Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
- Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations
- Today in Catholic History
- Quote of the Day
- Today’s Gospel Reading
- Gospel Reflection
- Reflection Psalm
- New Translation of the Mass
- A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day
- Franciscan Formation Reflection
- Reflection on part of the SFO Rule
Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:
On this day, in 1940, the Nazi’s established the “Warsaw Ghetto”. Ironically, six years later (1946) – on this date – ten Nazi war criminals of the Second World War, were condemned to death in the “War Trials” (Nuremberg), and are immediately hung.
Seventy days left till most of us celebrate CHRISTinMASS. I personally try to celebrate CHRISTinMASS as often as possible. How ‘bout you?!
† 1333 – Death of Nicolaas V, [Pietro Rainalducci], Italian anti-Pope (1328-30)
† 1591 – Death of Gregory XIV, [Niccolo Sfondrati], Italian Pope, at age 56
† 1594 – Death of William Cardinal Allen, English Catholic cardinal (b. 1532)
† 1690 – Death of Margaretha M Alacoque, French mystic/saint, at age 43
† 1755 – Death of Saint Gerard Majella, Catholic saint (b. 1725
† 1855 – Birth of Camille Looten, Belgian priest/literature historian
† 1890 – Birth of Maria Goretti, Italian saint (d. 1902)
† 1978 – Pope John Paul II is elected in Rome.
† Pope John Paul II Day in Poland
(From the “On This Day” Blog Site
“Today in Catholic History”
Today’s reflection is about the Pharisees sending their disciples to test Jesus with a question about paying census taxes to the Emperor: Herod.
(NAB Matthew 22:15-21) 15 The Pharisees went off and plotted how they might entrap him in speech. 16 They sent their disciples to him, with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. And you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion, for you do not regard a person’s status. 17 Tell us, then, what is your opinion: Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?” 18 Knowing their malice, Jesus said, “Why are you testing me, you hypocrites? 19 Show me the coin that pays the census tax.” Then they handed him the Roman coin. 20 He said to them, “Whose image is this and whose inscription?” 21 They replied, “Caesar’s.” At that he said to them, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”
Payment of taxes is not likely to be a disputed issue in your life. After all, Mark Twain’s famous saying is that the two “absolutes” in life are, “to pay taxes and dying”. Yet, we can still learn something from today’s Gospel reading. The Jewish authorities sought to trap Jesus in the religion versus State issue. Jesus’ answer to the Pharisees and Herodians redirected their question to focus on the issue of greater importance: loving and honoring God. Taking this perspective in our daily lives can help us make good judgments in dealing with conflicting issues of importance.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus and the religious leaders in Jerusalem (especially the Pharisee’s) continue their anxious, nervous, and stressed exchange of questions and challenges toward Jesus and His teachings. They are afraid of Him, they know He is powerful, and they had to silence Him. The point of today’s reading, the followers of the Temple Pharisees, along with the Herodians (the followers of Herod) consciously and maliciously try to entrap Jesus by their question with regard to the payment of census taxes. This is not the first “clash” however. The first encounter Jesus had with the Temple officials is described in Matthew 21, let’s look at it first:
“When he had come into the temple area, the chief priests and the elders of the people approached him as he was teaching and said, ‘By what authority are you doing these things? And who gave you this authority?’ Jesus said to them in reply, ‘I shall ask you one question, and if you answer it for me, then I shall tell you by what authority I do these things. Where was John’s baptism from? Was it of heavenly or of human origin?’ They discussed this among themselves and said, ‘If we say “Of heavenly origin,” he will say to us, “Then why did you not believe him?” But if we say, “Of human origin,” we fear the crowd, for they all regard John as a prophet.’ So they said to Jesus in reply, ‘We do not know.’ He himself said to them, ‘Neither shall I tell you by what authority I do these things.’” (Matthew 21:23–27).
In today’s reading, and in relating future disputes with the Temple leaders, Matthew follows Mark’s Gospel with few variations.
