AUGUST 9. Ordinary Time B. Wk 19. Mon. Mt 17. 22-27
One day when they were together in Galilee, Jesus said to his disciples, ‘The Son of Man is going to be handed over into the power of men; they will put him to death, and on the third day he will be raised to life again.’ And a great sadness came over them.
When they reached Capernaum, the collectors of the half-shekel came to Peter and said, ‘Does your master not pay the half-shekel?’ ‘Oh yes’ he replied, and went into the house. But before he could speak, Jesus said, ‘Simon, what is your opinion? From whom do the kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their sons or from foreigners?’ And when he replied, ‘From foreigners’, Jesus said, ‘Well then, the sons are exempt. However, so as not to offend these people, go to the lake and cast a hook; take the first fish that bites, open its mouth and there you will find a shekel; take it and give it to them for me and for you.’
In today’s Gospel we hear Jesus giving very precise information to his disciples about what was ahead for them; - “they will put me to death, and on the third day I will be raised again.”
One can only wonder why they did not grasp the importance of what they were being told, as Christ’s explanation was very clear, but is this not a failing of many Christians where; - when we read the Gospels; - we have the ability to “not listen” to any teachings of Christ that impacts our “comfort zones?”
We might “hear” the teaching; - but we do not “listen” with our mind and heart! We seem to have this strange ability to avoid listening to anything that would interfere with, or disturb. our current way of life
On the other hand, how significant this announcement would have been in Christ’s eyes? He was advising his followers, for the first time, he was “the Lamb of God”; - “the Paschal Lamb”; - who was to give his blood; - and sacrifice his life for our redemption; - even though we are sinners?
While his disciples had not grasped the significance of what they had just been told; - from this point on Calvary would no doubt have been a primary focus in Christ’s life; - his only comfort being found in the knowledge the Father wanted this sacrifice; - in atonement for the sins of his people!
The time had now arrived for Christ to slowly prepare his followers to understand what was involved in being a Christian; - with its inherent requirement for suffering in reparation for sin; - with the primary form of suffering being the renunciation of their own desires; - in order to do the Will of God; - and care for their neighbour!
After this first revelation about his own coming sacrifice; - how insignificant the earthly concern about the payment of what was a temple tax must have appeared to Christ; - he was being asked to pay a tax for the temple in which the people worshipped God; - a tax he clearly did not need to pay.
However, he agreed to pay “so as not to offend these people”, choosing to provide the funds via a miracle; - in order to give Peter yet more evidence he was the Son of God.
Peter needed his faith strengthened as he was: ‘the Rock on which Christ’s Church was built’
Gospel Acclamation cf.2Th2:14
God has called us with the gospel
to achieve the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.