TWENTY NINTH SUNDAY IN THE ORDINARY TIME, YEAR A
18th October 2020
Isaiah 45:1,4-6; 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5b; Matthew 22:15-21.
In the gospel, Jesus responds to his questioners ‘…give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar – and to God what belongs to God.’ This response was given to the unholy union between the Pharisees and the Herodians who questioned Jesus on the paying taxes to Caesar. It is an unholy union because the two groups have nothing in common except the elimination of Jesus Christ who posed an obstacle to their selfish. The Herodians are the supporters of Herod Antipas, the Tetrarch of Galilee, whose support for Caesar is aimed at regaining the rulership of the entire Jewish Kingdom like his father Herod the Great. The personality of Jesus stands in his way of achieving this goal. The Pharisees on their part are opposed to the Roman occupation of Israel. To them Jesus is a threat to the order established in the temple which shields their corrupt practices. The elimination of Jesus will benefit both sides hence the unholy union.
The lesson for us to learn on this Sunday is found in Jesus’ response. He spells out to us in clear terms the Ethic a Christian ought to adopt. Jesus want us to always put things in their proper perspective. Through his answers, Jesus revealed their secret intentions and at the same time put things in their proper perspective. Devotion to God and service to the society must have their proper spaces. We should not trade one for the other. The strength to serve derives from our devotion to God. We should make clear space for God in our hearts. Every other thing follows from this. We need the spirit of God to face our world in these uncertain times. The stability of mind to survive uncertainty is derived from a spiritual engagement with God.
Fr Anthony Ekpunobi, CM.