Matthew, in this reading, puts together an unusual and uniquely strange partnership between the Pharisees and the Herodians. The Herodians were supporters of Herod Antipas, a Jewish political leader who collaborated with the Romans. His collaboration would have required a compromised observance of the Mosaic Law. Along with his concessions, the Herodians and the Pharisees also made financial concessions. The Herodians were willing to bend their interests, placing political over religious beliefs. The Pharisees, on the other hand, taught a scrupulous and painstaking observance of Mosaic Law, and strongly opposed Roman occupation. Herodians favored the payment of taxes; the Pharisees opposed it. In this reading, there are two severely opposing beliefs coming together for a common purpose: to destroy!!
Though Matthew maintains a joining together of the Pharisees and Herodians in this account, he clearly wished to emphasize the Pharisees’ part in the plot to discredit Jesus and His movement. The Pharisees are solely mentioned in the first verse of today’s reading (Matthew 22:15). The Herodians (followers of Herod) are joined with them only in the prepositional phrase of Mt 22:16:
“They sent their disciples to him, with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.” (Matthew 22:16)
The Pharisees wanted to “entrap Him [Jesus] in speech”. With a covert intent, they posed a question, trying to force Jesus to take either a position contrary to that held by the majority of the people or one that would bring Him into conflict with the Roman authorities in Jerusalem.
The help of the “Herodians”, supporters of Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee and Perea, seemed to be needed in the deception of Jesus. The Herodians were a political (and not religious) faction, who favored payment of the Roman imposed census taxes. The Pharisees, on the other hand, did not favor the imposed taxes. The Pharisees and Herodians were not friendly toward each other, and possibly even hostile toward each other, under “normal” circumstances.
So, why did they come together to trap Jesus in some sort of perceived “slanderous” statement? The answer is quite easy: Jesus Christ was a common enemy to both of them. To the Pharisees, He questioned their authority and teaching. To the Herodians, He was a potential threat to their societal structure: He was revealing that both groups have gone astray from following the “Torah” of God the Father. So, Jesus was perceived as “stirring the pot”, creating dissention within the Temple and Societal leadership itself.
These men were as familiar with regard to Herod the Great was, 32 years prior (at Jesus’ birth), in regards to Old Testament prophecies of the “coming Savior Messiah”. Both the Pharisees and the Herodians liked their lifestyles, and feared any change.
Per the Old Testament prophecies, the “Messiah” would:
1) come from David’s family and be heir to David’s throne (2 Samuel 7:12-16, Psalms 89:3-4, Psalms 110:1, Psalms 132:11, Isaiah 9:6-7, Isaiah 11:1-5, and Jeremiah 23:5);
2) have “Kings” bow down to Him (Psalms 72:10-11);
3) would bind up the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty to the captives and announce the release from darkness for the prisoners (Isaiah 61:1);
4) would enter the Temple “with authority” (Haggai 2:7-9, Malachi 3:1 );
5) would be the cornerstone of God’s Messianic Community (Isaiah 28:16, Psalms 118:22-23 ).
Both, the Herodians and the Pharisees saw the people believing that Jesus of Nazareth was living out the Old Testament requirements of God’s Messiah.
The Jewish people resented their foreign rulers and despised paying any taxes to Caesar. So, the Pharisees posed an “impossible (tricky) question” to test Jesus to see whether He was loyal to them and to their (misguided) understanding of religion, or not. (Nothing is impossible with God; nor is anything too tricky for Him!)
The Herodians and the Pharisees approached Jesus, asking that He take a side in their dispute. They appear to be asking Him for His Rabbinic wisdom, yet (in reality) only wishing to trap Him in a “catch-22” situation. If Jesus answered that it was lawful to pay taxes to a pagan ruler, then he would lose credibility with the Jewish nation who would regard him as a coward and a friend of Caesar. If he said it was not lawful, then the Pharisees would have grounds to report him to the Roman authorities as a political trouble-maker and have him arrested.
So, why the BIG deal over a few coins? Coinage in the ancient world had significant political power. Rulers issued coins with their own image and inscription on them. In a certain sense, the coin was regarded as the personal property of the ruler. Where the coin was valid, and used, the political “ruler” held political control over the people of the region. Since the Jews used the Roman currency, it was the property of the Roman leader, Caesar.
