8TH AUGUST 2022
MEMORIAL OF SAINT DOMINIC, PRIEST
1ST READING: Ezekiel 1:2-5, 24-28c
RESP. PSALM: Ps 148:1-2,11-14
GOSPEL: Matthew 17:22-27
THEME: ON TAXATION: PAYING TAXES AS A CITIZEN
PREAMBLE/ EXPLANATIONS: The first part of today’s Gospel gives Jesus’ second prediction of His suffering, death, and Resurrection. Today, Jesus prepares His disciples for the climax of His ministry of glory: His suffering, death, and resurrection (and consequently His Ascension). He is also aware of those who make complaints about Him. When the Temple tax collectors challenged Peter about Jesus’ paying of the Temple tax, Jesus demonstrates God’s providence for those who do the will of God. Simon Peter went and caught a fish in which are coins which are to be used to pay the temple tax for Jesus and Peter. Haven let the cat out of the bag, Jesus’ disciples were “distressed” by their master’s repeated reminders of a coming shameful death as a heretic and lawbreaker. They were distressed because the reminders shattered their dream of ruling Israel after Jesus had conquered the Romans and reestablished the Davidic kingdom. They did not understand that their master would be dying to liberate the whole of mankind from the bondage of sin.
2. In the second part of today’s Gospel, Peter assures the Temple tax officials that the Master, Jesus, is a devout Jew and, hence, pays the Temple tax. Thus, this part is Jesus’ explanation of why He pays the Temple tax. In fact, in Israel, at the time of Jesus, all Jewish males 20 years old or older had to pay a half-shekel (roughly equivalent to two days’ wages), as Temple tax for the up-keep of the Temple and its sacrifices. When they reached Peter’s home, Jesus instructed Peter to go fishing, open the mouth of the first fish he caught and, with the coin he would find there, pay both Peter’s and his own tax. Jesus’ reason was that they were to give good example to others, even though, as the Son of God, Jesus was legally exempted from paying any type of tax to anyone. The Gospel passage therefore foreshadows a dilemma that would be experienced by the first century Jewish Christians as to whether they should continue to pay the Temple tax meant for the Jews.
AS A PEOPLE OF FAITH: Let us express our gratitude to Jesus our Savior for the price of suffering and death He paid for our sins. We can do this by avoiding all occasions of sin, by offering our pains and sufferings as atonement for our sins, and by helping others sacrificially. There are so many kinds of miracles that Jesus performed; miracles of wonder, provision, healing, judgment, etc but today we have a different kind - miracle of politics. Jesus, being the Son of God is not supposed to pay Temple tax but today he uses some diplomacy and asked Peter: 'What is your opinion?'
There are certain things we do, not because we are absolutely bound to do them but for political reasons - to avoid trouble or 'a needless offence' as some Scripture commentators call it. Wisdom entails a lot of diplomacy. We need to emulate Our Lord Jesus Christ in this virtue of political diplomacy; We should obey the laws of the Church and of our country as loyal Christians and loyal citizens and contribute to the needs of the Church and its mission by our tithing, while we help the government by paying our taxes. God bless you as you pay your taxes in order to help develop our countries today and always.
May the Lord bless us with DIPLOMATIC WISDOM!