On social media, at work, at home, in your community, at school… are you building up or are you tearing down? Are you helping to proclaim Jesus, or are you adding to the anger and hatred – especially political – that fills society? Today’s gospel reflection can help you examine your conscience.

Father Ian VanHeusen presents a spiritual exercise on the Mass readings from the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Isaiah 45 and Matthew 22, Jesus’ teaching of “render unto Caesar.”


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We invite you to watch Father’s video, then prayerfully read the Gospel and reflection. We pray that this might help you in your apostolate, your family, your classroom, or personally… to prepare for and more deeply experience Sunday’s Mass, and to better integrate the Sacrament and the readings into your daily life.

Three ways we can respond to injustices:

1. We can accept passively and go with the flow.


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2. We can actively protest, work against injustice, fight the power.

3. We can work for good within the system as Christians.

Frantically protesting and working to set up the perfect society is impossible. The Christian understands this, and that we’re always “on the way,” as a society. That doesn’t mean passively checking out and pretending everything’s okay, but it does have implications for how we live as members of society under the authority of government. We are charged with being good citizens, in supporting our legitimate government in doing the good, in building up. We are also called to pray and fast for your leaders, to intercede for them and to love them.

A reading from the Book of Isaiah (45:1, 4-6)

Thus says the LORD to his anointed, Cyrus, whose right hand I grasp, subduing nations before him, and making kings run in his service, opening doors before him and leaving the gates unbarred: For the sake of Jacob, my servant, of Israel, my chosen one, I have called you by your name, giving you a title, though you knew me not. I am the LORD and there is no other, there is no God besides me. It is I who arm you, though you know me not, so that toward the rising and the setting of the sun people may know that there is none besides me. I am the LORD, there is no other.

The Word of the Lord

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew (22:15-21)

The Pharisees went off and plotted how they might entrap Jesus in speech. They sent their disciples to him, with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. And you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion, for you do not regard a person’s status. Tell us, then, what is your opinion: Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?” Knowing their malice, Jesus said, “Why are you testing me, you hypocrites? Show me the coin that pays the census tax.” Then they handed him the Roman coin. He said to them, “Whose image is this and whose inscription?” They replied, “Caesar’s.” At that he said to them, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”

The Gospel of the Lord

Spiritual Exercise

1. Examine your behavior and your words, both in face-to-face interactions and in social media. Are you building up or are you overcome by anger and hostility, only contributing to the growing clamor of negativity around you?

2. Consider some ways you might actively build up God’s kingdom on earth, merely by changing your attitude? Can you volunteer for the needy? Can you add a midweek Mass or Holy Hour to your week?

3. Resolve to pray once a week (or more), specifically for a political leader to govern according to God’s will, towards peace and the common good.