The Pharisees asked Jesus if it is lawful to pay census taxes according to “the law of God”. Both groups thought that Jesus would be “trapped” either way He answered. If he said “Yes”, the Pharisees would say he was paying alms to the Romans and not the church. If He said “No”, they would call Him a “revolutionary” and report Him to Herod.
Jesus, in a classic Jewish rabbinical way, answers the question by asking a question:
“Why are you testing me, you hypocrites?” (Matthew 22:18)
Jesus’ response to this attempt to trap Him publically exposed the astuteness and cleverness of His inquisitors. From His first words in response to their questions, Jesus showed that He is very much aware of what they were trying to do: to entrap Him.
“’Show me the coin that pays the census tax.” Then they handed him the Roman coin.” (Matthew 22:19)
Jesus asks for a “Roman coin” and it is readily and immediately provided to Him. It probably came from the hand of a Herodian in attendance (which for me is the only reason they are mentioned in this Gospel reading), yet, the Pharisees showed themselves to be quite willing to freely accept a compromise made with the Herodians and the Roman government. Remember, Jesus had already exposed the Pharisees as hypocrites in an earlier reading (Matthew 21:23–27, mentioned earlier).
They [the inquisitors] were ready to produce money for Jesus to hold. Picture the image of Jesus holding money, and stating either, “No, don’t pay these taxes” or “Yes, you must pay Herod”! Either would be devastating from a public perception viewpoint. Their readiness to supply a visual image to their question – – money – – implies another proof of acceptance by the Pharisees, of the financial “advantages”, of the Roman administration in Jerusalem and Palestine as a whole.
“Whose image is this and whose inscription?” (Matthew 22:20)
His inquisitors examine the coin and agree it is Caesar’s image on the coin. This “Caesar” was the emperor “Tiberius Julius Caesar Augustus” (A.D. 14–37).
“Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” (Matthew 22:21)
With simple logic, Jesus tells the Pharisees and Herodians the coin belongs to Caesar, avoiding the question of lawfulness altogether. Going further, then, Jesus tells them that their obligation is also to pay to God that which belongs to God!
In saying to “repay to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s”, Jesus raises the Pharisee’s debate to a new (and super-natural) level (ha, ha). The Pharisees and Herodians hypocritically asked about taxing in respect to its relationship to the “law of God”; but instead, should have rather been concerned with repaying God the Father with the “good works” which are due to Him.
If they don’t pay attention to this requirement, hear what Jesus had said earlier, in another parable, He recently told:
“He will put those wretched men to a wretched death and lease his vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the proper times. Therefore, I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit.” (Matthew 21:41, 43)
No wonder they were trying to “trap” Him!
Holy Scripture tells us to give to everyone whatever is their due, and to owe no one anything, except to love one another:
“Pay to all their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, toll to whom toll is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due. Love fulfills the Law. Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13:7-8)
Jesus’ response to the Herodians and Pharisees in today’s story, suggests the proper ethics, a principle or belief directing one’s behavior, that Catholic Christians should adopt in their lives. Jesus’ “Words” of “paying to God which belongs to God” should remind ALL of us the importance of keeping things of this earth in their proper perspective!! How many of us are attached to worldly (materialistic) things at the expense of the love and honor which we owe to God?
Make a list of the activities which you spend time doing, such as household tasks, jobs, academics, and recreational activities, and so on. What is the true importance of each of these activities? What would happen if there were an imbalance in your attention to these activities, spending too much time on one activity at the expense of another?
Today, we are reminded of the necessity of giving things their proper importance. The Herodians and Pharisees were giving too much importance to the issue of the payment of taxes. Jesus Christ reminds the Pharisees and Herodians (and us) that loving and honoring God is of greater importance than ANY thing on earth. We do many important things; but we need to remember that God is of the greatest importance in our lives!! Pray that you will learn – – and continue – – to keep things in a proper perspective while remembering to keep God first in your lives.
“Then God said: Let us make human beings in our image, after our likeness. God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female* he created them.” (Genesis 1:26,27).
We rightfully belong – – not to ourselves, – – but to God (just as Caesar’s coins belonged to him):
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
“I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1).
Do you acknowledge that your life – – and everything you possess – – belongs to God the Father, and not to yourself? Do you give to God what rightfully belongs to Him? I try every single day (and some days, I succeed!!)!!
Sing praise to the Lord.
“Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth. Tell his glory among the nations; among all peoples, his marvelous deeds. For great is the LORD and highly to be praised, to be feared above all gods. For the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Splendor and power go before him; power and grandeur are in his holy place. Give to the LORD, you families of nations, give to the LORD glory and might; give to the LORD the glory due his name! Bring gifts and enter his courts; bow down to the LORD, splendid in holiness. Tremble before him, all the earth; declare among the nations: The LORD is king. The world will surely stand fast, never to be shaken. He rules the peoples with fairness. Amen.” (Psalm 96:1,3-10)
Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO
In November of 2011, with the start of the new Liturgical year and Advent, there will be a few noticeable changes in the Mass. It will still be the same ritual for celebrating the Eucharist. The Mass will still have the same parts, the same patterns, and the same flow as it has had for the past several decades. It is only the translation of the Latin that is changing.
The new translation seeks to correspond much more closely to the exact words and sentence structure of the Latin text. At times, this results in a good and faithful rendering of the original meaning. At other times it produces a rather awkward text in English which is difficult to proclaim and difficult to understand. Most of those problems affect the texts which priests will proclaim rather than the texts that belong to the congregation as a whole. It is to the congregation’s texts that I will address with each blog, in a repetitive basis until the start of Advent.
In the words of Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium, #11, the Eucharist is the “source and summit” of Christian life. Anything we can do to understand our liturgy more deeply will draw us closer to God.
When the Eucharistic Prayer begins, we will again respond:
“And with your spirit”
to the first line of the opening dialogue. The last line of that dialogue also changes. We presently say, “It is right to give him thanks and praise,” but with the new text, we will say:
“It is right and just.”
This will lead more clearly into the opening of the prefaces, which will commonly begin with the words:
“It is truly right and just.”
Material from “Changing How We Pray”, by Rev. Lawrence E. Mick
Margaret was born of farming parents in Laviano, Tuscany. Her mother died when Margaret was seven; life with her stepmother was so difficult that Margaret moved out. For nine years she lived with Arsenio, though they were not married, and she bore him a son. In those years, she had doubts about her situation. Somewhat like St. Augustine she prayed for purity—but not just yet.
One day she was waiting for Arsenio and was instead met by his dog. The animal led Margaret into the forest where she found Arsenio murdered. This crime shocked Margaret into a life of penance. She and her son returned to Laviano, where she was not well received by her stepmother. They then went to Cortona, where her son eventually became a friar.
In 1277, three years after her conversion, Margaret became a Franciscan tertiary. Under the direction of her confessor, who sometimes had to order her to moderate her self-denial, she pursued a life of prayer and penance at Cortona. There she established a hospital and founded a congregation of tertiary sisters. The poor and humble Margaret was, like Francis, devoted to the Eucharist and to the passion of Jesus. These devotions fueled her great charity and drew sinners to her for advice and inspiration. She was canonized in 1728.
Seeking forgiveness is sometimes difficult work. It is made easier by meeting people who, without trivializing our sins, assure us that God rejoices over our repentance. Being forgiven lifts a weight and prompts us to acts of charity.
“Let us raise ourselves from our fall and not give up hope as long as we free ourselves from sin. Jesus Christ came into this world to save sinners. ‘O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!’ (Psalm 95:6). The Word calls us to repentance, crying out: ‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest’ (Matthew 11:28). There is, then, a way to salvation if we are willing to follow it” (Letter of Saint Basil the Great).
Saint of the Day: Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.;
revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
(From http://www.americancatholic.org website)
“Saint Francis and the Spirituality”
What is Saint Francis’ description of “true obedience”?
Why did Saint Francis say that moving to a “hermitage” would be an “escape”?
Does his reason resonate with us in some of our frustrations?
16. Let them esteem work both as a gift and as a sharing in the creation, redemption, and service of the human community.
17. In their family they should cultivate the Franciscan spirit of peace, fidelity, and respect for life, striving to make of it a sign of a world already renewed in Christ.
By living the grace of matrimony, husbands and wives in particular should bear witness in the world to the love of Christ for His Church. They should joyfully accompany their children on their human and spiritual journey by providing a simple and open Christian education and being attentive to the vocation of each child.