Monday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time, August 9
Let Us Truly Rejoice in the Knowledge That We Have a God Who Calls Us to Himself, Desiring That We Live Our Lives in Intimate Communion with Him, Who Is Truly Our Eternal and Most Loving Father.
Jesus is teaching His disciples and each of us a lesson in today’s Gospel, “But that we may not offend them…”
As a homeowner, I, like those of you who are also homeowners, dread opening the new tax bill when it comes in the mail. It seems that, each year, we end up getting poorer and poorer while the city, county and state keep taking more and more of our hard-earned money.
And I am sure that we have all heard the age-old adage, “There are only two certainties in life, death and taxes.” And I sometimes chuckle questioning if taxes are not the cause of some of the deaths, especially when we think of income taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, inheritance taxes, gasoline taxes, excise taxes, and the list just keeps getting longer and longer.
However, in today’s Gospel, our Lord was giving us an example of being respectful to the civil and religious authorities of His day, when He sent Peter to pay the temple tax for both Himself and Peter.
As an old fisherman myself, I would certainly love to be able to pay my share of the taxes with whatever I could miraculously find in the mouths of the fish I catch. But what was interesting in this brief scenario between Peter and our Lord was a question which Jesus asked, “From whom do the kings of the earth take tolls or census tax? From their subjects or from foreigners?”
And Peter answered, “From foreigners.” Then Jesus replied, “Then the subjects are exempt.” And then He adds, “But that we may not offend them…” And Peter goes and miraculously finds the coin with which to pay the tax.
The Greek word translated here as “subjects” literally means “sons” or “children”. And, when we look at it from this context, we can begin to more clearly understand what our Lord was teaching.
Jesus, Himself as the Son of God, as the True and Only-begotten Son of the Eternal Father, was exempt from any payment of taxes for the upkeep or maintenance of His Father’s Temple. And, as followers of Jesus, so were Peter and His disciples, for they were all sons and daughters or children of God.
But our Lord, being mindful of His own humanity, and setting the example of humility and obedience for His disciples to both witness and from whom to learn, did not wish to show disrespect or create difficulties, so He responded, “But that we may not offend them…”
Sometimes, it becomes very difficult for the average person on the street, and I am including both myself and each of you in this comparison, to truly grasp, to truly understand or comprehend the awesome and wondrous fact that the Eternal God – He who is without beginning or end, the Alpha and the Omega, a God who is Omnipotent, Omniscient and Omnipresent – in the Divine Person of the Eternal Son, emptied Himself by leaving the glory of His Divine Throne to become a human being like you and me in all things except sin.
This is a profound mystery of our faith, but it is a mystery which teaches us that God, in all His Infinite Glory, is a God who cherishes humility and obedience and respect from His children, through the examples He gave us through His own Son.
And He gave these examples to us as descendants of Abraham in faith. In the profoundness of the mystery of who God is and the unfathomable Love which He has for us, it is no wonder that Moses was inviting the Israelites to reflect upon the fact that they were God’s Chosen People from all the other peoples who inhabited the Earth.
And Moses says to them, “Think! The heavens, even the highest heavens, belong to the LORD, your God, as well as the earth and everything on it. Yet in his love for your fathers the LORD was so attached to them as to choose you, their descendants, in preference to all other peoples, as indeed he has now done.”
Saint Paul, in his Letter to the Ephesians, explains it this way, “In love, he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will.” And only in the mystery of the Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ, do we come to better appreciate and love the God who has given us so much!
In the First Letter of John, he writes, “In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.”
How? How can we not be thankful to a God who has loved us so much, that He even teaches us what pleases Him the most, as Jesus taught us in our Gospel Reading for today?
As I mentioned earlier, Jesus teaches us, through His own example – through the virtues of humility, obedience and respect – but, above all, with love.
In thanksgiving for all that God has given to us and continues to teach us, let us truly rejoice in the knowledge that we have a God and Savior who loves each of us beyond all measure of human understanding, and that He has filled us with the gift of faith, and has blessed us by calling us to Himself with the desire that we live in intimate communion with Him, who is truly our Eternal and Most Loving Father!
In our individual walks of faith, may the words from the Book of Revelation convey our own tender and intimate expressions of gratitude for God’s great Love –
“Great and wonderful are your works, Lord God almighty. Just and true are your ways, O king of the nations”! †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “Look, the heavens, even the highest heavens, belong to the LORD, your God, as well as the earth and everything on it. Yet only on your ancestors did the LORD set his heart to love them. He chose you, their descendants, from all the peoples, as it is today.” (Deuteronomy 10:14-15)
- “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)
- “When [Peter] 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.’” (Matthew 17:25b-27)
- “In love, he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will.” (Ephesians 1:4b-5)
- “In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:9-10)
- “All good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no alteration or shadow caused by change. He willed to give us birth by the word of truth that we may be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” (James 1:17-18)
- “Through [Jesus] then let us continually offer God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name.” (Hebrews 13:15)
- “How great is your goodness, Lord, stored up for those who fear you. You display it for those who trust you, in the sight of the children of Adam.” (Psalm 31:20)
- “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
- “Great and wonderful are your works, Lord God almighty. Just and true are your ways, O king of the nations.” (Revelation 15:3bc)
Prayer for the Day
“You are God: we praise You;Te Deum (Praise to God)
You are the Lord: we acclaim You;
You are the Eternal Father: all creation worships You.
“…Throughout the world, the Holy Church acclaims You:
Father, of Majesty unbounded,
Your True and Only Son, worthy of all worship,
and the Holy Spirit, Advocate and Guide.
“You, Christ, are the King of glory,
the Eternal Son of the Father.
When You became man to set us free,
You did not spurn the Virgin’s womb.
“You overcame the sting of death,
and opened the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.
You are seated at God’s right hand in glory.
We believe that You will come and be our Judge.
“Come then, Lord, and help Your people,
bought with the price of Your own Blood,
and bring us with Your saints to glory everlasting. Amen.”