Homilyh Twenty-ninth Sunday Year A First things first

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Homily Twenty-ninth Sunday Year A

Reading 1: God reveals himself as the Lord of history. Cyrus was a pagan King, whom God raised to power for one purpose. The exile of the Chosen people was about to come to an end. Cyrus had been chosen by God to make this happen. Cyrus was totally unaware of what God was doing in his life.

When the Chosen people were freed from their first exile in Egypt, the Pharaoh fought God’s plan. God, in turn, showed his power, plan and intent, which finally forced Pharaoh to let the people go. In this exile Cyrus freely made it possible for the people to return to their homeland and rebuild, not only their lives, but their Temple as well. In fact, Cyrus provided the means for them to do this.

In all this God revealed his power, plan and glory to Cyrus, a pagan, and to the people who belong to God by adoption.

What is the central message? I am God, the Lord, who raised up and empowered Cyrus. I am the God who called and provided for you, the Chosen people.  I am the Lord, there is no other.

Sometimes we do not see the hand and purpose of God in a given, immediate situation. We don’t understand why certain things happen in our life. They don’t make sense, according to our understanding or way of thinking. Only years later do we see the hand of God in that particular moment and begin to appreciate the plan of God for us.

Where have we seen the hand of God in the most difficult circumstances of our lives? Why has God moved in powerful ways? He does so that we may know that he is God; that he loves us and that our worship of him may be from our heart in response to all he continues to do for us.

Gospel: There is a principle in life that says put first things first. Life is making sure our priorities are in proper order. The Pharisees were not interested in the truth in this Gospel narrative, but in discrediting Jesus. They didn’t like paying a tax or tribute to Caesar. They did it grudgingly. Nor did they care whether Jesus did on not. Their motive was tainted with jealously and resentment, with a desire to destroy Jesus.

In their blindness they were oblivious of the obvious. Even though they didn’t like to be subjected to Rome, they had in their possession the Roman coin with Caesar’s image on it. Jesus didn’t.

Secondly, Jesus says what belongs to Caesar, give back to him. But the real question was: is the image of God imprinted on your heart? Then, give to God what is his. They were content with an external relationship with God based on external ritual actions and imposing the same on others. They had separated themselves from others. They were the righteous ones and the others, who didn’t follow their way of life, were sinners.

How can we apply this message to us? In baptism we were adopted as sons and daughters of God. We were sealed with a mark of the Holy Spirit. To what extent is my life a reflection of the fact that I belong to God, that all I am and have is his? Is God my top priority even thought I have other important responsibilities in my life? Or is God one among many and I tend to Him when I can get to it? Put first things first. Give to God what is his and to others what is theirs.

Reading 2. Paul knew this principle and put it into practice. Paul was aware that the positive effects of his ministry was not because of his expertise and personal charism but was because of the anointing of the Holy Spirit. It was the Spirit that brought conviction and acceptance in the hearts of his hearers.

We, too, have heard the same gospel message. We have received the same anointing of the Holy Spirit. How convicted are we? Are the signs of the work of faith, labor of love and endurance in hope evident in our lives? De we know beyond any doubt that we have been chosen and are loved by God? Just as God chose the descendants of Abraham’s son Isaac; just as God chose Cyrus, God has chosen us. With this comes a need to respond. The response is to put first things first, to give to God what is due to God, namely our total yes as his disciple.

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