A reading of the holy Gospel according to Matthew 17:22-27
As Jesus and his disciples were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men, and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.” And they were overwhelmed with grief. When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax approached Peter and said, “Does not your teacher pay the temple tax?” “Yes,” he said. When he came into the house, before he had time to speak, Jesus asked him, “What is your opinion, Simon? 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.”
REFLECTION: "But that we may not offend them"...
The tithe collector approached Peter asking him if his teacher was to pay the temple tax. By the answer given Peter, one can assume that Jesus usually paid the tax or that Peter was not wanting to get Jesus in trouble so he said, "Yes".
Before Peter was able to tell Jesus what had happened, Jesus already knew. Jesus knows everything.
Jesus was the Son of God and He, therefore, was exempt from the tithing. However, so as not to offend them, both He and Peter were going to pay the tax. But neither had money, so Peter went fishing and caught the fish with a coin valued twice the temple tax. Jesus knew that as well.
There are several things I understand from this Gospel.
1. Jesus knows everything so there is no need to hide from him nor hide what we have done or said.
2. Though He is divine, the civil law is important and we should follow the law if it does not contradict the Divine Law. We should be good and faithful patriotic citizens.
3. Jesus can work miracles and He could have given the coin to Peter. Instead Peter worked for the coin--he had to go fishing, and there found the coin needed to pay for the taxes owed by Jesus and Peter. We ask for miracles but we have to do what God tells us to do--work for the miracle--through praying and fasting or doing as Jesus commands.
4. When we catch someone in a wrongdoing, we should not be stumbling blocks for them. Don't confront them nor condemn them, but be kind, patient and generous. As Jesus was to Peter.