TWENTY-NINTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Isaiah 45:1, 4-6
Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped to subdue nations before him and strip kings of their robes, to open doors before him— and the gates shall not be closed:
For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen, I call you by your name, I surname you, though you do not know me. I am the Lord, and there is no other; besides me there is no god. I arm you, though you do not know me, so that they may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is no one besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other.
Psalm 96:1, 3-5, 7-10
O sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples. For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; he is to be revered above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the Lord made the heavens.
Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts. Worship the Lord in holy splendor; tremble before him, all the earth.
Say among the nations, “The Lord is king! The world is firmly established; it shall never be moved. He will judge the peoples with equity.”
1 Thessalonians 1:1-5b
Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
Grace to you and peace.
We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers and sisters beloved by God, that he has chosen you, because our message of the gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.
Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in what he said. So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin used for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” They answered, “The emperor’s.” Then he said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
In the Isaiah reading, the leader, Cyrus, is anointed to go forward to reveal God's power. Cyrus is God's leader to do good and God is with him. Even though he does not know God, he is chosen and he is being led, not even for his own sake but for others. People can understand God more clearly when they see his power at work: subduing nations, stripping kings of their robes, and opening doors.
Saint Paul praises the Thessalonians for their faith and works in love knowing that they are anointed by the power with which they received the message.
Jesus, in the Gospel, amazes the people when he escapes their trap and teaches them. What they see as a contradiction between devotion to God and emperor, Jesus establishes clearly that there is order in the government and it is an order that requires obedience. Leaders in the world are appointed for our good and God supports them.
This world is passing and heaven is our home, but we live in it and it is our children’s home. This is the place where we do battle, accepting salvation and maintaining it for our sake and the sake of others. This gospel helps us to separate what our duties are for we have a duty to each other in the world, to live out our faith in the light, not to sin, and not to scandalize others.
When we look at the crucifix, we see a head and an inscription. The head is bowed toward us in a final gesture of self-giving. The title, Jesus Christ King of the Jews, is the name to which we must pay our tribute. Let us continue with conviction to live our faith in love so that God's power may be revealed for the sake of all who are yet in the world.