In today’s first reading, Cyrus is called by God to be a liberator of His chosen people. The psalm passage reminds us of God’s goodness and how we are called to respond. Paul’s epistle gives encouragement to the Thessalonian community by showing them that the Gospel came to them with power, conviction and because of the action of the Holy Spirit. In the Gospel, Jesus avoids a snare that is set for Him by responding with a statement on what should be expected by the civil authorities and what should be expected by God.
The Pharisees plot was well-crafted. They heaped flattery upon flattery. The point of their words was to corrupt Jesus’ vision of Himself. They told Him, how “they saw Him.” The point of the words was to change His vision of Himself. “You are a truthful man. You are not concerned with anyone’s position. You are not influenced by others and You teach the precepts of God boldly.” The Pharisees’ words were an attempt to inflate Jesus’ ego and thereby make him into their version of a hero. In this way, He could be controlled by them. The one who is responsible for shaping your vision of yourself, is the one who controls your behavior.
Simply put, Jesus is given a question, the answer to which seemingly can only bring Him trouble. In being asked if it is right to pay taxes to a repressive government, He is set up to antagonize one group or another. Jesus expresses His frustration with those questioning Him. Then He offers a wise response that allows for giving the government what it is due, while subjugating that to the service of God’s plan.
Repaying Caesar what is of the government is easy. It comes in to us in taxes. Repaying God is also easy. Just ask yourself, “What belongs to God?” The earth, my possessions and… me.
Me… We are the most important of God’s possessions. As we live out this week, we ask to know ways we can give ourselves back to God more deeply and affectively.
Into Thy hands, O God, we commend ourselves this day, and all those who are dear to us. Let the gift of thy wonderful presence be with us even to the end of the day.
Grant that we never lose sight of Thee all the day long, but rather praise and beseech Thee, that our thanks may come to thee again at its close. Amen