.” (Is 45: 1. 4-6)
Again, even pagan kings must do the divine will and not the demonic will!
3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that God is not only the God of the Christians, but he is the “God of the Universe”! (CSB) That is why all nations and all peoples must praise and worship him!
The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first stanza (vv. 1 & 3) invites all the peoples to praise God. The second stanza (vv. 4-5) tells us that there is only one God and there are no other gods. The third and fourth stanzas (vv. 7-10) tell us to worship God because he rules the world with justice! (CSB) Thus the response of the responsorial psalm which is taken from the third stanza:
“Give the Lord glory and power.” (Ps 95 (96): 7; SM)
4. The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but the second reading has something important to tell us. The second reading tells us about “grace and peace”; “faith, love and hope”; and the power and effect of the Good News! The second reading is divided into three paragraphs in our Sunday Missal.
The first paragraph (v. 1) is the greeting of Paul, “grace and peace”, that is, may the grace of God give you peace. That is why we greet one another with “peace”, shalom, salvation!
The second paragraph (vv. 2-3) tells us about “faith, love and hope” with an emphasis on “hope”. (CSB) We often remember faith and love, but we sometimes forget about hope, but the three must go together! For without hope our faith may not persevere until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, and without hope our love may not persevere until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ!
The third paragraph (vv. 4-5) tells us that the Good News is not just words, but it is the power of God, the power of the Holy Spirit that can effect faith, love and hope! (HCSB)
5. Today in the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and our Risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will help us pay our taxes to our government, and the Holy Spirit will help us give our whole selves back to God! The Holy Spirit will also give us the theological virtues of faith, love and hope, so that we will have faith in God and love, until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ! Again, a happy Sunday and a happy week to all of you!