Today's Scriptural Meditation Readings:
Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:
Isaiah 45:1, 4-6
Psalm 96:1, 3, 4-5, 7-8, 9-10
1 Thessalonians 1:1-5b
A reflection on today's Scripture:
We find an unusual prophecy in today's first reading!
Isaiah delivers a personal message to a pagan monarch, the Persian King Cyrus. Isaiah refers to him as the Lord's anointed! The message is that there is only one God, and He alone is responsible for the rise and fall of earthly kings. He is the one who opens doors and causes kings to "run in His service."
In other words, as the famous spiritual sings, "He's got the whole world in His hands."
In the second reading, St. Paul reminds the Thessalonians that "our Gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction." (1 Thessalonians 1:5) The two readings together prepare us well for Jesus' answer to the Pharisees who were trying to trap him, "Render to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God, what belongs to God."
To the Herodians, Caesar was a god. We wonder if they really got Jesus' message that there is only one God of the universe to whom we owe absolute allegiance. He is the one to whom we owe everything--the air we breathe, the life we live, the possessions we cling to so jealously. We note that Jesus called to the Pharisees' attention the inscription on their coins.
Just as the profile of Caesar claimed their allegiance, so too do the image and inscription of God in our hearts demand of us our complete obedience. God inscribed on every heart the command, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart (soul, mind, and strength), and you shall love your neighbor as yourself."
And what do we owe to Caesar whose image and inscription are on the coin of the realm (and on our currency)? We owe the payment of taxes, and the obedience to our nation's laws, provided that they are not contrary to the laws of the one great Lawmaker. Before the face of this Judge, we must one day stand to give an accounting of our stewardship.
As we, in the United States, prepare to vote in national elections, it might be good for us to sit down and draw up two lists--one, with all we owe to God, and one with all we owe to our country and its leaders. What we place in those columns will be determined by the depth of our faith and its values, by our understanding of justice, by thorough and intelligent forming of a right conscience, and by our courage in voting according to that conscience.
I urge all our readers to read carefully the U.S. Bishops' document Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship (www.faithfulcitizenship.org). This is a sure guide to help us make a conscientious decision for following this Sunday's Gospel on Nov. 4th.
- Msgr. Paul Whitmore |
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lives of the saints:
Full Scripture text from today's Liturgy of the Word:
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