Back in the book of Samuel, after Israel had a long string of judges that couldn’t permanently keep Israel in line (this is the story of the book of Judges), Israel demanded God to put a king over them. God, working through the last judge, the priest Samuel, did so and set Saul over them as king. After Him we had the great king David, then Solomon, etc.
In our First Reading this Sunday, the Lord addresses Cyrus, the current king of Israel in the exile whom God set in place and anointed to bring the Israelites back. Just like Cyrus, today there are many kings and governors who are put into power to accomplish God’s plans even though they know God not. As God says to Cyrus: “Though you do not know me, I arm you that men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun that, apart from me, all is nothing.”
The Lord tells Cyrus that he can be king, but also makes it clear to him that he is only king as long as the Lord wants him to be because, really, the Lord is King! He is the true King of Israel and the King of all the nations.
This is the theme of this Sunday’s Readings. The Lord makes it even clearer to Cyrus in the preceding verses of our First Reading. He says,
It is for the sake of my servant Jacob, of Israel my chosen one, that I have called you by your name, conferring a title though you do not know me. I am the Lord, unrivalled; there is no other God besides me. Though you do not know me, I arm you that men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun that, apart from me, all is nothing.
In our Gospel, Jesus is put before a trap by the Pharisees. The Pharisees send their disciples to ask Him: “Is it permissible to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” Jesus, knowing their ill-intentions to trap Him, replied:
“You hypocrites! Why do you set this trap for me? Let me see the money you pay the tax with.” They handed Him a denarius, and He said, “Whose head is this? Whose name?” “Caesar’s” they replied. He then said to them, “Very well, give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar – and to God what belongs to God.”
Something interesting and extremely significant can easily escape us here if we’re not careful or if we’re not familiar enough with Scripture. The image of Caesar on the coin prompts Jesus to give the coin to Caesar, but what should we give to God? Genesis 1:26 tells us that man was made in the image of God. We belong to God! We bear God’s image as man and woman and thus we should give ourselves to Him for we are His. As He tells us in Isaiah 43:1, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” What joy!
Belonging to the Lord, then, we are called to walk in the light and be ourselves a light to the nations just like was said of Jesus (cf. Luke 2:32). As St Paul tells us in our Second Reading: Putting our faith into action, working for love and persevering in hope, we are called to bring Jesus to every corner of the earth.
In our lives, in our families, in our communities, in our Churches, in our nations, and as one in our world we must proclaim: “The Lord is King!” “Give the Lord glory and power!” If anything else unites us other than God and His glorious goodness, then the unity is frivolous and empty. The Blood of the Covenant is thicker than the water of the womb.
This week, we can finish with a prayer and it will be the Mass’ own prayer:
Almighty ever-living God, grant that we may always conform our will to yours and serve your majesty in sincerity of heart. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
See you next week on Seeking the Word!