CONTENTS OF THIS SECTION
- Readings for the Sunday.
- Reflective Questions. For private or group use.
- Focusing the Gospel.
- Connecting the Gospel.
- Understanding Scripture.
- Web News.
SUGGESTION BEFORE YOU READ THE SCRIPTURES TODAY.
Try not to read just to read it and get through it. Got my drift? We can do this so easily. Take the Readings slowly….as you read, you might like to read it aloud. The sounds of the words help us concentrate and it helps us reflect as we read. Try and be aware of your breathing before you even start….it is better to be at 5 k.p.h that 50! Enable words and meanings to gently jump out at you….soothingly take note in your mind as to what teases you as you read and see God’s Word. Don’t forget that the First Reading is always linked to the Gospel…..see if you can pick up the links.
First Reading: Isaiah 45:1. 4-6
Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whom he has taken by his right hand to subdue nations before him and strip the loins of kings, to force gateways before him that their gates be closed no more: 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.
This is the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
Psalm: Ps 95:1. 3-5. 7-10
R. Give the Lord glory and honour.
O sing a new song to the Lord, sing to the Lord all the earth. Tell among the nations his glory and his wonders among all the peoples. R.
The Lord is great and worthy of praise, to be feared above all gods; the gods of the heathens are naught. It was the Lord who made the heavens. R.
Give the Lord, you families of peoples, give the Lord glory and power, give the Lord the glory of his name. Bring an offering and enter his courts. R.
Worship the Lord in his temple, O earth, tremble before him. Proclaim to the nations: ‘God is king,’ He
will judge the peoples in fairness. R.
Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5
From Paul, Silvanus and Timothy, to the Church in Thessalonika which is in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ; wishing you grace and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
We always mention you in our prayers and thank God for you all, and constantly remember before God our Father how you have shown your faith in action, worked for love and persevered through hope, in our Lord Jesus Christ.
We know, brothers and sisters, that God loves you and that you have been chosen, because when we brought the Good News to you, it came to you not only as words, but as power and as the Holy Spirit and as utter conviction.
This is the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
Gospel: Matthew 22:15-21
The Pharisees went away to work out between them how to trap Jesus in what he said. And they sent their disciples to him, together with the Herodians, to say, ‘Master, we know that you are an honest man and teach the way of God in an honest way, and that you are not afraid of anyone, because a man’s rank means nothing to you. Tell us your opinion then. Is it permissible to pay taxes to Caesar or not?’ But Jesus was aware of their malice and replied, ‘You hypocrites! Why do you set this trap for me? Let me see the money you pay the tax with.’ They handed him a denarius, and he replied, ‘Whose head is this? Whose name?’ ‘Caesar’s,’ they replied. He then said to them, ‘Very well, give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar – and to God what belongs to God.’
This is the Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
How about going back to the First Reading and see if the link between it and the Gospel becomes more evident to you.
REFLECTIVE QUESTIONS::::::: POINTS TO PONDER ‘Lord, what are you saying to me through your
Holy Word today?’
- Cyrus was the King of Persia. He conquered Babylon and decreed that all exiles could return home and practice their religion. God’s people saw God’s power at work in this amazing event. God can use even a powerful Pagan King to deliver his chosen people. Is there some area of your life, a difficulty at work, an obstacle in your family which you think of as ‘impossible’ to change. Be invited to pray for a ‘Cyrus’ event!
- In ancient times a belief existed of different countries having different gods and the power of these ‘gods’ was territorial. Hence, the gods of Babylon would operate in Babylon. The God of Israel would operate in Israel? This event of liberation from Babylon marked a turning point in understanding. God is all powerful. Over all countries. Over all Kings. ‘There is no other’! Does your life reveal a trust and relationship with God who can make all Kings ‘run in his service… opening doors before him?
- When Paul began his preaching in Thessalonika he met resistance from the Jews. He turned to the Greeks in this important Roman City. Upset, the Jewish leaders chased him and others out of town. He sent Timothy back to learn how the church of God was coping with the persecution. He congratulates them on their endurance. Is there a particular persecution you face in following Christ? Are you working on your faith, laboring in love, enduring in hope? If Timothy was to arrive at your door what would you share with him?
- A suprising partnership of Pharisees (who resist Roman authority) and Herodians (who partner with ‘Herod’ and the Roman authorities) attack Jesus. It is a carefully staged question about paying the poll or census tax. Everyone aged between 12-65 was required to pay 1 days wages to Rome. If Jesus said Yes to tax he would be disloyal to the Jews and lose favour with the people. If he said No he would be seen as opposing Rome and be arrested as a revolutionary. Many Jews even refused to carry Roman coins as a sign of resistance. In a dramatic twist Jesus invites them to show the coin – which reveals they do carry it – and ‘accept the system’. What is your view on paying tax? Civil obedience? Making a personal contribution to the ‘common good’ and public services? What is your reaction to Jesus’ strikingly fresh detachment from money?
