XXIX SUNDAY OF THE YEAR
isaiah 45:1, 4-6; 1 thessalonians 1:1-5b; matthew 22:15-21
a young man, desperate for a job, prayed to GOD for a job. he promised that he would always give 10 percent of his income to the church.
his prayers were answered. he got a job that paid $10 a week. he was overjoyed, and put $1 in the collection plate every sunday. soon, he moved on to a higher paying job at $100 a week; he dutifully put $10 in the plate. eventually, he earned $1,000 a week; while he still put $100 in the plate, he did it grudgingly. then he hit it big! he started earning $10,000 a week.
that’s when he sought out the pastor, and told him about his promise: «when i made that promise, i earned only $10 a week. now… would you please release me from my promise to give 10 percent of my income to the church?»
the pastor thought about it and replied: «my son, i cannot release you from a promise you made to GOD. but i could pray that your income be reduced to the original $10 a week!»
giving to GOD… we find it difficult! GOD is not often on our «to do» list. and when he is, he is way down that list.
this sunday, in response to the pharisees’ and herodians’ carefully-formulated and absolutely-loaded question—«is it lawful to pay taxes to caesar or not»—JESUS challenges us to «repay… to GOD what belongs to GOD.» repay! what belongs to GOD? in one word: everything! we, our whole life… everything belongs to GOD!
JESUS illustrates this when he asks for a tax coin and then asks: «whose image is this?» the emperor’s image, stamped on the coin, showed that the coin belonged to the emperor. we are stamped with the image of GOD. we belong to him! and JESUS challenges us «repay» to GOD what is his: ourselves… our lives, our time, our resources and potential, our service.
how willing am i to give myself, my time and all i have to GOD? how am i going to give myself to GOD in the week ahead?
today is mission sunday. how will i give myself to the mission of proclaiming GOD, his goodness and his kingdom?