As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised.” And they were greatly distressed.
When they reached Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the temple tax?” He said, “Yes, he does.” And when he came home, Jesus spoke of it first, asking, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their children or from others?” When Peter said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the children are free.
However, so that we do not give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook; take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a coin; take that and give it to them for you and me.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Today’s Gospel has a very “love your enemies” feel to it. The tax collectors were always cheating others, imposing unjust taxes for the Romans and then usually taking a cut for themselves on top of it. After Peter is questioned about Jesus paying the tax, Jesus meets him without knowledge of the conversation and brings up the question of tax exemptions. Jesus then invites Peter to go fishing and to find a coin worth twice the tax in the mouth of the fish.
Some scholars note that the collectors ask Peter about Jesus’ payment, but not about his own. Jesus tells Peter that he will pay for both of them. Perhaps Peter is not paying his fair share either? And Peter will soon deny Jesus as well. And yet, with all of this, Jesus will pay the price for Peter’s sins with his own life willingly. He will even pay the price for the unjust tax collectors who he refuses to offend.
Jesus does the same for us, despite our sins and the ways that we might shortchange others of our love, time, or attention. Today can we be as generous as Jesus, giving twice as much to those who might shortchange us?
—Mike Hayes is the Director of Campus Ministry at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY.
Lord Jesus, you modeled for us what it means to give everything, even for those who may not have been considered worthy. Grant us the patience and generosity to give of ourselves, even to those who offend us. Help us to live and love as you did.
—The Jesuit Prayer team