Theme: Give to Caesar and give to God/strong> In today’s Gospel the Pharisees and those who support king Herod want to trap him by asking him a question about taxes to Caesar, the Roman Emperor. The Herodians and Pharisees were political enemies but here they work together to try to trap Jesus. Though it is a clever trap, Jesus is able to answer to them. He opens their minds to the realisation that civil duties are not to be used as an excuse for neglecting our duties to God.
First Reading:Isaiah 45:1. 4-6;
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 96;
Second Reading: 1Thessalonians 1:1-5b;
Gospel: Matthew 22:15-21;
*The Sunday Missal, Paulines Publications Africa
*Painting: Poster No. 53, Pentecost – by S. Ajak Bullen
Why do the Pharisees and Herodians call Jesus an honest Teacher?
Do our duties as citizens sometimes clash with our duties as Christians
The opposition between Jesus and the religious leaders is coming to a climax. The authorities want to win the struggle by any means. But Jesus is much respected by the ordinary people for who he is, what he does, and how he speaks to them about God’s presence and his action in their lives. In spite of their jealousy and hatred the religious leaders can· not deny the extraordinary personality of Jesus. They have to recognize that he is a Teacher who is honest and shows all the way to God. (Mt 22: 16). All are invited to repent (Mt 4: 17; 11 :20). All are offered God’s love (Mt 5:43-48) Jesus never forces. Each person must respond freely. To live the all-embracing vision of Jesus is hard. It was difficult for the early Church to acknowledge that God does not discriminate between people and gives his Spirit freely to all so that all might come to know Jesus and be saved (Ac 10:1-48; 11:1-18). Just as God has no favorites (Dt 10:17-22; Ac 10:34; Rm 2:11; Gal 2:6) Jesus, God’s messenger does not have favorites either. Even his enemies cannot deny this God-like quality in him.
While he invites his people to recognise the economical and political dominion of Caesar in their country, he wants them also to acknowledge and accept the spiritual dominion of God in their lives. God wants to be their king and Jesus brings about his Kingdom. Allegiance to an earthly ruler must not stop them from giving their total allegiance to God. Caesar is not God. What matters is that the believer allows God to rule his life.
As disciples of Jesus we recognise the legitimacy of both realities, the claims of society and the claims of God. We are committed to serving both, but God must come first. We want to develop society and create one more according to God’s vision. Our faith does not excuse us from doing what we should as citizens but neither should our responsibilities as citizens prevent us from doing our duty to God.
“I have grasped the hand of Cyrus to subdue nations before him.”
A reading from the Book of Isaiah
Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped, to subdue nations before him and uncover the loins of kings, to open doors before him that gates may 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 clothe you, though you do not know me, that men may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other.
The word of the Lord.
Ps 96:1 and 3.4-5.7-8.9-10a and c (R. 7b) (R. 6cd)
R: Give the Lord glory and power.
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.
R:Give the Lord glory and power.For the Lord is great and highly to be praised,/ to be feared above all gods./ For the gods of the nations are naught./ It was the Lord who made the heavens./ R.
R: Give the Lord glory and power.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./
R: Give the Lord glory and power.Worship the Lord in holy splendour./ O tremble before him, all the earth./ Say to the nations, “The Lord is king.”/ He will judge the peoples in fairness. / R.
Give the Lord glory and power.
“Remember your faith, love, and hope.”
The beginning of the first Letter of Saint Paul to the Thessalonians
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 give thanks to God always for you all, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labour of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brethren beloved by God, that he has chosen you; for our Gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.
The word of the Lord.
Alleluia. You will shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life. Alleluia.
“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.”
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew
At that time: The Pharisees went and took counsel how to entangle Jesus in his talk. And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true, and teach the way of God truthfully, and care for no man; for you do not regard the position of men. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the money for the tax.” And they brought him a coin. And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
TWENTY-NINTH SUNDAY OF THE YEAR
*Adapted from: “Bible Study and Sharing on the Gospel of Matthew for Christian Communities”, by Richard Baawobr M.Afr — Paulines Publications Africa, 2016.