Sunday, October 22, 2023
For this Sunday, we offer the short meditation prepared by the PMS National Direction in Poland, which wrote, at our request, the liturgical commentaries for all the days of the missionary month of October 2023, sent by email to the PMS national directors for their use in missionary animation. I take the opportunity to thank them again for this text (with much gratitude to the translators). The PMU has added the Useful Points to Consider.
St. John Paul II, Pope
World Mission Day 2023
In 1926, the Society for the Propagation of the Faith proposed to Pope Pius XI to hold an annual day in favor of the missionary activity of the universal Church. The request was granted, and it was established that this would take place every penultimate Sunday in October: thus began the annual celebration of World Mission Day. It aims to arouse missionary commitment in every baptized person, to arouse the desire for missionary animation and collaboration. This purpose can be achieved in two ways.
First, by remembering that at the ends of the world, in the young and poor communities of the Church, live our brothers and sisters who without our help cannot alone cope with the shortage of priests, chapels, churches, disease and illiteracy. Among them, “on the front lines,” serve thousands of missionaries, to whom, we as “missionaries in the rear,” must offer spiritual and material help, because these “fight for the Gospel” on our behalf as well. St. Paul reminds us today that the proclamation of the Gospel does not happen by human strength alone, but primarily by the power of the Holy Spirit. Those who bring Christ need his strength and guidance.
Second, World Mission Day is an opportunity to renew our baptismal call to be disciple-missionaries, to be those who hear Christ and then witness to him, wherever God places them today, here and now. This is not easy in today’s world. In Jesus’ day, He Himself was tested with questions: was the secular law or the faith of Israel more important? Did one have to pay taxes to Caesar to recognize Him as authority or not?
Even today there are many who test us-disciples of Jesus-and ask us, “What is from God and what is not? Where is God in the midst of the suffering of the world?” The missionary disciple, fixing his eyes on his Savior, reminds us, however, that God alone is Lord. It is He who sustains and protects not only His followers, but everyone, even those who do not yet know Him.
Let us remember that the Church of Christ is not limited to our parish or country. Let us make sure that our brothers and sisters at the ends of the world can enjoy the grace of faith. Let us always support them with our prayers and offerings.
Useful points to consider:
Pope Francis, Angelus, Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 18 October 2020
This Sunday’s Gospel reading (cf. Mt 22:15-21) shows us Jesus struggling with the hypocrisy of his adversaries. They pay him many compliments — at the beginning, many compliments — but then ask an insidious question to put him in difficulty and discredit him before the people. They ask him: “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” (v. 17), that is, to pay their tribute to Caesar. At that time, in Palestine, the domination of the Roman Empire was poorly tolerated — and it is understandable, they were invaders — also for religious reasons. For the people, the worship of the emperor, underscored also by his image on coins, was an insult to the God of Israel.
Jesus’ interlocutors are convinced that there is no alternative to their questioning: either a “yes” or a “no”. They were waiting, precisely because they were sure to back Jesus into a corner with this question, and to make him fall in the trap. But he knows their wickedness and avoids the pitfall. He asks them to show him the coin, the coin of the taxes, of the tribute, takes it in his hands and asks whose is the imprinted image. They answer that it is Caesar’s, that is, the Emperor’s. Then Jesus replies: “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (v. 21).
With this reply, Jesus places himself above the controversy. Jesus, always above. On the one hand, he acknowledges that the tribute to Caesar must be paid — for all of us too, taxes must be paid — because the image on the coin is his; but above all he recalls that each person carries within him another image — we carry it in the heart, in the soul — that of God, and therefore it is to Him, and to Him alone, that each person owes his own existence, his own life.
In this maxim of Jesus we find not only the criterion for the distinction between the political sphere and the religious sphere; clear guidelines emerge for the mission of believers of all times, even for us today. To pay taxes is a duty of citizens, as is complying with the just laws of the state. At the same time, it is necessary to affirm God’s primacy in human life and in history, respecting God’s right over all that belongs to him. […]
Benedict XVI, Holy Mass for the New Evangelization, Homily, Vatican Basilica, Sunday, 16 October 2011
[…] The Second Reading is the beginning of the First Letter to the Thessalonians and this is already very evocative because it is the oldest letter that has come down to us of the greatest evangelizer of all time, the Apostle Paul. He tells us first of all that one does not evangelize by oneself: in fact he too had collaborators, Silvanus and Timothy (cf. 1 Thes 1:1) and many others. And he immediately adds something else that is very important: that proclamation must always be preceded, accompanied and followed by prayer. Indeed, he writes: “We give thanks to God always for you all, constantly mentioning you in our prayers” (v. 2). The Apostle then says he is well aware of the fact that he did not choose the members of the community, but that [God]: “has chosen you”, he says (v. 4).
Every Gospel missionary must always bear in mind this truth: it is the Lord who touches hearts with his word and with his Spirit, calling people to faith and to communion in the Church. […]
Let us now reflect on the Gospel passage. It is the text about the legitimacy of the tribute to be paid to Caesar which contains Jesus’ famous answer: “render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mt 22:21). But, before reaching this point there is a passage that can be applied to those who have the mission of evangelizing. Indeed, those who are speaking with Jesus — disciples of the Pharisees and the Herodians — compliment him, saying “we know that you are true, and teach the way of God truthfully, and care for no man” (v. 16). It is this affirmation itself, although it is prompted by hypocrisy, that must attract our attention. The disciples of the Pharisees and Herodians do not believe in what they say. They are only affirming it as a captatio benevolentiae to make people listen to them, but their heart is far from that truth; indeed, they want to lure Jesus into a trap to be able to accuse him. For us, instead, those words are precious: indeed, Jesus is true and teaches the way of God according to the truth, and stands in awe of none. He himself is that “way of God”, which we are called to take. Here we may recall the words of Jesus himself in John’s Gospel: “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (14:6).
In this regard St Augustine’s comment is illuminating: “It was necessary for Jesus to say ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life’, when knowing the way by which he went they had to learn where he was going. The way led to truth, it led to life.... And where are we going, but to him, and by what way do we go, but by him? (In Evangelium Johannis tractatus 69, 2). The new evangelizers are called to walk first on this Way that is Christ, to make others know the beauty of the Gospel that gives life. […]
A brief reflection also on the central question of the tribute to Caesar. […] An anonymous author wrote: “The image of God is not impressed on gold, but on the human race. Caesar’s coin is gold, God’s coin is humanity…. Therefore give your riches to Caesar but keep for God the unique innocence of your conscience, where God is contemplated…. Caesar, in fact, asked that his image be on every coin, but God chose man, whom he created to reflect his glory” (Anonymous, Incomplete Work on Matthew, Homily 42). And St Augustine used this reference several times in his homilies: “If Caesar reclaims his own image impressed on the coin”, he says, “will not God demand from man the divine image sculpted within him?” (En. Ps., Psalm 94:2). […]