Homily for the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A
Theme: Give Caesar’s and God’s their belongings
By: Fr Emmanuel Nwokeji.
Homily for Sunday October 18 2020
29th Sunday in the Ordinary Time of the Yeah A.
Is. 45:1,4-7; 1Thes1:1-5; Matt. 22:15-21
Even Cyrus The Persian king And, Caesar The Roman King Have the lmage of God in Them
1st Reading Is 45:1,4-6.
The people of Israel underwent two major exiles; the Assyrian exile in 722 BC and Babylonian exile in 587 BC. At a time the Assyrian’s power waned and Babylonian’s power waxed and became superpower. After many years under the Babylon, Cyrus of Persia conquered Babylon in 539 BC while the people of Israel are still on exile. In 538 BC, Cyrus issued an edict that made it possible for the exiles to retain their religions, culture and traditions. Cyrus encouraged the Israelites to return to Jerusalem and to rebuild the temple. He even returned the temple vessels to the exiles for use in the new temple rebuilt. He provided for the people the financial support for their return (Ezra 6:2-5). In 520 BC, a large group of exiles returned to Jerusalem under the leadership of Zerubbabel and Joshua.
Now God addresses Cyrus to his anointed, revealing that he has chosen him for a special purpose. Cyrus has the image of God, but didn’t know the God he has his image. God knows him without his knowledge of Him. Cyrus is not a worshipper of God, not pious but still was chosen by God to actualise his purpose for the people of Israel. Cyrus as God’s anointed implies not pouring of oil on the head as known to Jews or Hebrew’s transliteration of Messiah as Christ, but as “set apart” for the job at hand ordained for divine fulfilment. This is the only occasion in the Old Testament where God anoints (set apart) someone other than a Jew. This anointing of Cyrus showcases that God is free to choose gentiles to accomplish his purpose. God’s tent is large enough to accommodate those outside the chosen people.
Why God grasped the right hand of Cyrus?
Why being anointed?
Why being strengthen by God?
Not for the purpose of honouring Cyrus. But, to accomplish God’s plan by freeing the Jewish exiles and to make possible the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple. Babylonians have been God’s instrument to punish the exiles while Cyrus will be or has become the God’s instrument to set Israel free. When there is instrument against us, let there be another to take over and be for us.
Since many Sundays, Jesus has been using parables to silenced the Jews and taught about the kingdom of God.
Today, the Pharisees resumed their counterattack in conjunction with the Herodians. Two opposition parties; the Pharisees who were religiously inclined and the Herodians who were politically inclined conspired together to trap Jesus. They saw Jesus as a threat and joined effort to achieve their common goal and see Jesus eliminated. They came to Jesus with dilemmatic question: “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar”?. Jesus seeing himself on the horns of dilemma says: Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s. Jesus’ answer shows that there is no bifurcation or duality in our loyalty. The church and state, religion and politics, sacred and secular, tithe and taxes, spirit and matter, heaven and earth, human and divine are not in opposition or has nothing to do with each other. But, it pinpointed the reality of God and the reality of Caesar. Both are real, part of our lives and our world. Both demands; civic and religious duties must be fulfilled in accordance to the supreme image of which even Caesar possessed.
We are must be obedience to the Caesars of the world because they represent God who is the sovereign controller of every human affairs. Also, our obedience should not negate God’s will for humanity. Every demand from us must be responded with full acknowledgement of God’s image in us.
May God help us to give Caesar’s and God’s their belongings.
Fr Emmanuel Nwokeji.