Saturday, October 21, 2017
29th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
October 22, 2017 - 29th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Is 45: 1, 4- 6 / 1 Thes 1: 1- 5b / Mt 22: 15- 21
FROM THE FIRST READING: Is 45: 4- Sa
For the sake of Jacob my servant, of Israel my chosen one, I have called you by name and given you your mission although you do not know me. I am Yahweh, and there is no other; there is no God besides me.
GOSPEL READING: Mt 22: 15- 21
The Pharisees went out and took counsel on how they could trap Jesus with his own words. They then sent their disciples with the members of Herod's party for this purpose.
They said to Jesus, "Master, we know that you are an honest man and truly teach God's way; you are not influenced by others nor are you afraid of anyone. Tell us, then, what you think: is it against the Law to pay taxes to Caesar or not?"
But Jesus understood their evil intent, and said to them, "Hypocrites! Why are you testing me? Show me the coin with which you pay taxes."
They showed him a denarius, and Jesus said to them, "Whose head is this, and whose name?" They answered, "Caesar's." Then Jesus replied, "Therefore, return to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's."
Whose image is stamped in your heart?
In the first reading today God pronounces, "I am the Lord and there is no other; there is no God besides me." The statement reminds us of the first commandment in the Decalogue, "I am Yahweh your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. Do not have other gods before me." (Ex 20: 2 - 3)
At first glance this seems to imply that God is a jealous God who does not want other realities to replace him, like a lover who demands full attention and dedication from his/her beloved. Most people respond to this image of God as someone who restricts our freedom which leads us to feel that we have no other choice but to dedicate our whole lives and being to God.
But God respects our freedom. This is why Jesus asked the Pharisees and Herodians in today's Gospel reading, "Whose head is this, and whose name?" Jesus poses a profound question that invites us to reflect deeper on the implications of their confusion concerning the many tensions between God and the world.
This tension between God and the world prompts us to ask the same question. We face the same dilemma in choosing between God and the world. How do we "give the Lord glory and honor" in the midst of our daily preoccupations in the world? How do we fully serve God in the midst of our many other secular and necessary obligations? Do we reject God when we work very hard for our families? Should we abandon our possessions and wealth in order to serve God?
Ultimately Jesus asks us the same questions he asked the Pharisees and Herodians in today's Gospel reading, "Whose head is this, and whose name?" "Whose image is stamped in our hearts, God or the world?"
Realistically speaking we are not being asked to let go of our belongings and properties to serve God only. Jesus asks us about our priorities in our lives. Do we give first priority to "giving the Lord glory and honor?" The question calls us to reflect on what we do and whether they lead us to or away from God.
St. Ignatius of Loyola calls this type of reflection "discernment." For indeed "Man is created to praise, reverence and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul. The other things on the face of the earth are created for man to help him in attaining the end for which he is created." (St. Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises, First Principle and Foundation.)
Our dilemma is not any tension between God and the world. Rather it is how we make use of the world in praising, reverencing and serving God.
WE PRAY FOR MTQ DAILY PRAYER INTENTIONS:
Finally, we pray for one another, for those who have asked our prayers and for those who need our prayers the most.
Have a good day!
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