Monday, October 13, 2014

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time - October 19, 2014

First Reading Commentary
Biblically, the word “anointed” intimates someone who is chosen for a great work.  Our Lord Jesus Christ, then, is the Anointed of all anointed. 

Cyrus was chosen to conquer the empire of Babylon which would result in freedom for God’s people.  Cyrus, therefore, is a figure of Christ, a deliverer of the people of God.  Cyrus, who is the king of Persia, and thus is not anointed in the literal sense but as Saint Jerome explains: “He is styled thus, in allusion to the custom of the Jewish kings.”  This would also explain God’s words, “though you knew Me not”.  And God’s call to Cyrus is prophetic of the call of the Gentiles to Christianity.  And through the graces given to Cyrus the Gentiles would learn that there is no other god but the Lord our God.          

Second Reading Commentary
Saint Paul’s greeting “in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” shows his belief as well as his conviction to teach the Thessalonians that the Father and the Son are equal.  It was Paul’s custom in other letters to refer to himself as an apostle.  He did not do this with either letter to the Thessalonians.  Most likely, since he mentions Silvanus and Timothy in both greetings to the Thessalonians, Paul didn’t want to exalt himself and appear more important than the other two. 

Paul thanks the Thessalonians for their faith which moved them to good works and for their patience because of their hope in the Lord.  They did have to endure suffering caused by their own countrymen who would not convert to the Christian faith.  Not everyone believes what we believe; but since we have been chosen by God, we cannot allow ourselves to be deterred from using the gifts given to us by the Holy Spirit.  In Thessalonica, the power of the Holy Spirit in Paul was demonstrated by his preaching as well as by the sincerity of conversion on the part of many of the Thessalonians.           

Gospel Commentary
An attempt at deception starts off this Gospel.  The Pharisees plotted against Jesus; and once they came up with a plan, they weren’t even courageous enough to carry it out themselves, but instead they sent their disciples to do their dirty work.  Their disciples were students who had not yet become rabbis. 

The plan starts off by complimenting Jesus because He is truthful and teaches God’s ways.  Of course, trying to deceive God won’t get you very far. 

The Herodians were a political group, not a religious sect.  They didn’t have much in common with the Pharisees except their willingness to thwart any movements that went against the status quo; and so, in their view, Jesus was a disturber of the existing state of affairs.  Both the Pharisees and the Herodians were obsequious towards Rome; and so, in the question they direct at Jesus, it would seem they were hoping for an anti-Rome answer which would make Jesus appear to be a rebel or traitor.  They would later have to fabricate what they were hoping for here because our Lord’s response didn’t supply them with any evidence. 

Jesus does, however, call them hypocrites.  Quite often the tendency for us is to focus on the merciful and compassionate Jesus and would rather not think about the Jesus Who is very direct, especially when we willfully step out of line.  It is much better to be truly sorrowful for sins now than later have to face a direct, no-nonsense Lord and God. 

“This severe reprehension,” according to Saint John Chrysostom, “shows that is better for man that God should chastise him here in this life, than spare him to chastise him hereafter.” 

Our Lord’s solution to the seeming dilemma of the Roman coin demonstrates that Jesus understands that in this life we will be subject to that which is temporal as well as to that which is spiritual.  Our coins are stamped with leaders of our nation, a nation which we pledge allegiance to; and our souls are stamped with the Image and likeness of God.  Our obedience to the laws of our nation, however, should not contradict the laws of God.  This is why Catholics, for example, strongly object to the legality of abortion.  It directly opposes God’s Commandment: Thou shalt not kill.  The laws of man may very well contain the errors of imperfect man but the Law of God was conceived in perfection, and therefore, cannot be in error.