Thus says the LORD to his anointed, Cyrus, whose right hand I grasp, subduing nations before him, and making kings run in his service, opening doors before him and leaving the gates unbarred: For the sake of Jacob, my servant, of Israel, my chosen one, I have called you by your name, giving you a title, though you knew me not. I am the LORD and there is no other, there is no God besides me. It is I who arm you, though you know me not, so that toward the rising and the setting of the sun people may know that there is none besides me. I am the LORD, there is no other.
1) Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Tell his glory among the nations; among all peoples, his wondrous deeds. (Refrain:)
2) For great is the LORD and highly to be praised; awesome is he, beyond all gods.
For all the gods of the nations are things of nought, but the LORD made the heavens. (Refrain:)
3) Give to the LORD, you families of nations, give to the LORD glory and praise;
give to the LORD the glory due his name! Bring gifts, and enter his courts. (Refrain:)
4) Worship the LORD, in holy attire. Tremble before him, all the earth;
say among the nations: The LORD is king, he governs the peoples with equity. (Refrain:)
Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy to the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: grace to you and peace. We give thanks to God always for all of you, remembering you in our prayers, unceasingly calling to mind your work of faith and labor of love and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father, knowing, brothers and sisters loved by God, how you were chosen. For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction.
The Pharisees went off and plotted how they might entrap Jesus in speech. They sent their disciples to him, with the Herodians, saying, "Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. And you are not concerned with anyone's opinion, for you do not regard a person's status. Tell us, then, what is your opinion: Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?" Knowing their malice, Jesus said, "Why are you testing me, you hypocrites? Show me the coin that pays the census tax." Then they handed him the Roman coin. He said to them, "Whose image is this and whose inscription?" They replied, "Caesar's." At that he said to them, "Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God."
(Copyright 1970, 1986, 1992, 1998, 2001 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc. Washington D.C. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by an information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.
Copyright 1970, 1997, 1998 Contraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc. Washington, D.C. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by an information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.
The English translation of some Psalm responses, some Alleluia and Gospel verses and the Lenten Gospel Acclamations, some Summaries, and the Titles and Conclusion of the Readings, from the Lectionary for Mass copyright 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc., Washington D.C. All rights reserved.
The poetic English translation of the sequences of the Roman Missal are taken from the Roman Missal approved by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops of the United States, copyright 1964 by the National Catholic Welfare Conference, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission of ICEL.)
Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy to the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: grace to you and peace. We give thanks to God always for all of you, remembering you in our prayers, unceasingly calling to mind your work of faith and labor of love and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father, knowing, brothers and sisters loved by God, how you were chosen. For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit; so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedo'nia and in Acha'ia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedo'nia and Acha'ia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us what a welcome we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
(from The Bible Gateway)
Thus says the LORD to his anointed, Cyrus, whose right hand I grasp, subduing nations before him, and making kings run in his service, opening doors before him and leaving the gates unbarred. "I will go before you and level the mountains, I will break in pieces the doors of bronze and cut asunder the bars of iron, I will give you the treasures of darkness and the hoards in secret places, that you may know that it is I, the LORD, the God of Israel, who call you by your name. I form light and create darkness, I make weal and create woe, I am the LORD, who do all these things."
(from The Bible Gateway)
Moses said to the LORD, "See, thou sayest to me, 'Bring up this people'; but thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me. Yet thou hast said, 'I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.' Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found favor in thy sight, show me now thy ways, that I may know thee and find favor in thy sight. Consider too that this nation is thy people." And he said, "My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." And he said to him, "If thy presence will not go with me, do not carry us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in thy sight, I and thy people? Is it not in thy going us, so that we are distinct, I and thy people, from all other people that are upon the face of the earth?" And the LORD said to Moses, "This very thing that you have spoken I will do; for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name." Moses said, "I pray thee, show me thy glory." And he said, "I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you my name 'The LORD'; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will mercy. But," he said, "you cannot see my face; for man shall not see me and live." And the LORD said, "Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand upon the rock; and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by; then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen."
