29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 45:1, 4-6
1 Thessalonians 1:1-5
This weekend’s readings help us reflect on the troubled world we live in. They are full of intrigue, highlighting political strategies designed to manipulate both leaders and power. And yet they also reflect the desire of simple people to find a way forward, a cause to believe in, a faith to hold firmly.
Cyrus, the Persian king, a foreigner, is the one chosen by God to bring the Jewish people home to rebuild their city and their temple and be freed from exile. After years of Davidic rule, this must have been a huge upheaval for the Jews and a challenge to everything they believed in – until they came to understand that it was God, unrivalled, who set this plan in motion. It is God who is never changing, God who is with them from the rising of the sun to its setting. The same God of love that Paul so neatly presents to the Thessalonians.
In the context of the first reading, it is easy to see how Jesus can separate the authority of God from that of Caesar. There is an understanding that God’s way can be found no matter the circumstances. Foreigner or Jew, rich or poor, woman or man, there is good in all, and all can be instruments of God’s love. If only our world, at war, could see that. If we can see God’s way in the circumstances of our life, in each other, in our neighbours and work colleagues, families and friends, we can break down the prejudices and hatred that separates so much of our world. Like Paul, let us pray and thank God for each other so that we may continually show our faith in action, work for love and persevere through hope.
Margaret Bentley is a Salesian Sister and is currently the Academic Manager at the English Language Studies for Pastoral Ministry (ELSPM) begun by the Passionists in 2014 to enable their students to learn English before continuing to the Novitiate or theological studies.