Today's Gospel account is a rather difficult one in many respects. A thumbnail sketch of today's selection: Jesus makes his second proclamation of his passion and death and resurrection, he talks about paying temple taxes and then instructs Peter to pay that tax from a coin pulled from a fish's mouth.
Jesus tells Peter the reason they should pay the temple tax is so that they do not give offense to them. This from the man who will go into the synagogue in Jerusalem and overturn tables and throw out the money changers and who constantly challenges the authority of the Pharisees and Sadducees. What is Jesus getting at here with this instruction that they not give offense to them?
For me this ties into Jesus' instruction to turn the other cheek when we are struck, to give someone your shirt too when they ask you for your coat, and the examination of the Roman coin with Caesar's head on it. But today's is complicated by the way Jesus obtains the coin to pay this temple tax.
Jesus asks Peter to whom do kings on earth take from: their children or others. Peter correctly replies from others and Jesus then says well then, the children are free, aren't they? Perhaps what we are asked to consider today is to keep the proper perspective when we are asked to do things that we consider to be wrong, incongruous with our beliefs or hypocritical. If we can stay centered on and focused on God and the promises God has made to us, having to be involved with things that are distasteful perhaps will make them a bit more palatable. We are also provided with an example of how it is considered okay to be imaginative and creative in how we effectuate and respond to those demands. From what proverbial fish can we pull that proverbial coin in order not to give offense to those with whom we disagree? That is something worthwhile to chew on today!
Copyright 2008, John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.