(from The Bible Gateway)
"The question which the Pharisees asked put Jesus in a very real dilemma. If he said that it was unlawful to pay the tax, they would promptly report him to the Roman government officials as a seditious person and his arrest would certainly follow. If he said that it was lawful to pay the tax, he would stand discredited in the eyes of many of the people. Not only did the people resent the tax as everyone resents taxation; they resented it even more for religious reasons. To a Jew, God was the only king; their nation was a theocracy; to pay tax to an earthly king was to admit the validity of his kingship and thereby to insult God. Therefore the more fanatical of the Jews insisted that any tax paid to a foreign king was necessarily wrong. Whichever way Jesus might answer - so his questioners thought - he would lay himself open to trouble.
"But Jesus was wise. He asked to see a denarius, which was stamped with the Emperor's head. In the ancient days coinage was the sign of kingship. As soon as a king came to the throne he struck his own coinage; even a pretender would produce a coinage to show the reality of his kingship; and that coinage was held to be the property of the king whose image it bore. Jesus asked whose image was on the coin. The answer was that Caesar's head was on it. "Well then," said Jesus, "give it back to Caesar; it is his. Give to Caesar what belongs to him; and give to God what belongs to God." (1)
Now we might think upon first hearing this that our Lord was doing an "end around", so to speak, or avoiding answering the question directly. But actually, he has given us some important guidance about how we must live our lives as Christians. First of all, there is no denying that we all owe our allegiance to the countries where we live and that we owe them our support in the form of taxes for the public services which we receive. But it is also just as equally true that we are undeniably stamped with the image of our creator. The word for "image" in Greek is "eikon" (from which we get the English word "icon") and is the same word used in Genesis to describe that humanity is created "in the image of God" (1:26). And although we were originally created by God and found to be good, his image on each of us was tarnished by our original sin. However, that image was renewed when the Son of God became one like us, suffered and died and rose again so that we could share eternal life with him once again. Now on that last day, when we all come before our Creator at our final judgment, the Father will see in each of us, not the image sullied by sin, but glorified image of his Son.
So what does it mean to be made in the image and likeness of another person? I'm sure we all know what that means because we all have been made in the image and likeness of our human parents, whether we like it or not. And they have left their image on us, again whether we like it or not. Consider the following story. The author writes:
- It has been almost 30 years since I last heard my father's voice, but the echoes remain. I can still hear the slightly fiat Midwestern accent, strangely rough and soft at the same time. I can still hear him singing loud and off key, whistling as he worked in his garden, whispering to my mother, calling out to my sisters and me. I am the youngest of my father's seven children. He was in his late 40's, soon to be a grandfather, when I was born; I was only 10 when he died. He taught me many lessons in those few years we shared, but they were the lessons of childhood.
He taught me that if we sat very, very quietly and very, very patiently in a corner of the front yard, the squirrels would come to us. He taught me to sing "Red River Valley" and that watching westerns on television was a fine way to spend a Saturday evening. He tried to teach me that vanilla ice cream was better than chocolate. He succeeded in teaching me to always honor my mother and never to lie to my parents.
When it was time for the lessons of adolescence and adulthood, he was gone. Yet his influence on all of his children remained and has grown through the years, multiplied by the influence we have on each other. We do not all remember him the same way. We have different memories, different visions and different lives.
I still live in my father's house. It is mine and my husband's now, but my father's presence is here. Photographs of him hang on the walls, an enduring reminder as the memories fade. I recently talked with all my brothers and sisters, wanting and needing to know what they each remembered. "What is the most important lesson you learned from Daddy?" I asked each of them.
"Faith," says the sister whose belief in herself may sometimes waver but whose trust in God remains constant. Her overflowing warmth comforts us all.
"Fidelity to principle," says the brother who has stood alone in turmoil strong enough to shake the surest foundation. He has never lost his temper, never been less than a total gentleman.
"He showed me that great calmness and great strength often go together," says the brother who opposed our father and confronted him head-on. They both stood their ground and held fast to their principles. Through the conflict, they grew to love and respect each other more.
"Hard work," says the brother who toils in the sun and on the water. He works long hours without complaining, knowing that the hardest work brings the greatest satisfaction.
"Morals," says the sister who remains my lifelong model on how to be a good daughter, a good wife and, especially, a good mother.
"Family first, always," says the sister who works full-time, attends college part-time and has never missed seeing her sons play in a baseball game. When my daughter was an infant, this sister came over to my house daily, on her coffee break, to cuddle her newborn niece.
