Liturgy of the Sunday

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Twenty-ninth Sunday of Ordinary Time
Feast of Saint Luke, evangelist and author of the Acts of the Apostles. According to tradition, he was a physician and a painter.

First Reading

Isaiah 45,1.4-6

Thus says Yahweh to his anointed one, to Cyrus whom, he says, I have grasped by his right hand, to make the nations bow before him and to disarm kings, to open gateways before him so that their gates be closed no more: It is for the sake of my servant Jacob and of Israel my chosen one, that I have called you by your name, have given you a title though you do not know me. I am Yahweh, and there is no other, there is no other God except me. Though you do not know me, I have armed you so that it may be known from east to west that there is no one except me. I am Yahweh, and there is no other,


Psalm 95


Sing to the Lord a new song.

O sing a new song to the Lord,
sing to the Lord all the earth.
O sing to the Lord, bless his name.

Proclaim his help day by day,
tell among the nations his glory
and his wonders among all the peoples.

The Lord is great and worthy of praise,
to be feared above all gods;
the gods of the heathens are naught.

It was the Lord who made the heavens,
his are majesty and state and power
and splendour in his holy place.

Give the Lord, you families of peoples,
give the Lord glory and power,
give the Lord the glory of his name.

Bring an offering and enter his courts,
worship the Lord in his temple.
O earth, tremble before him.

Proclaim to the nations : 'God is king'.
The world he made firm in its place;
he will judge the peoples in fairness.

Let the heavens rejoice and earth be glad,
let the sea and all within it thunder praise,

let the land and all it bears rejoice,
and the trees of the wood shout for joy

at the presence of the Lord for he comes,
he comes to rule the earth.

With justice he will rule the world,
he will judge the peoples with his truth.

Second Reading

1 Thessalonians 1,1-5

Paul, Silvanus and Timothy, to the Church in Thessalonica which is in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace to you and peace. We always thank God for you all, mentioning you in our prayers continually. We remember before our God and Father how active is the faith, how unsparing the love, how persevering the hope which you have from our Lord Jesus Christ. We know, brothers loved by God, that you have been chosen, because our gospel came to you not only in words, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with great effect. And you observed the sort of life we lived when we were with you, which was for your sake.

Reading of the Gospel

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Yesterday I was buried with Christ,
today I rise with you who are risen.
With you I was crucified;
remember me, Lord, in your kingdom.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Matthew 22,15-21

Then the Pharisees went away to work out between them how to trap him in what he said. And they sent their disciples to him, together with some Herodians, to say, 'Master, we know that you are an honest man and teach the way of God in all honesty, and that you are not afraid of anyone, because human rank means nothing to you. Give 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 are you putting me to the test? Show me the money you pay the tax with.' They handed him a denarius, and he said, 'Whose portrait is this? Whose title?' They replied, 'Caesar's.' Then he said to them, 'Very well, pay Caesar what belongs to Caesar -- and God what belongs to God.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Yesterday I was buried with Christ,
today I rise with you who are risen.
With you I was crucified;
remember me, Lord, in your kingdom.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia


"Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?" This is what the Pharisees ask to catch Jesus in an error. It seems like a question that has nothing to do with our lives or our time. But in reality, the Gospel is always speaking to us, even today. It is not a book about the past, which we should dust off everyone once in a while or listen to like an edifying ancient story. The Gospel is God who speaks to me, to us, today. Jesus escapes from the insidious ambush by moving the question from the ideological level (the legality of paying tribute) to the practical. He asks them to show him a "coin used for the tax," the common coin minted by Rome used in the entire Empire. Jesus asks whose title and portrait is used when stamping the money to identify it. They respond, "The emperor's." And Jesus answers, "Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor's, and to God the things that are God's." The answer upsets those who are listening. In every situation, we have to ask what belongs to the emperor and what belongs to God. In Jesus' answer it is clear what belongs to the emperor: just that coin from the Roman mint on which is stamped the "image" of the emperor. Therefore the coin should be returned to the owner. In this matter the Gospel does not go beyond this indication. The crucial question for Jesus is the other one: what belongs to God? The term "image," used by Jesus to refer to the coin, is certainly a reference to the biblical phrase found at the very beginning of Scripture: "So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them" (Gen 1:27).
Every human being, with no exceptions, is radically marked by the divine presence. It cannot be taken away, because it is even stronger than our sin: we can deface or disfigure it, but we cannot erase it. Every human being is an icon of God, created in God's image. And yet this icon is certainly not given back to the Lord. Instead it is often offended and humiliated. But by disfiguring ourselves and others, we deface the very image of God. Jesus is trying to encourage those who are listening to him to give God the things that belong to God: that is, every man and every woman. What is God's? Every human being is God's. Indeed, the whole of creation is God's. The very breath of life belongs to God, which we receive from God and give back to God every time we love. And we will return it to God on the last day. God's is the love that makes every face beautiful and continues the power of creation. God's the friendship that unites men and women together and the charity that God entrusts to us in order to defeat evil. Our heart, the part of us that is most distinctively ours and most distinctively human, belongs to God.
Giving God what belongs to God means recognizing that we are not masters of ourselves or of others. We are always only debtors: we have received much, everything, and we have to return it and multiply it. Only by multiplying what we have received and giving it to men and women, and to God, can we create a future for ourselves and for others. Love is the only thing that does not steal and is not lost. It is multiplied, preserved, and regenerated. It gives one hundredfold and a life that never ends.