October 18: 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time. Readings: 1. Isaiah 45:1,4-6; Psalm: 96; 2. 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5; Gospel: Matthew 22:15-21.
In today’s biblical texts, each author wishes to make a point that is very much God-centred. For in each instance, whatever is being spoken of communicates its message through a striking string of references to the divine.
The choice of verses from Isaiah lets us listen in to the voice of God. And in them we hear how God declares himself to be everyone’s Lord, that is, without exception. There is to be no other competitor, whatsoever, for this position. In a sense then, the God of Israel calls for full recognition of his supreme authority in every matter concerning his revealed will.
Paul’s initial words to the Thessalonians express something similar. God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ are acknowledged as the great source of well-being and blessedness. And all of that is bound up with the practice of faith, love and hope, which help guide believers through this life. What is ultimately in play here is the pressing need to be evermore profoundly aware of the presence of that divine power that is prominent in the Gospel Paul preaches.
Matthew’s Gospel today focuses on the Pharisees, who think they have set a trap for Jesus. Their sly question to him however finds them faced with an even craftier reply. In the light of the troublesome context of Roman tax obligations, that reply is an unexpected one. For Jesus does not condemn the tax demand, but rather finishes his response with a plea to honour God and the role of divine authority in the affairs of everyday life.
The emphatic nature of these readings from Isaiah, Paul and Matthew serves to highlight the key aim of today’s Scriptures. Our God and Lord must therefore be given fitting recognition in every aspect of our lives.