Lectio Divina: 2020-10-16

Lectio Divina for this Friday took the readings for the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

Matthew 22:15-21 Give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar – and to God what belongs to God.

One

Jesus, in his response to those who would want to trap him, reminds us that we are all citizens of two very different worlds; our heavenly spiritual world and the world we live in now.

We have duties to each world. Usually these two worlds can run side by side. However there are often times when we as Christians must speak out of love for those who are living on the margins of our world, the hungry, the oppressed, those who have no voice of their own.

The vast majority of us try to obey the rules of our society, but as Christians we are compelled to be servants of God first.

Please help me always to stand up for what is right and true in your sight my God and King.

Two

V 21- Give back to God what is God’s. What does that actually mean ? When you give back something or return something that has been given to you. He has given us his son. He has given us the Holy Spirit. He doesn’t want us to give them back. God wants me to give him my love, my adoration, my worship. He doesn’t want us to give back Jesus to him. He wants us to keep him in our hearts. He has given us the Holy Spirit to help us. I have been given the opportunity to return God’s love to him by trying to live by his commandments. Let’s hope I can do this! Keep safe and keep praying.

Three

The people at that time must have struggled to pay taxes to the Romans, they were an occupied country and the taxes were often extreme.

I feel this text is not about money but about love. We are asked to love God with all our hearts, mind and spirit, Jesus was simply asking are we giving to God what is his, our love and attention, he also says that if you seek first the kingdom he will add all the things we need. This takes a huge amount of faith and trust, we all have so many needs but I’m convinced that God will supply them all, he won’t let us down.

Four

“Trap”

I was abruptly stopped in my first reading of the passage by this word: “trap”.

As I continued to read I felt all the slithery sliminess of “The Snake”. I recalled the Garden of Eden and the Wilderness of Jesus’ temptations.

Jesus had no hesitation in letting the pharisees know that he saw through their game.

It probably happens to us all that we feel trapped from time to time by those who challenge us with mis-quotations or mis-interpreted quotations from the bible; or by the humanists, oh so “perfect” in their virtue, they leave you without a leg to stand on. Today, there are also situations somewhat akin to Jesus’ here, where clever spin seems to be used in every nook and crannie of the social/political arena.

Jesus always has Wisdom ready to hand, his eye ever focused on Truth, not always so myself – maybe half an hour or a day later, maybe –

I pray earnestly for the gift of wisdom and to be so soaked in the Truth that it readily escapes from my mouth when necessary. I ask to be ever equiped with the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God so that, in Jesus and with Jesus, innermost hearts may be opened and elightened with The Divine Truth; that malice might turn into godly meekness; darkness into light; doubt into faith and hatred and resentment into Holy Love in those we encounter.

Jesus’ message in the passage leaves much to consider but once again I find myself looking rather at Jesus’ way of handling the “pharisees”; I think he wants me to watch more closely and learn.

Five

So, not for the first time, they plotted to entrap him, asking a question in a yes/no form so that he would be caught either way:

  • Yes – pay the tax – traitor to Judaism – guilty!
  • No – don’t pay the tax – insurrectionist against the legitimate Roman rulers – guilty!

Politicians and even more, radio and TV interviewers love these questions.

And nobody has ever given a better response than Jesus – get your priorities right, and remember what kind of tribute each requires or deserves.

I have to beware of asking that kind of sneaky question, and if asked one like that, I have to think long and hard to see if there’s a Jesus answer to it!

There was a lovely story on the R4 service 08:10 last Sunday morning. The young man was fed up of being bettered by his father, and was determined to get his own back.

He caught a butterfly and held it, fluttering, in his enclosed hands. Is it alive or dead?, he asked.

If the old man said “dead” then he’d open his hands and let it fly away.

If the response was “alive” then he’d crush it and display the lifeless body.

Either way he’d be right and the old man wrong.

The old man thought before replying, “It depends on you” he said.

Reminds me of the good old life rule – act as if it all depends on you; pray as if you can do nothing.

Six

Hello brothers and sisters in Christ. I thank God for this Lectio Divina family that God has brought me into.

The first thing that came to my mind reading Matthew 22:15-22 was the issue of WISDOM. Jesus knew it was a trap but they did not know that God is all- knowing,( omniscient) all- powerful (omnipotent) and all- present ( omnipresent).

James in 1: 5 says, if anyone lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives to all liberally and without reproach and it will be given to him.

It teaches me that I have to develop my relationship with Christ and bear in His sufferings too, by so, learn His wisdom. For we do not struggle against flesh and blood but against principalities, against the authorities and against the rulers of darkness of this world, like the Pharisees of old, also against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
So for me to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might, I have to put on the whole armour of God that I may be able to STAND against these traps of the evil one.

Regular meditation on the Word of the Lord and Bible study will help us to build strong relationship with Jesus and the father God so that we can stand up to the “traps”

I thank God for our Lectio Divina Group as it leads us to wisdom, strength and peace.

