22 October, Sunday – Paying Our Dues

October 22 – World Mission Sunday

World Mission Sunday is a day set aside for the Catholic Church throughout the world to publicly renew its commitment to the missionary movement. It is celebrated on the penultimate (next-to-last) Sunday of October every year.[1] It was created by Pope Pius XI in 1926 as the day of prayer for missions.

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Isaiah 45:1, 4-6

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.’

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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.

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Matthew 22:15-21

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.’

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…give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar – and to God what belongs to God.

A minister one day approached a noble king and asked this question, “My Lord, I have been in your service for the last 50 years. As I am about to retire, how do you intend to reward me for my loyalty?” After giving it some thought, the King told his minister to take a horse from the royal stable and ride from daybreak till dusk. However much land the horse encircled would be given to the minister and his family.

The next day, the minister awoke bright and early and rode furiously from sunrise to sunset. The moment he stopped, both the horse and him dropped dead from sheer exhaustion. In the end, all that was given to the minister was just enough land to accommodate his coffin.

Brothers and sisters, it is very easy to be consumed by the material world, especially when society judges you by your postal code, make of car, brand of handbag and how frequently you dine at expensive restaurants. Jesus’ reply truly gives us some context in terms of how we should aim to live our life here on earth. Because at the end of the day, this temporal existence of ours is merely a prelude to an eternal life either in Heaven, or in total damnation and despair. If we allow ourselves to be consumed by greed, envy and pride, there is no end to the misery that we will be inflicting upon ourselves and our loved ones.

For me, Jesus’ reply works on two levels. First, he teaches us to be good, law-abiding citizens by giving back to our rulers what is owed to them. On the other hand, if you look at it from His perspective, He knows that no matter what we do, there is no amount of riches we could ever own that could even begin to repay our God for all He has done for us. So why then should we go to church and celebrate the Eucharist as often as we can? Why bother when God can never, ever be repaid in kindness and generosity?

The answer is that Jesus doesn’t want us to give up trying. We must have faith and carry within us the hope that our loving Father will always look upon us and embrace us in His loving arms as we lay down to sleep each night, comforted by the fact that He has forgiven us our sins and is waiting to welcome us with open arms. All we need to do is to pray each and every day.

(Today’s Oxygen by Desmond Soon)

Prayer: Bless us heavenly Father, with the spirit of contentment so that we do not succumb to greed but hunger for what you can give us every day.

Thanksgiving: I thank you Lord, for all that you give to us.

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