16 Oct – Twenty-Ninth Sunday of Ordinary Time
The Lord of History
God is king. Earthy rulers, political regimes, Cyrus or Caesar, are called by God to reveal something of his power and majesty and his plan for the human race. But they only hold their power for a day. Our concern is not with them, but with God whom we worship in this celebration.
– The Sunday Missal
Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus,
whom he has taken by his right hand
to subdue nations before him
and strip the loins of kings,
to force gateways before him
that their gates be closed no more:
‘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.’
1 Thessalonians 1:1-5
From Paul, Silvanus and Timothy, to the Church in Thessalonika which is in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ; wishing you grace and peace.
We always mention you in our prayers and thank God for you all, and constantly remember before God our Father how you have shown your faith in action, worked for love and persevered through hope, in our Lord Jesus Christ.
We know, brothers, that God loves you and that you have been chosen, because when we brought the Good News to you, it came to you not only as words, but as power and as the Holy Spirit and as utter conviction.
The Pharisees went away to work out between them how to trap Jesus in what he said. And they sent their disciples to him, together with the Herodians, to say, ‘Master, we know that you are an honest man and teach the way of God in an honest way, and that you are not afraid of anyone, because a man’s rank means nothing to you. Tell us your opinion, then. Is it permissible to pay taxes to Caesar or not?’ But Jesus was aware of their malice and 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.’
Give the Lord the glory of his name. Bring an offering and enter his courts
To be honest, I find it difficult sometimes to praise God. I used to associate praising and worshiping God with singing praise and worship songs. Having led worship routinely for a period of time, there are just days when I really feel like I’m simply going through the motion of just singing another song. That’s when I need to remind myself that praise is a sacrifice.
The psalmist reminds us today to “give God the glory of his name” and to “bring an offering and enter his courts.” What is that offering? It is an offering of praise.
I’m sure there are times when we don’t feel like praising God at all – especially when we’re going through a really tough patch. However, the fact of the matter remains that God is worthy to be praised whether or not we “feel” up to it. Even if we were to stop praising Him, the bible says that all of creation will continue to praise Him and sing out to Him in our place.
When we praise God, we’re not just singing happy-clappy feel-good songs to him. We’re making a declaration of faith. We’re reminding ourselves and others that God is good and we are going to put our faith in Him no matter how bleak our circumstances may seem currently. Having a financial problem? Praise God. Are you going through a rocky marriage? Praise God. Are you seeking healing for an illness? Praise God.
“Are you crazy!” you might ask. No, don’t praise God for the bleakness in your life but praise Him through it. Praise Him in faith that he can turn your disaster into a life-changing testimony.
In fact, that was exactly what the Jews did. As commanded by God, they praised him with trumpets, marching round the walls of Jericho. They did this in faith and God delivered the city to them ( Joshua 6: 2-20). Even David, whom the bible states to be “a man after God’s own heart”, wrote many psalms praising God when the circumstances surrounding him were bleak. Psalm 8:1-2 says that whoever keeps singing of the praises of God, God will turn him into a fortress – firm, strong and unshakable – and able to subdue his foe! Isn’t that amazing? This means that we are already victors and overcomers when we choose to praise God instead of focusing on our own human circumstances!
Why are we blessed when we praise him? Because when we praise God, our eyes are focused on Him – on the one who is able to overcome it all – and not on our human circumstances. After all, God has already made us victors and overcomers in his son, Jesus. By His sacrifice on the cross, we have been redeemed, set free and entitled to enjoy his grace, goodness and favour personally.
So my brothers and sisters, let us not be overwhelmed by our present circumstances. If you are facing difficulty or a challenging period in your life. God says take heart! Set your eyes on Him and let Him turn you into a fortress to overcome the challenge that you are facing currently. Praise Him, for what He has done and what He will do for you!
(Today’s OXYGEN by Cassandra Cheong)
Prayer: We pray for a heart that constantly praises you even when our circumstances are bleak.
Thanksgiving: We thank you Lord for your providence and for granting us the strength to overcome our darkest of times.
Mon, 17 Oct – Romans 4:20-25; Luke 12:13-21; Memorial for St Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop & Martyr
Tue, 18 Oct – 2 Timothy 4:10-17; Luke 10:1-9; Feast of St Luke the Evangelist
Wed, 19 Oct – Romans 6:12-18; Luke 12:39-48; Memorial for Ss John de Brébeuf, Isaac Jogues, Priests, and Companions, Martyrs
Thu, 20 Oct – Romans 6:19-23; Luke 12:49-53
Fri, 21 Oct – Romans 7:18-25; Luke 12:54-59
Sat, 22 Oct – Romans 8:1-11; Luke 13:1-9
Sun, 23 Oct – Exodus 22:20-26; 1 Thessalonians 1:5-10; Matthew 22:34-40; Thirteeth Sunday of Ordinary Time