Monday, August 8, 2016

Reflection: Matthew 17:22-27

Monday of the 19th Week in Ordinary Time - Matthew 17:22-27

In this Gospel, Jesus speaks shocking words to His disciples.  He says to them: “The Son of Man will be handed over to men, and they will kill him, and he will be raised up on the third day.”  Naturally the disciples were shocked and their hearts were flooded with grief!  They were devastated!

Then Jesus and the disciples traveled on to Capernaum.  When they arrived there, the tax collectors approached Peter and asked him: “Does your teacher pay the temple tax?”  Peter replied in one word: “Yes.”  Clearly, the tax collectors were trying to discredit Jesus.

Peter then entered the house where Jesus was.  Jesus approached Peter and asked him: “What is your opinion, Simon?  From whom do the royalty of the earth demand tolls or taxes?  Is it from their subjects or from foreigners?”  Peter replied: “From foreigners.” Jesus then commented: “Thus, the subjects are exempt.  However, we do not want to offend them.”  Jesus then instructed Peter to go to the sea and drop a hook into the sea.  Jesus told Peter: “When you haul in a fish, open its mouth and there you will he find a coin there.  The coin will be worth twice the temple tax.  Give the coin to the temple to pay the tax for me and for you.”

What is the message that Jesus is speaking to us in today’s Gospel?  Is He telling us to go fishing and see if we can find a coin in the mouth of a fish?  I suspect not.  I suspect that Jesus wants us to meet our obligations.  If we do not do so, we are not fulfilling what we have promised to do.  And most likely, there will be a consequence for our lack of trustworthiness. We must do what we say we will do;  thus we will not be a bad example to others.

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