Even today, much expression of our faith has more the flavor of devoted servants who want to please their master than that of free children who strive to be like their Father.
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But that we may not offend them, go to the sea, drop in a hook,Matthew 17
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.
Today’s readings can be found here.
It is an interesting discourse that is recounted in today’s Gospel, because discussing the issue of the temple tax, Jesus takes advantage of this matter to give a completely different understanding of our relationship with God.
“‘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.’”
We are not foreigners using ourselves and our possessions as pagans do, hoping thereby to manage our relationship with God. The God whom Jesus comes to proclaim to us is a Father, and we are his children. We are no longer to behave as servants who must please a master, but as children who, by reaching their own complete fulfillment, give joy to their father.
Even today, much expression of our faith has more the flavor of devoted servants who want to please their master than that of free children who strive to be like their Father: merciful—that is, men and women whose hearts work.
But Jesus says the people are not yet ready, and that’s why he invites Peter to pay.
I wonder if we are finally ready to change our way of thinking and to treat God as our Father and not as a deity on a par with pagan deities that must be handled with sacrifices and offerings.
Father Luigi Maria Epicoco is a priest of the Aquila Diocese and teaches Philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University and at the ISSR ‘Fides et ratio,’ Aquila. He dedicates himself to preaching, especially for the formation of laity and religious, giving conferences, retreats and days of recollection. He has authored numerous books and articles. Since 2021, he has served as the Ecclesiastical Assistant in the Vatican Dicastery for Communication and columnist for the Vatican’s daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.