In the reading from Isaiah, we hear the words of God to Cyrus, a foreign ruler, who is nonetheless called “anointed” = called, chosen, and empowered by God for God’s own purposes. The working of the Lord is not limited to those who believe in or worship him! The Lord of all can work his plan even through those who worship other gods.
Matthew’s Gospel tells us of an attempt to trap Jesus by asking him about the Roman tax. Will he agree the hated tax should be paid to the foreign occupier, or will he denounce the tax and incriminate himself as a rebel against Rome? Noting the image of the emperor on the coin, his answer is that the coin came from Rome and belongs to Rome, and meanwhile we must return to God all that belongs to Him as well.
Paul gives thanks for the Thessalonian Church. He rejoices to see all the evidence that they do indeed belong to God through Jesus Christ because their lives demonstrate this new reality.
Comment: What belongs to God? As people of faith we know that the “correct answer” would be “everyone and everything.” My struggle is to actually live this way. Too often I act as if I am in charge of my time, my day, my plans, my possessions, and can be annoyed or resentful if my plans or wishes are thwarted. My challenge is to daily offer up my expectations and whatever I have as an offering to the risen and living Lord of my life. It’s as if I am saying, “Here I am Lord…everything is yours! Where do YOU want me to be, what do you want me to be doing for you in this day?” Returning myself to the “mind of Christ” is a daily event.