As a new member of the Anishinabe Spiritual Centre, I was honoured when Father Paul asked if I would like to join him and a group of writers to reflect on a Sunday reading. This week’s readings help us understand our place, and it is not in this world but solidly planted in the next. Let’s take a look and watch the weaving that our heavenly Father makes through these various situations, uniting his message through scripture.
In the first reading, Cyrus, a pagan, became the ruler through no real doing of his own. He went and led his armies and freed God’s captive people. They had been (by their own doing) slaves to the Babylonians, losing sight of God with each passing generation. Yet God did not lose sight of his chosen people! Now, while Cyrus was a decent fellow, and most likely a clever one as well, he had no idea that God chose him as his anointed one! I can imagine him feeling pretty good about his accomplishments, not stopping to wonder how doors were opened and how kings responded to his call. Yet the chosen people were able to see that it was through God that Cyrus came to be the one who freed them. Yes, the people knew and were reminded that there was no one, no other, like God. Let’s see this message as our first thread.
In the second reading we hear Paul addressing the church of Thessalonica. He gives his thanks to God for them, reminding them how he prays for them all. He shares how he remembers how hard they work on behalf of Jesus and the faith. He reminds them of how great it is that they have hope! What a joyful letter this is from Paul – so appreciative to this church and its members! Or was he? No, he reminds them that it is not they who carry the load, but it is through the love of God of them that they are blessed with the gift of the Holy Spirit that carries this hope, this joy in all that they do. Yes, the word came to them but it is through the power of the Holy Spirit that their conviction grows. Have you ever experienced a time where you were patting yourself on the back only to realize that there was just no way you could have completed all that you did without calling on God for help? Another thread! God lets us know again that we are like empty vessels without Him.
Finally, in the Gospel we hear Jesus being questioned – once again by someone who thinks they can outsmart the Lord. But, He knows their hearts before they open their mouths. Trying to trick Him into a place where He would deny the ruler of the day, Caesar. Jesus acknowledges the earthly expectations of paying tax, yet, without missing a beat, he acknowledges God as well. One earthly place and one heavenly place – which came first? Is that even a question? Jesus knew that they may be able to pay the tax to Caesar but they could not pay the Creator what is rightfully his, especially those who deny Him! God expects us to pay our earthly taxes too, we all have our responsibilities, but we too will never be able to give to God all that is due to him. He wants us to acknowledge this! To be aware that He has chosen us! He has anointed us to do His will, even though we may not be aware of Him. And when we do become aware we need to recognize that all that is good in us comes from Him and that we can never repay Him for all that is good in our lives – but we can thank Him. Our final thread has come through. Like the three strands of the sweetgrass as it comes together to create a strong braid, the Creator’s message comes forth! It is with this knowledge we can say as the responsorial psalm said, “All Glory and Praise to our God!”
– Eddie MacDonald