Dr. Scott Hahn: Caesar and the King


Dr. Scott Hahn reflects on the Mass readings for the Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

 

Readings:
Isaiah 45:1,4–6
Psalm 96:1,3–57–10
1 Thessalonians 1:1–5
Matthew 22:15–21


The Lord is king over all the earth, as we sing in today’s Psalm. Governments rise and fall by His permission, with no authority but that given from above (see John 19:11Romans 13:1).

In effect, God says to every ruler what He tells King Cyrus in today’s First Reading: “I have called you . . . though you knew me not.”

The Lord raised up Cyrus to restore the Israelites from exile, and to rebuild Jerusalem (see Ezra 1:1–4). Throughout salvation history, God has used foreign rulers for the sake of His chosen people. Pharaoh’s heart was hardened to reveal God’s power (see Romans 9:17). Invading armies were used to punish Israel’s sins (see 2 Maccabees 6:7–16).

The Roman occupation during Jesus’ time was, in a similar way, a judgment on Israel’s unfaithfulness. Jesus’ famous words in today’s Gospel: “Repay to Caesar” are a pointed reminder of this. And they call us, too, to keep our allegiances straight.

The Lord alone is our king. His kingdom is not of this world (see John 18:36) but it begins here in His Church, which tells of His glory among all peoples. Citizens of heaven (see Philippians 3:20), we are called to be a light to the world (see Matthew 5:14)—working in faith, laboring in love, and enduring in hope, as today’s Epistle counsels.

We owe the government a concern for the common good and obedience to laws—unless they conflict with God’s commandments as interpreted by the Church (see Acts 5:29).

But we owe God everything. The coin bears Caesar’s image. But we bear God’s own image (see Genesis 1:27). We owe Him our very lives—all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, offered as a living sacrifice of love (see Romans 12:1–2).

We should pray for our leaders, that like Cyrus they do God’s will (see 1 Timothy 2:1–2)—until from the rising of the sun to its setting, all humanity knows that Jesus is Lord.


Visit the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology website to listen to an audio recording of this reflection from Dr. Scott Hahn and to subscribe to receive his Sunday Mass Reflections via email. We encourage you to support his work.

From Dr. Scott Hahn: You are cordially invited to our Seventh Annual Gala (Virtual Event – 8:00 PM on October 28, 2020). At this virtual event, join thousands of other faithful for an evening of hope, thanksgiving, and celebration. Amid the uncertainty and challenges we face in our country today, you will learn how your support is helping transform lives and renew the Church. (Video message from Dr. Hahn, registration and more information…)


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About the Author

Dr. Scott Hahn

Dr. Scott Hahn was born in 1957, and has been married to Kimberly since 1979. He and Kimberly have six children (two of which are seminarians for the diocese of Steubenville) and eighteen grandchildren. An exceptionally popular speaker and teacher, Dr. Hahn has delivered numerous talks nationally and internationally on a wide variety of topics related to Scripture and the Catholic faith. His talks have been effective in helping thousands of Protestants and fallen away Catholics to (re)embrace the Catholic faith.

He has been awarded the Father Michael Scanlan, T.O.R., Chair of Biblical Theology and the New Evangelization at Franciscan University of Steubenville, where he has taught since 1990, and is the founder and president of the Saint Paul Center for Biblical Theology. From 2005 to 2011, Dr. Hahn held the Pope Benedict XVI Chair of Biblical Theology and Liturgical Proclamation at St. Vincent Seminary in Latrobe, Pa. From 2014 to 2015, he served as the McEssy Distinguished Visiting Professor of Biblical Theology and the New Evangelization, University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, IL.

Dr. Hahn is also the bestselling author of numerous books including The Lamb’s SupperReasons to Believe, and Rome Sweet Home (co-authored with his wife, Kimberly). Some of his newest books are The First Society, The Fourth CupRomans: A Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture, The CreedEvangelizing CatholicsAngels and Saints, and Joy to the World.

Scott received his Bachelor of Arts degree with a triple-major in Theology, Philosophy and Economics from Grove City College, Pennsylvania, in 1979, his Masters of Divinity from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in 1982, and his Ph.D. in Biblical Theology from Marquette University in 1995. Scott has ten years of youth and pastoral ministry experience in Protestant congregations (in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Massachusetts, Kansas and Virginia) and is a former Professor of Theology at Chesapeake Theological Seminary. He was ordained in 1982 at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Fairfax, Virginia. He entered the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil, 1986.

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