- Bearing the imprint of Caesar on the coin meant ‘it’ belonged to Caesar. Jesus invites a more profound reflection. We bear the imprint of our creator in our very being. We belong completely to God. Consider the depths of this truth. Do you repay and give your whole being to God grudgingly or gratefully?
- What is one action that you will do to ‘live-the-word’ this week?
Focusing the Gospel
Key words and phrases
The Pharisees went away to work out between them how to trap Jesus.
Tell us your opinion then. Is it permissible to pay taxes to Caesar or not?
Give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar – and to God what belongs to God.
Give the Lord glory and honour.
I am the Lord, unrivalled; there is no other God besides me.
We are mindful of your faith, hope, and love.
to the point
To entrap Jesus the Pharisees pose an either/or dilemma: pay taxes or not. Jesus refuses the bait and affirms that we have both civic and religious obligations. But these obligations are radically different: to the state we pay taxes, but to God we give undivided service (see first reading) and worship (see responsorial psalm).
Connecting the Gospel
to the first reading
At the time of the gospel events, Caesar is the supreme authority. In God’s plan, all earthly rulers, like Cyrus the Persian, are to be servants of God.
Income taxes are automatically deducted from salaries; we are barely conscious of it. Our service of God, however, is not exacted from us but is freely and consciously given.
Cyrus and Caesar
The first reading and gospel present two different approaches to authority. In the first reading the prophet is addressing people living in exile. In 587 BC, the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and its Temple and deported many of the survivors to Babylonia. Their exile lasted until the city of Babylon fell to the new superpower of the day, the Persians under King Cyrus. The prophet sees this foreign king as the Lord’s ‘anointed’ (= messiah; Isaiah 45:1). Just as the Lord had used the Assyrians to punish the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 and the Babylonians to punish the southern kingdom of Judah in 587, so now the Lord would use the Persian King to deliver the Jews from captivity. This perspective indicates two things simultaneously: first, the Lord is sovereign
over all, i.e., ‘there is no God besides me’ (Isaiah 55:5); second, even foreign kings serve the Lord. In the biblical view Cyrus himself acknowledged this. When Cyrus issued his decree liberating the Jews in 538, he said: ‘Thus says Cyrus, king of Persia: ‘All the kingdoms of the earth the Lord, the God of heaven, has given to me, and he has also charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah’’ (Ezra 1:2). Cyrus is the servant of the great God of Israel.
‘Caesar’ had a different understanding. The Roman Emperor at the time of Jesus was Tiberius Caesar. Taxes had to be paid in Roman currency. The coin bore the image of Tiberius and the inscription, ‘Tiberius Caesar, august son of the divine Augustus, high priest.’ From the Roman point of view Emperors were considered, in some sense, divine: imperial authority was divine authority. From a Jewish point of view the Roman coin was offensive both because of the implicit claim to divinity – Tiberius was the ‘son of god’ – and because images were prohibited by the Law.
Jesus both affirms and relativises the claims of earthly authority. To be sure, governments make their claims but ‘The Lord is king’ over all gods and nations. God’s claims are absolute.
- Dear One and All, this week I have been very deliberate and gentle in my typing; not wanting to hit to keys at the same time and send this posting off to a distant Galaxy 🙂 Next Monday night I will be posting Chapter 16. The Bishop Appoints Fr.Jack Cowmeadow as the new Parish
Priest of Finuge. As we all know from experience in the Church, strange things do happen from time to time, and this new appointment will be very FUNNY and interesting to read. It’s almost like going from the frying pan into the fire! Stay tuned!
- Don’t forget to keep your tabs on Inspire Library hosted by Colin Lee. www.inspirelibrary.com Colin has put alot of work into this website, and you will find plenty of Food for Thought.
- To help you even further with the Sunday Readings as the launching pad for PRAYER. I would strongly suggest the following website hosted by the Benedictine Nuns at Jamberoo NSW.
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Sunday, October 16th, 2011, is the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A. The readings are: … Lectio: Read the first reading from the Prophet Isaiah 45:1 and 4-6. …. Thoughts can trap us, and make us question our deepest faith-convictions. …
- I am working on an Essay, Titled: Towards a spirituality of the Heart. Hopefully I will have it posted within a couple of weeks; I’ll keep you posted! Howszat? This Essay will contain may personal experiences gathered over the years as a Missionary, and living within other cultures and places. In short I will be looking at the flesh which hangs on the bones of the Scriptures, and how it has made so much sense to me and so many others whom I have had the privelege to travel with en route to the Father!
That’s about it for the time being,
Sincerely in Christ’s love,