Friday, October 14, 2011

October 16th, 2011 - 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Isaiah 45:1,4-6
Sometimes we forget the God we worship is far greater than we can imagine. And he acts in ways we cannot imagine. The prophet Isaiah reminded his audience of that fact when he spoke of a pagan king who did God’s will.

Psalm 96:1,3-5, 7-10
R. Give the Lord glory and honor.
Psalm 96 is a hymn a praise for the faithful, both Jew and Gentile. The psalm reminds everyone of God’s overwhelming power in creation. Such power deserves praise from all quarters.

1 Thessalonians 1:1-5
Faith can be a journey of struggle, a road of tested priorities. St. Paul recognized the community at Thessalonika as a tested, yet faithful church. They had a reputation of faith because of their endurance in the face of hostility.
(This is the first written document of the whole New Testament.)

Today it is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of the periphery of Central Macedonia.

Matthew 22:15-21 
"Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's."  
Let's take a little deeper look at this well-known quote!
Notwithstanding the malicious intention the Pharisees had in putting this question to our Lord, they did us all a good turn by getting his answer. That answer is forceful and final. It lays down a norm which solves for all time the problems that can arise from our dual citizenship on this earth.

The Lord is king over all the earth, as we sing in today’s Psalm. Governments rise and fall by His permission, with no authority but that given from above (see John 19:11; Romans 13:1).

In effect, God says to every ruler what he tells King Cyrus in today’s First Reading: “I have called you . . . though you knew me not.” 

The Lord raised up Cyrus to restore the Israelites from exile, and to rebuild Jerusalem (see Ezra 1:1-4). Throughout salvation history, God has used foreign rulers for the sake of His chosen people. Pharaoh’s heart was hardened to reveal God’s power (see Romans 9:17). Invading armies were used to punish Israel’s sins (see 2 Maccabees 6:7-16).

The Roman occupation during Jesus’ time was, in a similar way, a judgment on Israel’s unfaithfulness. Jesus’ famous words in today’s Gospel: “Repay to Caesar” are a pointed reminder of this. And they call us, too, to keep our allegiances straight.

We fulfill our duties to God by being faithful, loyal, active members of the spiritual kingdom, the Church, which Christ established on earth in order to lead us to our eternal kingdom. We fulfill our duties to our country by loyally obeying the just laws of the State, by paying all lawful taxes, and by contributing our share, whenever called on, toward the common good. 

In today’s gospel note the two questions: one put to Christ by the Pharisees, and the other by Christ to the Pharisees.

The Pharisees’ question concerns this world alone, while Christ’s has an entirely heavenly and other-worldly sense. Their question derived from profound ignorance and perversity; his stemmed from perfect wisdom and goodness.

The Lord alone is our king. His kingdom is not of this world (see John 18:36) but it begins here in His Church, which tells of His glory among all peoples. Citizens of heaven (see Philippians 3:20), we are called to be a light to the world (see Matthew 5:14) - working in faith, laboring in love, and enduring in hope, as today’s Epistle counsels.

We owe the government a concern for the common good, and obedience to laws - unless they conflict with God’s commandments as interpreted by the Church (see Acts 5:29).

But we owe God everything. The coin bears Caesar’s image. But we bear God’s own image (see Genesis 1:27). We owe Him our very lives - all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, offered as a living sacrifice of love (see Romans 12:1-2).

We should pray for our leaders, that like Cyrus they do God’s will (see 1 Timothy 2:1-2) - until from the rising of the sun to its setting, all humanity knows that Jesus is Lord.

Dr. Scott Hahn
*St. Lorenzo of Brindisi (1559-1619) Opera omnia 8, 335. 336. 339-340. 346
With St. Anthony, St. Bonaventure, and Blessed John Duns Scotus, he is a Doctor of the Franciscan Order. - Catholic Encyclopedia
Cartoon -

*St. Lorenzo of Brindisi (a.k.a. -Lawrence of Brindisi) (1559-1619) was born at Brindisi and educated at Venice. In 1575 he entered with the Capuchins and was sent to Padua to study philosophy and theology. He had a prodigious memory and was said to know the Scriptures by heart in the original. This enabled him to convert many Jews. Raised to a high degree of contemplation himself, he evangelized much of Europe, speaking to the hearts of those who heard him. From 1602 he served a term as minister general of the Capuchins. As chaplain to the imperial troops he led them into battle and to victory against the Turks on two occasions, armed only with a crucifix. He died at Lisbon while on an embassy. His writings include eight volumes of sermons, commentaries on Genesis and Ezekiel, and other didactic or controversial works.  The process of beatification, several times interrupted by various circumstances, was concluded in 1783. The canonization took place on 8 December, 1881.
In 1959 Pope John XXIII added his name to the list of Doctors of the Universal Church.
His Feast Day is July 6. 

The known writings of St. Lorenzo of Brindisi comprise eight volumes of sermons, two didactic treatises on oratory, a commentary on Genesis, another on Ezechiel, and three volumes of religious polemics. Most of his sermons are written in Italian, the other works being in Latin. The three volumes of controversies have notes in Greek and Hebrew.

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