THROUGH THE GOOD NEWS, WE SHARE THE GLORY OF CHRIST
(Monday, August 12, 2019)
There are several things in this first reading we probably don’t want to hear. God is reminding the Israelites that everything they have, actually belongs to God. The people have the use of them, but in the end, they are God’s – “the heavens as well as the earth and everything in it”. The same applies to us. God possessed everything we have.
That means not just our possessions, but our talents, our heritage, our opportunities – all are given to us by God. Our task is to use it all as God would to the glory of God, our own good and for the good of humanity. In today’s gospel, Jesus foretells His death and resurrection and the disciples were “overwhelmed with grief.”
In examining today’s Gospel reading, two major themes emerge. The first is the announcement by Jesus of His impending death and resurrection. This is the second time that Jesus mentions His death and resurrection; the first being met with a strong reaction and even denial from Peter (Mt 16:21-22), this second announcement being met more by grief than anything else.
Christ was gradually making His mission known to His disciples. The accomplishment of this mission does not end in performing miracles, signs and wonders but comes through the way of the cross. It is through going to Calvary to be crucified, died, buried and resurrected that He set mankind free. Life throws a lot at us, at times good and some other times ugly challenges.
As frustrating as these events may be at times, I think we can take a lesson from Jesus' pronouncement in the gospel of today. It was not easy for Him to be repeating about His coming death and passion but He was doing it to remind us that after the rain comes the sun and after the night comes the morning dawn.
We must remind ourselves that God has a reason for anything that happens. We may not understand and we may get distressed and even angry about these events or the current path, but we have to remind ourselves that God is always with us no matter how we may look at our challenges and present situation.
The second theme from today’s gospel reading relates to the paying of the temple tax. When asked about who should pay the temple tax, to the king, Jesus noted that the “foreigners” should pay with the subjects being exempt. Jesus did not see Himself as being a subject of any earthly king and, thus, was neither foreigner nor subject. Despite this, Jesus believes He and Peter should pay in order to support the temple and its functions and to avoid controversy or scandal. I believe that Jesus is recommending that we follow the law as long as it does not conflict with God’s teachings. Jesus then has Peter drop a hook and take a coin from the first fish that comes up, and then pay the tax for both of them.
This miracle often cited as the only miracle He performed that “benefited” Him, was a subtle way to demonstrate that despite paying the tax that He did rule the earth and all of creation. So what does this mean? Jesus knew His mission and He did not let trivial matters such as paying the temple tax to distract Him or others from it. It is a reminder to all of us to stay focused on God and His teachings. Yes, we will be distracted by the trivial - even though at the time it may not seem so trivial; however, we must not let these distractions keep us from our mission to abide by the teachings of Jesus as He points our way to everlasting life.
Let Us Pray: Lord Jesus, help me to obey your words and to strive everyday to focus on my mission here on earth and avoid distractions that will come from the things of this life. Amen.