God bless us all. Amen.

Seven

My words today: You hypocrites! Why are you trying to trap me.

What is a hypocrite? Someone who says one thing and thinks another? Someone who pays lip service to something because they know that is what someone else wants them to say but not actually meaning it? Someone who says they will do something but does the opposite? Someone who says “Yes” I believe in you and I love you, then continually offends by their sins?

Jesus is talking to me, to all of us. The Pharisees were ignorant. They didn’t understand that God knows all. We do understand. We do know that God can’t be tricked. We have to give to God what belongs to God. We have to give Him our love, our commitment, our whole self, our true self. We can’t pretend and ‘get away with anything,’ God knows everything about us, what we are thinking and saying every single second. There is nowhere to hide so I must be truthful, honest and open. Help me Jesus to live in truth and not to offend you by my sins.

Eight

Jesus tried many times to raise the awareness of the Jewish authorities after he arrived in Jerusalem, but they were trapped by their arrogance. They were afraid and were losing control. When they tried to flatter him he saw them for what they were and he called them out on their trickery.

I wonder what Jesus was thinking as he responded to their question? Was he really asking them where their loyalty lay? Did he look at them with anger or love when he said ‘Give to God what belongs to God?’

God wants our full commitment. He doesn’t want us to live with one foot in his Kingdom and another in the world doing what feels most comfortable. On a personal note this passage made me feel very uncomfortable as there is something that I have been ignoring that needs to be addressed. Thank you.

Jesus gazed at the Pharisee’s disciples with, love just as he does with us. Loving the sinner but not the sin. Pointing us in a different direction. He was trying one more time to get them to repent, just as he tries with us. He never gives up.

Nine

The passage reminds me that we should try to live ‘God centered’ lives in a secular world. God is in all things and nothing is separate.

The Pharisees were opposed to Roman rule whilst the Herodians supported it.

All around us we are confronted by dissent, disagreement, resentment, vast and varied opinions of politicians, scientists and lots of ‘experts’ etc. Who do we listen to? How do we respond?

This week has been a challenging for us all with the uncertainty about further restrictions (at the time of writing this we now know), illness, family troubles – many different things.

So many rules to consider and abide by. Sometimes I feel resentful, angry and confused but the rules are not made to be broken. As a Christian do I act with integrity and teach the way of God according to the truth as Jesus did?

Am I easily swayed when challenged?

It is not good to be seen as a hypocrite!

I have been challenged about my ‘rule keeping’ by a friend. The easy answer would have been to agree to the request but in doing so my integrity would have been compromised.

In trying to do what is right some people may try to ‘trap us’ and try to encourage us to do something that is not right. I am reminded of 1 Thessalonians 5:17 – ‘to pray without ceasing’ or to ‘pray continually’ looking first to God for clarity, not myself or others, remembering that God is in ALL things

Ten

‘to God what belongs to God’

It seems to me, that this Gospel talks about the eternal disjunctive in between secular society and God’s society; the way of the world versus the way of God.

As a Christian, it is obvious that it is the way of God the one that has to rule my life. And yet, we are living within the world…, God is not asking, at least not of all of us, to isolate, (good word at this time), ourselves from others, (obviously physically nowadays.)

I always questioned how a good honest Christian can be a good politician, (‘you can’t serve two masters at the same time’). And yet, the Church asks from us to follow the rules of a civil society, even to entry in politics to give voice to those who wouldn’t be listened otherwise, in order to produce a just and fair society.

What the Holy Spirit is trying to tell me in this Gospel then? God is perfectly aware of our tribulations and difficulties but asks us to live and collaborate within the secular society in creating a better world, though having always in mind that we belong to Him; that the way of God has to be what leads our conduct and decisions in every moment, and every situation.

In today’s news, when we are going for covid tighter restrictions, we are not be allowed to do many of the things we were used to. And yet, God asks us to continue using our talents for the good of others. People may say, well, we can’t do much in home isolation. Well, I would say that all of us can start by praying for all our leaders and politicians, for the Holy Spirit to lead them in God’s way, for their decisions to be for the benefit of everybody and not for personal or party wins.

Then I consider, what I may do next? I can still smile when I go shopping, even with masks on, our eyes smile: little actions done with love. I can still giving support to food banks and charities, to help others no so fortunate. I can give a call or email to others in isolation or in difficult moments, just to say an honest ‘How are you?’…

And yet, if I don’t find time to BE present for God, to acknowledge Him as my Creator, (and of all the universe), and to be driven by God’s way in every action and thought of the day, I would fail to serve God’s purpose for me. God is everywhere, in all of us, He is making holy this room I am, just because He is present; I belong to Him.

Let’s open ourselves to His Holy Spirit’s action, for He to lead us every day. Let’s give thanks to God for His eternal mercy and immense love for each one of us. Let’s give Him what is His: us.