Thoughts on the Readings for the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) 2017

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/102217.cfm 

There is an old proverb that says: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”   We see an example of this in our Gospel this weekend.   We are told that the “Pharisees went off and plotted how they might entrap Jesus in speech.  They sent their disciples to him with the Herodians………..”   The Pharisees and the Herodians were bitter enemies.  The Pharisees believed the observance of the Jewish law was paramount.   They defended it rigorously.   The Herodians on the other were seen as collaborators with the occupying Romans.   They were willing to make compromises with Jewish law.  They displayed a “go along to get along” philosophy.   A delegation from these two groups approached Jesus with a feigned compliment:  “Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.”  They then laid their trap with a skillfully devised question:  “Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?”  If Jesus said yes to paying the temple tax, he would have lost status with the Jews who were following him.   If he said no to paying the temple tax, he would have been liable to being denounced to the occupying Romans.    Jesus’ response is well known.  He asked for a coin (which had Caesar’s image on it.)  and said: “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”    The question that is unspoken, of course, is if a coin bears the image of Caesar, what is it that bears the image of God?   The answer, of course, is that we do.  

Our first reading this weekend is taken from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah.   In this reading Cyrus, a Gentile ruler, is referred to as the Lord’s anointed because the Lord used Cyrus to defeat the Babylonians and thus allow the Jews who had been in captivity to return home.   The point of the reading is that God can work through anyone. 

Our second reading this weekend is the beginning of the first Letter of Saint Paul to the Thessalonians.  In it Paul greets the Thessalonians, and reminds them that they are remembered in his prayers:  “For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction.”  

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:  

  1. We have all heard that we are made in the image and likeness of God, but what does this mean to you?
  2. God used King Cyrus for God’s purposes.  Have you ever felt God using you or someone you know for God’s purposes?
  3. Paul told the Thessalonians that he remembered them in his prayers.  Are there people you remember in prayer?   Have you ever asked someone to remember you in prayer?   
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