These are all lessons from my father, filtered through my brothers and sisters and the way they have lived their lives. I think of my father when I walk out onto the patio he built, behind the house he built -- where he raised his children and where I am now raising mine. As I stand and look over the tops of the white-budded camellias he planted, now grown as tall as trees, and see the same pines he saw so many years ago still swaying in the wind, I know the most important lesson I learned from my father: that home is the heaven you make for yourself on earth. It is where you can smell the flowers and feel the breeze and where, if you are very, very quiet, you can sense your father's presence all around you. And now, 30 years later, when we are all together -- brothers and sisters, husbands, wives, sons and daughters - our voices and our laughter come together and form one voice: my father's voice.(2)
We all bear the image of our parents and we all have qualities which we have learned from them, again both good and bad. But if we are made in the image and likeness of God, then what have we learned from him? More specifically, what have we learned from the One whom the Father sent to teach us about himself? Are we models of the qualities which he has taught us? And what are those qualities? As we heard in last week's gospel, in order to one day join in the eternal wedding banquet in heaven, we need to put on the clothing of righteousness here on earth. And, as Paul summarized in his letter to the Colossians, these qualities are: "compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience" and forgiveness. But "above all", Paul says, "clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony." (3:12-15) (We will hear more about love next week.)
These are the qualities which every Christian must model. Then we will truly be made in the "image and likeness of God". And if we do this on earth, then one day, the Father will recognize in us the image of his son and then, as the author of our story noted, "all of the voices of our brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, sons and daughters - all of our voices and all of our laughter will come together and form one voice: our Father's voice" -- in heaven.
1. From The Gospel of Matthew, copyright 1975 by William Barclay. Reprinted with permission from St. Andrew Press, Edinburgh, Scotland.
2. My Father's Voice. Copyright 1997 by Laura Marshall. Reprinted with the author's permission from Lessons From Dad, copyright 1997 by Joan Aho Ryan. Health Communications, Inc., Deerfield Beach, FL.
(Copyright 2014 by the Spirit through Deacon Sil Galvan, with a little help from the friends noted above. Permission is freely granted for use, in whole or in part, in oral presentations. For permission to use in writing, please contact the human intermediary at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Lord Jesus, you have called each of us by name to be your disciples. Lord, have mercy.
Christ Jesus, you have created each of us in the image and likeness of the Father. Christ, have mercy.
Lord Jesus, you became one like us to reconcile us with the Father. Lord, have mercy.
Celebrant: We were created in the image and likeness of God and have been remade in the image of his Son, Jesus Christ. Therefore, confident that Christ will intercede for us, his brothers and sisters, we bring our prayers and petitions to the Father.
Deacon/Lector: Our response is "Lord, hear our prayer."
That the leaders of the Church, who have answered God’s call, will serve God’s people faithfully, we pray to the Lord.
That the Holy Spirit will guide the actions of the leaders of the nations of the world as they address the current problems with our global economy, we pray to the Lord.
That the Lord will strengthen with the grace of his Spirit all those who visit the sick, the imprisoned, the elderly, the incapacitated and all shut-ins, we pray to the Lord.
That we will love and care for all those with whom we come into contact as we would love and care for Christ himself, we pray to the Lord.
That all care givers will be strengthened in their faith to love and care for those who cannot care for themselves, we pray to the Lord.
That the Lord will bless the activities of all missionaries and make their efforts fruitful for the kingdom, we pray to the Lord.
That all of our brothers and sisters will be treated as our equals in the site of God regardless of their race, color, nationality or religion, we pray to the Lord.
That all of those who have contracted the Corona virus will be healed, that those who have died will be welcomed into the loving arms of their Savior who suffered for them and that their grieving families will find strength in their faith, we pray to the Lord.
For all of the intentions we hold in our hearts and which we now recall in silence. (Pause) For all of these intentions, we pray to the Lord.
Celebrant: Merciful Father, your Son became one like us to teach us how to live and, by his death and resurrection, to open the gates of heaven to all who follow his ways. Grant us the grace of your Spirit to always reflect your image in what we do and what we say every day of our lives in order to win that eternal reward. And we ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.