|A Study in Yellow & Black, 2011, jfd+|
Jesus has Peter go to the sea, throw in a line, and pull out a fish, open its mouth, and whal-la, a coin to pay the temple tax for Peter and Jesus. This story is often dismissed as silly, a child's tale, non-essential to the Gospel story. Perhaps it is something more.
Peter got defensive with the temple-tax-authorities, worried about how his master would be perceived: a scoff-law? A pauper? Arrogant? So, Peter says of course he pays what he is supposed to! And Jesus knows, and sends Peter on this seeming wild-goose-chase.
Peter's livelihood before becoming Jesus' right-hand-person was as a fish-catcher. The people that knew Peter, also knew that this was a part of his background - he wasn't a refined, temple-trained, individual. He was a bit rough around the edges. The story of this interchange between Peter and Jesus plays off of that background and relationship. This story of a fish's mouth giving out temple-tax-coins is meant to remind us, to help us see, that we have all that we need to be a part of God's kingdom. We don't need to be fancifully attired, prim and proper, intellectual. God accepts us for who we are, loves us for who and what we are in life. Does this mean we are "stuck" where we find ourselves? No. We can do our best to try to change where we find ourselves, if we are unhappy, or abused, or down-on-our-luck. But that is for us, not for God, or to be a part of God's kingdom. God is with us whether we are looking for coins in the mouths of fishes, or use those coins as earrings. As always, Jesus is reminding us about priorities, and of what is important in life, and what is fluff.
We are asked in today's reading to consider, really evaluate, what is important and what is ornamental fluff. And to remember that God is with us, even when we are stuck in the fluff.
Copyright 2012, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.