Homily: Twenty-ninth Sunday Year A Priority: God

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Homily: Twenty-ninth Sunday Year A

 

Reading 1: What is the central message of the prophet?  “I am the Lord, there is no other. There is no God besides me.” That is a revealed truth. The prophet reveals that God raised a pagan King, Cyrus, and gave him victory over his enemies, even though Cyrus did not know God. But the real reason God has so blessed Cyrus was for the sake of God’s Chosen People. They were in exile in the land over which Cyrus ruled.

 

What was God’s plan?  In the first deliverance of the Chosen People God delivered them from slavery in Egypt. Pharaoh fought God’s plan to set his people free. Many years later they were again in exile, because the people had forsaken their God and broken their covenant with him. Now, seventy years later, God will not only return the people to the promised land, but would convict Cyrus to enable them financially to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem.

 

In all this, God reveals his power, plan and glory to Cyprus, a pagan, and to the people who belong to God.  As the prophet said: “So that from the rising and the setting of the sun people may know that there is no other God than the true and only God.”

 

Where have we seen the hand of God in the most difficult circumstances of our lives? Why has God moved in powerful ways? So that we may know that he is God; that he loves us and that our worship of him may be from our heart.

 

Gospel: Picking up on the theme of the first reading, Jesus says that a consequence of this truth—there is no other God but God alone—for us to give to God what belongs to God. What is that?  Ourselves in true worship and service of God!

 

Jesus uses the trap the Pharisees were laying for him to teach them that important lesson. The Romans, who had subjected the Jews, required that they pay a tax in support of the imperial rule. This tax must be paid in Roman coinage, which had the imprint of Caesar’s image. This went against the grain for many Jews.

 

The trap was to see if Jesus approve of this obligation. If he said that they didn’t, the Pharisees would accuse him of sedition. If he that they did would accuse him as a traitor of the Jewish Law. Instead of falling into their trap, Jesus reminded them of the central truth of the Jewish faith: there is only one God.

 

If a coin stamped with the image of Caesar was to be used as a tax payment, it belongs to Caesar. But if one is stamped with the image of God, then that person needs to give oneself fully to God.  In other words, first things first. God is our first priority.

 

In Baptism we became a son or daughter of God. We were imprinted with an indelible seal, namely the Holy Spirit. To what extent is our life a reflection of the fact that I belong to God and that all I have is his? Is God my top priority? Or is God one among many?

 

Reading 2: Paul also picks up on this theme of the centrality of God in our life. He says that he gives thanks to God for what has happened to the people in Thessalonica was through the plan and power of God. They responded to Paul’s preaching of the Good News of Salvation as a result of the grace of the Holy Spirit, who convicted their hearts. Because they so responded to the grace of the Spirit, they have embraced a life of faith, hope and love.  They were seeking to live a life pleasing to God.

 

We 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, the labor of love and the endurance of hope evident in our lives? Do we know beyond any doubt that we have been chosen and are loved by God? Is our life a response to this truth? 

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