Scripture: 1st Reading: Deut10,12-22; Resp. Psalm: Ps147,12-15,19-20; Gosp. Accl.: 2Thess2,14; Gospel: Mt17,22-27
What does God want of His creatures? What are the duties of creatures towards their loving God and Father? What does God require us to do in order to enjoy a living relationship with Him?
Moses stated God's expectations of the people of Israel in today's First Reading. Speaking through Moses, we can say that what God required are not beyond the capacities of man to accomplish. God required of Israel to fear Him, walk in His ways, love Him, serve Him with all the heart and soul and keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord.
For Israel, it became a duty never to forget the mystery of their choice from among the peoples on earth. They must never forget that God to whom belongs heaven and earth and all in it, who could decide to choose any of these nations as His own possession, decided to choose Israel above all peoples due to His preferential love.
On its part, Israel was to reciprocate such a great election by being obedient, recognizing that Yahweh is God of gods and Lord of lords, a great, mighty and terrible God, who is impartial and takes no bribes, who gives justice to the downtrodden and loves the sojourner. The chosen people must never forget that they were sojourners in Egypt and must therefore treat the sojourner well.
Israel must also remember the great deeds Yahweh did on its behalf. The people must never forget that they went down to Egypt seventy persons but that by the time they came out of Egypt, they had become a multitude, as numerous as the stars of heaven. Israel must never forget its God if it wished to continue to prosper in the land that Yahweh was giving it free of charge.
Yahweh did all these out of love. Out of love, He redeemed His people from bondage in Egypt. Out of love, He sent prophets to them to keep them in the right path. Out of love, in the fullness of time, He sent His only begotten Son to redeem humanity. Just as the Father redeemed Israel from slavery in Egypt, the Son was sent to redeem humanity from slavery to sin.
Our Lord today predicted the means through which He would achieve that redemption: through His gruesome death. This prediction saddened the Apostles. Though as Son of God, who is the Owner of the Temple and for whom the temple tax was supposedly paid, this fact however did not prevent our Lord from fulfilling all the demands of the Temple in the payment of this half shekel temple tax. The manner through which Peter got the shekel to pay for himself and our Lord was indeed a miracle.
We must always remember the deeds of the Lord. There is none of us who has not been greatly privileged by God. We are lucky to be counted among His people, the sheep of His flock. We are lucky to be called His children, co-heirs with Christ His Son. Let us ever be grateful.
Let our praise and thanksgiving outstrip our petitions and demands. Let us not forget the words of our Lord that even before we open our mouths to say anything, our heavenly Father already knows our needs. Let us be faithful to Him. He will never abandon or forsake us.
St. Maximilian Kolbe lived his entire life in gratitude to God for the gift of salvation he received at his baptism. He lived the teachings of our Lord, put it into practice every day of his life. He especially incarnated the love of God and neighbour in his life. It was this love that he preached when he was incarcerated in the Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz.
St. Maximilian Kolbe offered to switch places with another man, the father of children, who had been condemned to death by the Nazis. He was starved for two weeks, after which he was killed with a lethal injection. He died as a martyr for the faith. May his life teach us to live, love and die for God and neighbour. St. Maximilian Kolbe, pray for us.
Let us pray: God our loving Father, we thank you for the great deeds of redemption you carried out in the life of your people Israel. We are even more grateful for the deeds of salvation your Son achieved for us. May our lives profit from our reflection and meditation on these marvellous deeds of salvation. May we never forget but continue to be grateful for your goodness to us. Amen.
May the Living Word of God find a true dwelling place within our hearts and souls today and always. Have a blessed week ahead.