29th Sunday of Ordinary Time ~ 18 October 2020
Bible Readings for Mass: I: Isaiah 45:1, 4-6; Responsorial: Psalm 96; II: I Thessalonians 1:1-5B; Gospel: Matthew 22:15-21
The Church year is drawing to a close. In just a few short weeks we will begin the season of Advent. The season of Ordinary Time in this most un-ordinary year will close with the Feast of Christ the King and our readings are preparing the stage for this great celebration. It is no coincidence that this celebration of the Lordship of Jesus Christ will come just days after the election here in the “United States”. With so many issues pressing upon the souls and well being of so many people around the world there is great tension for Christians, for Catholics to be found faithful. And the conflicted challenge to be faithful, in, but not of the world is what we read of on our Gospel.
Much like our present day the political parties in Israel in the time of Jesus (Pharisees, Sadducees and Romans) were a dark and deadly playground for the politicians and religious leaders seeking to entrap Jesus and His followers. Repeated attempts were made to catch Jesus, to test His followers of their proper credentials. While no election was underway in Palestine the parallels to our present drama of politicians seeking to control the faithful is significant. The conflicts and hatred, strife and discord of our present state of the the union are a tragic and sad witness of the work of what our Psalmist calls “…the gods of the nations…”. Sadly much of this worldly discord has infiltrated the church. Frequently one can hear or read that IF you are a faithful Catholic, a true Christian you MUST vote for this person. If you do otherwise you clearly do not truly worship God! The power of the Holy Spirit to guide and lead the faithful in discernment and exercise of conscience is denied. What is the answer for us in this intense time of a cacophony of voices assaulting our ears and souls?
The answer is in the Gospel. It is in the simple wisdom of Jesus as He responds to these same demonic forces. He asks that the source of the conflict be placed…In His Hands. Jesus takes the coin and provides the powerful wisdom we would do well to live today. “Give to Caeser what belongs to Caeser and to God what belongs to God.” We are called to place in the hands of our crucified Lord ALL that is in our lives. For Jesus is The King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Saint Paul in writing, by the Holy Spirit, to the faithful in Thessalonica commended them for their FAITH, LOVE and HOPE. Paul was not seeking any key topics of teaching or debate on which to consider or judge these early Christians. Paul was looking for a genuine and dynamic faith lived through the power of the Holy Spirit in their relationship with the risen Christ. The Apostle knew words alone or photo-ops of faith were not sufficient for the times and testings of these early believers. The faithful must learn to depend, not on politics (secular or religious) or their place in the world. The faithful must be skilled in placing all their cares and concerns in the hands of God.
It as we let go of the conflicts, cares and fears, as well as our ambitions, hopes and plans then in faith (not always feelings) place them into the hands of our Lord we are set free. We are freed from the burdens of the world to take the freedom of the Cross and follow in His steps. The way is not painless or easy. It is truly the way of faith, exercised in love but it has eternal contrasts to what the gods of this world would have us carry. For it takes a closeness with Jesus to place something in His hands. And it is in that same closeness He is able to give us His power, wisdom and peace. It is in that closeness that we take His hands and receive, Him.