TWENTY-NINTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
(Green) Cycle A/Year I (October 22, 2023)
Is 45:1, 4-6/1 Thes 1:1-5/Mt 22:15-21
The Pharisees, who were enemies of Jesus Christ, sent their representatives to ask Him some tricky questions and to trap Him in His words. However, it was clear in the conversation between them and Jesus how good Jesus was according to their knowledge and the perception of the public since they described Jesus as a “Man of Integrity” (Mt 22:16). A man of integrity is a man of principled dedication to values and beliefs; it is a man of honesty with strong morally upright principles. With such a kind of man, nobody can see anything bad to accuse him of. And that was what they thought about Jesus. On the contrary, these enemies of Jesus came to Him to seek something bad that they could accuse Him of.
In the gospel, the enemies of Jesus themselves were the ones who proved that Jesus was a man of integrity. However, they did not believe in Him and they were trying to destroy Him simply because they could not withstand Him as Jesus would say the truth about themselves. Indeed, the truth hurts as it sets one free (cf. Jn 8:32). With the truth, one is stripped of one’s hypocrisy and dishonesty and is confronted with the reality of oneself. This hurts especially when one cannot accept who one is because one wants to become what one is not and is therefore hiding something about oneself so as not to be discovered and known as one is.
As Christians, we cannot live in hypocrisy. We must follow the example of Jesus Christ who was the Truth and who lived in Truth. He did not deny or cover up that He came from a poor family and that He was poor. He did not pretend to be somebody whom He was not. He simply lived a poor man’s life as a carpenter and preached the Good News of Salvation, inviting all especially the sinners and the least. He even chose to be His disciples the simple people, the majority of them were fishermen.
To live in truth like Jesus means to accept who we are and never to pretend to be somebody whom we are not. We must accept our limitations and capacities and dwell more on these capacities to strengthen our confidence and to try our best to be successful. But as Christians, we focus more on spiritual success than on material one. Although the latter may not be sacrificed, then we must give more importance to the former, that is, the success of our spiritual life. We become successful spiritually if first, we live as a man of integrity, without hypocrisy and dishonesty. Second, we must fulfill the teachings of Jesus Christ which can guide us to become faithful to the will of God. Third, we must imitate the example of Jesus, which is glorifying God through the service of others, especially the needy. Lastly, we must live the very life of Christ, having a great trust and confidence in God who is our Father who never abandons His children, especially in the hour of their need.
Truly, Christians are men of integrity because they live the very life of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Let us then examine ourselves if we are men or women of integrity. If we think there are still some inconsistencies in our Christian life, then we ask the help of God to transform us and make us genuine Christians. Jesus has given us the food to strengthen us and give us the capacity to live a genuine Christian life through the reception of the Holy Communion. Let us then make use of this divine food so that we may always be one with Jesus and that we may have the capacity to live the very life of a son or daughter of God. God Bless!!