A reading from the gospel according to Matthew 17:22-27
22 As Jesus and his disciples were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men,
23 and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.” And they were overwhelmed with grief.
24 When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax approached Peter and said, “Does not your teacher pay the temple tax?”
25 “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?”
26 When he said, “From foreigners,” Jesus said to him, “Then the subjects are exempt.
27 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: Overwhelmed with grief
Good News: Jesus will be raised on the third day.
Points to consider:
1. When Jesus reminded His apostles of His death and resurrection, they were overwhelmed with grief.
• Jesus knew His mission very clearly. He came to live and to die for us. But His life will not end in death. On the third day, He will rise again. The disciples did not fully understand that this will happen to their master, Lord and King. It was very hard for them to accept that the Messiah was going to suffer.
• This passage reminds us that our own life will not end in death. If we live in Christ then we shall also rise with Him. We may be undergoing great trials and tribulations but if we entrust all of them to the Lord who already suffered for us, then we will find meaning in our life. Unlike the disciples of Jesus, we are not overwhelmed with grief in spite of all the problems around us. Thanks to the empty tomb, we know Christ has already triumphed over suffering and death.
• On the other hand, just as Jesus reminded His disciples of His impending arrest and death, He is also reminding us of our own death, that our life is short and that we should value every minute that we are breathing. This reminder should make us even more grateful for the gift of life.
2. We are subjects of God but we are also subjects of earthly rulers.
• As believers, we should know our priorities. We don’t allow anything to hinder us from living our faith. Yet, we also do not like to offend other people especially the authorities. Jesus shows us that we should not be too concerned with trivial matters such as the debate on paying taxes. (Incidentally, the gospel passage above is found only in Matthew who was himself a tax collector.)
• We are called to be witnesses of God’s love. We are called to be the light and salt of the earth. At all times, we should avoid offending others but instead, we should try to become blessings for others.
3. Jesus provides everything that we need.
• In our reading above, Jesus tells Peter where to get the coin to pay the tax.
• In many instances of our life, God has provided our needs in ways that boggles the mind. Believe in Him. He still performs miracles. He is our great provider. He is our good shepherd and there is nothing apart from Him that we shall want.