By Jim Orcutt, Co-Founder of My Brother's Keeper

These personal reflections on the Monday gospel represent my insight of Christ’s message as viewed through the lens of my life experience. It is my hope that others will be inspired to reflect upon their views as well.
Date: August 12, 2019
August 12, 2019

Gospel MT 17:22-27 

As Jesus and his disciples were gathering in Galilee,
Jesus said to them,
“The Son of Man is to be handed over to men,
and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.”
And they were overwhelmed with grief.

When they came to Capernaum,
the collectors of the temple tax approached Peter and said,
“Does not your teacher pay the temple tax?”
“Yes,” he said.
When he came into the house, before he had time to speak,
Jesus asked him, “What is your opinion, Simon?
From whom do the kings of the earth take tolls or census tax?
From their subjects or from foreigners?”
When he said, “From foreigners,” Jesus said to him,
“Then the subjects are exempt.
But that we may not offend them, go to the sea, drop in a hook,
and take the first fish that comes up.
Open its mouth and you will find a coin worth twice the temple tax.
Give that to them for me and for you.”

Reflection:

As Jesus and his disciples were gathering in Galilee,
Jesus said to them,
“The Son of Man is to be handed over to men,
and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.”

I feel deep sorrow for the disciples. An old saying comes to my mind,
“All good things must come to an end.”
It is sad when they do.

Jesus was not just a “good thing” to His followers. They had been crushed by the heavy demands of living under the religious law before His coming. For them, Jesus was the fulfillment of God’s promise of a new life.

We all have felt the agonizing, sudden loss of a “good thing.”

A precious loved one unexpectedly dying. Being in a job that we love and learning that the company is going out of business. The crushing sadness of our child gone astray. The deep loneliness of a loving relationship coming to an end.

But in today’s gospel, news of the disciples’ loss is not sudden; they had been told beforehand. Why?

So they could prepare themselves for His leaving them. It can be agonizing to prepare ourselves for loss.

And they were overwhelmed with grief.

Not only grief, but great sadness and fear. What would they do without Him?

The disciples had put their trust in the living Jesus; they could not grasp how their lives would be without Him. They had no basis for understanding what He meant by……… “and he will be raised on the third day.”

We are left to wonder what went on in their minds, for then the gospel changes course……..

When they came to Capernaum,
the collectors of the temple tax approached Peter and said,
“Does not your teacher pay the temple tax?”
“Yes,” he said.

Peter had answered, “Yes,” quickly, without thought, as he was often prone to do.

The temple tax was levied against the people for the support of God’s house on earth.

Jesus was the Son of God. Would a king levy a tax on the prince, his own son?

Jesus goes on to confirm that He is not responsible to pay the temple tax.

When he came into the house, before he had time to speak,
Jesus asked him, “What is your opinion, Simon?
From whom do the kings of the earth take tolls or census tax?
From their subjects or from foreigners?”
When he said, “From foreigners,” Jesus said to him,
“Then the subjects are exempt.”

The Son of God is not a foreigner in His Father’s house so He is exempt from paying the temple tax.

However, there is a great life lesson in the Lord’s words that follow.

“But that we may not offend them, go to the sea, drop in a hook,
and take the first fish that comes up.
Open its mouth and you will find a coin worth twice the temple tax.
Give that to them for me and for you.”

As in today’s gospel, there may be times and circumstances in life when, like Jesus, we are right: He was exempt from paying the tax.

But, by not paying the tax, great difficulty and pain would have come about, that in the long run would have distracted from His message of love and turning the other cheek.

Jesus chose not to pridefully demand His rights, but instead to take the peaceful path.

In a clever and lighthearted way, He told Peter, the fisherman, to go back to his trade for a day; to catch a few fish, sell them and pay the tax.

Sometimes in life we may pridefully demand our rights but end up looking back with deep sorrow at our loss.

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18



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