October 18, 2020: Homily- 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

“Give to God the things that are God’s”. What a powerful statement that is. Once again good morning and welcome to the 29th Sunday in ordinary time.

Beginning with the first Reading from the book of Isaiah, the Lord God addressed His anointed one. As spiritual children of God, having been anointed during the sacrament of Baptism, we can all welcome this message as if it was intended for each and every one of us. During this reading, we heard the Lord God speaking of His almightiness. By His infinite power, nations had been subdued and kings striped of their robes. Doors had been opened for His anointed one and the gates shall not be closed. This parallels what the Lord God has done for all of us through the anointment of our Baptism. He gave us all a new creation that He guards jealously, protecting it against the claws of Satan. Through our Baptism, He has opened the doors of Heaven for us to enter, promising never to close them. The promise of the New Covenant is forever. God, unchanging in His nature and promises, shall never take away from us the promise of salvation. If we fall short of persevering in our living faith that leads towards salvation, it will be because of our own free will.

The Lord God proceeded to say that for the sake of those He loved, His servant Jacob and Israel His chosen, He calls us by our names. Though we do not know Him, He knows us. How true it is that we know very little about God the Father, for His formless nature mystifies our human perception. What we do know of Him, however, is through Jesus Christ who is, “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” Even though we do not know God as we should, He still calls us by our names; each and every one of us being known to Him. It is just awesome to think that God remembers each and every one of us personally.

Next, the Lord God said that although we did not know Him, He arms us against the evil one. He gives us the spiritual weapons that we need to defeat the enemy. To ensure that we would walk in the light, He gave us our salvation through Jesus Christ. He gave us the Holy Catholic Church to continue the apostolic work of Christ. He gave us the Sacrament of Baptism so we may be born again through faith in Christ, water and Spirit. He gave us the Sacrament of Reconciliation so that we may maintain our righteousness in His sight. He gave us the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist so we may enjoy the Living Bread that leads us to the Kingdom of God. And the list goes on; how numerous are His Divine Blessings for each and every one of us. Having reminded us of our blessings, the Lord repeats once more that He is the Lord and that there is no other. No one can do what he has done. No one can ever come near doing all that He has done for each and every one of us.

In our Second Reading from St. Paul to the Thessalonians, we learn more about the greatness of God. Saint Paul proceeded to give thanks to God in prayer for all the blessings that the Thessalonians had received. He mentioned their work of faith, their labor of love and their steadfast hope in Jesus Christ. The labor of love is a reflection of active charity. As such, the prayer of thanksgiving to God embraces the virtues of faith, hope and charity that had been bestowed upon the Thessalonians. Paul emphasized that it was not just his words that transformed the Thessalonians, but the “power” of the Holy Spirit. Giving credit where it rightfully belongs, Paul made it clear that it was the Holy Spirit who was responsible for all the spiritual manifestations of righteousness. Think in our own lives, what we do for God; is it by our own remission or is through the power of the Holy Spirit that we do the work of the Lord.

Continuing to the Gospel of Matthew, our attention is drawn towards the few who do not shine very much, if at all, in the eyes of God. Our attention is drawn to the Pharisees who were siding to the Herodians to trap Jesus with a question. Their intent was to have Jesus side with either the Pharisees or the Zealots. Consequently, this would have caused some friction with one of the parties. You see, the Herodians supported Herod’s succession of rulers. They were extremely loyal to Rome. The Zealots, however, rejected the fact that they were subjected to a foreign power. They wanted the Romans out of their lives. The Pharisees believed as the Zealots did, but they did not believe in using force to obtain independence. Any answer to the question that was posed to Jesus was bound to cause friction with either one of the parties. But Jesus perceived their intent.

When Jesus was asked if it was lawful to pay taxes, He asked for a coin, and asked “whose image is this?” And when they answered, “The emperor’s.” He told them to give to the emperor the things that belong to the emperor and to God the things that belong to God. Now one may wonder how this Bible passage relates to the other two readings. It does so through the word “image”. Give to God the things that are God’s.

As the book of Genesis teaches us, man is created in the image of God. Having lost that original image through the disobedience of Adam, God placed in motion a Divine Plan to once more transform us into His glorious image. That is why God gave us so many gifts and blessings. That is why Christ died for us. That is why we are being transformed into the image of Christ through faith, hope and charity. Belonging to God, we are called to become in His image. We are called to actively maintain our gifts by living our faith in Christ. We are reminded each time when we pray our bicentennial prayer “to shine like stars in the world”. We are called to give to God what belongs to God, so the light of God may shine forth from us as we give Him the glory that lies in the fruits of faith, hope and charity.

My friends today’s message is, let us appreciate what God has given us. By the power of the Holy Spirit, let us preserve our gifts and blessings with all our souls, our minds, our spirits, our hearts and our strength. In the Most Holy Name of Jesus, let us keep these gifts stainless so that one day, when we appear before the Lord God, we will proudly give Him back what He gave to us. Then, we will rightfully inherit the assurance of our salvation. AMEN!!!

Deacon Charley