REFLECTION FOR TODAY
August 9, 2021
By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA
From whom do the kings of the earth take tolls or census tax? From their subjects or from foreigners?” When he said, “From foreigners,” Jesus said to him, “Then the subjects are exempt. 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.” Matt. 17:25-27.
After Jesus had announced his death to his disciples for the second time, He speaks about paying of tax as reflected in our gospel reference of today. At that time, Jewish men throughout the world supported the temple in Jerusalem by paying tax each year.
Paying the tac identified you as a member of the Jewish community even if you never participate in the temple worship. It is not surprising that Jesus and his disciples were expected to pay tax. Jesus questioned this assumption since earthly rulers do not tax their relatives, would God require payment from his children?
Peter had expected that Jesus whom he had confessed as the Son of God would pay the tax. But Peter had not yet understood fully the freedom that Jesus came to give those who share in his divine sonship. Like Peter how often do we lose sight of the benefits of our position as children of God? Jesus had made us coheirs with himself. Jesus however gave Peter the instruction to go to the sea.
Imagine if you were Peter following the instructions given by Jesus. Peter must have been filled with hope and excitement as he pulled this fish in, wondering if Jesus’ words would come true. And as soon as Peter saw the coin, just as Jesus said, he must have been in awe. Slowly, the fear and anxiety he was experiencing at this second prediction of Jesus’ passion and death would have begun to subside as he witnessed yet another incredible sign from Jesus.
God performs miracles in our lives every day. The problem is that we often fail to discern them. Any time His glorious power works within us to strengthen us or fills us with courage, hope, charity, and every other virtue, this is a miracle of transforming grace. God always knows what we need in life. He knows our struggles and doubts. At times, He is silent to draw us deeper through intentional prayer and acts of faith. And at times, we suddenly find that we receive a new clarity in life that is the result of His grace at work.
Jesus knew that Peter needed this extra grace of this personal miracle so that he could move beyond his fears and struggles and place all his trust in Jesus. Jesus was trustworthy. This is the conclusion Peter would have arrived at. He was trustworthy. Therefore, everything He said should be believed. What a wonderful conclusion for us all to arrive at.
Reflect, today, upon the ways that God has assured you of His divine presence and action in your life. Though the assuring miracles God has performed in your life may not be physical in their manifestation, God’s workings can be just as convincing if we clearly perceive them. What does God want to assure you of in your life? What struggle or doubt do you struggle with? If you struggle, turn your mind to the ways that God has been present and active in your life. Ponder His intervention and the ways He has cared for you and led you. Be grateful and allow the memory of what God has done to be your strength today and the source of hope when you need it the most.
Lord, Your action in my life is truly glorious and amazing. You never fail to provide for me when I am in need. Help me to turn to You whenever I struggle so as to be filled with new hope in You. You are always faithful, dear Lord. I do place all my hope in You. Jesus, I trust in You.